Monday, March 2, 2015

Goodbye Helter Skelter Chapters Ten though Fourteen

While Stimson says very little about the murders on Cielo, he has much more to say about Waverly because each of the participants' memories of what exactly happened differ greatly.

Chapter Ten: The Murders on Waverly Drive"

According to several of the participants of the events of August 9th and 10th, Charlie, Tex, Pat, Susan, Leslie, Linda and Steve Grogan drove around for a few hours looking for someone to kill: two homes in Pasadena were possible targets, a minister in a church, and a man in a sportscar at a traffic light. When the group arrived at Waverly Drive, Tex says that Charlie went up to the house alone, then came back for Tex. The two of them took Rosemary's wallet, tied up the victims, then returned to the car to get two of the girls. Tex says that Charlie then told him to make sure that the girls did some of the killing this time before he drove off with Susan, Linda and Steve. Susan remembers that Charlie tied the victims up on his own. Leslie doesn't really remember much at all but she does remember Charlie asking her earlier that night at Spahn if she thought she could kill, to which she responded that yes, she could. Susan, Tex and Linda remember that Charlie had a gun which was supposedly buried later that morning in the sands of Venice Beach.

Charlie says that he did not have a gun. He remembers that he first went looking for True, who wasn't home, and just sort of offhandedly stumbled into the La Bianca home. There, he had a brief discussion with Leno who he says was not fearful at all, and was not aware that Rosemary was in the house. He left the house having not robbed or tied up the victims: that it was all on Tex. He did not know anyone was going to be killed that night. He also says of leaving the wallet in Sylmar that, contrary to the prosecution's assertion, he did not know whose wallet it was but only assumed that it was "hot." Furthermore he says he knew that Sylmar was NOT a black neighborhood which becomes significant if he was indeed trying to start a race war.

Later, Linda says it was Manson's idea to kill Saladin Nader in Venice Beach. Susan however remembers that Linda suggested it while the group was still in Sylmar. Linda pointed out the wrong apartment, no one was killed, and then Manson went back to Spahn, leaving the others to hitchhike home. Stimson claims that much of the information from that night comes from Linda whose lack of credibility will be examined in later chapters.

Stimson believes Manson's version of events for several reasons. He believes that Tex is not credible because he gets a lot of the details wrong, like saying the LaBiancas' car and boat were in the driveway when they were not. Also, the supposed hunting expedition earlier in the evening could not have taken place the way some of the participants said it did because there simply was not enough time. And, why would Charlie abort certain attempts because the neighbors might hear them but be okay with killing a man in a sportscar at a busy intersection on a Saturday night? No one can describe the gun that Charlie supposedly had, it was not in any of the trial testimony, and why would they feel the need to get rid of it it they had not used it? Charlie could not have tied up the LaBiancas on his own because Linda Kasabian says that he was only gone long enough for her to smoke 3/4 of a Pall Mall cigarette. Finally, when Linda led them to the wrong apartment in Nader's building, why didn't they just kill whoever answered if they were on a supposed random murder spree? In conclusion, Stimson says that because of these discrepancies, Charlie's explanation of events that night is the only one that makes sense and in it, he committed no crime.

Chapter Eleven: "The Murder of Donald 'Shorty' Shea"

This chapter is almost entirely devoid of any analysis by Stimson. He lets the words of Steve Grogan, Bruce Davis and Charles Manson stand on their own. What these people say is that Shorty was generally disliked by the Family because he was viewed as sloppy or sleazy for drinking too much and chasing the girls. Charlie says it is true that he did not like Shorty's being with a black woman because "I was raised that you don't...cross that racial line." Squeaky and Kitty both overheard Shorty talking badly about the Family to George Spahn. What finally got "five or six guys" upset enough to kill Shorty was the view that he had snitched on them and caused the Spahn Ranch raids of August 15 and August 24. Steve claims that the worst part of the raids were having Family children taken away to be placed in foster homes.

He and Bruce say that killing Shorty was Charlie's idea, that he was there, he put the weapons in their hands and told them to follow Tex's lead. Charlie on the other hand says that it was the group's collective idea and that it got out of hand. According to Steve and Bruce, Shorty was asked to drive the group down the hill to retrieve some car parts. At some point, Tex stabbed him in the eye, and Steve hit him on the head with a pipe wrench. Shorty was then dragged from the car and stabbed by various participants until he was dead. Charlie says he did not mortally wound Shorty himself but sounds as if he feels that the murder was justified based on the fact that Shorty was a snitch, and because snitches get what they get in the prison world that Charlie was accustomed to.  All of the participants agree that even though each of them at some point cut or hit Shorty, the bulk of the killing was done by Tex. Later that night it was Steve who came back to bury the body that had been temporarily stashed in some bushes.

What is most interesting to Patty about this chapter is the list of who was there: Steve, Bruce, Tex, Charlie, possibly one of the girls according to Bruce and "another person" according to Steve and Charlie, who is not named and who was never prosecuted for the murder. Who was this person, why was he or she never implicated, and what might be the significance of this? Patty would love to hear Stimson's thoughts on the topic.

Chapter Twelve: "Back to the Desert"

Stimson briefly recounts here how the Family returned to the desert around the first of September: Juanita Wildebush had left with a miner and Paul Crockett had moved into the bunkhouse with Little Paul and Brooks. He reminds us that Bugliosi recounts three aborted murder attempts on the residents of the bunkhouse during midnight creepy crawly raids but discounts them because what difference would it make if the supposed victims heard Charlie coming to kill them or not? It was very remote in the desert, and if Charlie truly had 20 or so brainwashed followers, why wouldn't they just kill them? Stimson also quotes Crockett as saying that he never saw any drug use or "ritualistic activity" in the desert.

Chapters Thirteen and Fourteen: "Introduction to the Motive" and "The Helter Skelter Motive"

Three elements that tie a person to a crime are means, motive, and opportunity: there is no such thing as a motiveless crime. And, while a prosecutor is not bound to introduce evidence of a motive at trial, it is to his distinct advantage to do so because lack of motive is strong circumstantial evidence of innocence. Stimson claims that in the Tate La Bianca trials, Bugliosi had to establish a motive because there was "literally no other evidence tying Manson to the murders."

Stimson contends that Helter Skelter is too fantastic to be believable, but that the public bought it because of the barrage of media fabrications and inaccuracies that began to emerge beginning in December, 1969: hooded victims, sexual mutilations, dune buggies with machine guns mounted on them and Manson being known among the family as "Jesus," for instance. Many police theories were bandied about including bad drug deal, orgy killing, LSD freak out, Mafia hit, robbery, revenge killing and class warfare, but none of them fully fit the circumstances of the crimes.

Bugliosi, Stimson contends, discovered Helter Skelter "in the peripheries of the consciousness of some of the people at Spahn's." Major components of the theory were the music of the Beatles and Revelations 9 in the Bible. Stimson says that the influence of the Beatles on Manson is overestimated because he was older and preferred the music of the previous generation to which he belonged, like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra (to be honest this part made Patty chuckle a little bit). Further, he points out, that of COURSE there were messages in the music of the Beatles, that is what music is, and it is why people listen to it in the first, what?

Then Stimson makes what Patty feels is his strongest point in the entire chapter. If indeed, the Family did honestly believe that they would live in a bottomless pit in miniaturized form for 50 to 100 years before emerging to rule the world, wouldn't that qualify them as being psychotic? And if hey were crazy enough to believe in Helter Skelter, why were they considered sane enough to stand trial?

Stimson goes on to demonstrate how none of the participants save Leslie thought that their crimes were meant to start a race war. Tex says he wasn't clear about what was to be written on the walls, that he "wasn't clear about the whole thing, really." Pat says that she thought they were going to Cielo to commit a robbery. Kasabian says she thought it was to be a simple creepy crawl.  Bobby says that he had never heard of Helter Skelter until it was reported in the media. Charlie says he did talk about Helter Skelter, but that to him it just means "confusion:" the direction that society was heading in in 1969. Stimson quotes a December 7th LA Times article entitled "Manson Wanted a Race War, Friends Say" in which each source says that they only heard certain parts of the supposed theory, and that they had to piece it all together on their own later on. Even Bugliosi has said on many occasions that he doesn't believe in Helter Skelter: "It was almost unbelievably bizarre...(I) told (a co-prosecutor) it wouldn't take me two seconds to dump the whole Helter Skelter theory if he could find another motive in the evidence." Stimson's ending analysis is that why wouldn't the convicted killers claim Helter Skelter as their motive, especially when they know it might be to their advantage to do so?  Because, he says, it's not true.

In the next installment, Patty will detail for you what Stimson claims the REAL motive was. She hopes you are looking forward to this part of the book as much as she is.