Naturally the titled appealed to my black little heart and I looked at the masthead. It was published in 1996. What I had was an alphabetized, encyclopedic collection of the world's most famous murder cases of the previous 95 years - with bibliographies (hello Ed Sanders...). I thought about the pub date, 1996. That's the year I got into the web business (and out of the book business). To me the internet was the future and physical paper books I believed were reaching the beginning of end of the line. I wondered if Frazier knew what lay ahead of us electronically, would he have done a website instead?
Without hesitation I flipped to the M's. There were about 5 pages devoted to Manson. I found it interesting. Naturally, he sticks to the official Helter-Skelter motive and makes common mistakes like Manson believing that Melcher still lived at Cielo.
Official narratives mean nothing to me anymore. Some of you may remember me saying my wife and I were well acquainted with a man here in NC who later murdered his wife. The trial was big news. Knowing all of the actors and the real story I was blown away by the news coverage and especially by the national piece later broadcast on Dateline NBC. The things they left out were more astounding than the things they focused on. I've never trusted media accounts since.
I'd be interested to know what else in this narrative jumps out at Manson scholars.
Here's that section of the book. I OCR'd it for those who might have trouble reading the scans. For comparison the very end of this post is the book's attention devoted to Charles Watson (you know, the guy who actually killed 7 or 8 people).
Manson, Charles Males (a.k.a. "No Name Maddox," "Jesus Christ," "God," "The Devil," "Soul," "Charles Willis Manson") Born November 12, 1934, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Car thief, cult leader. Los Angeles, California; 9 murders (possible involvement in as many as 40); bludgeon, gun, knife; July—August 1969.
Film: Manson (US, 1972), a 93-minute documentary directed by Robert Hendrickson and Laurence Merrick (Merrick International Pictures). Cast includes Charles Manson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, Charles "Tex" Watson, and Jess Parsons (narrator).
Theatre: Charles Manson, a.k.a. Jesus Christ: A Rock-Musical Tragedy (1972), book by Fabian Jennings and music by Allan Rae, was performed in Toronto, Canada, in 1972 by the Playwrights Co-op. The Manson Family: Helter Five-0 (1990), an avant-garde opera by John Moran, was performed in New York City's Alice Tully Hall on July 17 and 18, 1990. The work was commissioned by Serious Fun!, Lincoln Center's annual avant-garde festival. Released by Point Music (New York) on compact disk in 1992 as The Manson Family: An Opera. Television: "Helter Skelter" (1976), a two-part, four-hour made-for-tele-vision movie based on Bugliosi's book of the same title, originally aired on CBS on April 1 and 2, 1976. Cast includes George DiCenzo (Vincent Bugliosi), Steve Railsback (Charles Manson), Nancy Wolfe (Susan Atkins), Marilyn Burns (Linda Kasabian), Christina Hart (Patricia Kren-winkel), Cathey Paine (Leslie Van Houten), and Bill Durkin (Charles "Tex" Watson).
Video: Sharon Tate, the Victim ... Charles Manson, the Convicted Serial Killer (US, 1990). Doris Tate, the murdered woman's mother, discusses the case in a 50-minute video manufactured and distributed by ATI Mark V Products, Inc.
"I'm willing to get out and kill a whole bunch of people. That's one reason I'm not really too fast on getting out. Because if I got out, I'd feel obligated to get even. It would be an honorable thing."—Manson in an August 1989 interview
On March 21, 1967, Manson was paroled from Terminal Island Prison in San Pedro, California, after serving a long term for car theft and pimping at the federal prison McNeil Island in the state of Washington. Prophetically, the 32-year-old Manson realized that the 19 years he had spent behind bars had rendered him ill-equipped to adapt to the outside world and he asked authorities to permit him to remain in jail. They refused and with $35 in his pocket Manson drifted north to San Francisco, then the center of the Hippie movement. Thoroughly schooled in the "jail house con," the charismatic Manson soon realized that there was a place for him in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district. A budding musician/ songwriter (Alvin "Creepy" Karpis of the Ma Barker gang had taught him to play guitar in prison), Manson used his music combined with an addled messianic philosophy buttressed with marijuana and mind-altering drugs to attract a coterie of young middle-class white women who had dropped out of society looking for "truth." Manson used his "young loves" to attract to his "Family"-disaffected males who possessed the skills he needed to make his cult self-sufficient; a handiness with weapons and automobile mechanics. With his Family in tow, Manson relocated to the Los Angeles area where lie settled his commune at Spahn Ranch, an old film set and horse ranch in Simi Valley. In exchange for care and sex from Manson's women, George Spahn, the 81-year-old owner, permitted the Family to stay there free. Manson used the ranch as a base from which to sell drugs and to convert stolen cars
At Spahn Ranch, Manson solidified his total control over the 30 or so members of his cult. Feeding them a steady stream of marijuana and LSD, the guru orchestrated sexual orgies designed to rid his followers of any of their "hang-ups." Calling himself "Jesus Christ" and "God," the 5'2" ex-convict preached his version of the upcoming apocalypse which combined his bizarre interpretation of the biblical book of Revelation with the unimagined depths of meaning he found in the Beatles' White Album, more specifically the song "Helter Skelter." According to Manson's paranoid reasoning the coming race war between the blacks and the whites was inevitable. In the ensuing struggle, the blacks would emerge victorious but lack the intelligence to rule the world. At this point, Manson and his followers would emerge from their "Bottom-less Pit," a place of safety in California's Death Valley to which they had fled to avoid the carnage, and take over the planet. Tired of waiting for "Helter Skelter," the day of the Apocalypse, Manson decided to instigate the event by sending out four of his most devoted disciples to kill prominent members of the white Establishment, then plant evidence implicating black revolutionaries. Terry Melcher, the record producer son of Doris Day and then boyfriend of actress Candice Bergen, was selected as a victim because a year earlier he had refused to give Manson a recording contract. At that time, Melcher was living at 10500 Cielo Drive in the West Los Angeles Benedict Canyon area. Unknown to Manson, Melcher had recently sublet the house to Polish film director Roman Polanski and his wife of eight months actress Sharon Tate. The beautiful actress was eight-and-a-half months pregnant and waiting for her husband to return from shooting a film in England. On the night of August 8, 1969, Manson assembled his "hit team" telling its appointed leader Charles "Tex" Watson, a 23-year-old one-time "A" student and high school football star, that "You're going out on the Devil's business tonight" and to "kill everyone inside" the house. Accompanying Watson were 21-year-old topless dancer Susan Atkins (known in the Family as "Sadie Mae Glutz"), Patricia Krenwinkel, the 21-year-old daughter of a middle-class insurance salesman, and Linda Kasabian, the group's drug-addicted 20-year-old driver and look-out who had left her home in the Mid-west to look for God.
Shortly after midnight, Watson and the three women invaded the Cielo Drive home of actress Sharon Tate. First to die was Steven Earl Parent, 18, who was visiting the caretaker who lived in a cottage on the grounds. Watson shot Parent four times at close range with a .22 caliber pistol as the teenager sat in his parked car in the driveway. Entering the house, Watson, accompanied by Atkins and Krenwinkel ultimately herded the occupants into the living room. Visiting the 26-year-old actress that night were Wojiciech (Voytek) Frykowski, a 32-year-old Polish emigre playboy and drug dealer, his lover Abigail (Gibby) Folger, 25-year-old heiress to the Folger's coffee fortune, and Jay Sebring, 35, Tate's former lover and a famous name in the recently invented field of men's hairstyling. In the ensuing carnage Frykowski was stabbed 51 times, shot twice, and pistol whipped with such force by Watson that the handle of his gun broke off. His body was found on the front yard of the estate. Folger was stabbed 28 times with a bayonet by Watson and Atkins before dying near Frykowski. Sebring was shot in the back and stabbed seven times. Last to die was Sharon Tate who, after pleading for the life of her unborn baby, was told by Atkins, "Look bitch ... I don't care if you're going to have a baby ... You're going to die and I don't feel any-thing about it." The group stabbed the actress 16 times. Per Manson's instructions, Watson tossed a rope over an exposed ceiling beam and wrapped the ends around the necks of Tate and Sebring. Atkins, who actually tasted Tate's blood, wanted to cut out the woman's unborn fetus and take it to Manson for ritualistic purposes, but was told by Watson it was time to leave. Before doing so, Atkins daubed a towel in Tate's blood and scrawled the word "PIG" on the front door.
The next night, August 10, Man-son accompanied Watson, Atkins, Krenwinkel, Kasabian, and Leslie Sue Van Houten, 19, on a raid in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles 15 miles from the site of the Tate massacre. Alone and armed with a gun, Manson entered the home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca at 3301 Waverly Drive. He tied up the 44-year-old supermarket tycoon and his 38-year-old wife assuring them both as he left that they would not be harmed. Returning to the car, Manson ordered Watson, Krenwinkel, and Van Houten to kill the bound pair. When Leno LaBianca was later found, he had been stabbed 26 times and the word "WAR" and several crosses had been carved into his chest. A knife and a fork were found protruding from his body. His wife was strangled with an electric cord and stabbed 41 times. "DEATH TO PIGS" and "RISE" were written on the living room wall in the the victims' blood as was the slogan "HEALTER SKELTER" [sic] found scrawled across the door of the refrigerator. Acting on Manson's instructions, the killers dropped the wallet of one of their victims in a black neighborhood in the hope that someone there would be caught by police using a credit card thereby leading them to believe that the murders were racially motivated. As public pressure mounted to solve the crimes (initially believed not to be linked), Manson had relocated his Family to Barker Ranch on the edge of Death Valley where he was arrested with 22 members of his group in October 1969 on charges of grand theft auto and arson.
The killers were identified as sus-=pects in the Tate-LaBianca murders after Susan Atkins, held at the Sybil Brand Institute as a suspect in the Manson-ordered torture-murder of Malibu music teacher Gary Hinman a few days before the Tate-LaBianca killings, told her cellmates about slaughtering the people on Cielo Drive on "Charlie's" order. She also bragged about Manson's future plans to shake tip the Establishment by murdering well-known celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, and Elizabeth Taylor. At a police press conference in Los Angeles held on December 1, 1969, authorities announced that the Tate-LaBianca case was solved. In a spectacular nine-month trial in which Liinda Kasabian turned state's evidence in exchange for immunity from prosecution, Manson, Atkins, Van Houten, and Krenwinkel were convicted of murder on March 29, 1971, and subsequently sentenced to death. Tried separately, Charles "Tex" Watson received a similar verdict and sentence. Manson and two other Family members were also convicted in the murder of Donald "Shorty" Shea, a would-be actor and hand on the Spahn Ranch. The death sentences, however, were over-turned and commuted to indeterminate life sentences in 1972 after the California Supreme Court invalidated t he existing capital punishment statute. All the principals in the Manson case have been eligible for parole since 1978, but their petitions have been consistently denied due largely to the efforts of Sharon Tate's family. Van Houten was subsequently retried in 1976 because her attorney, Ronald Hughes, disappeared during the first trial. His remains were found four months later in a mountain wilderness prompting many to speculate that he was killed by Family members because he refused to follow Manson's defense strategies. A second trial for Van Houten ended in a hung jury, but she was finally convicted in 1978. Watson married, fathered two children during prison conjugal visits, served as an assistant Protestant pastor at the California Men's Colony at San Luis Obispo, and currently runs his own prison ministry.
The women convicted in the case have since taken advanced educational degrees and counsel new female inmates.
Manson, still sporting the swastika he carved into his forehead, continues to be a figure of fascination for the media who hungrily hang on his every word. Realistic enough to know that he will never be released from prison, he now only occasionally attends his parole hearings. On September 25, 1984, Manson was hanging about the hobby shop in the California Medical Facility at Vacaville when he argued with fellow-inmate Jan Holmstrom over the man's constant recital of Hare Krishna chants. Holmstrom, a 36-year-old devotee of the sect doing life for the 1974 shotgun murder of his father, doused Manson with paint thinner and tossed a match on him. Manson survived, but was treated for second and third degree burns over his face, scalp, and hands. In 1993, the convicted killer was again thrust into the public spotlight when the enormously popular Los Angeles-based rock band Guns N' Roses featured his song "Look at Your Game, Girl" as the 13th and final cut on their The Spaghetti Incident album. Though the song was not cited on the album's play list, the name "Charlie" appears in the credits and lead singer Axl Rose thanks "Chas" at the end of the song. Depending on record sales, Manson could have earned as much as $62,000 in royalties. How-ever, based on a judgment obtained in 1971 it was ruled that Manson's royal-ties would go to the son of Voytek Frykowski. To deflect public criticism, Axl Rose promised to donate any royalties the band received from the song to an environmental group that helps dolphins. To many, Rose further served to popularize the killer by wearing a tee-shirt bearing Manson's likeness while performing. Manson's image has been officially licensed by Zooport Riot Gear, a surf-wear company based in Newport Beach, California, which pays him 10' a shirt. Writers on the case have since speculated that Manson was part of a murderous satanic orga-nization which included "Son of Sam" killer David Berkowitz and also that many of the murders were drug-related "hits."
The Watson Entry: