Monday, October 6, 2014

Coda: The Mendocino Murders

Coda - a passage that ends a 
musical piece following 
the main body.
Judging by comments in the Witches of Mendocino Files posts we think there are some readers who aren't completely familiar with why that incident is important to the overall story - that many people still believe that the Manson Family may have been responsible for the murders of Clyda Dulaney and Nancy Warren.

Here is a recap of the entire story.

As you may remember, Manson sent a group of Family members up to Mendocino County to scout for a new permanent residence. This happened around May of 1968. Sadie, Mary and the gang were zealously trying to gain young recruits. They were dirty - they stunk and the bus stunk - they were also high profile with their drug use, even though they had infants in tow. The locals branded them the "Witches of Mendocino."

On June 21, 1968 they apparently dosed 17 year-old Allen Rosenthal on some acid. His mother called law enforcement. When they responded Allen was babbling about his legs being like snakes. Mom pointed the finger at the "Witches" and the raid was on.

The Manson Family (although they weren't called that publicly yet) were now the biggest story in Mendocino.

Here's something interesting we learned while researching the Mendocino fiasco:

In Mendocino County, Boonville and the Anderson Valley has its own language called Boontling. Here's the wiki on it as well as a video. They're not a definitive on the language but they give us a good idea of how it works. The Wiki article has references if any of you care to learn more. We wonder if the Witches may have picked up on Boontling and used a variation they created themselves. ZuZu's for candy comes to mind. The Family was well known to cackle in a language that only those in the know would have any idea what they were talking about. Is this where it began?

Law enforcement now began to run down leads in the case. Here are two articles from the Ukiah Press Democrat from October 15, 1968:

The second article tells the story of Clyda Dulany's children and what happened the morning the murders were discovered by her oldest son Johnny, who was seven years old at the time. Johnny having seen the bodies of his mother and grandmother woke his brothers. The grabbed their piggy banks and ran to a neighbor a quarter of a mile away.

This spurred Manson Blog to locate Johnny Ussery if he were indeed still living. We was and we did. He agreed to an interview. Our then Southeastern US Correspondent (St Circumstance) was dispatched to Johnny's house. Here is some of what he told Saint in his own words:

"I knew I was late because I could see the sun shining through my window, and that normally hasn't happened yet when I wake up.  I went out to my mother's bedroom and I immediately noticed the bed was still made, which I thought was weird. Her purse was open and dumped out all over the bed, which nobody had slept in. None of it made any sense. I went outside. There was a gravel walkway between our trailer and my grandmother's trailer. My grandmother lived in one trailer by herself, and mom, me and my brothers lived in another trailer right next door. We always went over there for meals and stuff. I went outside and right away I saw mom lying on the gravel between the trailers. The thing I'll never forget is that she was blonde, and her face looked the same color as her hair. She was all white. I can remember it like it was yesterday. I screamed like crazy and ran into my grandmothers trailer. The first thing I noticed was that the television was still on, but the screen was fuzzy. Then I saw her lying there the same way as mom. I ran out of there.  I didn’t want to pass back by my mother, so I went out of the back of my grandmother's trailer and went around the back to ours. I got up my brothers and dressed them and started to get them out of there. I will never understand why, but something made me stop and grab the three piggy banks we kept on top of the refrigerator. With one each in our arms, we ran to a neighbor’s house where I told them mommy and grandma are dead. I remember after a little while looking across the field at the trailer and seeing all the cop cars. I remember everything up to that point crystal clear."
"To my knowledge, nobody ever asked me a single time about the crimes. not one police officer ever. But remember what I told you earlier, after I got to the neighbors and told them what I had found, the next few years are mostly a blur. I don't remember almost anything. That lawsuit was really instigated by one person and any details of number, or sex, didn’t come from me. This person is the one who always pushed that stuff."
"You know what, you might think this is interesting too. My father did an unusual amount  of time in prison back in the day. You know how Charlie Manson is in Corcoran Prison now? Well, he used to be in this prison called Vacaville. Well, dad was at Vacaville for a while, and he told me he was walking down the halls one day with a bunch of guys, and they see Charlie Manson sweeping one of the floors. That was his job at the time - sweeping floors. Anyway, my dad sees he is not looking at them and shouts over to Charlie, 'Hey, who did that thing up in Ukiah?' Now dad told me there was no way Charlie could have known exactly which guy yelled it at him, but he looked up and looked dad right in the eye. He said back directly to dad, 'You'll never know will ya?' Then he looked back down and went back to sweeping without another word. Dad said it was eerie having him stare right into his eyes like that..."
"I’d love to find out who killed my mother and grandmother", Johnny told St. C. "Many others do as well", St. Circumstance replied back.

One result of publishing that story was that a childhood friend of Johnny's (Ginger) was able to make contact with him and now Johnny has pictures and home move clips of his mom that were presumed lost. That if nothing else made the endeavor worthwhile:

Clyda Dulaney

These murders were never officially solved. The presence of Manson Family members at the time in Mendocino County have led many to speculate that they could have been the culprits. Here is a 2008 Anderson Valley Advertiser article discussing the Dulaney/Warren murders. The Warren/Dulaney case begins about midway down column 1 :

Our posts on this topic were eye-opening to the authors of this blog. Not mentioned in the posts in any detail was that we also found and spoke to detectives and reporters from Mendocino County. Those contacts and other clues formed our personal opinions on what may have really happened. For now, we'll have to keep those cards close to our chests.