Saturday, December 30, 2017

Everything's Illegal

Long time Mansonblog reader (and my friend) brownrice and his band, The Pagan Love Cult have put out a new album called The Last Of The Long Lost Hippies. If you look carefully at the cover you can see Manson making a cameo. Really interesting stuff. Give it a listen and please support them if you can.

In his words:
"Well I finally got it together to finish the album complete with the Charlie track (though it's arguably Bruce Davis who apparently did a very good Charlie impression).  Anyways, I'm punting it out of bandcamp ('cause they let you stream the whole track for people to listen to) but it's also on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, CDbaby and all the other usual suspects with CDs to follow in the New Year. 
"It's the 3rd track, Everything's Illegal."
Love, peace & Optimistic Cynicism™,

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Who was that kid?

I've always been puzzled & deeply curious as to WHY a child would've been allowed to roam & wander around the area where a horrific, brutal slaughter of multiple people took place, with one laying in a car only a few feet away. Yes, he was outside the gate, with the hordes of cops, reporters, morgue staff, priests & curious onlookers, but WHY. Who was he? Why was he there? Where were his parents/parent? Was he a neighbor? Was he related to one of the reporters? He was just walking around, like nothing while complete & utter pandemonium was all around him, reporters shouting, cops scratching their heads in confusion, helicopters flying overhead, news conferences being filmed, etc. You see him in still photos, and in news clips. He was walking right by one of the hearses while behind the freaking CORONER, and a priest (Peter Sellers-look-alike) who was probably going to give blessings over the bodies. I would've been scared out of my mind! Any clues to who the kid was?

You can see him starting at 6:20 on this video:

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Best wishes to everyone from all of us here at the blog!  We couldn't do it without you.

Monday, December 18, 2017

VERN PLUMLEE: Unanswered Questions

Plumlee, 20 in 1969, was a Family associate/sometime member who first shows up at the Ranch about July of '69, when he was hired by Ruby Pearl as a ranch hand. He was AWOL (Absent Without Leave) from the Marines and someone probably told him he could hide out at the ranch.  He describes his first meeting with Charlie:

Long Beach Independent, 10-28-70
"When I first met Charlie, he walked up and said 'Let me run your life down' and he did. It just kinda blew my mind. He said I had been in jail since I was 14; knew I was at McClaren (Juvenile) Hall; knew I was AWOL. I don't know how he knew." 

Was Charlie just plain psychic? Or did Charlie get a peek at Vern's employment application (assuming he filled one out), perhaps via Squeaky, who was always at the side of George Spahn, the owner of the Ranch? But would Vern have told Ruby Pearl that he was a deserter from the Marines or that he had been in juvenile hall? Is this statement by Charlie in fact evidence that someone else (like maybe his handler) was briefing him about Vern's background?

Vern apparently fit right in with the Family:

Ed Sanders: "Vern Plumlee is famous in Mansonian circles in that, armed with a sawed-off shotgun, he creepy crawled the homes of Jack Jones, the star, and Marvin Miller in July of 1969."

In fact he was close enough to volunteer for the night of terror:

Long Beach Independent, 10-28-70
(Plumlee) said Tuesday he watched as accused mass murderer Charles Manson and seven members of his hippie "family" set out to kill (the second night). In fact, (Plumlee) admits "I offered to go along to help, but Charlie said 'no.' "He said he'd keep it in mind, though, for the future."

Did Vern know what had happened the night before at the Tate residence? If so, then he might have been legally culpable as an accessory after the fact. At the very least it shows he was as fully under the Manson spell as anybody else in the Family.

In Sept/Oct of '69, Plumlee split "because fear enveloped the Ranch." But like so many others after the Family broke up, Plumlee soon got into serious trouble even without Charlie's help.

A year later, on September 26, 1970, Vern and a friend--Robert Eugene Russell, in his early 20s--were caught ransacking the home of some people they had just been drinking with in a bar. A fight ensued and two of the residents were stabbed, one seriously.

Long Beach Independent, 10-22-70
Roberto A. Rivarola, 19... was stabbed in the stomach, chest and left arm by Russell, said police. (Plumlee stabbed the other victim, Jeffrey Hanham, 48)... As the three (victims) were ordered into a bedroom, Plumlee reportedly said "I've killed three times before; one more doesn't matter." Rivarola told police that as he lay on the floor pleading for help, Plumlee leaned over, kissed him on the forehead and said "that's life."

It didn't take long for the law to catch up to Vern and his cohort:

Long Beach Independent, 10-12-70
Two former Manson "family" members sought on attempted murder charges in Long Beach have been arrested by FBI agents in Washington state...  Meanwhile, Long Beach police disclosed they raided a motel room here last week where the pair had been staying and confiscated a number of items, including tape recordings titled, "The Manson Story," a typewritten manuscript called "Where's Charlie?" and a book on "Satanism and Witchcraft."
Vernon Ray Dean Plumlee and Robert Eugene Russell, both Marine deserters, were arrested in a hippie commune outside Spanaway(WA) and are being held in Tacoma City jail under the Dyer Act for investigation of taking a stolen car across state lines, police said...
 ... (Long Beach PD)Officers R.C. Watsen and M.K. Post, responding to the tip, found the books and tape recordings together with a 9mm automatic and 43 rounds of ammunition, envelopes addressed to Charles Watson, a suspect in the Tate-LaBianca murders, a leather sheath and a knife-sharpening stone, several detective books and an Afro style wig.

At this point one might ask "who the hell is Robert Eugene Russell?"  The media claimed he was an associate of the Family, yet he appears on no list of Family members compiled by the police (Lt Deemer's list) or media.

Long Beach Independent, 10-12-70
 .... Russell was described as "an associate member" of the family who visited the ranch periodically.  He had been subpoenaed July 22 (1970) while in the Marine brig at 29 Palms to appear as a prosecution witness at the Manson trial.

Here is the only known pic of Russell, taken at the time of his trial, apparently.  Russell seems to have a strong resemblance to another Family associate called "Allen Lee Delisle," 21, (especially around the eyes) taken from the collection of Family mugshots. Are they the same person?

Allen Delisle left, Robert Russell right

Unfortunately no more is known of this "Allen Delisle" person, or how he was linked to the Family.

From the stuff found in their motel room it appears Plumlee and Russell were still very much tied in to Charlie and Family. And then the question becomes: did the crime have something to do with the Family, or was it done under the influence of the "Helter Skelter" philosophy?

Plumlee and Russell pleaded guilty; Vern was sentenced to prison and ended up doing seven years; after this he went straight and no more was heard from him.


post script - the Hidden Hills Murder

Shortly after their arrests, detectives felt the need to link Plumlee and Russell to another unsolved murder:

Long Beach Independent, 10-12-70
Officers said last week... the pair also matched the description of two men who killed one person and wounded two others July 21 in Hidden Hills near the Spahn Ranch where Manson family members lived.

This refers to the murder of Norman Weitzman, 39, at the home of his parents in the exclusive Hidden Hills subdivision in the far west part of LA County, just over the hills from Malibu, near Agoura. On July 21, 1970 their home was invaded by three men, apparently intent on robbery.

Norman Weitzman was shot to death July 21, 1970, at his parents' home in the wealthy, gate-guarded enclave of Hidden Hills at the west end of the San Fernando Valley. Three hooded men had broken in looking for cash collected from the company's network of gum ball and peanut dispensing (vending) machines. (The company--Oak Manufacturing Co. -- also manufactured vending machines.)... Norman Weitzman died trying to protect his family. His parents were severely injured by the intruders. His father, Sam, 60, was shot in the neck, rolled up in a carpet and left for dead. Lillian, his 59-year-old mother, was badly pistol-whipped.

But robbery might not have been the prime motive:

LA Times 7-22-70 (the day after the murder)
"Detectives were uncertain about the motive, saying Sam Weitzman's home... had been only lightly ransacked and that several expensive items were left untouched."

LA Times 7-23-70
"...the usual items such as stereos, cameras, and other valuables had not been taken by the killers."

Van Nuys News 11-30-71
"... Money and jewelry were stolen, but there was speculation the invasion was an "underworld" operation."

[Why would police think that a home invasion robbery was an 'underworld' thing?  They wouldn't--unless the victims had links to the 'underworld.'  It should be noted that the vending machine business has a long association with mobsters.]

15 months later, in October or November of 1971, two suspects -- Enrique B. Gil, 20s, and Edward Kessler, 35--were arrested. They did not have any known connection to Charlie or Family.

Two trials resulted in hung juries. A third ended with the acquittal of the first suspect to be tried.  After that, charges against the second suspect were not pursued. The third suspect subsequently died while in federal prison for another crime without facing charges in Weitzman's death.

Paul J. Fitzgerald, who defended Patricia Krenwinkel in the TLB trial, was Kessler's attorney.  Marvin Part, who represented Leslie Van Houten for a time after her arrest, also represented one of the suspects. (Though I don't know if these attorneys represented the defendants in all three trials.)

Marvin Part

Paul Fitzgerald

There is no hard evidence connecting the Manson Clan to the Hidden Hills murder/home invasion, and I don't know why the police initially thought they were linked.  But I am reminded of what Tex wrote regarding his drug connection:

Tex Watson, Will You Die For Me?
--pg 51of 120  "I'd  arranged  to buy a kilo of grass from the dealer who'd been supplying the Family — he fronted the dope with a vending-machine company and people said he was with the Mafia."

I'm surprised no fans of the "drug burn" theory of TLB have ever tried to tie the Weitzman murder to the case.

Special thanks to DebS for her help compiling this thread!

Monday, December 11, 2017

The End of an Era

"Living is what Scares me.... Dying is easy"
- Charles Manson

" Its always our own self that we find at the end of a journey. The sooner we find that self, the better"
- Ella Maillart

Ya know... 

I came into this world in the "Summer Of Love" almost literally. I was born in the Spring of 1967. Not three months from when Charlie Manson walked into the Haight Ashbury District for the very first time. I was too young to be a part of what, I always have believed to be, the most exciting years our nation has ever experienced. At least as far as individual freedoms and hope. I have had to settle for spending my life reading about it to settle my curiosity. It seemed that magically almost overnight, society went from black and white to color. Like that scene in Wizard of Oz when Dorothy first opens the door in Munchkin City. Things just became a whole lot more wide open than people were used to thinking were possible. As I got older, I became more and more curious as to what the counter-culture movement was all about? From what I could find in books, records and radio, all roads seemed to lead to California. From the Beach Boys as a tot, and then the Doors records we used to play in basement I grew up in as a boy, to the Greatful Dead shows I used to trade bootlegs of in High School- I have been infatuated with all things Musical, Hippy, and California for most of my life. This fascination has led me to study many movements and cliques of the late 60's period, where it seems all 3 of these subjects were intertwined, and at their peak. Scientology, The Process Church of Final Judgement, The Hog Farm, The Panthers, The Diggers, the Merry Pranksters, The BEL ( TY Patty) - I have delved into all of them. Same with the rock and roll scene. From the earliest clubs on Sunset Strip, and the musician networking in Laurel Canyon, to the music coming out of the Bay area and the creation of Psychedelic Rock and the Jam-band sound. I read every book and listened to every tale I could find. But the one story that stayed with me the most, and has haunted my dreams, after all these years is the story of Helter Skelter and Charles Manson. It is not really a Hippy story in my opinion to be honest, but that it is how I came across it, so it will always be catalogued in my memory with that period of time...

I have read in many places that two events ended the "Spirit of the 60's". One was the Murder of Meredith Hunter in Livermore California, at the Altamont Raceway, during a free Rolling Stones Concert. The other was the Manson murders of Sharon Tate and her friends, followed by the slayings of Leo and Rosemary Labianca the following night. I would argue that although there was plenty of ugliness, drugs, Hippies and bikers involved in both stories to merit a comparison, only one has truly withstood the test of time, as judged by public interest, to really merit consideration as the turning point in a cultural shift. I am quite sure that while 90% of America no longer remembers the events of the Northern California raceway where one tragedy took place late in 1969, almost everyone who has heard the name Manson raised an eye when the Mastermind of another tragedy in the same year passed away last month in a Bakersfield Hospital.

Today, I take a final look at the life of Charles Manson.....

His Youth: 

I wouldn't wish the childhood of Charles Manson on anyone. At the age most of us are wondering what the difference is between a number two pencil and any other pencil, Charlie was struggling to keep food in his mouth, clothes on his back, and a roof over his head. Boy's schools, and reform programs tossing you back and forth, while you are handed from relative to relative, is not a really an enabling or nurturing environment for success. Charlie was dealt a bad hand for sure. He was stealing and breaking minor laws to get by at a very early age, and in many ways he really had no choice. Charles Manson had a tragic youth. Although there was some love, and a few family members who were showing him some type of example, he was pretty much left to himself by the two people who matter the most in all of our upbringings - Mom and Dad. Living on the run, and moving from one crime to another just to get by was a sure recipe for trouble. Trouble is exactly what young Charlie kept finding. Constantly and consistently, until he was finally through his childhood and teenage years, Charlie would spend a good deal of time in confinement. There was not much promise or hope in the earliest years of Manson. It wasn't until he was a grown man that he would get a real taste of freedom and possibility. But when he got it, Ohhhh what a taste he got....

His Big Break and Opportunity:

In march of 1967, Charlie was released from prison and given permission to go to San Fransisco just in time for what was probably the greatest multi-month psychedelic party in the history of our Country. Charlie was able to find housing and a girlfriend, or two, and to play his music with others who were living free and enjoying the vibes of the times. Imagine the man who had just spent so many years shuffling along in the black and white world of prisons and reform schools walking into all of that visual stimulation. Ahhh, The sounds and the colors of The Haight in summer of 1967. Much like the aforementioned Dorothy, this young man from the poor, rural part of nowhere America, must have felt like he was in some new place very far from anything resembling what he used to call home. And it must have been truly amazing. What an incredible time of peace and love. Charlie had an opportunity to understand the human side of people, and all the good that they are capable of. Sharing and kindness were all around him. Charlie had a chance to make anything he wanted of himself, and the possibilities were limitless. He caught a break coming out to this environment. It was the first of a few good things that would happen to him. He was starting to meet people who would support him, and give him friendship and love. It gave him a chance to start fresh and make something positive with his life if he so chose. What he chose instead was to start to gather a group of people and go in another direction....

His Family:

From Mary and Squeakster who were his first, to Sandy, Patricia, and Nancy who were maybe his most loyal. From Ruth and Diane who were too young to know any better, to Gypsy and Leslie who knew exactly what they were getting into. Charlie had an effect for sure on the Girls. For not the love and dedication of the core group of girls, I say this Family never sticks together and none of the rest of it ever goes down. The girls were the glue and bond that kept the whole thing together. With the men I believe it was different. I believe there were a couple who bought the rap such as Brooks, and maybe Bruce and Tex to an extent. However, I think the guys just went along with whatever the message of the day was, in order to get high and laid. In any case, and for whatever reason you want to pick, Charlie was able to put together a core group of 20 people or so who more or less stayed together on the promise of a daily diet of things all people that age were interested in back in the late 60's. Intoxication and the opposite sex. But again, this gave Charlie both the chance to have an easy life and to enjoy the places and times in which he was very fortunate to be living. Even more, during this period he was able to meet some of the real movers and shakers of the moment in his loved profession- music. From Neil Young to Dennis Wilson, Charlie got a rare opportunity to get on the inside. Maybe he just wasn't good enough, or maybe he just didn't take it seriously enough? Who am I to judge today. In any case, when it didn't happen, instead of looking for another way to make himself happy, he decided to take a turn towards a much darker place. And once he went in that direction, the momentum started picking up at an alarming speed.  To some in his circle, this was a sign it was time to leave. Others believed it to be "cool". Those back then learned it was otherwise so, but there are those who believe that Charlies darkness was "cool" to this day. It wasn't just acid and the 60's that caused normal people to buy into Charlies ideas. Charlie has an extended family which somehow morphed from the kids and young adults of the Spahn and Barker ranches, to a small assorted group of cliques of people who still correspond, speak with, and visit with him to this day. In all his adult life, his ability to draw some in never seemed to diminish. It has always been a challenge for me to understand why some could read, and hear, what those who were in the original Family had to say about what life was like with Charles Manson, that would make them wish to become a part of it, or champion what he said and did? Because what started out as a fun group of people taking acid and making love in the sun, at some point became a hardened group of criminals, who stole, assaulted, and murdered people under the leadership, and in most cases direction of, Charles Manson...

His Crimes:

The crimes of Charles Manson are many. From his earliest days he was stealing and breaking minor laws. As he got older the crimes got more serious. Even long before the TLB crimes he was raping, pimping, stealing, forging, and doing all types of  criminal behavior as one would expect from a person who spent more than half of their formative years in confinement of some type. There were dozens of people all over the country who were hurt, robbed, or cheated by Charles Manson before he ever played one note on his guitar. But this blog is mostly about one specific set of crimes, so let me address it one last time clearly and finally. Then the rest of you can battle over it for as long as you wish....

TLB:  I do not know for sure what the real motive for the TLB crimes is. And Neither do you.

I suspect strongly that there is some basic element of all of the the motives we fight over here. I think its possible that some of the girls believed they were trying to get Bobby out of Jail. I think Charlie may have had some personal reason for choosing the locations that we may never know. I think Charlie had personal ways to push each individuals buttons to get what he wanted from each specific individual. I also think, he knew there were limits to how far he could push certain people in his Family. And you know what else I think?

I think that Helter Skelter was probably the button he pushed for at least a couple of them.

Bugs lied and embellished, and used every trick in his book to get his guy and make his story. That is true. But, it is also true that there is more physical, testimonial, and circumstantial evidence to support the Helter Skelter motive than there is any other motive put forth by anyone else. Scream as you may, we have been over this so many times. There was just too much evidence of Helter Skelter to simply ignore it. I think Bugs could have worked out an angle over drug burn, or copy-cat, or music business envy and just as easily involved Charlie and sold books. But he chose Helter Skelter as the starting point to build his case, and novel, on. I think there was a simple reason for that. There was more to back up and justify a Helter Skleter motive than anything else. Does not mean it was the only motive, or the real ultimate motive, But it is fair to say it was around and probably played some part for, at least, some of them. And, I have read and listened to a couple of the people involved say that Helter Skelter was the reason they did it, so I think that the actual murderers reasoning for doing what they did is good enough for me.

I think all of this. I do not know. If you want to insult my mother, beat me up, or call me names- then have one last time at it. The one thing I do feel strongly about is that whatever the real reason for the crimes, Charlie was aware of it, and involved with the crimes in as far as deciding the locations and choosing the participants. I am going to end my time studying this case certain that this is the truth. Charlie was as responsible for TLB as any of the actual killers in that aspect. For ten years now I have been reading books, and watching movies and documentaries. I have visited the locales. I have read or listened to almost every parole hearing any one of them has had. If I am sure of any one thing after all of this time, it is that Manson knew exactly what was going on with both the Tate and Labianca murders, and he and he alone called the shots. Many people give many reasons for why Charlie never tried to put on a normal defense, nor took his parole chances seriously. I think its because in his heart he knows that he couldn't defend himself in this case. Charles Manson accepted what he did, even if none of his supporters ever did or will. Manson was many bad things, but not a hypocrite. He went out of his way in the courtroom to show who was in charge and called the shots, how could he ever admit later on that someone else was the boss? Charlie made his famous speech in court and he didn't try to explain that he wasn't involved, he used his moment in the spotlight to try and make people understand his way of thinking and how it justified what happened. It is a real tragedy to me is that Manson has never shown any remorse or sense of responsibility for any of the people he hurt in any of those years. None of the victims of the crimes he was involved in, nor any of the young lives he ruined when he led young kids into harms way, over and over again. He offered no answers or explanations. He just left us with questions. the greatest among them, of course, being- Why?

Senseless Tragedy. To me that will be the real legacy of Charles Manson. But, there are others...


I wrote a post about this time last year about what I thought the legacies of Manson would be. It was called "Blurred Lines", and although I am not going to rehash the entire post again here, I did reread it myself. Today, I will just summarize....

Manson will leave behind real family. Children and Grandchildren. I hope they can live life free of the shadow the name represents. They lost family and I am sorry for them all for that.

Manson leaves behind an extended family of friends and supporters. People are mourning his loss and celebrating the life he lived in his memory. They will carry on his causes, defend his name, and make sure his side is heard. I do not get you, but again, am sorry for your loss.

Manson will be the subject of much media and TV. We will continue to get movies, specials, documentaries, and books well into the future. This story blends all the essential ingredients. Sex, drugs, rock and roll, celebrity, the wild west, and of course throw it all into a Hollywood locale- add the perfect Evil Bad Guy and you have the crime story gift that just keeps on giving. There is a great line the movie Gladiator when Proximus tells Commodus to " Win the Crowd. You must give them something they have never seen before, and you will win the crowd." Well, Manson gave us all something we had never seen before alright. And it appears to have won over at least some segment of the population who show no signs that their interest in this subject is slowing down.

Manson leaves behind his music. Covered from many established artists, and available all over the internet, Charlies music will stick around for the curious to seek out, and his loyal base to reminisce to. There are a few versions of a couple of Charlies songs that actually stick with me, although to be honest- I like the music Brooks and Paul did in the Hendrickson documentary better than anything Charlie ever did.

Charlie leaves behind his name. Manson will be a word that represents evil long after my time has come I suspect. It has become ingrained in our societal conscious as a representation of murder and darkness. Frankly, I think Tex is a lot more deserving of that distinction, But, Tex was smart enough to get himself tried separately and keep his mouth shut, and Charlie had a fatal desire to turn his trial into a performance which he personally controlled in front of the jury, press and world. So Manson himself has as much to do with that as anyone. Charlie is mostly responsible, through his own actions, for creating his own myth.

 Finally, Charlie leaves behind all of us. The curious. From the TLB Scholars, to the casual lurkers. Charlie leaves behind questions. What was it really like? Why did they really do it? Who really knew what and when? We could go on and on, and most of you certainly will. Like any fascinating tragedy, we are stuck in perpetual limbo trying to understand the understandable. From giggling children smoking pot and having orgies, to blood stained robots, stabbing innocent people to death, and joking about it. How does that happen? To those people, and in that time and place? It just doesn't make sense. Maybe it's not supposed to. If we really knew the truth, what would we do next? Would that be the end? Does it ever end? Only we can decide the end of our own journey's. And I can only speak for myself in regards to this journey. Mine ends with Charlies and Charlies journey is over. This is where I get off.  In the last couple of years we have lost Manson, Hendrickson, and Bugliosi. with each passing of the major players, the chances of learning more real valuable truth grows greater and greater. I sometimes wonder if this isn't going to end up being Charlies last laugh at all of us. That a community of smart people would spend so much time trying to make sense out of a guy who once said that "No sense makes sense".

I have to imagine that Charlie stopped caring about this as much as we do, a very long time ago. I know that for me the death of Charles Manson is very much the end of an era. For the last ten years, I have been watching and waiting for something relevant to shake up the history of the case. Waiting for Charlie, or someone to say something that would finally shed some light on all of the unknowns. Waiting for someone to finally let us all know who was right and who was wrong. Charlie, most importantly of all, could have ended all of our fighting over motive at any time he wished. Just one coherent conversation or letter. But there is no chance for that now. Charles Manson has passed away. Charlie has had his final say on this subject.

And now I have had mine.....

- Your Favorite Saint

Saturday, December 9, 2017

2018 Manson Blog Tour

The dates of the 2018 Tour will be from April 18 to April 23 in LA.

If anyone is interested in attending please email either myself or Deb. There's no charge, but you need to make your own travel, lodging and other arrangements.

The exact itinerary is never announced before the Tour but the links below will give you an idea of what it's like.

Past tour links:

Tour 2017: Slipping in the Mix with Steve Grogan
Tour 2017: The James Willet Murder Area
Tour 2017: Mendocino
Tour 2017: NorCal Facts About The Victims
Tour 2017: Haight-Ashbury
Tour 2017: Sacramento

MansonBlog Tour 2016: Jane Doe #59
MansonBlog Tour 2016: The Gun Toss And Steven Weiss' House
MansonBlog Tour 2016: Independence, CA
MansonBlog Tour 2016: Death Valley, The Racetrack Playa and The Michigan Loader Site
MansonBlog Tour 2016: Nude Hippies And The Origin Of An Icon
MansonBlog Tour 2016: The End Of Summit Trail

Manson Tour 2015: Earth Day at Spahn Ranch
Manson Tour 2015: A Discussion With George Stimson: Part I
Manson Tour 2015: A Discussion With George Stimson: Part II
Manson Tour 2015: Olancha - Karl Stubbs' Neighbor and Hannum Ranch
Manson Tour 2015: Goler Wash
Manson Tour 2015: Gary Hinman's Bus -- Not
Manson Tour 2015: Benedict Canyon and the Surrounding Areas: Report on Strange Sounds, Gunshots, Indications of Violence, Related by Persons who were in Hearing Distance of the Polanski Residence on the Night of 8-8-69 and the Morning of 8-9-69

Manson Tour 2014: Stoner's Spahn Ranch Hike
Manson Tour 2014: The Museum of Death and The Sounds of Laurel Canyon
Manson Tour 2014: A Day With Aes-Nihil
Holy Cross

2013 Tour: Robert Hendrickson at The Silent Theatre
2013 Tour: Cielo Drive
2013 Tour: Easton Drive / Rudy Weber
2013 Tour: LaBianca
2013 Tour: El Coyote
2013 Tour: Lotsapoppa
2013 Tour: Westchester/Venice
2013 Tour: Hanging out with Michael on his Back Porch!
2013 Tour: Spahn/Chatsworth

2012 Tour Day 1: Vegas & Pahrump
2012 Tour Day 2: Devil's Hole, Father Crowley Point & Olancha
2012 Tour Day 3: Trona, Ballarat & Barker Ranch
2012 Tour Day 4: El Coyote
2012 Tour Day 5: Lower Topanga, Spahn, Box Canyon

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

History Channel Manson Speaks: Inside the Mind of a Madman.

Here are the links to the recent History Channel Manson related program Manson Speaks: Inside the Mind of a Madman.  The show will likely repeat a few times here in the US but for those outside the US it might not be available for a while.

The show focuses on unsolved murders that have been loosely connected to the Family by Bugliosi, other authors and Manson pundits.  The main unsolved murder discussed is that of Reet Jurvetson who was known as Jane Doe 59 for over 45 years until a DNA match finally identified her.

The suicide of John Haught is also discussed.  The surprise to this discussion is that Mark Ross was located and interviewed.  I found his participation in the project the most interesting, particularly because he was so evasive.  The show speculated that the reason Mark Ross changed his name to Aesop Aquarian was that he was hiding from the Family because he feared them.

I think there was another reason.  In the early 70s a new commune sprouted up in Los Angeles headed by Father Yod and went by the name The Source Family .  Since many of the members changed their names to things like Electric Aquarian and Isis Aquarian, it's far more likely that Mark Ross changed his name to Aesop Aquarian because he joined this commune.  Which left me wondering if Mark isn't somewhat like Brooks Poston who needed a blueprint of someone else's making to conduct their life.

My sincerest condolences to Simon Wells whose excellent investigation into the death of Joel Pugh was taken completely out of context by the show.  They couldn't have placed Simon's work in a worse light.

Joan Huntington, Laurence Merrick's wife, was interviewed.  It looked like she had a great album full of pictures of the Family.

The show shanghaied Clem and got him to speak.  There is no video, only audio of this encounter but we here at the blog can confirm the encounter took place outside of the restaurant where we saw him on our last tour.

I was in the program for what can only be described as a cameo appearance.  The lighting on me was terrible and I don't want to talk about it!

All in all the show departed from the same old, same old of previous productions but fell short of believability regarding the unsolved murders.  The masses who are not into the details of the case like we are will probably find it to be a great show.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Barbara Hoyt Passes

We don't have much on this and learned of her death from a post that Debra Tate made on Facebook today, sent to us by a friend of the Blog.

Rest in Peace, Barbara.

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Family Man


By Terry Ott

So, Charlie Manson is no longer with us, but is the age and mythology of Helter Skelter dead as well?

The mainstream media Manson death watch and good riddance over the past 72 hours might tend to indicate that what former Los Angeles assistant district attorney Vincent T. Bulgliosi wrought back in 1974 with what became the biggest selling true crime book of all time at 7 million copies shifted, will survive the death of the "cult leader."

Bugliosi's Helter Skelter, subtitled The True Story Of The Manson Murders absolutely enthralled millions of readers, attracted by the fact-stuffed and insider nature of the text. And seeing that it was Vince T who presented the state's case and won death penalty verdicts for Manson and seven members of his "Family," what later became a sometimes mythological narrative constructed by Bugliosi in Helter Skelter would still seem to have book shelf life as you can bet that many more copies of the book will be purchased in the next three months or so. When one LA detective at the murder scene of Sharon Tate, Abigal Folger, Voytek Frykowski, Jay Sebring and Steven Parent described the crime as "a weird homicide," he most likely never knew how prescient he would be. And "weird," surely still sells.

Bugliosi, and Manson authors who have followed him have all pounded out the same basic narrative of what became known at the "Manson Murders" and the alluring but eventual toxic cocktail of Hollywood decadence and pop/counter culture accoutrements, specifically, the music of the Beatles  found on The White Album (The Beatles), released almost a year before the murders in November, 1968 and offered by Vince T as the "blueprint" for the Manson slayings as well as a weirdly believable thread to tie the whole mess to what Bugliosi claimed was Charlie's Helter Skelter world tour.

And when during the Easter Week of April 1976 the TV version of Helter Skelter appeared with an amazing doppelganger performance by Steve Railsback as Charlie, it is said the two part pyscho/horror-drama became the largest watched TV movie of all time-or at least at that time. Watch for this 4 hour television drama to reappear as well as a new interest in the Beatles' White Album music by those perhaps too young to have have been previously seduced by some of its more spooky and raucous and coincidental tracks threading to the Manson Family experience.

On the 30th anniversary of the of the murders, I wrote a retrospective for the National Post asking the question of what still drives the Charlie Manson murder mystique and I got some interesting answers.

Political science professor Henry Jacek of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario had the interesting observation that Manson "taps into what I think is a very important part of American culture: a pure manifestation of revolt against state and social authority, which is a common theme about American culture."

As for Manson's continuing media attraction, even tabloid whoring, I had also asked the question, has any other mass murderer been rock 'n' rolled like Charles Manson?

Jacek said: "I think the media are fascinated with anyone who has a personality and is articulate. The fact that Manson is intelligent makes him interesting. An unintelligent murderer is of much less interest that an intelligent one."Also featured in the story was Dr. Clara Livesy, author of The Manson Women. She wrote: "I was confused by the picture of him I was getting from others and from reading about him. he was, I heard repeatedly, mentally ill and deteriorating. Or still endowed with evil powers, ready to influence his alleged followers. These generalizations did not satisfy my curiosity because they did not explain anything."

Then, and now, the word "evil" gets thrown around a lot when describing Manson. The Satan too, as evidenced by a recent front page in the New York Daily News.

Or as Don Mclean once sang, "Helter Skelter in a summer swelter...cause fire is the devil's only friend," and Manson certainly at times embraced that notion that he was a modern day devil, if not the anti-christ. But then again, Charlie was always good at selling a story...

But for those that do not subscribe to the idea of evil, or devils and demons and slaves of Satan etc., but rather look at pyscho/sociopaths and mental illness and even timing and randomness and drugs and sex, the saga of Charles Manson and his crimes take on a slightly different aura, as evidenced by the voluminous and intuitive renderings on the Manson case by the contributors and operators of The Manson Blog.

The (still) imprisoned former Family members Patricia Krenwinkel, Leslie Van Houten and Bruce Davis have surely come to understand that Charlie was but a conduit of the crazy times rather than the owner of the powers claimed him by Bugliosi and the larger media.

Van Houten and Davis have been granted parole but are still stuck in the joint, now going on 48 years, due to the governor of California's calculated political gambit. Perhaps that gambit will slowly dissolve now that a new post-Manson dynamic is in place.

So, with the "intelligent murderer" now departed at age 83 said to be "eaten alive" with cancer, again, the central question becomes what becomes of the Helter Skelter motive mythology.

Just because Bugliosi was able to win convictions against Manson and other Family members using a Helter Skelter motive presentation and score an after-law career bonanza with Helter Skelter does not necessarily mean that it will survive further scrutiny and revisionism.

Besides saying that "no sense makes sense," Charlie also claimed that the real motive for the Tate/Labianca slayings would never be known. Perhaps now that the head of the Family is mortally gonzo that prediction will prove true. But perhaps not.

Perhaps another look at the circumstances around the murders will at the very least modify the enduring template of Helter Skelter. Ironically, and even counter-intuitively, probably the best thing that ever happened to Manson was Vincent T and his 1974 and on Helter Skelter circus. Vince made Charlie into an international superstar, a happening that even Manson himself noted when he chided news-hounds and others that they were just as much responsible for the horror by continually perpetuating and re-enforcing it, especially the narrative of Beatles music motives and race war and paradise underground in Death Valley. Sexy stuff for sure yet, palpable nonsense or truth is stranger than fiction?

After Manson and the girls' death sentences were commuted in 1972 it is even money that the saga of the Family and its leader were destined to become but grisly footnotes to most until Bugliosi achieved a cultural sensation with Helter Skelter and perhaps to some degree re-wrote if not reinterpreted actual history.

And yet the bizarre trial and Bugliosi's Manson pulp blockbuster produced this continually repeated denial uttered by Manson at trial: "Mr. and Mrs. America-you are wrong. I am not the King of the Jews nor am I a hippie cult leader. I am what you have made of me and the mad dog devil killer fiend leper is a reflection of your society."

If anything could be said to be "good" about the life and times of Charles Manson et al, it may be that regardless of what was advertised as "the true story of the Manson murders," the "real"and accurate story is yet to be fully told.

Terry Ott is a Canadian journalist who has followed the Manson case since 1969.
He can be reached at

Friday, November 24, 2017

Battle erupts over control of Charles Manson's remains, estate

From the New York Daily News :

"There’s a battle brewing over the remains and estate of mass murderer Charles Manson.

Reports of two unverified wills surfaced Friday, with each leaving the killer’s estate to a different person. Manson pal Ben Gurecki told the Daily News he obtained a January 2017 will from Manson and passed it along to Manson’s self-proclaimed “son” Matthew Roberts in March. He said Roberts was named as the main beneficiary.

“I can assure you Matthew will be handling this,” Gurecki told The News Friday. “Matthew and I will be there next week in person,” he claimed. “Charlie will be given a headstone, a proper burial where people will be able to grieve, or deface it as they see fit.”

 Meanwhile, said Friday it obtained a February 2002 will from an unidentified Manson pen pal that disinherited all Manson relatives. The mysterious pen pal said he is the sole beneficiary and plans to claim Manson’s body before a 10-day deadline expires next week, TMZ reported.

Gurecki said he doesn’t know who the pen pal is but that the more recent will allegedly signed this year supersedes any that came before it.

The Chicago resident, who has posted recent prison calls with Manson on his YouTube channel, said he plans to meet Roberts in Kern County, Calif., next week.

“There are plans for Charlie’s remains to be handled with dignity and not by the Kern County Coroner,” Gurecki told The News. “(I) will absolutely not let this continue to be a circus.”

He said calls to coroner fell “on deaf ears” this week, so they hope an in-person visit will “resolve this situation.” He said they plan to inter Manson’s ashes somewhere the public can visit. “This is my personal last attempt to help a friend have the proper resting place that he deserves.”

Beyond the two alleged wills, Manson’s grandson Jason Freeman told The News earlier this week he also is interested in claiming Manson’s remains. A GoFundMe account set up this week to underwrite his efforts was shut down Thursday. Prior attempts to establish a genetic link between Freeman and Roberts were unsuccessful, CNN reported in 2012. State officials have so far declined to comment on any final wishes left by Manson."

Charles Manson Will Surfaces: Pen Pal Gets Everything

From TMZ:

Charles Manson left his estate to a pen pal ... and what the murderer left behind may actually be valuable.

The pen pal -- he asked us not to use his name -- began writing Manson in the '90s and the 2 exchanged letters and phone calls for 2 decades. The man even visited Manson in prison from time to time.

We obtained a copy of a crudely written will which we're told was drafted by Manson. It's typed but there's handwriting on the document. We checked the handwriting in the will against Manson's known handwriting, and they appear very similar. Check out the comparison.

The will -- dated February 14, 2002 -- leaves all of Manson's personal belongings, including cash, image rights and clothing to Manson's pen pal. More significantly, Manson leaves his "exclusive music catalog" to the guy. Manson fancied himself as a songwriter and even wrote a Beach Boys song the group recorded.

The will says Manson's body should be turned over to his pen pal. He says he will claim the body, but as we reported, if he doesn't do it within 10 days of Manson's death, the prison will cremate him.

Manson specifically disinherited his known children, ex-wives, in-laws, lawyers, friends, prisoners, inmates, cops, guards, and the State of California.

The man tells us he began writing Manson in the '90s out of curiosity, and after more than 50 letters with no reply ... Manson finally wrote back in 1997. He claims the 2 struck up a friendship through letters and eventually phone calls, and he met Manson in person for the first time in 2002 ... the same year Manson drafted the will.

He claims he visited with Manson several times after that and got his last phone call from him on October 21 ... just weeks before his death.

The 2002 will includes a handwritten note from Manson, saying ... "I'm not in the best spot to rest in peace" along with his signature. We're told the witness signature is that of a fellow inmate.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Charles Manson has died

It was announced by TMZ that Charlie passed away at 8:13 pm Sunday.  Debra Tate was the source.  She was contacted by prison authorities upon his passing. 

Charles Manson -- the man who masterminded one of the most heinous murder sprees in American history -- is dead  ... this according to the sister of his famous victim.

Debra Tate tells TMZ she received a call from the prison telling her Manson died 8:13 PM Sunday.
We're told the prison is contacting all of the victims' families.
Manson was recently wheeled into Bakersfield hospital and escorted by 5 uniformed cops. Our sources had said at the time, "It's just a matter of time." He was covered in blankets and looked ashen in the gurney.

TMZ broke the story ... Manson was taken from Corcoran State Prison to the hospital back in January where he was being treated for intestinal bleeding.
As we reported ... Manson was supposed to undergo surgery but it was deemed too risky.
Manson has been locked up since his arrest in December 1969 for the Tate-LaBianca murders. He was convicted of conspiracy to commit the slayings, which occurred one day after the next in August 1969.

Read the story here

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Charles Manson hospitalized in Bakersfield; severity of illness unclear

Authorities confirmed Wednesday that mass murderer Charles Manson is back in a Bakersfield hospital, though the severity of his condition is unclear.

Kern County Sheriff's Lt. Bill Smallwood confirms that Manson is at a local hospital but could not say more.

Vicky Waters, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, declined to comment, citing federal and state medical privacy laws that preclude the agency "from commenting on protected health information for any inmate in our custody."

Waters did confirm, however, that Manson is alive.

In January, Manson, 83, was rushed to Mercy Hospital in Bakersfield for what authorities at the time would describe only as a serious medical problem.

Manson and members of his "family" of followers were convicted of killing actress Sharon Tate and six other people during a bloody rampage in the Los Angeles area in August 1969. Prosecutors said Manson and his followers were trying to incite a race war he dubbed "Helter Skelter," taken from the Beatles song of the same name.

Tate, the wife of director Roman Polanski, was 8 1/2 months pregnant when she was killed at her hilltop home in Benedict Canyon on Aug. 9, 1969. Four others were stabbed and shot to death the same night: Jay Sebring, 35; Voytek Frykowski, 32; Abigail Folger, 25, a coffee heiress; and Steven Parent, 18, a friend of Tate's caretaker. The word "pig" was written on the front door in blood.

The next night, Manson rode with his followers to the Los Feliz home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, then left three members to kill the couple.

Manson was initially sentenced to death. But a 1972 ruling by the California Supreme Court found the state's death penalty law at the time unconstitutional, and his sentenced was changed to life in prison with the possibility of parole. He has been denied parole 12 times.

During his four decades of incarceration, Manson has been anything but a model prisoner. Among other things, he has been cited for assault, repeated possession of a weapon, threatening staff and possessing a cellphone.

LA Times story here

Monday, November 13, 2017


The author of this piece, Rachel Monroe joined us on the 2014 Tour. One of our unofficial traditions is forcing guests to write the first Tour Post which you can read here. Below are some of her memories of her time spent with us, her fascination with the subject matter and some honest, introspective thoughts on what she feels makes her tick. However due to contractual obligations a full reposting is not possible at this time. Instead, here is an excerpt and a link to the full piece. Looking forward to your responses...
On the second day I spent with the Manson Bloggers, we found a tongue hanging from a tree. This was in the northwestern fringes of Los Angeles County, the half-wild, half-suburban part of the city that the Manson Family once called home. These days, most of the land is owned by the state and nearby there is a church; on top of a hill, a ten-foot cross looms in right-angled judgment. The Manson Bloggers did not seem to notice the cross, because they had another mission in mind: finding the Manson Tree, a gnarled oak that's notable because Charles Manson used to perch in its crook and strum the guitar.

We had to scramble over a highway railing to reach the old oak. As we got close, I saw that some previous visitor had thrown a white rope over one of the tree's branches. Something was dangling from the rope—a sweet potato, I thought. Or some sort of lumpy, orangish doll. The Manson Bloggers knew better. “It's a cow's tongue,” Deb said. She was right. Up close, it was unmistakable, a length of moist muscle, obscene and obscurely violent. The tongue was covered with rainbow sprinkles, the kind you'd put on a child's scoop of vanilla ice cream. One end of the white rope was tied around the tongue's root, where it had once been attached to the back of the cow's throat. The other end of the rope was tied around a bottle of fish-oil pills. There was one AA battery inside the fish-oil bottle. On the ground was a crumpled-up shopping bag from H&M.

The Manson Bloggers and I stared for a moment in mute wonder. The tongue, the rope, the sprinkles, the fish-oil bottle, the battery, the H&M bag: it all spoke to some inexplicable ritual, a dark magic that somehow brought together cult murder, fast fashion, and nutritional supplements. I'll be honest, I was spooked. The bloggers took it all in stride. Maybe their world accommodated more strangeness than mine. Or perhaps they were just used to finding messages of violence in unexpected places.

Rachel Monroe is a writer based in Marfa, Texas. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Texas Monthly, Bookforum, Oxford American, and elsewhere. Her book A Life in Crimes, an exploration of women, crime, and obsession, will be published by Scribner in 2019.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Do Facts Matter?

I think they do.

I found Dianne Lake’s recent contribution to the Manson library, Member of the Family, to be at times captivating, especially those parts that gave insight into the early days of the Family and the description of her parents 'dropping out' of society. But overall I came away with nagging doubts about the accuracy of the book.

For me, there were too many errors and omissions and that impacted everything else. In many cases these could have been cured by a five minute search on Wikipedia. It is possible that she is shedding light on some aspects of the 'official narrative'. Maybe she is accurate and changing that narrative. But I don't think so.

SPOILER ALERT: This post is about Dianne Lake's book, Member of the Family and will disclose quotes from that book. So if you haven't read Member of the Family and don't want to know part of what happens; don't read this.

The List

Meeting Dennis Wilson

Lake does not describe an invasion of Dennis Wilson’s home while he is absent after picking up Krenwinkel and Bailey. Manson does not bend down and kiss Wilson’s feet in the driveway. Instead, Wilson first meets Manson at Spahn Ranch where they rap and Manson plays guitar. This contradicts every source I am aware of. 

“When Dennis pulled up to Spahn Ranch that day to drop off Patty and Ella, I have no doubt that Charlie instantly sized up the situation and understood the opportunity that Dennis’s presence signified for him. Like the rest of us, Patty and Ella had been trained for precisely this kind of situation, and they’d delivered in sterling fashion. Dennis represented a direct line to a level of fame and influence that had long been inaccessible to Charlie—and the best part was that he’d been delivered right to Charlie’s doorstep.”

Lake, Dianne. Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the
Darkness That Ended the Sixties (Kindle Locations 3485-3489). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Sandra Good

While a minor issue, she appears to suggest that Sandra Good joined the Family sometime in May, 1968 two to three months later then my understanding. Although she does not give a clear timeframe, Lake seems to place the Krenwinkel-Bailey hitchhiking incident sometime in May with the move into Wilson’s some time afterwards and that is when Good appears on the scene.

“Despite the Beatles eventually severing their ties with the Maharishi, he went on to tour with the Beach Boys who ended their tour with him in May 1968 after news of the guru’s health problem broke. Now sans guru, Dennis had returned to his home on Sunset Boulevard. What that meant for Charlie and the Family was that when Dennis Wilson picked up Patty and Ella hitchhiking shortly after he came off tour, not only was he without a steady guru, but he’d been perfectly prepped for this unusual date with destiny.”
“He [Manson] also brought along [to Dennis Wilson’s home] a new member named Sandra Good, whom I initially dismissed as a privileged prima donna. She came from money, had allergies to this and that, and was always complaining, but she went on to become one of Charlie’s most devoted followers.”

Lake, Dianne. Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties (Kindle Locations 3591-3594). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

The Wilson Recording Sessions

According to Lake there was a large crowd at the Brian Wilson recording session. She places the session during the summer of 1968 consistent with most histories of the event but describes ‘producers’ and ‘musicians’ being present. She also includes Brian Wilson and Dennis Wilson at the session. Mike Love makes an appearance at a party going on upstairs in the house at there time.

Lake suggests the session ended because Manson pulled a knife on the crowd, which isn't new. And then says this happened because the assembled recording crew changed the lyrics to ‘Cease to Exist’.

Others, such as Stephen Desper, tell a different tale and I personally don’t recall any account that placed ‘muscicians’ or even Brian Wilson at the session.

Never Learn Not to Love (Cease to Exist) was recorded by the Beach Boys on September 11, 16-18, 1968. It was released December 2, 1968. According to the official narrative this was after the Family left Wilson's home and after the Brian Wilson recording session (although I believe that session occurred a year later, in 1969)

“As we headed for the door [of the studio] I noticed that someone who I believe was Brian [Wilson] along with some of the others were stopping Charlie and making suggestions. Someone suggested he increase the tempo of the song.”
We ran into Mike Love, who was clearly avoiding the recording session with Charlie.
I moved away from Mike toward the people who seemed very comfortable partying at Brian’s house. It wasn’t a huge crowd, but I wondered if Brian knew all these people or if his house was simply open to friends and their hangers-on.
The group [in the studio] was dispersing, and Brian and the other musicians who had been in the studio with Charlie seemed shaken. I have heard accounts that Charlie had pulled out a Buck knife when he got fed up with the attempts to “produce” him as they would any other musician.
Dennis was trailing behind but wasn’t saying anything to Charlie.
Dennis was trying to explain that they were producers and wanted to help Charlie be successful.

“Dig it, man, they want me to dress like you dudes. I ain’t gonna wear no threads like that. That just ain’t me!”

“Charlie, man, they are just trying to help. They didn’t mean any insult to you.”

“What about changing the words to my song? ‘Cease to Exist’ is ‘Cease to Exist,’ man.”

Lake, Dianne. Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties (Kindle Locations various including 3853-3858). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

[Aside: Given the May, 1969 Rave magazine article ("Sometimes the Wizard frightens me...."), I did find this quote interesting:

““This is Charlie,” Dennis graciously announced to his friends. “He is the wizard, man. He is a gas.”

Lake, Dianne. Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties (Kindle Locations 3613-3614). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.]

Terry Melcher Broke His Promise

Lake says Terry Melcher arranged studio time for Manson. My pervious research revealed no evidence of this, although Jakobson did arrange a lot of studio time. She also says Melcher directly rejected Manson in  a phone call. Melcher’s testimony as well as Jakobson’s disputes this and Kanarek went out of his way at the trial to tell Melcher Manson had no hard feelings.

“Terry arranged for us to record at a real studio.”
 “Charlie reached out to Terry to find out what was going on, but the answer was not what he wanted to hear: Terry simply wasn’t interested in helping him get a record deal. Charlie was livid. He thought he had a deal with Terry and the rest was just details. Now it turned out that his last chance at music stardom was lost. “Those motherfuckers don’t keep their promises!” Charlie shouted.”

Lake, Dianne. Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties (Kindle Locations 4727-4728). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Manson the Drug Dealer to the Stars

While the drug burn crowd will likely embrace this next quote, there is little evidence I know of to support the notion that Manson was broadly dealing drugs to ‘musicians’.

I know that Charlie had his fingers in a lot of things and was doing his best to cultivate contacts in the music industry who could help him become the success he believed he should be. He was reputed to be a drug dealer to musicians, but I never saw any of this directly. He was looking for ways to connect, and good drugs were always a draw.

Lake, Dianne. Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties (Kindle Locations 3985-3987). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Admittedly, Lake qualifies her statement by admitting she never saw it but by doing so one has to ask why add the comment at all?

The Wilson Bullet

The Dennis Wilson ‘bullet’ incident, according to Lake, occurred in September, 1968, nearly a year before the witnesses claim it happened and before Never Learn Not to Love was released. 

“I am not sure how this happened or why, but in September of 1968 the Beach Boys with Dennis on vocals recorded a version of Charlie’s “Cease to Exist,” renaming it “Never Learn Not to Love,” changing some of the lyrics in the song, and making the bridge and the sound to be more pop. The song, credited to Dennis Wilson as the only writer, later found its way onto a Beach Boys album. I am sure Charlie was outraged. There are stories that have Charlie visiting Dennis after finding out about the song and leaving a bullet at his home to send a not so subtle message.”

Lake, Dianne. Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties (Kindle Locations 3995-3999). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Linda Kasabian's Car?

Linda Kasabian, per Lake, not only brought a valid driver’s license and $5,000 in cash to the Family, she brought a car, the car used on the two nights of murder.

“One came in the form of a pretty blond girl named Linda Kasabian, who’d been brought to Spahn Ranch by Leslie. A hippie with a little girl and an ex-husband, Linda joined us, and to prove her commitment, she scored about five thousand dollars from her ex and his friend. She also came with a car and a valid driver’s license, which would prove useful for Charlie but devastating for her future.”

Lake, Dianne. Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties (Kindle Locations 4847-4851). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Straight Satans #1

And per Lake……

“The ranch was becoming more of a compound, with field phones throughout so the Straight Satans, acting as guardians, could alert everyone of intruders.

Lake, Dianne. Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties (Kindle Location 4866). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.


Bernard Crowe's Visit to Spahn

Aside from the fact that Bernard Crowe is, according to Lake, a drug dealer (he may have been one, although I don’t believe it), she places Crowe at Spahn Ranch after the burn and before he is shot, something we know never happened and something that could not have happened given the timeline of the Crowe drug burn.

“I know the details of the shooting of a drug dealer whose alias was Lotsapoppa only from later
accounts, but I do know I witnessed a very angry-looking African American man confronting Charlie one day. This was not something that happened often, and I later heard that Charlie assumed he was a member of the Black Panthers. That may have been what he told us to keep us believing in the impending race war, but what was most certainly a sighting of Bernard “Lotsapoppa” Crowe added to our evidence that Charlie was telling us the truth.”

Lake, Dianne. Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties (Kindle Locations 4767-4768). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Crowe also makes his reappearance in Manson’s life in the courtroom, although, most accounts I have read say this happened when Manson passed Crowe in the hallway of the jail. But then again, neither she nor I were there.

“In fact, unbeknownst to Charlie, Crowe survived the gunshot and emerged a year later, as a witness at Manson’s trial. When a man Charlie thought was dead walked into the courtroom, Charlie was shocked, to say the least, but he whispered to Crowe that there were no hard feelings.”

Lake, Dianne. Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties (Kindle Locations 4777-4780). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Beausoleil Was Arrested When?

According to Lake, Manson learned of Beausoleil’s arrest on August 5, 1969. There are two problems with this. The obvious one is that Beausoleil’s arrest was August 6th. The second problem is Manson wasn’t at Spahn Ranch on August 5th. This is the Esalen trip. He didn’t learn of Beausoleil's arrest until he returned on the early afternoon of August 8th. To me this one is hard not to classify under the heading 'fiction' because Lake cites the actual date, something she typically avoids.

“ON AUGUST 5, CHARLIE FOUND OUT BOBBY BEAUSOLEIL WAS PICKED up for something that had to do with a stolen car and put in jail.”

Lake, Dianne. Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties (Kindle Locations 4872-4874). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Kasabian, Again

Lake seems to have memories regarding what she was told about the murders that originate from Watson's trial (where she testified). She has Kasabian drive the killers to Cielo Drive in Kasabian's car.

“He [Tex] told me that Linda Kasabian drove Patty, Sadie, and him to a house they knew would be occupied by pigs.

Lake, Dianne. Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties (Kindle Locations 5010-5011). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Perhaps Watson was already formulating his trial defense when he told her this or maybe Kasabian did drive to Cielo even if no one else seems to think so. But Kasabian wasn't driving Kasabian's car. 

Jab and Thrust, Pull Up

Dianne Lake claims that the autopsy reports confirm the ‘killing style’ taught to her and the others by Manson when using a knife. She describes this ‘style’ as “Jab and thrust, pull up.”

"One horrifying detail that I discovered recently when looking at the autopsy reports chilled me to the bone. It was something that to me left Charlie’s fingerprints on the crime almost as if he’d been at the scene. The autopsy reports show patterns of how the victims were stabbed. These seemed to match the instructions Charlie had given to us. Jab and thrust, pull up. That day that he’d handed me that large knife I’d wanted nothing to do with, we weren’t being taught to defend ourselves, we were being trained to kill. And Tex, Sadie, and the rest of them were clearly following orders with a clear knowledge of what they were doing and how."

Lake, Dianne. Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties (Kindle Locations 5032-5034). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

There are several issues I have here. I spent a good deal of time for a previous post studying those reports and wounds and even tried to determine if I could draw any connection to the alleged knife training. The wounds were largely inflicted not as a ‘jab’ or a ‘thrust’ but as an overhand motion with the blade of the knife held in a downward direction from a gripping fist. None of the wounds show signs of the ‘pull up’ motion suggested by Lake. The wound dimensions are uniform. The wounds are consistent with the use of three knives with three different lengths and widths based upon the wound evidence. Perhaps more importantly, you have to go well beyond the autopsy report to even reach these conclusions. To really understand the reports you have to read the testimony, in part, because there are errors in the reports.

At that time I also was unable to ascertain any identifiable pattern to the knife wounds or tactics such as a strike location except for the obvious fact that one target area was the area of the chest and heart on every victim. For whatever it’s worth, neither did Thomas Naguchi.

According to Lake, Krenwinkel admitted to her that she had carved “WAR” on Leno LaBianca’s stomach (which she didn't do) and inserted the fork in his torso (which she did) but she omits the knife found in his neck.

"He had no defensive wounds, a fatal wound to the carotid artery, and the word war carved into his stomach. A fork had been stabbed into his flesh as if he were a suckling pig. Patty later claimed responsibility for those special touches as well as leaving the misspelled words healter skelter on the refrigerator door in Leno’s blood."

Lake, Dianne. Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties (Kindle Locations 5094-5096). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Straight Satans #2: Bikers Killed Shorty

Apparently, if Lake is correct, the Straight Satans skated on the Donald Shea murder rap along with Watson.

“What I didn’t know was Charlie, Tex, Bruce Davis, Clem, and some bikers had already brutally stabbed ranch hand Donald “Shorty” Shea to death because Charlie believed he was a snitch.”

Lake, Dianne. Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties (Kindle Locations 5201-5202). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Memory and Lake....but....

Obviously, some of these issues can be written off to the passage of time (fifty years ago is a long time). Lake was also in an LSD induced psychosis at the time and much of the time she was high on marijuana or LSD. She testified to using LSD 40-50 times in two years. She also testified to being 'spaced out' from October 1968 until February 1970. (Dianne Lake testimony, People Vs. Watson,

I would be the last one to suggest a witness’s 50 year old memory is reliable. In fact, I'd be a hypocrite if I did. And a jury, like the Tate/LaBianca jury, is always instructed to be careful when confronted by  witness inconsistencies.

“Do not automatically reject testimony just because of inconsistencies or conflicts. Consider whether the differences are important or not. People sometimes honestly forget things or make mistakes about what they remember. Also, two people may witness the same event yet see or hear it differently.” (Tate-LaBianca jury instruction)

But Ms. Lake is writing a book she hopes millions will buy and read. She is telling her experience of these events; but they are events she is claiming happened as she describes them. It seems that if an author undertakes that task they should at least get the facts right, especially when those facts don't really impact the point of her story, like here. I believe she would have been better served if she would have acknowledged with greater clarity where her recollection differed from ‘the official narrative’ or simply fixed the errors.

Ironically, this was something she did quite well when discussing whether Atkins actually stabbed Sharon Tate. While I believe the physical evidence confirms that Atkins did not (but did inflict mortal wounds on Frykowski) she handled her disagreement with other witnesses well.

“In the years since this night when I was a reluctant audience for her words, Tex has also claimed responsibility for the murder of Sharon Tate and Sadie, at different points, has both recanted her confession and reiterated that it was indeed she who had killed Sharon Tate. Who really did what has remained a controversy. No matter what they’ve both said, there is no doubt in my mind that Susan Atkins was telling me the truth that night in the desert. She was not embellishing. She was not lying and there is nothing that would allow me to think of anyone other than Susan committing this unspeakable crime.”

Lake, Dianne. Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties (Kindle Locations 5105-5106). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

She did not handle the other occasions nearly as well and in one case, that concerns me.

Lake's Testimony

For me, one of the most significant issues is how Lake’s descriptions of what she heard and observed after the murders differs rather significantly from what she actually said when called upon to testify. I’m not talking about her Grand Jury versus Trial testimony.

Lake, when she reaches her Tate/LaBianca court appearance in the book, leaves it up to the reader to imagine what she said on the witness stand based upon what he has read. She does not discuss her actual testimony in any detail.

But here is what she claims she witnessed and what the reader is left to assume formed the basis of her testimony.

"She [Van Houten] came in and dumped a bunch of things on her bed. She liked to sleep in the living room near the fireplace. She asked me to help her get some firewood which we used to build a fire. She took a rope off her bed that was with the pile of stuff and put it in the flames. She also added a brown purse and some credit cards which started to smell awful. We both turned and saw some headlights headed our way. Leslie begged me to help her out and pulled the rope out of the flames, ran into the bathroom and tried to put it out.
“Snake, don’t let that man see me,” she said. “He just gave me a ride from Griffith Park.” Then she jumped into her bed pulling the sheet over her entire body and face. I knew not to ask any questions.
“Don’t worry, Snake,” she said and handed me some wood to build up the fire again. She finished burning the little brown purse even though it was difficult. It didn’t catch very easily. The credit cards burned and then she took off the clothing she was wearing and burned that too. I watched the flames consume everything while she took a shower. I figured if she wanted to tell me anything she would. When she got out of the shower she showed me a plastic bag of coins and dumped them on the table. We both counted about eight dollars without counting the Canadian nickels.

Lake, Dianne. Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties (Kindle Locations 4923-4927). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
“You know that night we went to the house near Griffith Park.” Leslie looked to Patty and Sadie for affirmation. As if the pump had been primed, Leslie’s description of the night bubbled up in a gush. I didn’t want to know any more than what I had read in the newspaper or than Tex had revealed, but it was too late. I remained silent as Leslie recounted the second night of murderous terror orchestrated by Charlie. Later accounts say that Charlie considered the first night too messy, so he would go along to show them how it should be done. Somewhere in the middle of this micromanaging of madness, Charlie left the rest of the job to Tex, Patty, and Leslie. “Tex told me what to do,” Leslie explained. Leslie paused, but surprised me with her reaction. I thought she would say something about how awful it was. But instead she described how strange it was to stab someone but that after a while it was fun. Rosemary, whom Leslie referred to only as the woman, was still warm, and she may have already been dead when Leslie stabbed her. She couldn’t really be sure. Then she was told to wipe the fingerprints off of everything—and she did, removing them from the refrigerator, the lamps, and the doors, even things that they hadn’t touched. [Van Houten Confession]
“Un-huh.” I nodded my head but couldn’t say anything more. I didn’t have to, as Sadie took this as her opportunity to describe her important role in the first night’s slaughter at Cielo Drive. Sadie explained her role in the killings, but also how she had contemplated saving Sharon Tate’s unborn baby. “The woman was pregnant and was begging for her life. I thought about saving the baby while I was stabbing her but decided against it,” Sadie described as my blood ran cold. [Atkins' Confession]
“Charlie told us to do something witchy and we did,” Patty said proudly. As if it was possible, she made things worse by describing the scene at the Tate house the first night. I listened to her talk about the blood and how she had dragged a woman, later determined to be Abigail Folger, from the bedroom to the living room. After she had stabbed her, the woman got up to run and Patty said she chased her out of the house and tackled her. She then stabbed her until she saw the life leave her eyes. [Krenwinkel's Confession]

Lake, Dianne. Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties (Kindle Locations 5108-5112). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

If Lake had actually heard and witnessed all of this, it is logical to assume that Bugliosi would have brought it all out during her testimony. This is more than just significant evidence. It is dynamite. Lake actually heard Atkins, Krenwinkel and Van Houten in one place and at one time confess to murder. While the confession of Van Houten appears in Helter Skelter, I was unable to locate any reference to the Atkins and Krenwinkel confessions. 

In court, Lake did testify that Krenwinkel dragged Folger into the living room (versus the confession). She also testified that Van Houten admitted stabbing a dead body and enjoyed it the more she did. And, yes, she testified about Van Houten hiding from the young man who gave her a ride home from the LaBianca’s and burning various items including Van Houten’s clothing. At the Watson trial she also testified concerning Watson's confession (not included above). 

But Lake claims more than this. She claims to have been privy to a discussion where Krenwinkel and Atkins each admitted what they did during the murders. This discussion forms the basis of her opinion regarding Atkins' stabbing Sharon Tate, above.

Krenwinkel and Atkins, describing the murders, would have been, for Bugliosi, a ‘Golden Ticket’. But I do not believe Lake ever testified about their confessions.

[My Confession: I do not have access to Lake's Tate/LaBianca testimony to do my own fact checking so someone might blow me out of the water on this. There is, however, no mention of the Atkins and Krenwinkel confessions in Helter Skelter.  Bugliosi mentions Van Houten's confession about stabbing a dead body and enjoying it and Krenwinkel dragging Abigail into the living room when describing Lake's testimony in his closing argument. The Atkins and Krenwinkel confessions are not mentioned there. I once read Lake's testimony on another site. My notes from that also do not mention the confessions. If I am wrong, please correct me.]

If I am right, there is no logical explanation for this omission.

One might argue that she didn’t remember in 1970 what had happened a year earlier and thus failed to tell Bugliosi, who interviewed her several times, Kay who also interviewed her twice or the five different detectives and police officers who also interviewed her after she became cooperative.

One problem with the memory explanation is that two critical pieces of her actual testimony (Van Houten’s confession and Krenwinkel taking Abigail Folger into the living room) originate from the same discussion. A second problem is this book was written from memory 50 years after the events. That, of course, may very well explain the error.

Lake wasn’t a co-conspirator (no matter what she suggests). No independent corroboration of her testimony was necessary and these confessions corroborate Kasabian, Bugliosi’s biggest challenge during the trial, and other witnesses such as Virginia Graham. This would have been brought out in court if it happened. If it wasn't, it didn't happen. 

As I have said before, we sit as a jury. We admittedly have the benefit of 20-20 hindsight and access to more information than was available to the prosecution in 1969 but so did she when she wrote this and most of this could have been fixed with a simple reading of Helter Skelter by her ghost writer or editor.

Final Points

Missing Victims

I, personally, find one omission in her book to be inexcusable: ignoring a victim.

[Aside: While Lake paints herself as a victim of Manson (and she was) she says surprisingly little about the murder victims.]
This is Steven Parent

“I scanned the page as it depicted the horrible details of how the actress Sharon Tate, the eight months’ pregnant wife of filmmaker Roman Polanski, her husband’s friend Wojciech Frykowski, his girlfriend, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, her friend the celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring, and another unrelated young man had been slaughtered at her home.”

Lake, Dianne. Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties (Kindle Locations 5002-5005). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

What happened to Steven Parent? I searched my Kindle addition and was unable to find his name anywhere in her book. Why? Isn't this case really about the victims? So why didn't she mention him?

I think the answer lies in the same reason Steven Parent was ‘the caretaker’s friend’ and a ‘teen from El Monte’ in the press of the day. I think the answer also lies in why the official ‘label’ applied to the Cielo Drive murders became the ‘Tate Murders’. Remember, Sharon Tate’s ‘name’ was ‘Polanski’ and also remember the standard protocol in the LAPD was to describe a murder by the name of the first victim case file number: “Steven Parent”.

In my opinion the crime became the Tate/LaBianca murders and filled the courtroom with press for the same reason Lake omits even Steven's name: celebrity sells. Who cares about a kid from El Monte when we have a celebrity hair stylist, an actress, an heiress and her lover. 

Her Sister

Another point for me was the abrupt end of the story following her trial testimony. I wasn’t looking for, or for that matter wasn't  interested in, her life after the Family (although I am sure some are). But what I found interesting was the absence of any reflection back on her friend, lover and sister from the beginning of her membership in the Family: Patty.

Van Houten she clearly identifies as not being close to her. And Atkins she finally identifies in terms that strongly suggest she viewed her as a sociopath. This may explain their absence.

But Krenwinkel is another story. Krenwinkel was her big sister, a mother figure at times and likely a victim of the same abuse that was inflicted on Lake (although while other abuse is mentioned in Member of the Family I don't recall any names or descriptions). While she identifies her feelings at the time she became aware of Krenwinkel's involvement in the murders there is no later mention of those looking back from today. I had anticipated that she might reflect back on their fate and how she escaped it or how she felt about what had happened to those she once viewed as her only real family and maybe her feelings about that loss. 

“As I struggled to keep my emotions in check, I found I was less surprised by how Sadie and Leslie gleefully described their roles in these murders. In the time I’d known them, I’d never fully believed in their ability to feel for others. Patty, however, was a different story. Learning both of her involvement and what she had become left me heartbroken.

Patty had joined Charlie because he made her feel loved in a way she had never felt before. Throughout my time with the family, she became the most loyal to him, as if her identity was only a reflection of how he saw her. She didn’t exist outside of his aura, and now to me she was forever lost. She’d become something I couldn’t recognize. Her transformation spoke volumes about the power of Charlie’s manipulation. As confused as I was with my own loyalty to Charlie, I could not understand how Patty could become a murderer for him.”

Lake, Dianne. Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties (Kindle Locations 5124-5127). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

It felt to me that she abandoned Krenwinkel and the rest emotionally the moment she was free of Manson’s influence as best summed up by this quote. I’m not sure I could have done that.

Do facts matter? I think they do.

We live in a world where regardless of your political leanings we are confronted with lies. It could be 'fake news' and 'alternate facts'.  Instead of the errors of the 60's and Watergate teaching us to change our ways, it has taught all of us- right and left- to not get caught.

Altering the facts, or ignoring them allows us to pursue our agenda, secure in the belief we are 'right' as we define 'right'. This, in my opinion, has almost become a part of our culture. It doesn't seem to matter if 'that didn't happen'. In fact, even when it is proven it didn't happen 'lying in the face of photographs' or punishing the revealer, is more important than admitting the truth.

[Aside: When I was in high school the official 'history book' had a caption under a picture in the 'politically correct' textbook that focused on racial issues and slavery in connection with the Civil War. That picture was of 'Pickett's Charge'. I have always been a 'history nerd'. The caption read: 'Pickett's charge was the largest cavalry charge in United States history'. I objected to my teacher. I received 'in school suspension'. Look Pickett's Charge up or watch the movie.]

There were enough errors and omissions in Member of the Family that I came away  questioning whether I could really rely on anything Dianne Lake said. I was also asking who was alive to refute or confirm her claims. I found myself asking who could independently verify or corroborate her facts. I even started 'googling' the Hog Farm, the Oracle and other aspects of her story. That left me viewing the horrific abuse she suffered at the hands of Manson, the sex, drugs and the rest of her tale with some degree of skepticism.

Please understand, I would never suggest the abuse she suffered did not occur or seek to minimize it. It happened. Some of her specific examples came to light in her testimony in the Watson trial where she testified Manson hit her four to five times, once after she hit Mary Brunner's baby, and several of the specific incidents she describes appear in Helter Skelter.

Manson abused women. There should be no doubt of Manson's abuse. Anyone who doesn't believe it should read his court statement as it relates to Dianne Lake.
"Manson: So she [Dianne Lake] would do things like drop coffee and spill things and do childish little things so her Daddy would come and spank her on the hand.

So she brought that problem to the ranch. She asked to be spanked several times

She come close to burning the ranch up and I would tell her, "would you quit doing that.," I says, "If you don’t stop doing that I'm going to spank you. I’m  going to whip you."

And she would keep doing it, so as any father would do I conditioned her mind with, pain to keep her from burning the ranch down or to keep her from doing something that she may have done that would affect everyone."

Lake testified at the Watson trial to witnessing four others being abused by Manson (Gypsy, Madeline Cottage, Mary Brunner and Barbara Rosenberg). There is also no doubt that Member of the Family tells her personal story of her descent into that Hell, her recovery and her survival. And that is truly an amazing story.

There is no doubt about Manson's abuse or her suffering, but that is not where my skepticism lies.

Where I am skeptical is ‘why’ the choice was made to feature the sex, drugs and abuse so prominently in Member of the Family while fact checking went completely by the wayside? I was left answering that question with this (1.) domestic violence fills our headlines, daily; it is a 'hot topic' and (2.) hot topics, sex, drugs and violence sell books and movies.

It is the decision to make that choice that bothers me.

Dianne Lake said Linda Kasabian drove the murderers to Cielo Drive in Linda Kasabian's car. She could have said 'my recollection was that Linda Kasabian came to the Family with the car they used that night. I have learned that is wrong'. That would have given me insight's into Dianne Lake as a person and her recollection of events. It would have been 'cool'.

Instead, she said 'Susan Atkins told me she stabbed Sharon Tate and based upon what I saw in her eyes I believe she did'.

Pax Vobiscum,