Monday, July 31, 2017

A Look At the Evidence #5: Were They Really That Bad

Other Posts: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

It is part of the official narrative that the police investigation was sloppy. Bugliosi notes multiple occasions where, in his opinion, the police made mistakes that affected the investigation and the trial. Some of these criticisms are legitimate but some are not.

Failure to Connect the Two Crime Scenes

The homicide investigators assigned to the Cielo Drive crime scene didn’t communicate well (if at all) with the team assigned to the LaBianca crime scene. And even though both teams reported to a higher authority that authority, we are told by Bugliosi, bungled connecting the two crimes.

“Yet within twenty-four hours the police would decide there was no connection between the two sets of murders.”

Los Feliz Couple Slain;
       sLink to 5-Way Murder Seen

Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (p. 74). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

If this is an accurate statement one has to ask how they could possibly reach this conclusion? How could they miss all of the similarities? Especially when one detective was at both crime scenes.

“Lieutenant Madlock phoned Inspector K. J. McCauley and requested that the investigation be assigned to Homicide Division. Inspector McCauley assigned the responsibility for the investigation to Robbery Homicide Division. Lieutenant R. J. Helder, Supervisor of Investigations, Robbery-Homicide Division, was contacted and notified of the above crime and decision as to the responsibility for the investigation. He assigned the case to Sergeants M. J. McGann, and J. Buckles. He also called three additional investigators to assist in a crime scene search and investigation. Sergeants E. Henderson, D. Varney and D. Galindo were assigned this responsibility.

Lieutenant Helder and the assigned investigators responded to the scene, arriving at various times between 1330 and 1430 hours.

 (First Tate Homicide Investigation Progress Report- emphasis added)

The important piece here is “D. Galindo”.

“On August 11, 1969, 0015 hours, Sergeant D. Galindo, 3434, Robbery- Homicide Division, was notified of the double homicide occurring at 3301 Waverly Drive. Sergeant Galindo and Officer T. Taketa,11091, Detective Headquarters Division, immediately responded to the scene, arriving at 0100 hours. Officer R. E. Miller, 11651, Detective Head- quarters Division, subsequently arrived to assist in the investigation.”

(First LaBianca Homicide Investigation Progress Report- emphasis added)

Sergeant Danny Galindo was present at both crime scenes from the outset and, we have to assume from Bugliosi's comment, apparently saw absolutely nothing that would suggest to him that the two crimes were related. But is that an accurate description? 

Despite Bugliosi’s claim, the police had already determined that there might be a
connection between the two crimes.

The image to the right is the page of the LA Times from August 17, 1969 that links everything together. On the right top column is an update on the Tate murders. In the lower right hand column is an update on the LaBianca murders and in the center is the Spahn Ranch raid.

By this point at least connections between the two crimes were noted by the police and the article even refers to the LaBianca murders as ‘copycat’ murders (the obvious source being the police) who noted the similarities to the Tate murders.

[Aside: The coincidence of these three stories being on this page has always struck me as one of the more almost 'mystical' events associated with these crimes. It is almost as if someone (or something) was trying to tell the investigators where to look.]

And, in fact, the police were discussing connections between the crimes contrary to Bugliosi's comment.

“There is a similarity [between the two crimes], but whether it’s the same suspect or a copycat we just don’t know.” Said Police Sgt. Bryce Houchin.” (Progress Bulletin, Monday, August 11, 1969)

“Of the connection between the murders in Bendict Canyon and in Silverlake, Detective Sgt. Danny Galindo said, ‘it is possible that somebody is cashing in on some of the publicity from the earlier case but there are other schools of thought.’” (The San Mateo Times, Monday, August 11, 1969)

Even the article cited by Bugliosi in Helter Skelter refutes his statement.

“Police said it [the writing on the wall] was the same technique used by the Benedict Canyon slayer to smear the word ‘pig’ on the door of Miss Tate’s home- a fact disclosed after the Los Feliz murders were discovered.

The bloody inscription, the hood, and the atrocious nature of the wounds all indicated a connection with the earlier crime, police said.” (LA Times, Monday, August 11, 1969)

Conclusion: Bugliosi is wrong. The police did recognize connections between the two crimes from the outset. My hunch is that the reason they were not even more vocal was to preserve certain aspects of the two crimes in order to reserve things ‘only the murder(s) would know' since so much had been leaked to the press. We know the Beatles connection was identified early on by the LaBianca team but that, for example, was never mentioned to the press and probably led to Bugliosi's investigation of that issue.

Lack of Sub-typing the Blood

Bugliosi called Manuel Joseph Granado of SID to task for not subtyping many of the blood samples.

“Granado took a total of forty-five blood samples [at Cielo Drive]. However, for some reason never explained, he didn’t run subtypes on twenty-one of them. If this is not done a week or two after collection, the components of the blood break down. Later, when an attempt was made to re-create the murders, these omissions would cause many problems.


This time [at the LaBianca scene] Granado didn’t take any subtypes.”

Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (p. 37 and 73). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

In 1969 sub-typing the blood at this crime scene could only be accomplished using the M-N-MN subtype because the blood was dry.

Q: And there are also sub-blood types; is that correct?
A: Yes, that is correct.
Q: Numerous sub-blood types; is that correct?
A: There are some 30.
Q: However, when the blood is dry, then there are only three sub-blood types; is that correct?
A: No, there are more, but there are only three that have been proven by experimental evidence.
Q: And those three sub-blood types or dried blood are M, N and MN; is that correct?
A: Yes, that is correct.

Granado used the subtype test he was supposed to use and by a strange accident he sub-typed all of the type O blood samples he found except one: “G43: Violet colored ribbons found on side of door near blood splatters, human blood- type O.” He sub-typed none of the type B blood samples at Cielo Drive.

Why Granado failed to M-N-MN subtype the type B blood he found at the scene is explained by Granado, contrary to Bigliosi’s assertion. It was not standard operating procedure in 1969.

Q: When you take samples of blood from the scene of a homicide, is it customary in homicide investigations to get sub blood types?
A: No, it is not.
Q: But you did do it in this case in certain situations?
A: Yes. We tried to do it in certain situations where the bloods are all the same. We tried to obtain another characteristic for further pinning down the particular individual.

I can’t agree with Bugliosi. Granado followed procedure and actually exceeded it to try to sort out the mess that confronted him at Cielo Drive.

Bugliosi also claims this on the same topic:

“Granado took blood samples from the rope, but didn’t take subtypes, again presuming.”

Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (p. 41). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

That’s not what I see.

“G-28. Rope (nylon type found over beam and attached to Sebring and Tate) 
human blood.                          O-M”

(Report to Captain Don A. Martin Commander, SID DR#69-059 593)

My review of Granado’s testimony at the trial also failed to identify any problem caused by this ‘omission’. In fact, the defense never asked Granado a single question about the blood typing.

Conclusion: Not an error.

No Samples of Blood Taken from Victim Locations

Again, Bugliosi takes a shot at Granado.

“Nor did he [Granado] take samples from the pools of blood in the immediate vicinity of the two bodies in the living room, or from the stains near the two bodies on the lawn, presuming, he’d later testify, that they belonged to the nearest victims, and he’d be getting samples from the coroner anyway.”

Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (p. 37). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

It appears Granado may have actually taken or at least tried to take these samples.

Granado testified that he did not take samples from near Frykowski and Folger for the reason stated by Bugliosi. He was not asked why. Contrary to Bugliosi’s comment suggesting otherwise, he was never asked about samples taken from near the bodies of Tate and Sebring.

It appears that the truth of the matter may be that Granado tried to take samples from near Folger and Frykowski’s bodies. The The First Homicide Investigation Progress Report also suggests that Granado actually took blood samples from near the bodies of Tate and Sebring.

“Going in a northwesterly direction from where Frykowski's body was found (Addendum 1B ) two large blood spots were found. Scientific Investigation Division has been unable to type this blood; however, it is the opinion of the investigating officers that these two large pools of blood are areas where Frykowski lay for moments in his attempt to escape from his assailants. It is possible that a struggle with the assailants occurred at these two locations.”

“Blood around area of Polanski's body and Sebring's body and rope which they were tied with, type O.”

(First Tate Homicide Investigation Progress Report- emphasis added)

These samples, like another mentioned later on, do not appear in Granado’s report to Captain Martin. Did Granado take these samples and lose the record? Maybe and, of course, that would be a pretty big error.

In my opinion, this error, if made, however, is minor. Contrary to Bugliosi’s claim it didn’t impact the investigation or the trial and would not have led to an arrest any faster nor would it have helped 'recreate the crime'. 

Bugliosi also hints that Granado relied upon the coroner for the blood types of the victims. While he did receive the coroner’s typing on each victim he also received their blood and ran his own test including the M-N-MN subtyping because he knew his samples were dried blood and he needed that to proceed.

Finally, it appears that this ‘mistake’ might not even be considered a 'mistake' by crime scene investigators today.

“Occasionally, investigators blindly collect blood samples from a scene without any thought about the facts they are trying to establish. An example is a crime scene consisting of the body of a shooting victim found alone in his residence. Some investigators will collect several blood samples from around the body. This is unnecessary since it will only establish that the victim bled at the scene of the crime. This fact is already proven by the presence of the body; however, one sample of pooled blood next to the body can be collected to confirm the results obtained from the victim's reference blood sample.” (George Schiro, Forensic Scientist, Louiisiana State Police Crime Laboratory, “Collection and Preservation of Blood Evidence from Crime Scenes”)

Conclusion: Not an error.

Steven Parent’s Car

I read somewhere (not in Helter Skelter) that Granado failed to type blood at Parent’s car that could have been important. I am sorry, I don't remember where and couldn't find it when I wrote this.

Granado typed the blood on the steering wheel and the dash (G36 and G37 in his report). Granado also found blood in insufficient quantities to type on the inside and outside door handles of Steven Parent’s car as he testified.

A: G41, also in the automobile, was on the inside and outside door handles of the Parent vehicle, and there was insufficient material for typing or human, but I got a positive benzidine reaction at the

To me this is interesting. The inside handle may be explained by Parent’s wounds. I have a harder type visualizing how blood could get to the outside door handle unless it was transferred there from another location such as Parent’s hand or the hand of one of the killers opening the door (perhaps to retrieve his wallet, unsuccessfully or to turn off the ignition).

Insufficient quantities are not Granado’s fault.

Conclusion: Not an error.

The Blood in the Garage

The narrative on this says there was blood in the garage that was never typed. At least one author has also made this same claim.

This blood is used by some to suggest that Parent was attacked near the garage before he entered his car. This is when, it is argued, his hand was slashed (of course the theory ignores the watch on the back seat with the severed band pictured to the right). 

The ‘blood in the garage’ theory originates with John W. Finken an investigator (or deputy coroner) for the LA coroner’s office and appears in the autopsy report of Sharon Tate. The relevant portion is pictured to the below. 

Finken arrived on the scene at 2:15 p.m. four hours after Granado. Granado makes no mention of blood in the ‘open garage’. The Homicide Report does not mention blood in the garage. No witness who was present at the crime scene (and testified at the trial) mentions blood being found or suspected in the garage.

Finken was a problem for Bugliosi during the trial because he wrote a series of unnecessary comments on Sharon Tate’s autopsy report. These comments were his inaccurate (or misleading) personal theory of the case. Here are some samples:

“Apparently entertaining a mixed group of 4 young people at/in her luxurious, avant garde, ranch-estate type home.”

“The party was noticed by neighbors**** during [word I can’t read] afternoon into early evening.”

“House doors opened + some lights yet on- windows ajar.”

“No weapons or suspects in custody”

Nothing I have found independently corroborates the claim there was blood in the garage.

Conclusion: Not an error.

The Gate Button

Bugliosi took Officer DeRosa to task for obliterating ‘Tex’ Watson’s fingerprint on the gate button.

“Officer DeRosa, who was charged with securing and protecting the scene until investigating officers arrived, now pressed the button himself, successfully opening the gate but also creating a
superimposure that obliterated any print that may have been there.”

Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (p. 34). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

I’m sure most are aware Bugliosi is wrong.

Q: So you have a recollection of picking up your purse, is that right?
A (Winifred Chapman): Oh, yes.
Q: And what happened next?
A: I ran out, and of course, I had to push a button to get out the gate and – I went to the first neighbor’s house. I did not get in.

It wasn’t the DeRosa. It was Ms. Chapman.

Conclusion: Not an error.

Moving Evidence

“Two pieces of gun grip, first seen near the entryway, were now under a chair in the living room. As stated in the official LAPD report: “They were apparently kicked under the chair by one of the original officers on the scene; however, no one is copping out.”

Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (p. 36). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

The gun grips aren’t the only piece of evidence that appears to have moved during the crime scene investigation.

SUSAN ATKINS: And I reached down and turned my head away and touched her chest to get some blood and proceeded to go to the door and the only thing I remember being instructed to write on the door was “Pig” so I proceeded to take my hand and write “Pig” with the towel and threw the towel back and ran outside. (Susan Atkins’ Interview by Caruso and Caballero, December 1, 1969 thanks to

I held the towel in my hand and stood there for a few minutes. I did not know what to do. I turned around and threw the towel towards the living room area where Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring were lying. (Susan Atkins’ Grand Jury Testimony, December 5, 1969 thanks to

“She [Chapman] then looked down at the front porch and entry hall and saw pools of blood and a blood-spattered yellow towel.”

For as long as I have been lurking around blogs about this case Susan Atkins’ amazing towel throw has been a talking point now and again because some erroneously assume that the towel wrapped around Jay Sebring’s head under the rope is the towel used to write pig on the door. It’s not.

Two other towels checked by Granado could be the suspect.

G-39: Beige towel found in living room. Checked 11 separate spots and found them all to be human blood. Two spots tested for sub-type. Type O-M (Sharon Tate).

G-42: Yellow towel found in the front living room near trunks, human blood. Type O-M (Sharon Tate).

I believe the actual writing instrument was the yellow towel because the beige towel had “11 separate spots” which doesn’t sound like the right instrument. The beige towel, however, may have been one Atkins placed over Tate’s head, perhaps in an effort to create a scene similar to the one involving Sebring.

RICHARD CABALLERO: What did they pull over her head?
SUSAN ATKINS: They didn’t put anything over their heads. They didn’t have anything over their heads when we left, except Sharon Tate – I threw a towel over her head.
(Susan Atkins’ Interview by Caruso and Caballero, December 1, 1969 thanks to

What is interesting about the yellow towel is that, like the gun grip, it appears to have moved during the investigation. Granado places the yellow towel in the living room near the trunks (above).

Chapman placed the towel almost in the front hall, which again is near the trunks.

“She [Chapman] then looked down at the front porch and entry hall and saw pools of blood and a blood-spattered yellow towel.” (First Tate Homicide Investigation Progress Report)

But that is not where the police found the towel.

“Officers observed a yellow towel with blood splatters near the hearth in the living room. This has been typed as O blood.” (First Tate Homicide Investigation Progress Report)

I could see some officer not paying attention and accidently kicking the gun grip under a chair. I can’t imagine how the yellow towel moved from near the trunks at the entry way to near the hearth without someone picking it up and physically moving it there.

Conclusion: Both the gun grip and the yellow towel are errors (although, again, due to the defense, they had no impact on the trial).

The North End of the Porch

Bugliosi, by accident, had the picture of the broken bush on the north end of the porch. I say ‘by accident’ because the photo was taken, at Granado’s direction, of the blood, not the bushes. Some of Kasabian’s strongest testimony related to Frykowski falling into these bushes because the physical evidence, the broken bushes, corroborates her testimony. His blood at this location would further corroborate her.

“My concern here was that those samples he had taken matched in type and subtype the blood of Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring, although there was no evidence that either had run out the front door. While I could argue to the jury that the killers, or Frykowski himself, had tracked out the blood, I could foresee the defense using this to cast doubt on Linda’s story, so I asked Joe: ‘You don’t know if the random sampling is representative of the blood type of the whole area here?’

A. ‘That is correct. I would have had to scoop everything up.’”

Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (pp. 398-399). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

Granado’s testimony.

Q: Now, right adjacent to the bush or bushes, Officer, you see what appears to be a large amount of blood; is that correct? 
A: Yes.
Q: Did you take any sample of blood from that area? 
A: No. I have none. I have checked my book and I haven’t seen any from that area. 
Q: Any particular…..
[Kanarak objects]
A: I did not find any from that particular area.
Q: You did not find any or you did not take any? 
A: I did not take any.
Q: You did not take any sample of the blood from the pool of blood adjacent to the bushes here? 
A: That is correct.
Q: Was there any particular reason for that?
A: No. At the time I guess I assumed all of the blood was of similar origin. 
Q: From one and the same person?
A: Yes.

[Aside: My next question would have been ‘why on earth would you assume that?’ You can almost hear Bugliosi thinking 'you have got to be kidding me!']

But this one gets stranger. The First Homicide Investigation Progress Report suggests that Granado may, indeed, have taken a sample from this location, which would explain the photograph.

“This would be consistent with the fact that Sebring had a large abrasion to the bridge of his nose and when discovered had a large hematoma swelling and bruising of the left eye. The large pool of blood which is described as on the front porch, approximately 6 inches south of the north edge of the porch is Sebring's type, O-MN. Directly north-east and just off of the porch is a small hedge which was broken down as if someone had lain there for some time.”

That would mean Granado lost the test results or misplaced them (or mislabeled them) by the time he testified a year later.

This one is a mistake any way you look at it. Granado either took the sample and lost the results or never took a sample. This blood stain is large and should have been tested, especially since he was sub-typing the blood on the porch to figure out the sources for the various bloodstains. This error also could have been used to try to impeach Kasabian.

Conclusion: Error.

Saved by the not so Dream Team

After Granado’s direct examination by Bugliosi the defense team cross examined him. They asked him about the bloody cloths, Atkins’ hair follicle test, the leather ‘laces’, 'benzadine' tests and practically everything else under the sun except any of the mistakes mentioned in this post. Not a single question.

When Granado took the stand on August 25, 1970 at least one of the members of that brain trust (sarcasm intended) called the defense team should have recognized that they had one serious problem: they needed to challenge Linda Kasabian’s testimony. Bugliosi was afraid this would happen, look at his quote above. He should have been right.

This witness, the state’s expert witness, the state’s scientist just told the jury Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring’s blood was on the front porch [subject for another post, by the way] and Frykowski’s was not, which means Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring were on that front porch and Frykowski was not. This is a win-win situation for the defense.

Garnado made a mistake, which allows them to argue ‘what other mistakes were made by the police and more importantly it allows them to attack Kasabian’s story directly.

It allows them to call into question a key piece of her narrative by placing two people on the porch where she only saw a third.

They would have had to have set up the testimony through Kasabian but could have done that by simply having her reiterate her story on cross examination. They saw the blood report in advance. They knew what Granado had to say when he took the stand.

It is actually rather simple: just have her repeat her story on cross examination:

She left the immediate crime scene and then supposedly returned. You do this to set up the thought that she didn’t, in fact, return. You do that because the Granada evidence contradicts her.

Then place her standing at the “LK arrow". From there she could see the porch clearly.

Then get her to confirm she didn’t see what the state’s expert will say must have happened.

Granado on cross examination then says that the one person Kasabian says she saw on the front porch wasn’t there. Where’s Frykowski’s blood?

Instead they did nothing. Why? Well, Fitzgerald tells us why:

Bugliosi: Your Honor, that is a misstatement now. I think Mr. Fitzgerald knows when you say ‘animal,” you are not referring to a human being. I am going to object o that ground. It is a deliberate effort, I think, to get this witness confused.

Mr. Fitzgerald: I don’t know enough to confuse him.

The Court: Overruled.

[Aside: At the very end of Granado's testimony the following discussion ensues.

Mr. Kanarek: Your Honor, before he is excused may we approach the bench, Your Honor?
The Court: Very well.

Kanarek: I would make a motion and request that Mr. manson be allowed to ask the witness several questions in connection with this matter.
The Court: Why?
Kanarek: Well, I think—I think this evidence is very vital to Mr. Manson’s case—it obviously involves material wherein—
The Court: That is not my point. What I am asking you is, why should he be permitted to ask questions rather than you?
Mr. Kanarek: Because of the right to effective counsel, your Honor. [Given Kanarek’s performance a very good point.]

The Court: Any reason you cannot ask the questions?
Mr. Kanarek: No, but he has a desire to do this. I can see no harm coming by asking the questions, a couple of questions of this witness. [It certainly can't be worse then you four.]

The Court: The motion is denied.

Maybe Manson was the only one to recognize the problems with Granado's testimony.]

Bugliosi exaggerated the mistakes made by the police in Helter Skelter. He later takes credit for fixing the problems or avoiding their impact at trial or uses them to demonstrate how much more difficult his task was in securing a conviction because of police errors. Did the police make errors? Yes, they did. But they didn’t make several of those claimed by Bugliosi.

Pax Vobiscum