In a nutshell, Schreck tells his reader that, Watson, Atkins, Krenwinkel and Kasabian arrive at Cielo around midnight for a $20K drug deal. In his version, the killers do not cut the phone wires and climb the fence; instead, they drive their car through the welcoming gate and right on to the driveway apron. Even though this is a Watson/Kasabian partnership drug burn, Watson enters only with Atkins and leaves Krenwinkel and Kasabian by the car to be lookouts.
Equally welcoming on their escapade is Sebring, who opens the front door to invite Watson and Atkins in. And, being the generous host that Sebring was known to be, he offers and then makes them drinks.
In the meantime, Abigail (in her bedroom) and Voytek (on the living room couch) are blitzed out of their minds on MDA and in a comatose-like state. Sharon is in her bedroom, already in bed.
When Sebring tells Watson that he doesn't have all the drugs, a heated argument begins, drawing both (the incapacitated) Abigail and (the underwear clad) Sharon into the living room. The fight escalates and Watson hits Sebring.
At about this time, Schreck places Steven Parent at the living room window of the main house to witness the violent attack. Frightened, he runs to the driveway. But, instead of getting in his car, he stops to look in the garage (at what, we don't know). It is here that Krenwinkel and Kasabian attack Steven, slashing at him with the knife and yelling for Watson's help.
Watson, hearing their calls for help, leaves Atkins alone in the house to guard four people and runs out to help kill Steve. By the time of Watson's arrival, Steve has jumped into his car, rammed the shift into reverse and downs 30 feet of guardrail before Watson catches him and shoots him four times.
Back inside, Sebring tries to calm Watson by telling him that he has more drugs at his Easton Drive home. Watson agrees to take Sebring and Sharon (as hostage) to Easton Drive. But, once outside, Sebring lunges at Watson and Watson shoots Sebring. As Sharon is trying to get away, they stab her.
With Tate and Sebring murdered, Watson decides they should go to Sebring's house to get the drugs that are there. They then leave Cielo (and the drugged, but very much alive Folger & Frykowski) to go to Sebring's house. But the Easton Drive drug caper is snafued by Rudy Weber when he busts them using his garden hose.
Watson then decides to forego Sebring's house and high-tails it back to Spahn to tell Manson what had transpired. Then, along with Manson, they decide to return to Cielo to wipe down fingerprints. When they return, they do indeed wipe down the house and then (oh yeah, forgot about them) kill Frykowski and Folger.
Wow. Where to begin?
Book Page 599: Schreck uses Watson's trial testimony, as proof that Watson didn't cut the phone wires, climb the gate fence or cut the screen, but entered the Cielo house as an invited guest through the front door—including, in his scenario that they entered the property by driving the car through the open and welcoming gate:
What happened as you approached the front of the house?
I walked in the front door.
You just opened the door--?
Just opened it up.
Just turned the knob and go right on in?
Was any of the group—that is, any of the three girls with you at this time?
No, I didn't see any girls at that time.
Did you slit the screen in that house?
No. I did not.
Response: What Schreck doesn't tell his reader is that this is Watson on the witness stand during cross-examination by Bugliosi. The prosecutor's questioning is to counter the multitude of lies that Watson gave during direct examination by his attorney. Remember, Watson was gunning for a diminished capacity defense.
During direct examination Watson claimed that he had no malice aforethought before the crimes and that after he did not attempt to "hide" the evidence, therefore he had no sense of right and wrong. Watson denied driving to the house, he denied cutting the phone wires, he denied having rope with him, he denied entering through a window (really, he denied any thought at all) and said that he was taking orders from the girls. All he heard was Charlie in his mind over and over; he didn't see his victims as anything but blobs; he didn't think to wash the blood off; he didn't order anyone to throw away the clothes or the weapons. Finally, Watson testified (at various times) that during the commission of the crimes, he was high on Belladonna, Coke, and Meth.
If Schreck takes one portion of Watson's testimony (an invited guest through the front door) as truth, then he must also consider the rest of his testimony—that he was following the orders of the girls and in a state of complete diminished capacity under Manson's spell—as truth. And this then would defy Schreck's motive that this was a calculated drug burn by Watson and Kasabian—especially since he left co-burner-Kasabian outside.
Book Page 25, 600, 610: "From the empty glasses on the table, detectives later deduced that cocktails were offered to the visitors while the business at hand was discussed... After Tex and Sadie were welcomed in, Sebring offered them drinks ... they wiped the fingerprints from the glasses Sebring had offered them when they first arrived."
Response: There is no evidence of any empty drinking glasses found in the living room, dining room, or kitchen. Are we to assume that the killers washed their glasses and returned them to the cabinets?
Book Page 601: "An argument between the speed-tweaking Tex and the Coked-up Sebring."
Response: Sebring's toxicology reports from the autopsy show absolutely no drugs in his system. Now, even though the ethanol test came out negative as well, and we think Jay at least had some wine and or beer that night, let's remember that alcohol continues to break down in the blood stream after death. So, by the time of his autopsy, after 2PM the following day, it's likely that there was zero detection of ethanol left in his system.
Pages 598, 605, & 606 Schreck writes of Voytek and Abigail: "Both were wiped out from the amount of MDA in their system... Frykowski and Folger were not able to put up any resistance... So high on massive doses of MDA, that they could barely move... .Just how high Voytek and Gibby were is indicated by the fact that when Tex returned to finish them off several hours later, they still hadn't been able to free themselves... They lay there for at least three hours going through what must have been two of the worst MDA trips of all time."
Response: The M.E. report noted Voytek had 0.06mg of MDA in his system. Abigail had 2.4mg of MDA in her system, a little higher than a typical recreational dose, but hardly incapacitating. Abigail also had a small amount of alcohol in her system, 0.06.
The notion of Abigail and Voytek being so utterly incapacitated that they sat/lay comatose-like while Watson is beating and then killing Sebring and Sharon, is just plain unrealistic. And then, with their friends' dead bodies lying around them, just hang out and enjoyed their MDA stupor for a couple of hours while Watson et al go back to Spahn to get Manson?
Also of note, MDA and MDMA (Ecstasy) are similar, but not the same drug. Schreck points to these two drugs as being interchangeable in Abigail and Voytek's system, sometimes even referring to the MDA as Fairy Dust, which is also inaccurate.
Even if we went out on a limb to say that Abigail and Voytek's tox screens in the M.E. report are inaccurate and that they had a lot more MDA in their system than noted, there's a thing called the "sobering effect" that occurs during a traumatic situation. The traumatic situation causes mass amounts of adrenaline to be released into the system, "sobering" the individual, which then, if the situation calls for it, causes the fight or flight instinct to kick in. Since Voytek had 50 odd wounds with a blood trail from the living room to the front lawn, it would seem almost certain that the sobering effect from a mild MDA high would have kicked in.
The most ridiculous notion to the whole Abigail and Voytek MDA stupor is that Watson and the women would (as Schreck surmises) leave them unattended and alive, with Sharon & Sebring already murdered, and with the phone lines still functioning, to go to Sebring's house and get more drugs. But, we'll get to that soon.
Book Page 601: "Sharon was roused by the yelling and walked into her living room to see what was happening."
Response: So, Sharon, hearing strange voices, nonetheless volatile yelling voices, walks out of the bedroom in her underwear to see what's up? Didn't grab a robe, just walked into this volatile situation in her underwear? I think you'd be hard pressed, even in 1969, to find anyone who would leave themselves that vulnerable in that situation.
Book Page 602: Schreck places Parent outside looking in the window watching Watson beat Sebring while Sharon tries to intervene. Frightened, Steve Parent then "... ran for his car and roared off at full speed. In his panic to flee... Parent drove in reverse, screeching backward across the parking lot, knocking over nearly thirty feet of fence."
Response: Thirty feet? The police photographs clearly show one split rail of the fence knocked down, about six feet. Schreck turns this small accident into a scene from the French Connection. The poor kid, probably a little buzzed (as Garretson stated in his polygraph) or just because it's damn dark, accidentally backed into the fence, knocked down a rail and scraped the undercarriage of his car on the driveway parapet.
Book Page 602-603: Watson, after hearing the women scream about Steve on the driveway, runs outside and leaves Atkins, with a single buck knife, to guard four people.
Response: Ummm. One 5'6" woman with a 4" blade to cover four people? Even if they're tied up, I find it hard to believe that Frykowski and Sebring wouldn't have taken that opportunity to lunge at Atkins.
Book Page 604: Schreck places Watson and Sebring struggling on the front porch. "Tex hit Sebring hard on the head with the gun. So hard that the grip shattered."
Response: The M.E. noted in Sebring's autopsy report that he was hit in the face with a blunt instrument, but since there was no breaking of the skin, he surmised that it was something "soft like a fist". The M.E. then notes of Sebring's head: "Inspection and palpitation of the scalp reveals no evidence of injury."
Book pages 40-41, 604: While we can agree with Schreck's assessment that the media "planted the seeds of Charlie's legend with mystic cult and black magic headlines", we differ when it comes to Schreck's statement: "There was nothing particularly "hippie" about the crimes, which were actually fairly ordinary mob-related narcotics trade murders... At around 1:00, Tex led Sebring towards the door, taking Sharon with him as a hostage... Atkins and Krenwinkel scooped up all the mescaline, MDA, and cocaine they could find."
Response: The most glaring evidence against these murders being a drug burn/robbery is the lack of ransacking. As noted in the police report: The killers left the location without ransacking the house. Paper money was in plain view throughout the house and Sebring had a wristwatch on his wrist in plain view valued at $1,500.
It's hard to fathom that this supposed drug burn was all about money and yet at Cielo, there's not a single open drawer, nothing disturbed in the closets, nothing disturbed on the desk in the living room, nothing disturbed in the bedrooms, nothing disturbed in the loft above, nothing disturbed in the dining room or kitchen and nothing disturbed in the (Schreck version) supposed drug "safe house" of the nursery.
These drug burn/murderers were either very tidy searchers or very lazy ones when they scooped up all they could find.
A more "fairly ordinary mob-related narcotics trade murders", would be the Wonderland Murders in which, after being robbed by the four residents from Wonderland Drive, mafia dude, Eddy Nash, orders his peeps to go to the robbers' Wonderland address, retrieve the stolen items and kill everyone in the house.
Do a YouTube search for "Wonderland Murders" to see the crime scene video that shows that the house was completely ransacked. Drawers emptied, ripped from the dressers and strewn about, closets emptied, the floors literally covered in clothing and other items emptied out while searching for drugs, jewels, and cash; even the refrigerator was opened. Yet, the Cielo house, except for the living room area of attack, is completely untouched.
We could say, well, the killers believed that the victims had told them where everything was so they didn't need to ransack—except that Schreck states that Watson didn't believe they had it all, and in fact (as we'll see next), is the reason why the killers left Voytek and Abigail alive to drive to Sebring's house to retrieve more drugs.
Book Page 606: "... Tex pressed the button to open the gate. He left his bloody fingerprint behind for the police to find."
Response: A bloody smudge, not a fingerprint was found on the gate mechanism button. Watson's fingerprint was found on the front door to the house.
Book Page 606-607: "Atkins and Watson... later described a wild and senseless ride through Benedict Canyon that never happened. What is true is that Watson was looking for somewhere to wash his hands so that he wouldn't drip blood all over Sebring's house... They stopped at the next nearest house with a visible garden hose. It was Portola Drive. Their intention was to park there, then go stealthily by foot to rob Sebring's... "
Response: How very considerate of him. First, why not wash his hands in the sink at Cielo before leaving—under Schreck's version they weren't in a huge hurry to get away?
Second, in Schreck's unlikely scenario, we have the killers driving north on Benedict Canyon, traveling past Sebring's street, Easton Drive, to the next available street (on the right or east side of Benedict Canyon), Portola Drive, looking for a hose/parking place to wash off the blood, with the plan to then hike the almost mile back to Easton, and then make the half-mile hike up Easton Drive to Sebring's house.
Schreck portrays Watson as being a little daft at planning these drug burns, but this plan seems to fall under the category of down-right-ridiculously-mentally-challenged.
Book Page 609: After the bungled Easton Drive caper, the killers drive to Spahn (remember, Folger & Frykowski are still alive at Cielo) where they, along with Manson, decide to return to Cielo to clean up. "Linda drove to Cielo Drive this time. Tex curled up on the back seat. He needed to hide because Mr. Weber... could have easily recognized him and for all he knew could have already reported his description to the police."
Response: First, it's a ridiculous notion that the whole reason for returning to Cielo is not to kill the living witnesses, Folger & Frykowski, but to clean fingerprints?
Second: Tex is worried about being seen in a dark moving vehicle in the middle of the night on a winding road, but not worried that the vehicle itself, a yellow and white rusted out Ford (to which Weber wrote down the license number) could be spotted and identified by police?
Book Page 612-613: "The idea of the hanging at Cielo was to make it look like there was a connection to the Sebring hanging party (as noted earlier in Schreck's book). Billy Doyle and Tommy Harrigan... were known to have been present at that party. Watson knew that Doyle was Frykowski's MDA connection, and thus the original source of the burn that set all this in motion... This attempted frame-up based on intimate knowledge of Sebring and his dope dealing clientele, succeeded in setting the cops off of Watson's scent and onto the group of rival drug dealers. Mama Cass, Voytek Frykowski's "neighbor", and close friend and client of Billy Doyle, immediately believed that he and his friends were the killers and informed the cops about her suspicions."
Response: Elliot did not make the connection due to the "hanging". In fact, she didn't make any connection at all. On the other hand, John Phillips did make an inaccurate connection by translating the bloody word PIG left on the front door to PIC, i.e., Pic Dawson. Phillips then told Elliott that Dawson was responsible for the murders and therefore, she too was responsible because she had introduced Dawson to their circle. Phillips then told her that she was in danger because Dawson would next kill Elliot and her daughter. For this reason, and this reason only, Cass Elliot told the police that she believed Pic Dawson was the killer.
The other events and details that Schreck depicts on the night of the Cielo murders cannot be disputed because we weren't there.
We do not discount Schreck's claim that drugs were a motive for the Cielo drive murders. We do not discount that Rostau was a dealer with mafia ties. We certainly don't discount that, like many Angelenos in 1969, Abigail, Voytek, and Jay were using drugs on a regular basis. Nor do we discount the claim that Manson family members went back to the house later that night to do... whatever it is that they did.
What we do dispute is that Rostau made a drug delivery on August 8th. We do dispute the events that Schreck depicts of the murders that we can otherwise prove false. And, we dispute that the victims, in essence, were responsible for their own demise because they chose to do a drug burn against Watson and Kasabian.