Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Tour 2017 -- Mendocino

On Day Two of the 2017 MF Blog Tour our first stop was at the location six miles south of Ukiah where 24-year-old Clyda Dulaney and her 64-year-old mother Nancy Warren were beaten and garroted to death in their side-by-side house trailers on the rainy night of October 13, 1968. Because some friends of Charles Manson were in the area at the time (specifically Mary Brunner, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Ella Jo Baily -- the "Witches of Mendocino"), these two homicides have often been suggested as being possible  murders committed by "the Manson Family." They were not. (If you are unfamiliar with these murders you can get very caught up on the case here.)

Almost fifty years after these brutal killings there is nothing at the scene to remind one of the fatal violence that was visited upon Nancy Warren and Clyda Dulaney there. The area where the two victims' house trailers sat has been cleared and is now the location of a strawberry sales stand. I was surprised how close the location was to busy Highway 101.

The Crime scene today. Note the cars on Highway 101 at left. 

And the berries were very good. 

The researchers here at MF Blog have put considerable time into investigating this notorious unsolved double-homicide. In their view the likely perpetrator of this crime is not the person whom law enforcement and others have long suspected of being the killer. It is also their view that these murders can and should be solved. 

From the site of the Dulaney/Warren murders we proceeded north on Highway 101 to the city of Ukiah, which is the county seat of Mendocino County. There is located the courthouse and county jail where Mary Brunner, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Ella Jo Bailey were incarcerated and processed during their time in the county as the "Witches of Mendocino," a nickname given to them because of their magical behavior in the area. That behavior included giving, on June 21, 1968, a tab of LSD to a 17-year-old boy whose trip was upsetting enough that local law enforcement was called. They in turn arrested Brunner, et al. on various drug-related charges. Surprisingly, the charge for possession of marijuana seeds was considered a felony and was at least as serious as the charge for giving LSD to a minor. (Marijuana is now legal for recreational use in the state of California.)

The Courtroom Entrance

The Courtroom entrance and, on the fourth floor, holding cells for inmates involved in court proceedings.

I wasn't allowed to take my camera into the courthouse. Most of the courtrooms were busy, and the place was active enough that surreptitious cellphone photography was out of the question for me. But it wasn't for Matt.

One of at least seven courtrooms in the Mendocino County Courthouse

A few blocks away from the courthouse is the Mendocino County jail where the women would have stayed between courtroom appearances. 

 From Ukiah we proceeded west on twisty California Route 253 to Boonville, where we hooked up with Deb for lunch. She then took us west on Highway 128 to the place on Gschwend Road where the carelessly dispensed LSD triggered the whole Witches scenario. Formerly called the Alice Ostrum Price house (named after the residence's 1968 owners) the property now features a new house built on the same footprint as the house where the acid incident occurred. It was remotely located on a dirt section of Gschwend Road quite a ways off of HIghway 128. In fact, it was remote enough that it didn't seem like a good idea to linger too long outside of the property snapping photos of the house. We didn't stay there too long.

At the property on Gschwend Road

After leaving Gschwend we continued west on Highway 128 until it intersected with Highway 1 on the coast. Right there, on a beach just south of where the Navarro River empties into the Pacific Ocean, is where Charles Manson, Mary Brunner, and Lyn Fromme camped and stayed in a small trailer during their wandering times between the Mendocino and San Francisco areas in 1967.

The camping area at the beach

The beach, looking south

The view north

The location was beautiful. And in fact, some people on the tour remarked that Manson and his friends seemed to have a talent for picking beautiful places to live.

The beach at Navarro was the last official tour stop of the day. The next several hours were spent winding down Highway 1 towards Jenner and seeing some of the finest coastal scenery that California has to offer. It was a fitting end for a full day.