Monday, October 31, 2016

The S. Tate Estate

When Sharon Tate was murdered on the night of August 8-9, 1969 she not only died a horrific death but she also died intestate, meaning that she died leaving no will. In an effort to remove his daughter’s estate from legal limbo  and begin the process of property distribution Tate’s father Paul Tate filed a Petition For Letters of Authorization with the Los Angeles Superior Court on December 8, 1969:

The breakdown of Tate’s financial situation is interesting. She possessed cash in the amount of $37,000 ($230,920.92 in 2016 dollars), motor vehicles worth $5,700 ($35,383.04 today), personal property worth $500 ($3,101.78) and an annual salary of $2,000 ($12,415.10), for a grand total worth of $45,400 ($281,822.84). (I found this surprising because I would have thought that she was worth a lot more. Especially in this age of astronomical salaries for entertainment figures the $2,000 ($12,415) annual salary for her work in television and movies seems a pittance.)

The main purpose of the Petition For Letters Of Authorization was so that Tate’s estate could be evaluated for distribution to deserving next-of-kin and others. One person who didn’t want any part of the late actress’ worth, however, was her widowered husband Roman Polanski. Both privately and in a letter dated February 1, 1970 Polanski made it clear to Paul Tate that he wanted no part of the estate of his late daughter. 

Not everyone, however, was content to let tragedy recede. Within a month of the murders, 10050 Cielo Drive owner Rudi Altobelli had resumed residence in the main house. On April 13, 1970 he filed a claim with the Superior Court of Los Angeles for monetary damages against the estate of Sharon Tate on the basis that Tate had not purchased $125,000 of public liability and property damage insurance as required by the lease agreement between the Polanskis and Altobelli. For this offense Altobelli requested relief for damages in the amount of $15,000 ($93,113.27 in 2016). A further claim was made due to the fact that the original lease stated that the premises could only be used as a single-family residence and that the presence of Frykowski and Folger on the property as full-time residents violated that portion of the lease and damaged him in the sum of “at least $30,000” ($186,226.65 today).

But Altobelli’s ex post facto irritation at the presence of Frykowski and Folger at his house seems opportunistic, because he almost certainly knew that the pair had been residing in his house almost as long as the Polanskis and therefore had would have had numerous opportunities to broach the subject with the latter if he had had real concerns about the situation. 

The Polanskis rented the house in early February 1969 but went to Europe in March. Voytek Frykowski and Abigail Folger were already living in the house at that time. At the time of the murders Altobelli must have known about the living situation in his house because he knew that Roman Polanski was already in Europe, and he obviously knew Sharon was on her way to Europe because she was seated next to him on the airplane when he himself went. And when Altobelli recounted to Vincent Bugliosi Charles Manson’s appearance at Cielo Drive on March 23, 1969 he recalled that Sharon, Jay Sebring, Frykowski, and Folger (whom he referred to familiarly as “Gibby”) were all present in the main house. (Altobelli and Sharon Tate flew to Europe the next day. He was still in Europe when the murders occurred. Sharon, very unfortunately, returned to Los Angeles and the Cielo Drive house on July 21.)

Altobelli lived in house for another twenty years after the murders, apparently unfazed by the slaughter that had occurred there. “It is a home,” he said during the murder trial. “It’s not going to be a tourist attraction or a freak show.”  Years later he recalled, “"I moved right back into the house three weeks after the murders happened. When I came back to that property, I felt safe, secure, loved and beauty." Eventually he was also likely unfazed by any financial damages he night have incurred due to Sharon Tate’s not obtaining public liability insurance and the presence of Voytek Frykowski and Abigail Folger as illegal house residents: Altobelli sold the house in 1989 for $1.6 million, 18 times what he paid for it ($86,000) in the early 1960s.  He died in Los Angeles on March 26, 2011.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Tex Watson Parole Denied

Tex has been denied parole and will not have another hearing for five years.  I don't think that anyone here expected him to be granted parole.

Article from the LA Times

2014 mugshot

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


We interrupt this Blog Post for an important article.  Tom O'Neill, a writer who fancies himself quite the expert on TLB, has written his second piece on Medium about the Tex Watson tapes.  As you read it, you find yourself trying to stay awake and focused.  What exactly is he concerned about?  Does he think that what Tex said to his lawyer in 1969 reverberates to the present day?  Does he think it blows up the Bugliosi myth of Helter Skelter that no one believes anyway?   Read closer and you quickly twig to what his problem is-

Tom is super BUTTHURT you guys because the DA promised him the tapes and they never gave it to him and that is SUPER UNFAIR.

Really, that is the entirety of what he writes.  He wants us to believe that what Debra thinks matters, that Sebring's nephew has some sort of standing in the case and that the LAPD really owes him man.

There are no unsolved Manson Murders.  These people couldn't shut their traps for 5 weeks much less 50 years.  No one is letting Tex out or Leslie or even Bobby.  It is all desperate attention seeking.

Tom is of course a talking head on all the bad TV shows who likes to discuss Charlie's secret Karate School.  He is also writing a book (his website says since 1999) but I was told by sources that his publisher has since pulled out.  When Tom was writing his book he was known for his heavy handedness, even going so far as demanding that Col Tate talk with him because....well who knows.   Back when Alisa and I were friendly she shared Tom stories that chilled me/  His entitlement knows no bounds.

I know he did interesting interviews with people like Melcher and Jakobsen.  But as long as he has this skewed perspective on the case I'm not sure what he has to say is interesting in any way.

Tex Watson led the most notorious murder spree of the 20th Century.  We will get a tweet from Cielo Drive dot com this week telling us he got his 17th parole denial.  And we may never get to hear what Tex said in 1969.

Doesn't change a goddamn thing.

CHARLES MANSON'S RIGHT HAND MAN IS UP FOR PAROLE - HERE'S WHAT TO WATCH FOR  (love the title, is this Tom's note to self?)

Five dead bodies, including the beautiful eight-and-half month pregnant actress and wife of a famous movie director. One-hundred-and-two stab wounds in total. “Pig” written in blood on the front door of the secluded estate high above Sunset Boulevard in the Hollywood Hills. The only sound heard by the arriving cops: insects buzzing over two victims’ bodies strewn across the front lawn. The next night, two more bodies across town: a grocery store magnate and his wife, similarly slaughtered. Sixty-seven stab wounds, more blood writing, the word “war” carved into the male victim’s abdomen, a fork and knife protruding from his bound and hooded corpse. Unsolved for four months, then the announcement of arrested suspects: a killer “hippie” cult, led by a barely literate ex-con who convinced his young followers he was Jesus Christ and the Devil. You’ve heard the story. You know the story.

Or do you? 

Yeah Tom we do. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

ACLU Charles Manson Martin Luther King Jr. Ad

Tell us your gut reaction upon seeing this ad.

Back in June 2000 the ACLU ran this ad in the New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker to raise awareness regarding racial profiling.  There was a psychological aspect to presenting the subject of racial profiling in this manner that involved getting the reader to read the small print and become sympathetic to the ACLU and hopefully contribute funds to that organization.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Answers or Excuses? A Self-Analysis from Tex Watson

"It is wise to direct your anger towards problems - not people; to focus your energy on answers- not excuses."
        - William Arthur Ward 

"He who is good at making excuses is seldom good at anything else."
        - Benjamin Franklin 

The Following excerpts come from Abounding Love- the website dedicated to the Ministries of Charles D. Watson.....

Why the Crimes?  Message From A Former Manson Family Member....

I was 23 years old in August of 1969, when I committed crimes that shocked the nation and sent shock waves around the world. I'm often asked to explain "why" these senseless crimes happened, the difficulty being to answer without justifying them. In an effort to be accountable, that is, responsible for my actions, I offer the following explanation. By no means do these exhaust the reasons, but possibly this will offer a few contributing factors that caused my actions....

OK, so I had never seen this on Tex's website before and I gotta be honest- that opening intrigued me just a bit, so I read it.  I figured that Tex was going to make all the usual nonsensical excuses, and he did. But, he also went a little deeper than just the using religion, and blaming Charlie stuff that you would expect. Today, let us take a look together. Here are a few of the ideas as to why Tex was able to become from a self- analysis written by Tex himself...

Note:All of these quotes were taken from his document. In most cases, I didn't reprint every quote he gave under each Main Idea, but these are the majority of them. Also, all religious quotes added after each Idea were given by Tex himself- that was not my touch. This was the exact format of Tex's document. He listed the specific Idea at top and then put a few quotes or sentences to support the idea under each one. Each supporting quote I selected for the respective Idea is reprinted is in its entirety. These are not parts of paragraphs. This is how he chose to do it...

Tex Did Not Listen To His Parents!    (Honor your father and mother - Ex 20:12a)

I'll never forget my parents standing in the living room begging me not to go to California. I said, " I am 21 and I am going,"  I had never stood up to my parents before in outright rebellion.

The crimes ended up bringing them to their knees, causing devastation, hurt, humiliation and much embarrassment. My siblings were left to hold them up from all the emotional pain, which I so deeply regret."

Tex Says He Suffers From 7 Deadly Sins!  (For the wages of sin is death - Rom 6:23)

It was pride exalting me above the Godly wisdom of my parents. I thought I knew it all. My needs were going to get met one way or another, I never had enough. I was a very lustful person seeking to fulfill my flesh and eyes. Drawn away and enticed by my own desire. Envy was present. longing for benefits enjoyed by others.

My fear of failure caused pent up anger in my heart.

Tex Got Separated From God!   (All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way- (Isa 53:6a)

These sins were the root and effect of my separation from God. I turned from my parents core beliefs and values, shucking off their accountability, thus breaking their hearts.

I was powerless over the effects of my sin, while trying to fill the void in my heart. Unable to control my thoughts and feelings, my life was without restraint, resulting in compulsive behavior.

With the Power of God's love and grace missing in my life, those deadly sins were free to rule, affecting not only myself, but everyone around me.

Tex Made Compulsive Choices!  (Choose this day whom you will serve - Jos.24:15a)

I made one compulsive choice after another beginning at puberty, drinking a beer at 14, and sex at 16 which led to a party life in College.  

Though I worked to save for college, I made foolish choices instead of studying, making the grade and being responsible. I chose to run with the wrong crowd, join a fraternity, have sex, move out West, drop out of College in California, get addicted to drugs and join the Manson Family.

The crimes were simply another impulsive choice while self medicating.

I had a choice to chose life or death. I chose death which brought a curse on a multitude of innocent people. As a result, it has spread to new generations, causing a seed of rebellion to grow.

Tex Lacked Knowledge!  (My people are destroyed because of lack of knowledge - Hos.4:6a)

The crimes were a result of my lack of knowledge. Today, I have the knowledge of the truth that sets one free of deception, the manipulation of others and my own flesh. I believed a lie, resulting in a trail of devastation. 

I was ignorant of so many core things. For instance, the real meaning of love, righteousness, peace and joy; the concept of how thoughts affect emotions, choices of behavior, the wholistic view who I am as a person and the power of right believing, were all things foreign to me.

Tex Was Emotionally Insecure!  (A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways- Jm.1:8)

I became an emotionally insecure person, not accountable to anyone. I was overcome with hurt, frustration, and insecurity. I felt that my significance is based on my importance. It seemed impossible to achieve what was being asked of me. The fear of failure possessed me, causing anger and the eventual murders.

Though my family was reserved when it came to showing affection, I was raised a gentleman. For example I would open the car door for my date. But under the surface I was hurting and fearful, which was the reason for drinking to medicate my pain.

Tex Was Radicalized!  (For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he- Pro.23:7)

When I met up with Manson, I was on a quest for personal significance that I never gained while trying to achieve the goals set for me by my parents. As a young man, I was experiencing an identity crisis. I wanted to matter to someone, to be respected in the eyes of others, to achieve, to earn a sense of value or self-esteem. 

I chose to be loyal to Manson's ideology as a means to attain this goal. I looked at him to bestow on me feelings of significance, instead of returning to my parents dreams in humiliation and failure. I justified violence, never finding my own individual path, nor fulfilling my own goals in life.

I shared a collective belief system with the Manson Family. The ideology seemed feasible as everyone believed it. I experienced a growing commitment to achieve due to group pressure.

Tex was Co-Dependent!  (There is a way that seems right to man, but it's end is the way to death - Pro.14:12)

I was suffering from the debilitating affects of "codependency". I looked for others people approval for a sense of worth and happiness, something that other people could truly not give me. Through peer pressure, I became willing to do anything for the approval of the Family. 

I gave myself to Manson's radical belief's, allowing him to make my decisions. Finally, I became willing to die for him, yielding my life as a sacrifice. I succumbed to his natural charisma, having no identity left of my own. I chose martyrdom behavior, giving my life for foolish beliefs.

Tex Took Drugs! (Don't be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy spirit- Eph.5:18)

It was only 30 days before the murders when I took my first snort of speed, which was the other catalyst. I knew I couldn't carry out Manson's orders without speed., but for two years I already abused marijuana and hallucinogens. 

This allowed my conscious to be overridden so the crimes could be carried out. Still the girls ad I argued whether to go through with it for an hour while driving in the car to the crime scene, but we lost the battle of our minds. Life was not only over for them, but would never be the same for countless others because of my drug use.

On the speed, I became past feeling. But when we returned to the ranch after the crime, I felt my soul had died with the lives I had taken.  

Tex Has Final Words!

But I am going to have mine first ;)

If you listen to this jackass long enough you start to realize that he has been working, for a very long time, trying to figure out himself what the hell is wrong with him. Tex had a life that was much like my own and a hundred other guys I know who grew up in a small town. He had a nice family who owned a small business. He was a popular guy, who was good at sports and was able to go to college. He went through puberty like millions of other guys lol having beer and sex after 8'th grade is not unique. He seems to feel that after being a popular high school athlete, and belonging to a fraternity, The Manson family were the ones to make him feel feel pressure to be a certain way? That really doesn't make any sense. He also mentions having to be judged by accomplishments. Tex seems to feel that the rest of the world gets to play by some special rules. Every situation he explains is something that 90% of young men in America go through growing up. Charlie had a background you could make an argument led him down the wrong path. Not Tex. Sorry, I am not buying it. I have read Tex explain his childhood and teen years, in his own words, in two of his books. He paints a picture for me of a upbringing that was... Average to good.

Look, it takes a very special kind of scumbag to stab a woman in the final stages of pregnancy, and do what he did to those people. What kind of animal goes back for more? You would think he would have been, exhausted, in shock, or at least scared out of his mind after the first night. And this wasn't a shooting either. Bang and its over. This was torture by knife. Very personal and difficult way to kill people. It takes more time and you have to be up close and personal. You have to hear the sounds and see the carnage. If you ask any law enforcement person what the statistics are when a person is stabbed so many times so viciously, they will tell you 90% of the time it is a crime of passion or very personal, and the victim most likely knew the attacker. The struggle, the blood, the sounds of desperation, begging, and slow death. Tex did this to strangers, and then the bastard went back out, and did it again.

Tex doesn't seem to understand why himself if you ask me. He gives every sort of reason in the world and hopes that if he throws enough darts, maybe one or two will stick. The truth to me is, there is no understanding what he did. There is something wrong with him. Tex Watson is one of the scariest bastards on the planet. And what makes it worse, is that you never see a guy like this coming. His life was very normal. Charlie was an older, street talking con. If you weren't smart enough to see his jive, then shame on you. But Tex was the guy sitting next to you in math class. The guy on your baseball team. The one you never think twice about. He looks like one of us.

If you read enough of Tex Watson's site you will see one common theme. Forgiveness. He talks about it, and lists quote after quote about it. Even used the word in the title of one of his on-line books. Tex has made his whole life about forgiveness. To me that can never happen. And, even if Tex does deserve some sort of forgiveness, he sure doesn't get to announce that himself. Tex is a curiosity in a box. He is a life-long psychological study. He is not a human being to me. He knows he has nowhere else to turn, and so is trying to attach himself to God in hopes that can save him. I think that he can try as hard as he wants, but I bet not even God wants this deuche-bag around. But that is just my opinion. Even a Saint shouldn't speak for God ;)  In him I will trust.

But as advertised, I will let Tex have the final words...

There is truly no explanation for these senseless crimes. I understand people who say, "I don't want to hear it." I apologize for the deaths and pain I have caused due to my naive choices for which I take complete responsibility. I'm angry myself that something like these crimes could happen. Today, we hear of mass killings on a weekly basis. My heart is deeply saddened each time, seeing the wake of destruction left behind. What can we do? I have no answers other than God's Word, that says,

 "...if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land" (2 Chr. 7:14).

For the past decades, I've tried to make living amends to the lives I took and the futures that I destroyed in the 60s. I've humbled myself to God, surrendering my life to His will and purpose. I've taken authority over my life, allowing God's power, love and grace to heal, rule and reign in all that I do. I know I can't undo the past, but I do know that God's grace is sufficient for us, and His strength is made perfect in our weakness. So let the weak say, "I am strong!" (2 Cor. 12:9,10). 

God bless you all!

- Your Favorite Saint

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Parole Denied

I've just heard from Cielodrive, via email, that Bobby has been denied parole.  He will be able to have another hearing in three years.

There is nothing online yet about the decision.  I will update the post when something becomes available.

Update at

From the Associated Press which seems to have the most detailed article on the denial.

Monday, October 10, 2016

One of Our Own is Gone

Excuse me I am choked up, just off the phone with the widow.  Matt had been bugging me all week,  I was in NY and sent someone up to the house.  Now we know the sad news.

Robert Hendrickson,  Veteran, Filmmaker,  Husband, passed away peacefully while watching television on his couch October 1, 2016.

Robert was a friend of TLB researchers everywhere.  He was a friend of the blog.  He was a friend of mine.

His Oscar nominated film MANSON ended up in many ways his life's work.  When screening it in August we were able to see how amazing a work it really was when the audience applauded in droves.  Robert’s later work, assemble from outtakes, INSIDE THE MANSON GANG, was an incredible revelation as we saw the footage cleaned up and shiny.

This is only the beginning of the post to tell you all the sad news.  Myself and others will add to it as we find out more.

RIP Robert Hendrickson, my filmmaking friend.

Bobby is up for parole this week

Bobby Beausoleil is scheduled to have a parole hearing this week, Thursday October 13th.  Since his last hearing his wife, Barbara, passed away.  This event triggered a move from the prison where he was housed in Oregon back to the California prison system.  He was first sent to Tracy and after a few short months he was moved to the Medical Facility in Vacaville.

I do not know why he is at the Medical Facility.  They do have general population prisoners but the prison is mostly medical orientated.

Bobby has a website that showcases his music and art.  While there are interviews, mostly older ones, the focus of the website is his creativity.  He explicitly states that the website is not for "the unfortunate associations that haunt my past."  Prisoners do not have internet access, the site is provided and run by friends and family.

There is a music page where you can buy his music either by getting a CD or getting a download.  There is an art tab that offers 85 different drawings that can come as prints or be put on merchandise like tote bags, cell phone cases, greeting cards, shirts and even home accent pieces like throw pillows or a shower curtain!

I could not find anything that hints at where the money goes that he presumably makes from sales.  Certainly there is a cost to produce whatever product that is sold but I doubt that he's creating and selling things to break even.  The thought did occur to me that he would like to show the parole board that he can indeed support himself with his music and art so that's why this website offers so many things for sale.  If you remember at Bobby's last hearing he was chided by the board for thinking he could make a living from his creative endeavors and they told him he should have learned a trade while imprisoned.

Bobby also has a Facebook page.

So, what's the general consensus?  Is Bobby going to get his long desired parole, likely to be shut down by the governor like Bruce and Leslie?  Or is the parole board going to shoot him down again and tell him he still has some improving to do?

Monday, October 3, 2016

What Freaked Out Charlie?

 "Something freaked Manson out in early 1969 enough for him to prepare for the end of Western Civilization." (The Family pp.147)

Brooks Poston (Watson Trial):

“Q: While the rest of the family was at Barker Ranch, that is Manson, you and the others, did Manson ever leave Barker Ranch for Los Angeles and then return to Barkers?
A: Yes.
Q: When is the first time he did that?
A: He left in November.
Q: 1968?
A: Yes.
Q: When he returned to Barker Ranch did he say anything about what was happening in Los Angeles?
A: Yes, he said, "The shit's coming down."
Q: Did he say what he meant by that?
A: Yeah, that the revolution, the Black-White war was in the process of happening.
Q: This was in November of 1968?
A: Yes.
Q: Did he leave for Los Angeles several more times?
A: Yes.
Q: And when he returned, what would he say?
A: He also said the same thing; he said that it was really coming down fast.
Q: On New Year's Eve of 1969 did Manson again return to Barker Ranch from Los Angeles?
A: Yes.”

Paul Watkins (Watson Trial): 

“Q: How did it start out?
A: It started out in about New Year's -- as a matter of fact, it was New Year's Eve between 1968 and 1969, that Charlie was down in the city and the rest of the family was up at the Barker Ranch****
Q: Did it happen at or about the time you met somebody by the name of Mr. Crockett?
A: Yes, it did. I will tell you about it. I was telling you I began to get rather disgusted and disheartened with what was going on at the ranch, because it got to be a revolution type scene where everyone was talking about revolution and we were collecting guns and building dune buggies and things like that --
Q: Let's stop this; let's tell us about collecting guns.
When did you start to do that?
A: It was about the spring of 1969”

It has been said that the shooting of Bernard Crowe was the ‘trigger’ that set Manson off, ‘freaked him out’ but Bernard Crowe was shot on July 1, 1969, seven months after these events and two months after Paul Watkins left the family because of Manson’s violent ideas. 

“Q: In late May, was it, 1969, at Spahn Ranch?
A: Yes.
Q: Charlie said, "We are going to have to show Blacky how to do it"?
A: Yes.
Q: Now, when Manson said this, what effect, if any, did it have on you?
A: Had a heck of an effect because I already knew how he had said it. It was supposed to be done and I didn't want to kill anybody. I didn't want to show him how to do it.
Q: So what did you do?
A: I left, left the family and went to the desert.
Q: How long after Manson told you that "We," apparently referring to the family, were going to have to do it, did you leave?
A: That day.
Q: You went up to Barker Ranch?
A: Yes.
Q: You didn't want to have anything to do with helter-skelter?
A: No, I didn't.
Q: Because you knew this would involve killing?
A: I suspected such.
Q: You didn't want to kill anyone?
A: Correct.”

By the middle of January Manson was obsessed with Helter Skelter. By the time the Family moved to the Gresham Street house (Yellow Submarine) from Barker, it would appear Manson was already over the top. 

“In January 1969, Watkins said, “we all moved into the Gresham Street house to get ready for Helter Skelter. So we could watch it coming down and see all of the things going on in the city. He [Charlie] called the Gresham Street  house ‘The Yellow Submarine’ from the Beatles’ movie. It was like a submarine in that when you were in it you weren’t allowed to go out. You could only peek out of the windows.”   Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders . W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

It might be argued that the source of Manson’s ‘freak out’ was the Beatles, White Album. He returned on that New Years Eve, with a copy and made his ‘hep to the Beatles’ comment but on closer examination the Beatles only served to provide a framework for what Manson had already concocted from his Farad (Fard)-Nation of Islam- Book of Revelations-Racist ideas: the black versus white race war. The Beatles only gave it a name: Helter Skelter. They didn’t inspire it. 

“Charles Manson was already talking about an imminent black-white war when Gregg Jakobson first met him, in the spring of 1968. There was an underground expression current at the time, “the shit is coming down,” variously interpreted as meaning the day of judgment was at hand or all hell was breaking loose, and Charlie often used it in reference to the coming racial conflict. But he wasn’t rabid about it, Gregg said; it was just one of many subjects they discussed.”  Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders . W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

“Q: Now, prior to New Year's he used to say the s-h-i-t was coming down fast?
A: Yes.
Q: But this particular occasion he came back to Barker and said, "Helter-skelter is coming down fast"?
A: Yes.
Q: So he substituted the word "helter-skelter" for "s-h-i-t"; is that correct?
A: Yes.
Q: Thereafter it was always "helter-skelter is coming down"?
A: Yes.”
(Brooks Poston: Watson Trial)

There were, in fact, coincidences in the songs on that record, ‘Sadie’ appeared in ‘Sexy Sadie’, the phrase ‘coming down fast’ appeared, ‘piggies’ were ‘whacked’ and the interesting ‘in’ that appeared in Revolution #1 tantalized. But every one of these can be explained by the common parlance or shared beliefs of the time (except ‘Sadie’). 

So what event or events triggered Manson’s freak-out? 

Here are some possible ‘suspects’. 

1. The Assassination of Alprentice ‘Bunchy’ Carter and John Huggins

On January 17, 1969 US Organization members gunned down Carter and Huggins at the Black Student Union meeting in Campbell Hall on the campus of UCLA.

Los Angeles Times, Saturday, January 18, 1969

 The Argument For

Both Carter and Huggins were Black Panthers. Carter was the LA chapter head and Huggins was a senior ‘Captain’. Carter, like many Panthers, was a ‘black muslim’ (The term here means Nation of Islam-influenced: 'Fard-ists'.) politicized and converted in Soledad prison.

The UCLA-Panther connection is present. They were gunned down on the UCLA campus, which happens to be the only Panther shooting (or Panther bodies found) on the UCLA campus, although neither were ‘dumped’ there. 

It would have been well known. Manson didn’t read newspapers and there was a lot of notoriety about this event. Carter was the leader of the LA Panthers and the former ‘Mayor of the Ghetto’ or ‘Mayor of Watts’ depending on what you read. He was also a former high-ranking member of the Slauson street gang and commander of Renegade Slauson a group who could make the Crips, cower.

They looked like they were ready to start a war. Three hours later, ostensibly to prevent retaliation against US, 150 LAPD descended on Huggin’s home and arrested 17 Panthers confiscating a small arsenal of weapons including military carbines and home made bombs. 

The Argument Against

By the time the Family relocated to the Yellow Submarine Manson was already 'freaked'. The murders happened on January 17th. The murders don’t fit Watkins and Poston’s timeline of November-December 1968. 

The US Organization carried out the murders. This was one black militant group against another, the Panthers. This doesn’t fit Manson’s Helter Skelter. Blacks should have been killing whites. 

2. The Strange Case of Frank ‘Captain Franco’ Diggs

Here is how Elaine Brown, one time head of the Black Panthers, describes Diggs: 

“Frank Diggs, Captain Franco, was reputedly leader of the Panther underground. He had spent twelve years in Sing Sing Prison in New York on robbery and murder charges. Now he was Bunchy’s right hand. 

Franco was slightly insane, Ericka had told me. Prison had done it. He thought he had been fed peas in prison that contained small microphones, which, remaining in his body, allowed  guards and police to monitor his life. That was why, even now, he lived so carefully, outright paranoid about everything, especially dirt. He showered at least twice a day and never wore any item of clothing more than once without it being cleaned or washed. He polished his shoes daily, tops and bottoms. The result was spectacular. 

‘You don’t have to be afraid, Sister Elaine [Diggs said]. I would make it so beautiful for you. Other than making love to a Sister, downing a pig is the greatest feeling in the world. Have you ever seen a pig shot with a .45 automatic, Sister Elaine?’”

Brown, Elaine. A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story (Kindle Locations 2636-2638). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

By all accounts Diggs was Bunchy Carter’s ‘enforcer’. His preferred weapon a .45 automatic. He was also the LA Panther with ties to the ‘underground’ which is a nice way of saying he was the one who obtained dope and more importantly difficult to obtain guns like military grade carbines. 

What makes Diggs’ murder strange is the fact no one seems to agree where it took place, when it took place or how he was killed. There is also almost a complete lack of information about the murder and only one mention in the press. Given the FBI (COINTELPRO) was at its anti-Panther pinnacle in late 1968 this event should have garnered more publicity, especially given the claims (by some) that Diggs was killed by his own people. Instead, this is the only record of the event I could find. 

Independent Press Telegram, Saturday, December 21, 1968

Most other mentions of the murder are inaccurate, including Elaine Brown's. Main and 157th is not in Long Beach it’s in West Compton and he was killed on December 19th not the 30th or the first and he was shot twice in the head: 

“Franco had been killed. He had been shot in the head three times in an alley in Long Beach. It had happened earlier that evening [December 30].”  Brown, Elaine. A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story

“The slaying of Frank Diggs in Los Angeles in December, 1968, suggests the same ruthless discipline at work within the Panther party. His lacerated body, with two bullet holes in the chest, was found in an alley.” Who Will Bell the Panthers, James Kilpatrick, The Fresno Bee, June 20, 1970. 

“December 30: Los Angeles Panther Frank Diggs is shot in the head and killed by police agents.” Black Panther Party, Pieces of History: 1966 - 1969

“On Jan. 1, 1969, Captain Franco (Frank Diggs), the reputed leader of the BPP's local underground apparatus, was shot dead in an alley in Long Beach.” The FBI's War on the Black Panther Party's Southern California Chapter

“Franko Diggs, forty, who was a captain in the Black Panther Party, was found fatally shot in the Watts section of Los Angeles on December 19, 1968. No witnesses to the shooting could be found, but the police identified the murder weapon from the bullets as a foreign-made 9-mm. automatic pistol. Almost a year later, when the Los Angeles police crime laboratory was doing routine ballistics tests on eighteen weapons seized in a raid on Black Panther headquarters early in 1969, it was found that one of the confiscated Panther automatics ballistically matched the bullet that had killed Diggs.” The Black Panthers and the Police: A Pattern of Genocide? NEW YORKER, February 13, 1971 by Edward Jay Epstein

Epstein puts an end the discussion by claiming Panthers killed Diggs. His accusation is picked up and repeated by other ‘law and order’ writers at the time. Kilpatrick, above, was the first to make the claim. The problem is no source is cited for this information and there does not appear to be one that I could find. Diggs was Bunchy Carter’s ‘enforcer’. While it is possible US murdered Diggs, a Panther murder, given his connection, seems unlikely. 

The claim is precisely the type of information the FBI would have blared like Joshua’s trumpets and yet there is no mention of Diggs in the newspapers of the time or the FBI files. A Panther hit on a Panther is precisely the type of information the FBI was struggling to make up in 1968. They’d have dropped to their knees thanking the Lord above if they had been handed these ballistics. Instead…..crickets. 

Then again, since I make my living being paranoid, the absence of any Panther rhetoric in response to Diggs’ death at the time or now is highly unusual. Here is what Elaine Brown (not a particularly trustworthy reporter) says. She is typically ‘all in’ on the ‘FBI plot to exterminate the Panthers’. It fills the pages of her book:

"In December of 1968, one of our comrades, Frank "Franco" Diggs, was killed in an alley in Long Beach. We, to this minute, can't trace how that happened. Franco was one of the key figures in the formation of the chapter and probably one of the people closest to Bunchy Carter."

The Argument For

Unless you are a conspiracy buff (I'm not), there is none. 

If you are a conspiracy buff here are a few questions that might make you go 'hmmm': Is this the Panther Manson actually killed? He is essentially a gunrunner and drug dealer. He may have been dumped in an alley (not at UCLA). Why does anyone believe that Manson or anyone else believed Bernard Crowe was a Panther when they knew who he was-a drug dealer? Diggs was killed by a 9mm, isn’t that a Family favorite? Hinman? LaBianca? Where did Manson get his small arsenal, confiscated at Spahn? Wouldn’t killing an actual Panther, especially Diggs give Manson a real reason to be paranoid they were after him?

I was told that because Diggs’ murder is listed as ‘unsolved’ (and given its age, probably closed and destroyed) a request for information to LAPD or LASO will be declined. 

The Argument Against

The murder is too obscure. It gained little notoriety. Even Panthers who were close to it at the time (Elaine Brown) get the facts wrong and again it is a Panther being killed so it doesn’t fit Helter Skelter. 

3. The Murder of Bryan Clay

On December 9, 1968 at 9:40 p.m. three black youths approached 18 year old Bryan Clay on fraternity row on the USC campus and for no apparent reason stabbed him to death. At least that is what Manson likely heard. 
Los Angeles Times, Wednesday, December 11, 1968

Trivia: Paul Fitzgerald represented the murderer. 

USC is a ‘private’ institution. Tuition was high. The student body was drawn primarily from affluent, white families. One fraternity brother described USC like this: ‘We are a white island in a black sea and you have to face it.” 

The Argument For

The murder of Clay fits Helter Skelter. Blacks leave the ghetto and kill whitey. Its timing is right, early December 1969. It is a seemingly random murder (unless you read). It is a black murdering an affluent white young man in a ‘rich’ (Fraternity Row) neighborhood. Because it involved a black man killing a white man it received a good deal of press at the time so it likely was common knowledge. 

It also eerily foreshadows the murders to come eight months later: a knife-wielding killer(s) invades a ‘white bastion’ and murders a wealthy white young man. 

Did this influence Manson? Is that why, despite the multiple guns at Spahn, Manson sent knives? Certainly he should have realized the Panthers were about guns, not knives. Didn’t he know about the Panthers appearing armed at the state legislature? That act, incidentally, spawned the most restrictive anti-Second Amendment (right to bear arms) law in history- a law signed by Governor Ronald Reagan- because openly armed black men showed up at the capital. Guns were the whole point of the Panthers. It stirred memories of ‘armed slaves’ and scared white people. Was he trying to tie the later murders back to Clay? 

Not likely. 

The Argument Against

I’ll leave the arguments for you. 

4. The Times

Of course it could have been the times. Until January 1968 there were no Black Panthers in LA and likely they didn’t even make an impression until a month or so later. Then they were there and a big, scary presence. 

The membership of the LA Panthers was drawn from the Slausons a street gang (the 1968 equivalent of the Crips or Bloods) and went on to demonstrate a willingness to further the revolution ‘by any means necessary’. 

On August 5, 1968 during the Watts Festival commemorating the Watts riots police followed a carload of Panthers to Ham's Mobil Service Station (The Crenshaw Shootout) supposedly because they turned suspiciously into a driveway and then backed out. When three of the four Panthers refused to respond to police commands a shootout followed. By all accounts the Panthers fired first. Three Panthers were killed and two police officers were wounded. 

“If anything, the fact that these Panthers stood their ground and fought the police to the death strengthened the Party’s revolutionary credentials and drew new recruits, including alienated Vietnam War hero Geronimo Pratt.”  Bloom, Joshua; Martin, Waldo E., Jr.. Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party (p. 216). University of California Press. Kindle Edition.

The Redlands Daily Facts, Tuesday, August 6, 1968

Look who was also involved: our friend Frank Diggs.

After this event LA Panther rhetoric became increasingly threatening. The feud also developed between the Panthers and the US Organization that culminated in the deaths of ‘Bunchy’ Carter and John Huggins (and others).

The Argument For 

It certainly looked like a black revolution was imminent. Even the Panthers believed  it was occurring.

“Readers today may have difficulty imagining a  revolution in the United States. But in the late 1960s, many thousands of young black people, despite the potentially fatal outcome of their actions, joined the Black Panther Party and dedicated their lives to revolutionary struggle”.  Bloom, Joshua; Martin, Waldo E., Jr.. Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party (p. 2). University of California Press. Kindle Edition.

The Argument Against

This was a ‘slow burn’ and nothing of any significance happened in November-December 1968 on this timeline. Manson may have seen this all happening and viewed it from the perspective of his apocalyptic hallucination but nothing on the timeline stands out as a catalyst after August 5th.

I do wonder if Manson used the anniversary of the Watts Riots (August 11-15, 1965) as his focal point for the murders but like many of his schemes screwed up the details, getting the precise date wrong. 

“While at the Gresham Street house, Manson had told Watkins that the atrocious murders would occur that summer.  It was almost summer now and the blacks were showing no signs of rising up to fulfill their karma.”  Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders . W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

Something, did, indeed, freak Manson out in late 1968 or early 1969.

“We didn't know when it was happening -- like I'd look out the window and wonder if it was going to happen today, you know -- think what was the quickest way to get to shelter if it was to happen right now.” Paul Watkins.