Monday, January 29, 2018

Mother Mary

Mary Theresa Brunner (aka: Mother Mary, Mary Manson, Marioche, Linda Dee Moser, Christine Marie Euchts, Och) was born December 17, 1943 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. For those who don’t know the area, that is near Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Chippewa Falls is where Jack Dawson, the character from the movie the Titanic, was from. Ok, it is also about 100 miles east of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Aside for a short period of time when she testified for the prosecution in Bobby Beausoleil's trial for the murder of Gary Hinman, Mother Mary was completely devoted to Manson. In 1971 she, Catherine Share (Gypsy), Lawrence Bailey (true name: Larry Wayne G. Giddings) and Kenneth Como robbed a Covina beer distributing firm and later a Hawthorne surplus store. They were after cash and guns. The second robbery resulted in a shootout with the police where Brunner was wounded in the left hand. Brunner was sentenced, following the trial to, two, consecutive, ten year to life, terms for her role in the two robberies. She was 29 years old.

In handing down the sentence, Judge Arthur H. Alarcon said, “Whether as a leader or as a follower, Miss Brunner is an extremely dangerous person.”

The Judge also noted that a psychiatrist who had testified during the sanity phase of the trial had said Mother Mary had such an “icy, callous determination” to free Manson that she would have killed if necessary to get Manson out of jail.  (Long Beach Independent, Wednesday, March 21, 1973)

She was paroled in 1977.

Mother Mary, in this writer’s opinion, was one of the most, if not the most, unrepentant of the murderers. “Murderers?” let’s be honest, if Bruce Davis is guilty of the murder of Gary Hinman, Mary Brunner would also have been found guilty. On the legal side of things an error-a technicality-by the DA’s office allowed her to walk away free despite the fact she recanted her prior testimony. By recanting her prior testimony Mary, arguably is single handedly responsible for creating  questions regarding what exactly happened during the murder of Gary Hinman and Manson's involvement in the crime. 

Unlike Susan Atkins and Linda Kasabian or even Leslie Van Houten or Patricia Krenwinkel there are no events in Brunner’s pre-Manson days that explain how she went from being an honor student at a Catholic high school in Eau Claire, Wisconsin to 'an extremely dangerous person' 'willing to kill' for Charles Manson. Nothing in her childhood explains why Mary stood casually by during the murder of Gary Hinman and possibly participated in suffocating him. 

Mary’s Childhood 

George Brunner 1942
Mary was the oldest of four children. She was named, after a fashion, after her paternal grandmother, Theresia Maria. Her parents were George and Elsie Brunner. 

George Fredrick Brunner was born June 5, 1910 in Eau Claire. He graduated from high school and is listed as living with his parents and working for a ‘sports shop’ in the 1940 federal census. He would continue to work at the Outdoor Sports Shop until he retired.

By the late 1940’s George is listed as an owner of the shop with a partner named Louis Philips. Philips purchased the shop in 1939 so it is likely George had some arrangement with him to acquire an interest in the shop over time.

Given the times Mary, as a first child came rather late in George's life. He was 33.

Throughout his life, George was active in the local community participating in various civic organizations, doing charity work and sponsoring little league teams. From what I could tell he was an avid golfer, hunter, skier and bowler. His name appears in the local papers frequently as high bowler during the 1950’s and early 60’s in this or that league and in 1962 he scored a hole in one playing golf.  He is pictured below right on a hunting trip with Elsie during the 1940's.

George and Elsie- 1940s
Elsie Jane Baker was born January 28, 1917 in Eau Claire. She graduated from Eau Claire Senior High in 1933 and from Luther Hospital School of Nursing in 1938. She worked as a nurse, first at the Luther Hospital in Eau Claire and then for doctors in private practice until she retired in 1970.

On April 24, 1941, Elsie married George at Sacred Heart [Catholic] Church in Eau Claire. According to Elsie’s obituary, Elsie and George met as they both walked to work down the Dewey Street Hill in Eau Claire. Elsie was going to Luther Hospital and George was headed to the Outdoor Sport Shop. "Elsie always said George was a good dancer and ice skater, two qualities that endeared him to her." They were married for 63 years and lived their entire lives in Eau Claire.

Eau Claire has a population today of about 68,000 today. In 1970 the population was about 44,000, not a large town.
210 Barstow

George in the shop
The Outdoor Sport Shop was located at 210 Barstow Street in Eau Claire. Unfortunately, it appears that the building was torn down as a result of a city redevelopment program and replaced by a parking lot- a Pretenders song comes to mind.  The shop was located near the right end of this parking lot. 

The shop, as the name implies, sold sporting goods, everything from outboard motors to skis, golf clubs, balls, bags and shoes, baseball and basketball gear and.....firearms....lots of firearms.

George and Elsie lived a comfortable middle-class life. Their kids attended school, stayed out of trouble, made the honor role and went to church. 

After their marriage in 1941, the Brunners first lived in a duplex located at 1109 1/2 Summit Street (Mary's first home). By 1951 the couple and their children had relocated to 1418 Lyndale Avenue and by 1954 they had moved to 1703 Laurel Avenue where they continued to reside until 2003. This address is frequently misstated as '703' in online documents.

George was the victim of crime on a few occasions during Mary's childhood. These crimes seem to foreshadow future events in Mary's life. 

In 1955 the Outdoor Sports Shop was burglarized by two juveniles who made off with what was described in the local press as ‘an arsenal’. Based upon the press clippings, they did. The thieves made off with rifles, four automatic pistols, seven black jacks, two switch blade knives, a set of throwing knives, several knives in sheaths and 30+ boxes of ammunition. The culprits (ages 13 and 14) were apprehended without incident. (The Daily Telegram, Saturday, June 11, 1955)

In 1959 George caught a fellow named Donald Steele trying to pass a bad check at the shop. George called the police who responded and pursued Steele. He was apprehended after a brief chase where he attempted to toss his identification. It was recovered and he was charged with forgery and robbery. (The Eau Claire Leader, Saturday, April 18, 1959)

In 1960 a thief stole a .22 caliber revolver from the shop but subsequently returned the weapon and other loot with an apology note. (The Eau Claire Leader, Thursday, February 18, 1960)

In 1962 a fellow named Donald Carpenter stole George’s car, a 1954 metallic silver and white top, Oldsmobile, from behind the Outdoor Sports Shop. The car was recovered in Madison, Wisconsin. George had left his keys in the car. (The Eau Claire Leader, Sunday September 30, 1960)

George passed away November 15, 2004 and Elsie on December 27, 2009. A comment from Elsie's obituary: “Elsie was an example to her family for never giving up on those she loved.”


Mary's Teens

Regis High School
I was unable to determine for sure whether Mary Theresa Brunner was raised in the Catholic faith or the Lutheran faith. Elsie was a lifelong Lutheran but George appears to have been Catholic (Sacred Heart Church, where they were married is a Catholic church).

Mary attended a Catholic school from the seventh grade until her graduation, now, Regis High School in Eau Claire. I believe it is likely she was raised as a Catholic but can't prove it. The aerial view of the school to the left gives an idea how large it likely was when Brunner was there in the late 1950's. The dark brown roofed section is the original school based upon drawings in the 1955 yearbook (the year it was constructed).

Unfortunately, Regis High School yearbooks are few and far between and I was not able to find a picture of Mary in high school.

Mary was an honor student. She was also a member of the Spanish Club and displayed at least some musical talent (below) that might have served her well with the Family Jams crowd a few years later.

Eau Claire Leader, Friday, November 11, 1960

Mary Went to College

Mary graduated from high school in 1961 and initially attended Wisconsin State College in Eau Claire, aka Eau Claire State College (now The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire). She studied history and volunteered as a librarian's assistant.

In 1963 she joined Sigma Pi Kappa sorority. Some web sites claim she was a member of 'Phi Theta sorority'. Being a former 'frat rat' I can tell you that Phi Theta is actually a professional organization for budding physical/occupational therapists. Brunner was not a member.

She was also active in the college's Spanish Club and may have spent the summer of 1963 in Mexico. Many student members of the club travelled to Mexico that summer. The yearbook, at least, tends to suggest the whole club took the trip. 

By 1966 Mary had transferred to the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She graduated that year with a degree (BA) in History. During her stay in Madison she had also been a student volunteer at the university library and likely planned a career as a librarian.

1966 University of Wisconsin Yearbook
She was not, as some websites say, 'employed' at the University of Wisconsin library. After graduating in the spring of 1966 she headed west and obtained employment at the University of California-Berkley library. About one year later she encountered Charles Manson and her life changed forever....... and not for the better. 

Mary had three siblings: Katherine (Katie or sometimes Katy) and Ann. From what I have been able to determine Katie and Ann both attended Regis High School. Katie graduated in 1963 and Ann in 1966 both were honor students.
1964 Eau Claire State College Yearbook
Both Katie and Ann initially attended Eau Claire State College. I was only able to track Ann attending college for 1967 and 1968. She spent the summer of 1967, while Mary was meeting Manson, in Finland, as a foreign exchange student.

Katie's Graduation 1967
Katie, like Mary, also transferred to the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She graduated from the school of nursing, there, in 1967.

In 1966 Katie married Steven Berkley. They had a child September 12, 1968 about five months after Katie's older sister gave birth to Manson’s child 2,000 miles..... and a world away.

Mary After Manson

[Aside: I found it interesting that during Mary's fifteen minutes of fame in 1970-3 there is, aside from AP stories from Los Angeles, no mention of the 'local girl gone wrong' in the Eau Claire newspapers. In fact, I noticed that while I was able to find stories about the Hinman nurder and Hawthorne shootout, those articles that were printed locally omitted the reference to 'Eau Claire'. In other words, certain stories you can find in, say, the LA Times that would mention Brunner 'from Eau Claire' are 'missing' from the local paper.]

Mary's presence on the Manson stage centers on her testimony and subsequent effort to recant that testimony in the Hinman trials of Bobby Beausoleil and Manson as well as her participation in the Hawthorne Shootout. 

I have to admit that my statement, above, that she is one of the most unrepentant of Family members could probably meet with the legal objection that I am assuming 'facts not in evidence'. 

I have to acknowledge that I don't know if she ever 'repented' her past or took any steps to make amends for her prior actions (or in the case of Gary Hinman her lack of action). After her release from prison Mary Theresa Brunner changed her name and disappeared from the stage of history. There are several mentions of a 'Mary Brunner' or a person with her 'assumed name', post Manson, in Eau Claire that suggest a certain civic mindedness- working for charitable organizations- but I can't say it is definitely Mary Brunner. 

Unlike Kasabian, there is no record of subsequent legal issues, drug abuse or strange behavior. I do know that she returned to Eau Claire after her parole. She may have continued to reside with her parents on Laurel Avenue. Her son did at least until 1994. 

Mary currently resides in Eau Claire, although her name is no longer Mary Brunner. 

There is also absolutely no record of any child abuse, teenage drug use,  criminal activity or delinquency surrounding any of the Brunner children. The worst thing that I could find related to Ann, who appears to have had her drivers’ license suspended for 30 days when she was 16 (1968) for making an illegal left turn and speeding. Aside from these two deplorable acts, there is no mention of any legal problems regarding any of the Brunner children. There is also no record of any of the other problems (broken homes, teen pregnancy, etc.) that seemed to plague other ‘Manson Girls’.

So Why did Mother Mary fall for Charles Manson? 

[Aside: Mary Brunner was at UC Berkeley in 1967. She may have heard Martin Luther King speak there on May 17th.]

Nuel Emmons claims Manson described his first meeting with Brunner to Emmons, as follows: 

“One day while on the U.C. campus I was strumming my guitar and humming in tune with the chords when a dog ran up to me and started sniffing at my foot. I poised my foot as if to kick the animal and a girl’s voice rang out, “Don’t hurt my dog.” I hadn’t intended to kick the pup, but when I saw the concern in the girl’s face, I played a game with her: get this ugly dog away from me or I’m going to plant my foot in its ass. The girl was a slim, redheaded, straight-laced type. She wasn’t pretty, but standing there in defiance of someone who might hurt her animal, she had qualities.

Mary Brunner was her name. She worked at the university as a librarian. I teased and threatened all the more when I saw it was irritating her. In a few minutes she realized it was a tease and laughed at herself for being annoyed. She then began criticizing my grammar, telling me, “You should stick to singing; when you talk, you come on like an ex-felon.” Smiling, I said what a smart girl she was and then, hoping to shock her, I told her of my recent release from prison. She accepted my statement without displaying displaying any emotion and quietly said, “Wow, I’ll bet you’re glad to be out.” Our meeting had begun with a certain mutual defiance, but the conversation mellowed and we found we communicated easily. Mary had just recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin and had moved to California to “broaden her horizons.” She was twenty-three years old, living alone, and as yet didn’t have many friends here on the West Coast.

With some encouragement on my part, she agreed to let me fall out at her apartment for the night. My immediate thought was, “Good, I’m going to score.” When we got to the apartment I was ready for sex and made a pass at her. She straightened my ass out quick. Firmly pushing me away from her, she said, “Look, I am giving you a place to sleep tonight; I’m not sleeping with you.””

(Emmons, Nuel. Manson in His Own Words (pp. 85-86). Grove Atlantic. Kindle Edition from 1986)

Ed Sanders in The Family adds little information regarding their meeting except to say it
happened near Sather Gate on the Berkeley campus. (Sanders, Ed. The Family (pp12). De Capo Press, 2002). 

Jeff Guinn in Manson describes the first meeting with less detail, but essentially parrots Emmons. (Guinn, Jeff. Manson (pp 82-83). Simon and Schuster, 2012) Of course, this is because Guinn read Emmons and lists his book in his bibliography.

Putting aside ‘how’ it happened the question remains ‘why’ did it happen. 

The straight-laced, shy, sheltered, Mary Brunner was anything but a radical, although Guinn suggests she was an environmental activist or at least had a strong interest in environment issues. I found nothing to support this claim. 

She was a librarian. She was well read, educated and probably also terribly naive: a nerd. In fact, given how little Manson ever actually ‘read’ as compared to 'borrowed' via word of mouth, I question who actually had the firmer understanding of Stranger In A Strange Land, Brunner or Manson. I would wager it was Mary. Despite other reports, I seriously doubt Manson ever read the book.

I do think her story gives some clues as to 'why' she fell for Manson. 

Mary was the oldest of four children with two working (and socially/civically active) parents. The shop closed at 9:30 p.m.. So George probably came home late on occasion. It is likely that part of her 'chores' included taking care of her siblings, a ‘job’ she apparently later embraced as Mother Mary of The Family. This probably limited her freedom and imposed responsibilities on her from a young age. 

She lived in a small town in the late 50's and attended a Catholic school. This is Ozzie and Harriet, My Three Sons stuff. Both of these factors would tend to make Mary more sheltered and thus, naive. 

I believe it is likely she was rather ‘bookish’. She chose a profession where she would be surrounded by books and a major in college (history) that is focused entirely upon books. I think its possible that she may have retreated into her books for comfort/escape when she was growing up.

Mary likely did not have many friends or boyfriends. None are mentioned or pictured. She did join a sorority in college, which should have given her access to a built-in social life, but she didn't live in a sorority house away from home and there is no indication she continued that involvement after she transferred to Madison, away from the watchful eye of her parents and community. 

It is unlikely she was popular in school. She was not the most attractive young woman, as others have noted (ok, let's be honest and less politically correct, she was rather unattractive) nor was she the captain of this team or leader of that club. In fact, in two of the yearbooks from Eau Claire State College where she should appear (because she was there) there is no mention of her, although only seniors are pictured. 

Her parents seem to have stressed education above all else, which makes sense, given Elsie had a career. 

 Certainly, no one stood in the way of a 2,000 mile move to Berkeley, California, for an assistant librarian job. This suggests to me that she didn’t have any very close friends or a boyfriend back home in Eau Claire.

Perhaps that move was an effort to broaden her horizons. Her stay at Madison may have exposed her to the happenings of 1965-66 in the world beyond Eau Claire. She, at least, chose to move to the center of student activism, the anti-war movement and what would soon be The Summer of Love. There are a lot of libraries around the country. Her choice seems unusual, given her background, unless it was a conscious decision. Is this a sign of a budding rebelliousness? I think it is.

Then into the mix add Manson and his 'pimp-shtick' that is recounted by at least two of his former 'conquests'. 

“WM: You became one of Charlie’s lovers very quickly, I believe. How did that happen?

Juanita: I didn’t know then how to say no to anybody. And then I was real needy too. And here were all these girls, women, falling all over him. And it was my door he was knocking on.
We went off to Malibu in my camper just a few days after I had gotten there. A man called Chuck, and Sadie and Charlie and I. My camper was one of those pop-up ones with a bunk at the top and a bunk at the bottom. And we had gone over there and dropped some acid. We spent the night there on the beach, and in the morning, when dawn was breaking, as it were, Charlie and I started making love, and Charlie told Chuck and Sadie to come down into the same bunk we were in. And I tolerated that, although we did not have group sex. I tolerated that, and that seemed to be significant to Charlie. And I remember after that Chuck and I went for a walk on the beach, and I said, “What’s this guy all about?” And Chuck said he was this really powerful, wonderful person.

[According to Lieutenant Earl Deemer's ‘Family list', Juanita is Joan Wildbush. According to Bugliosi in Helter Skelter that is 'Wildebush']

He was a good lover. Probably the most phenomenal lover I’ve ever had. But once I was hooked, he didn’t have much to do with me.

WM: What made Charlie such a good lover?
J: What makes anyone a good lover? He was very tender.

WM: You say you gave him all your money?
J: It was amazing how quickly Charlie read me. He seemed to know all the right buttons to push. Within a month I’d signed over my camper and something like a sixteen-thousand-dollar trust fund, which in 1968 wasn’t small potatoes.

WM: How did he get you to do that?

J: That’s a question I’ve asked myself many times. Some of it was drug-induced, I’m sure. I can remember the night that I told him he could have the money. That day, we started early dropping acid and doing all those kinds of wonderful things. He had been telling me that the thing that stood between me and total peace of mind and heart was Daddy’s money—I was not going to be free of Daddy until I got free of Daddy’s money. Charlie started [saying] that I was my father’s ego. And I remember thinking, That doesn’t make any sense to me. Then later I convinced myself that it probably was [right], because Charlie was always right. Charlie never openly said that he was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, but if he didn’t say it, he sure to hell implied it.” 

(The Dichotomy of Evil: The Manson Girl Who Got Away, Win McCormack, Tin House Magazine #31, 2007.)

“In the decades since I first met him, I’ve turned the question over in my mind countless times. The obvious answer was that I felt an attraction to him, and as a fourteen-year-old girl, I reacted to that hormonally. But that’s not really the answer, or at least the full answer. More than just attraction, I felt a deep connection. It seemed as if he understood me completely and wouldn’t let me down or betray me as all the other important people in my life had. Ever since we’d “dropped out,” I’d been an afterthought, at various points a mouth to feed, jailbait, and a reminder of a previous life in the straight world.

With Charlie and the Family, from the beginning, there was none of that baggage. I had a place with them from that first night. I belonged in a way that I hadn’t anywhere in months. Charlie and the girls also made it okay for me to want and have sex. It seems so simple, yet this freed me from some of the deepest confusion and shame I’d been experiencing since I was nine.

There is no doubt that Charlie took advantage of me. This small man oozed self-confidence and
sex appeal, and as he would demonstrate time and time again in the months and years ahead, he knew exactly what he was doing. He was a master manipulator, while I was fourteen and essentially on my own. I was a naive, lonely, love-starved little girl looking for a parental figure to tell me “No, don’t do that.” As I discovered that first day in his magic bus, when he focused his attention on you, he made you believe there was no one else in the world. He also had the uncanny sensibility bestowed upon mystics, yet misused by sociopaths and con men, to know exactly what you needed. Charlie knew what you were afraid of, and could paint a scenario that would use all those insights to his advantage—traits that I would see in equal parts over time. Of course, in this moment, as I walked up the bus steps I saw none of these things. Instead, all I saw was acceptance.

But perhaps the most impressive trick of all was how he made this seem as if it was my idea. Ever since my father first left home, I’d cultivated a sense of independence. I’d taken care of my siblings, I’d cooked, I’d become a free thinker, I’d taken drugs. I might have been fourteen, but I thought I understood who I was and what was missing from my life.

What I needed was a family. And now it seemed I’d found one.”

(Lake, Dianne. Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties (Kindle Locations 2203-2221). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.)

I believe these descriptions also provide an explanation for how Mary fell for Manson. Manson had an undeniable charisma and an uncanny ability to both recognize a person’s foibles and insecurities and plant the seeds for their later manipulation. He may have been a 'wizard' in bed. He certainly impressed more than one women. And likely the 'you are beautiful' mantra was his choice with Mary, something she had never heard before or likely, previously, believed. 

Manson certainly recognized how to manipulate someone. He explained this when he testified at the Hinman trial (some will claim his testimony was Manson joke based upon how he was portrayed in the previous trial; I don't think so.).

Manson: We [Manson and Whiteley] were talking about, uh, my being at the Hinman house. I was programming him for something. I forgot what it was at the time. But we were talking about the Hinman house. And I told him that I had to go over there because my brother couldn’t stand up. He was stuck in his mother’s mind.
I said [to Whiteley] I had to show Bobby with a motion how to stand up and be his own father, and that Gary Hinman being dead was no loss to the world, because he dealt bad dope anyway.
Kanarek: Now, have you told us everything that you recollect concerning the conversations that Sergeant Whiteley testified to?

Manson: Sir, I didn’t look at Mr. Whitely at [sic] anything but a brain that I could program. And I dropped a lot of information in his head that would be useful to me later on.

Manson seduced Mary with the same 'tricks' he used on Atkins, Fromme and Krenwinkel: he filled her head with mis-information that would be useful to him later on and preyed on her homeliness and loneliness, becoming the friend, lover and father she never had growing up. He told her she was beautiful. 

Within two years she would stand by and watch Gary Hinman be beaten and murdered (and frankly, from my review of her testimony and interviews, she never came close to shedding a tear.). And then she would sacrifice her freedom to free Manson. 

Ann- third from left

George at Laurel Avenue, date unknown. 

 The Brunner's 1954. Mary-George-Ann-Elsie- Katie.



"Bobby isn't guilty!!!"

Mug shot following the Sears Caper August 8, 1969. 


As I was putting this post together a thought kept running through my mind: I wonder how George and Elsie felt, what they experienced, emotionally, when they found out their oldest daughter was not just a member of The Family but had participated in the murder of Gary Hinman and shot it out with the police in blind devotion to Charles Manson. I wondered how they might feel knowing she was prepared to kill one hostage every hour to 'free, Manson'.

Their feelings probably ran the gamut from 'what did we do wrong' to 'look what drugs did to our daughter' to 'what is wrong with this country'. There was probably a little denial in there, too. And, if George is anything like me, more then a little anger and not at his daughter or the cops. At a minimum it must have been truly gut wrenching.

I hope the years that followed were filled with nothing but happiness for Elsie and George. 

Pax Vobiscum



Robert C said...

Mary B. has always been of special interest to me because she was a classic product of a post-WWII America. Long story that I could write a long essay on but ... I also think she and Grogan are two that escaped long prison sentences. There were others as well involved in the Zero and the Willett couple cases plus the Hoyt 'incident' and the attorney Hughes demise mystery and etc. But for those who have seen the Robert H. films recall there is a brief interview with Mary B. where she says (to paraphrase) she went to her job, ate supper, went shopping or to a movie, repeat (maximum boredom) and along comes Manson who offers some security and adventure. And this coincides with some pretty darn exciting things and changes gradually occurring socially on a national and even international scale the outcome of which was uncertain.

Mr. Humphrat said...

Thanks David for a great job. I especially enjoyed the family photos-wonder where they came from. I like the picture of the father mowing the lawn on Laurel-looks like a nice house.
Someone wrote recently that the Hawthorne robbery wasn't really about trying to get Charlie out. I forget what they said it was supposedly about.
It's interesting seeing Mary older and looking happy in pictures with her family.

AustinAnn74 said...

Interesting post. The parents of Mary were probably horrified, yet loved their daughter enough to stand by her as she repaired her life. They looked like a close, loving family.

Peter said...

How do you leave all that behind and just got back to Mellonsquashville, Wisconsin to live out the rest of your life in anonymity. Would have been quicker to just die in the shootout.

G. Greene-Whyte said...

FWIW, I don't think she looks unattractive here:

Her part in Hinman was some ugly shit though. How could she live there and then later go back and take part in torture and killing? No good deed goes unpunished I suppose. Nice post!

Anonymous said...

I heard that Mary eventually left the family because Charles had too many other women. If she was not part of the family at the time of the murders, it would explain how she avoided prison. She was his first girl, and when she started the relationship, she did not know that he would decide to bring in other girls. I don't understand why the other women fell in love with Charlie knowing full well, they were not the only ones. But, that is just one more thing that is really messed up about the whole situation. I also heard sometimes he did not pay much attention to some of the women, and those ones, I think would be more likely to leave. He had a thing if the woman was not pretty enough or did not like her that much, she could stay in the family, but he would stop sleeping with her.

Peter said...

Mary worked in a library. She was overdue for some excitement.

David said...

MactGrant said: "I heard that Mary eventually left the family because Charles had too many other women. If she was not part of the family at the time of the murders, it would explain how she avoided prison."

She was in jail at the time of the Tate-LaBianca murders due to the Sears Caper. She was there when Hinman was beaten and killed.

She recanted her Hinman testimony at Manson's Hitman-Shea trial, participated in the Hawthorne Shootout and went to prison for it. Until her stay in prison sometime before her parole in 1977 she hadn't 'left' the Family. The top image is her on the street corner outside the courthouse (corner of Temple and Broadway) during the Tate-LaBianca trial. By the time Brunner 'left' the Family, Manson was in prison.

Robert C said...

It's been distinctly pointed out in other literature that Mary actually helped 'recruit' other women. She apparently bought into the image of a growing 'family' of runaways and disaffected youths. There seems to be very little jealousy among the Manson girls with regards to his attentions. This is the most mysterious thing to me of all things Manson. ;-)

ColScott said...

wow this requires a lot of explanation and I don't have time or energy. Since I fell out with Matt et al over the souvenir hunting it has been hard to care.

I will try quickly

Mary was the girl you knew in high school who was happy anyone would talk to her. Fugly, lost, desperate, Mary fell for Charlie simply because he said YO and then agreed to anything she had to to keep him with the reassurance that she would always be "The First". I am certain Mary cried when she heard Charlie snuffed it. She did not raise her own son, thankfully. After she recanted for Bobby the MAN wanted her bad but the court said, hey you still got Bobby let her go.

I have zero doubt that an elderly Mary still is fugly, desperate and alone.

David said...

What a great passage:

"We look on the matter somewhat differently, because in our opinion the People got substantially what they bargained for. The purpose of their bargain was to secure murder convictions of the most reprehensible of the Hinman killers. Brunner testified at the Beausoleil trial, and Beausoleil was convicted. She testified at the Manson trial, was impeached by her Beausoleil trial testimony, and Manson was convicted."

You got them both because she lied at one of the trials, so stop bitching.

ColScott said...


It is a fascinating case. Basically Mary fucked over the prosecution and got away with it

DebS said...

Really great post, David. You went into Mary's background deeper than what was done by the Mendocino County probation report on her. Though I suppose the probation report was drawn up from what Mary had told them about her life.

Bill Slocum said...

She's very hard to figure out on multiple levels. Mary was in jail with Sandra Good the nights of the TLB murders, so we'll never know if she was capable of getting her hands dirty like the others did. The Hinman case seems very vague, with a lot of testimony that may not conflict but doesn't cohere. I see her as a likely bystander there, not a participant, just cruelly passive. It seems she was a very quiet person who went with the flow. She always seems to hang back in those Hall of Justice photos, letting others talk to the press.

Did she get the name "Mother Mary" in reference to another Beatles' song, "Let It Be?" Or was it just a straight play on Jesus's mother?

starviego said...

Mr. Humphrat said...
"Someone wrote recently that the Hawthorne robbery wasn't really about trying to get Charlie out. I forget what they said it was supposedly about."

Are you referring to Catherine Share's recent comments?
"Share was not involved in the killings, but served prison time later for armed robberies. Police said she also was involved in a plot to break Manson and other family members out of prison, though Share denied that. She said the plan was to help a boyfriend's brother get out of jail."

Hippiedoll said...

There is a mugshot of Mary that I've seen before, where I think she looks attractive. I don't know how to share it here in my post but I see that it is a 1968 mugshot. I believe it is the same picture used on her Wikipedia page.

Mr. Humphrat said...

Star that might be what I read, but I can't remember for sure.

Anonymous said...

The Michael you mention as being a sibling to Mary is actually her son. Elsie's obituary states she is survived by three daughters and a son, but I guess since she raised Mary's son Michael, she has him listed as one of her children. Michael used to live in Eau Claire and was married, but now lives in Winter, WI and is divorced. Has a little boy named Finley. Mary also no longer lives in Eau Claire, but resides in Madison now. I am from Wisconsin in case you're wondering how I know this information.

Zeke002 said...

Banal article and worse comments...including the ever-hateful Col spewing.
At this stage in TLB lore there are three primary areas of interest with regards to Mary:
1. After TLB at some point Mary returned to Wisconsin and I believe it was Lynette and Sandra who flew up to Badgerland to talk Mary into coming back. I believe the three met at a Danny's or a similar venue. Now that is a conversation that is of great interest.
2. Mary was one of the girls who flipped teams and took up with Kenneth Cumo. I'd love to see that story fleshed out more.
3. I have never read any kind of account as to exactly when and how Mary de-programmed from Manson. Common belief is that it happened in prison a year or two before she was paroled. Would the story be in her parole records?

In recent times both Stephanie and Diane have talked about their real love for Charlie. I wonder if Mary would say the same.
These book reports on first Bobby B and now Mary are nothing but fanboy granola. Who cares where the parents worked or siblings went to college. If this is what TLB research has come to it really may be time to close up shop.

Zeke002 said...

Fanboy crapola- spellcheck edit.

David said...

Oh, Mr. King,

You caught me at a weak moment. I usually don't respond to this kind of comment.

First, if you actually read the case provided by the Col. you might understand the interest and have a relevant comment. You obviously didn't read it or understand it.

"Banal", probably this post was banal. Sorry.

Then, again, I guess that depends on whether you care 'why' these people did what they did. There are no records that will reveal that. You clearly, don't think that is important.

Now, maybe you should get off your fat ass and go do the research, file the FOIA requests, spend the money and time to do the research.

If you jump in you will find a lot of dead ends, find a lot of 70+ year olds who claim shit like they personally wrestled Manson and five girls out of Esalen, or the reason Melcher left Cielo was because an ocelot fell out of a tree or that claim they were at Spahn with their older sister in July 1969. But you talk to them anyway.

You spend hundreds of hours on the internet, ok, maybe thousands. Get a name or a lead, hunt down a phone number or an e-mail or a website/blog or a courthouse.

Then they will tell you 'no, I won't talk to you because you are a sick fuck because you are researching Charles Manson'. Or the records are in the University of X archives.

Some will even say 'sure, for $'. I have a couple of those if you are in.

The LA, DA will deny your FOIA requests, spin your requests and then tell you to sue them. If you want a part of that let me know.

If you know someone you might get a few tidbits here and there but seldom very much 'proof', although others have better luck then me with that. Memories fade and some witnesses have limited credibility because they are seeking a result or seeking to distance themselves from the outcome even after 50 years.

Send me an e-mail, pony up or if you are short on cash I'll give you a list of research projects/FOIA requests to file and if you live in Cali a few road trips you could take for me.

As soon as you finish those we might have something. I'll give you a hug and we can sit down and have a beer and write something less 'banal'.

If you are not 'in', I'll leave it this way: go fuck yourself.

And I'll have that beer without you.


6caf...whatever your name is.

I think you are right about the Micheal. I am not sure, but I have edited the post until I know for sure. Thank you.

Robert C said...

I can kind of understand Rob King's position -- he wants to dispense with the small talk and get after the meat of anything. But I really think this ancillary information like parental employment, siblings, etc. all helps paint a picture of someone's family background whether it be stabile or not when trying to understand how people get tangled up into serious things like murder. It's tricky because on the surface it may look like a Norman Rockwell painting whereas in reality it could be far worse or not. But so far all I can tell is she had a 'normal' childhood and just simply became bored just as she said and needed love and romance, adventure and action. By chance she encounters Chuckles and the next thing you know they all fall off the rails.

Matt said...

David don’t waste too many keystrokes. This is a fanboy who’ life’s work was trying to pass on his chromosomes through Lee Harvey Oswald’s daughter. Couldn’t even pull that off. His anger is merely self-loathing turned toward the cool kids.

Mr. Humphrat said...

David, your eloquent accounting of what you have to go through to research this subject was confirmation for me of why I stick to genealogy. Thanks for all your work and to those others who do the work too. Thanks Colonel, Cielo, Deb, Matt, George, and the rest.

orwhut said...

Over the years I've developed an interest in the cast members of this awful tale. From my perspective this post was very interesting. Thanks, David

CrisPOA said...

I really enjoyed reading this post David, thanks.
It was kind of reading a mini bio on Mary Brunner. I liked to read the details of her pre-Family life. It gives you a better picture of who she was. Where she was coming from (not Eau Claire, the family background).
I too am a librarian. Always had some interest in her because of this.
In my opinion, she had a great library job in California. Almost a dream job for me as a librarian actually. Why she left it behind and dropped out is what i try to understand.

But your post shed some light on this. I guess she wanted adventure, real action, followed by the 60s atmosphere. Do you know if she had any LSD experience before meeting Manson?

Penny lane said...

Thanks David. ..very interesting read ๐Ÿ˜†.

mrgroove said...

Great stuff David and thanks for your work! Also, ditto on what Matt said.

Banality is in the eye of the beholder.

Anonymous said...

First off, thank you David, for taking the time and effort to put this post together. This is the most thorough bio that I've read on Mary. And thankfully, it covers many of the things that haven't been researched (and covered) before.

Secondly, Matt is correct.

Rob King (Leary7) is one of the angry little men of "TLB research". Best to just ignore those issue-laden twerps, and their constant bitching, whining, and territorial pissings.

Thirdly, sort of an update on the court fight over Manson's body :

Manson's relatives could join forces in fight for his remains

(It involves Michael Brunner, so it's kinda topic related?) ๐Ÿ˜•

Anonymous said...

A little more info on the situation from the New York Daily News :

Release of Charles Manson body delayed as family members continue to bicker

ColScott said...

Get her hands dirty? she shot up a store took hostages and almost killed a bunch of cops. WTF

Mother Mary- obviously she gave live birth to Charlie's son

Smill said...

Wow! That is a lot of info! Interesting post! 6caf is correct that the Michael listed as Elsie's son is indeed the Michael that Mother Mary gave birth to while living with Charles Manson. I saw Michael Brunner in an interview many years ago. He was a recent high school graduate at the time of the interview so it was a long time ago. He told the reporter that his grandmother legally adopted him after his birth mother went to prison. He said that his grandparents raised him as their son even though he knew his "sister" was really his birth mom. He said that he was very grateful to them for adopting him, and that they were wonderful parents to him and gave him a wonderful life. He said that Elsie was a great mother to him and that he was very thankful for her legally adopting him. The interview I saw is still on the internet. I watched it again not long ago on YouTube. It was done by a news network, and it was a story about what happened to the Manson children. It also had a brief interview with Gypsy's son.

Bill Slocum said...

<<Get her hands dirty? she shot up a store took hostages and almost killed a bunch of cops. WTF??

"Almost" only counts in horseshoes, though. I meant "dirty" in the sense it was used by Manson himself, meaning the killings, specifically TLB. My question about Mary's real willingness to kill for Charlie still stands. I feel she was in the Lynette category myself; she liked danger, but lacked bloodlust.

Thanks for answering my question about the "Mother Mary" question. Since she gave birth to Charlie's son nearly two years before "Let It Be" made its debut, I guess the Beatles lyric ref in her nickname was coincidence.

And thanks for popping my cherry, Col, though you did take it easy with initials only.

Rock N. Roll said...

A truly enjoyable read.

Peter said...

I think the Lynette category is better defined as people Manson considered too important to risk losing. People like Bruce and Lynette and Mary who had been with him for a long time or that helped him keep others in line. The ones that were more desperate to show their loyalty to the group.

Monica said...

I love these kind of posts precisely because the "whys" of this case are the reason is it's so fascinating (and why, I assume, many of us uncool fanboys return).

Thanks for providing new info, David. I know it took a lot of work. This post helped me ALMOST relate to Mary's beginnings. She and I both moved to San Francisco, completely alone, looking for fun and freedom at a young age. (Col, I'm glad my real pic isnt on here for you to comment on my desperately fugliness but if you make an appearance at souvenir rubbing convention you can comment to my face. Would love to meet you in person.) I can almost understand how Mary may have gotten swept up in CM's charm. I often wonder whether I would have, too.

I wonder how Mary is now and what she thinks about this tiresome frozen body fiasco.

Bill made a comment which chilled me to the bone. He called her "cruelly passive." Great adjectives for lots of the bystanders.

Monica said...

Of course, I meant "my desperate fugliness." :)

Peter said...

I meant to say that the ones chosen by Manson for TLB were the ones more desperate to show their loyalty.

AustinAnn74 said...

I always wondered why he didn't send Lynette Fromme. Was it because he actually cared a bit about her? She seemed the most loyal to him.

David said...

Thank you all for your support. I will say my little rant there (likely inspired by a little too much wine at an event I attended earlier that evening) was triggered by the comments about George's post about BB. I found that post to be very interesting and, in fact, it inspired this post. I don't mind if you disagree with what I post (Grim, George and the Col. and others have all done that) or correct the errors (like this one, below, and the Steven Parent post) or even tell me you can't follow what I'm saying (the acid post) but when you dismiss someone's effort (and have made none yourself) well, you know how I feel about that.

Peter, I have to disagree. Atkins and Krenwinkel were part of the 'original six'. Chosen for loyalty. Watson 'owed' Manson for Crowe. I believe the driver would have been Brunner except she was in jail (although I am not convinced anyone knew where she was at 10:30 on August 8th). Brunner had a valid driver's license.

6caf9######, You are correct. I had the wrong 'Michael Brunner'. There is another in Eau Claire born in 1954. In fact, there are a lot of Brunner's in Wisconsin and several in Eau Claire.

I didn't put this in the post but have decided I should have. Brunner changed her name to 'Erikson'. There is no indication that is a 'married name'.

Thanks to Deb: Mary worked in the health care industry and currently resides in Madison.

AstroCreep said...

I believe the trial was the single event that really solidified the family “programming”. Those on trial had to live it, eat it, and breath it for years to follow as they were the only family members to be sentenced for the murders. The remaining members fell lock, stock, and barrel in unity behind those on trial as a show of solidarity- because their beliefs were on trial and their very way of living was on trial as well as the murders.

I believe the “deprogramming” came easier for those who could fade away quietly.

ColScott said...

Monica- I am sure you are gorgeous. Comments are made about those people who do foul and evil things that rot them physically, like Debra. I cannot attend anymore of these souvenir hunts sadly. After sponsoring a van and a dinner some years ago, introducing Max and Robert and Alisa to the group I was appalled at the behavior last year when the groupies posed for selfies with Killer Gabriel and collected stuff to sell to Supernaught. I considered Matt a good friend and defended him against psychos with web radio shows and then ended up regretful I did so.

I do not know old lady Mary. Young lady Mary grew up in a midwest household where she didn't get very much love or respect. Same with Patricia. Most of these people lacked self esteem and wanted to stay in THE GROUP.

I suggest you do what I do sometimes. Grab a fine Scotch and VISUALIZE stuff that happened. Like see it in your mind's eye. Once I saw Mary using floss to sew up her friend Gary's face and leaving him tied up to die, yeah sure fuck her ....

Patty is Dead said...

Colonel, can Patty ask exactly WHO said she made a rubbing? It's driving her nuts. Well,more nuts anyway.

Patty is Dead said...

I think you said it was someone who was actually there?

ColScott said...

Besides you and Stoner?

Patty is Dead said...

Yes. Who said it?

Peter said...

I wonder how many of the family members were raised as Catholics. A lot of them had religious upbringing. I wonder if this made them more open to Charlie's philosophy.

Anonymous said...

If she grew up in the hearty midwest, a lot of stoic norwegians and germans. She may have grown up in a household without a lot of outward love and emotion. Excellent post...had never really thought about her upbringing.

grimtraveller said...

Peter said...

I wonder how many of the family members were raised as Catholics. A lot of them had religious upbringing. I wonder if this made them more open to Charlie's philosophy

I think having "religion" in their upbringings {as opposed to "a religious upbringing"}, in combination with some of the streams that flowed through American {indeed, Western} societies from the early 40s and through the 50s and into the early to mid 60s, was a crucial factor not only in a number of the Family members opening up to Charlie's emerging philosophy, but in Charlie developing that philosophy in the first place.

Robert C said...

The Grimster is back, sharper edged as ever !!!! :-)

I think your dubious figures mentioned above are a little off, Grim, but collectively portend something, as yet undefined, rather profound. ;-)

Peter said...

A least a few of them were quite religious. One taught catechism, one wanted to be a nun. Those are Catholic institutions.

And I mean particularly Catholic as opposed to the various Protestant denominations. The One True Faith. Catholicism is all stained glass and blood and Eucharist. Much more sensual and ritualistic. I can see people who are moved by those aspects of the Church seeing something in Charlie. But what exactly?

So much is said about Helter Skelter but Manson must have talked about something else at least some of the time. Like Poston says "Charlie wasn't always this mean guy ..." But I've never read anything where Family members talk about what some of the other things he talked about were. Maybe they make vague platitudes like " he told me i was beautiful" or "he told me to be my own person" but they never really recount what he actually said. And you would think if it was enough to make them completely drop out of society and give up there identities, that they would have written it down at the time or remembered what it was with a little more detail.

fiona1933 said...

How can anyone think she is homely...she is slender and graceful like a l little doll. And such big eyes. I think looks like these are more special than the usual tan blonde thing.

As for repentance, according to Susan, when Mary showed up in jail after the robbery she was full of hate for Manson and had switched allegiance to Spider. Susan must have got that wrong, because it was Como who was the new Manson, Spider was just a follower.

Funny to think how fast brain washing wears off.

Chris Till said...

If he has not already read it, I respectfully recommend Iceberg Slim's 1967 classic memoirs "Pimp" to the author of this post. In it, Slim offers detailed lessons on pimping; building a stable; and running a prostitution business. Of particular note is Slim's focus on the importance and function of the pimp's 'main old lady.' It is not unlikely that Ms. Brunner served this purpose in the late Mr. Manson's group.

Doc Sierra said...

Dang David, your dogged determination really shines in your investigative skills. Excellent reporting.....

brownrice said...

Good post, David. Given Mary's relative authority within the females of the "family", there's very little written about her and she's remained pretty invisible ever since. Your post contained way more than anything else I've seen. Really well-researched.

Ben Gurecki said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sun King said...

Great read! Like most criminals I see her criminal activity started with traffic violations lol. I'm surprised the newspaper published the addresses of traffic violators! (Let's drive by their house and give them unapproving and scornful looks!)

Interesting local papers later abstained from writing anything about Mary. Must have been due to some kind unwritten rule or courtesy for the family? I was born and raised in Wisconsin so her story has always been of interest to me.

starviego said...

It appears that has gone down.

Mr. Humphrat said...

Sun King back in those days they seemed to routinely publish addresses of witnesses and others. And on the radio they did the same. Even someone giving a testimonial for a product they would have them say their address. And during radio coverage of the JFK assassination witnesses were giving their addresses on the air. Crazy!

Patty is Dead said...

Star...yes Michael is getting a lot of negative attention so he shut it down at least temporarily.

Ben Gurecki said...

Monica said...

Col, I took your visualization tip and almost vomited. On the other hand, I like your loyalty and it is too bad you won't be at the rubfest, but I have to say that I may have also been in the pic with still CutieGabe if I'd been there. It is a weird thing...much like those people who take pics in front of Ground Zero or Auschwitz. We are drawn, in some really bizarre way, to certain horror stories. Tacky, yes. Friendship ending with Matt et all? Well. That's your story, but I'm glad the master of the original real TLB blog still posts from time to time. I did read every single post on your site way back when. Thank you for the work. Also, thank you for saying you think my middle-aged self must be gorgeous. We gray hairs like to hear that from time to time.

Fiona, although I checked out of the TLB story when Como showed and the whole thing became too "street" for me, weren't Como and Spider the same person? And whatever happened to Gypsy's book?

orwhut said...

Manson Mythos,
I'm not disputing you about Mary knocking Charley over the head etc. I guess I forgot. Please tell me where you learned it.

Robert C said...

< The idea Mary was a procurer for girls is a perfect example of how people pull things out of their ass.

Secondly, Mary was no braindead follower and in no way shape or form subservient to Charlie. >

In my opinion neither statement above is entirely true.

Patty is Dead said...

Spider was James Craig, iprc

bucpaul2812 said...

6caf9100-0577-11e8-89de-23c653af0718 said...

"The Michael you mention as being a sibling to Mary is actually her son. Elsie's obituary states she is survived by three daughters and a son, but I guess since she raised Mary's son Michael, she has him listed as one of her children. Michael used to live in Eau Claire and was married, but now lives in Winter, WI and is divorced. Has a little boy named Finley. Mary also no longer lives in Eau Claire, but resides in Madison now. I am from Wisconsin in case you're wondering how I know this information."

I haven't been on this blog for a while so I haven't had the time to sift through the other threads to find if there was any information to support of discount this, so...

I read in one of the papers the other day (not one of the tabloids) that Michael is one of the people who is forming an orderly line to obtain his grandfather's ashes. As you are from WI, I'm hazarding a guess that you'd be in the know regarding this?

bucpaul2812 said...

BTW, fantastic piece, David!

David said...


Thank you.

6caf##### is correct. The obituary mentions a 'son' Michael. There is also another Michael Brunner in Eau Claire. I put 2 and 2 together but dropped the ball actually connecting the dots. Deb pointed me in the right direction.

I think either on the post abut the estate or up above there is some information on Michael Brunner getting involved. It appears he has.

bucpaul2812 said...


This gets mysterious-er and mysterious-er as I remember that TV special in the early 90's about what happened to the Manson children and, in particular, how Michael went to great lengths explaining that while he had his biological father's DNA, that was where any connection began and ended, as far as he was concerned. This really intrigues me as he participated in the programme to get across how un-fucked up he was despite all the surrounding notoriety, so I can't understand why he's now allegedly exhibiting interest in securing Charlie's remains. Unless the motivation is akin to that of the where-is-she-now Star?

NB: I remember feeling a bit annoyed after the Michael segment at the time as I was desperate to know what contact he may or may not have been in with regarding his mother - I believe his grandparents raised him, I'd love to know what sort of relationship he has or had with Mary...

Robert C said...

bucpaul2812: so I can't understand why he's now allegedly exhibiting interest in securing Charlie's remains.

To the best of my knowledge, Charlie's estate ($$$) comes with the remains. Sort of a winner takes all.

If that's not true then legally gaining access to the remains gives the winner a competitive edge toward acquiring the estate as well.

Estimates on the estate are all over the place but at the very least it's a lot of money, existing and/or realized.

By realized it could mean licensing control on the use of the name and image, authorization permits for future biographies and other written material, marketing of Chuck's paintings and documents, etc.

It gets deeper than this and a very complex matter.

Brian G said...

Does anyone know why Michael Brunner wants his body all of the sudden? The kid never wanted anything to do with Charlie as far as I know. Is there $ involved? I Know that's probably a dumb question but it doesn't make sense. There has to be a motive he's so interested in his father suddenly

Bill Slocum said...

By realized it could mean licensing control on the use of the name and image, authorization permits for future biographies and other written material, marketing of Chuck's paintings and documents, etc.

It feels sketchy to want to stake a claim on such a dark legacy, and I'd like to think I'd walk away if I was in Michael's shoes. But think of the difficult life he led under that shadow. It will follow him for the rest of his life no matter what he does. Here he has a chance to establish some financial security in the middle of his life, for himself and his loved ones. I mean, do you want that kind of money? I guess it depends on how hard his life has been.

Brian G said...

Ok I guess my question has alread been asked. I'm going out on a limb and saying there has to be some $ involved because none of these people care so much that they want " remains". There all money hungry. Michael Brunner should get them over these others in that case.Imagine Channels fighting relatives over this? Get some pride dude

grimtraveller said...

Robert C said...

I think your dubious figures mentioned above are a little off, Grim, but collectively portend something, as yet undefined, rather profound

What I was getting at was that the mindset associated with what we generally think of as "the 60s" didn't happen overnight, neither did it happen in a vacuum. They didn't just appear on January 1st 1960 ~ there was, growing tiny bit by tiny bit, a lengthy build up. Sexual freedoms and alternatives were mooted in the 20s, LSD and other psychedelic drug experimentation was gaining ground through the 40s and 50s, the Beats had dropped out long before the end of 1959 and religious/spiritual alternatives {just think Krishna Venta or Ron Hubbard} had been making waves after WW2, to name but a few. There was stuff in the air for much of the 20th century that, little by little, was challenging and trying to displace the supposed 'norms' of various Western societies and definitely in parts of America, so combining that with the religion {be it seriously lived, nominal or ignored} that was evident in a number of Family members upbringings points to why they were so open to him and his words, ways ~ and wiles.
It wouldn't be true for everyone, but then, it didn't need to be once Mary, Squeaky, Pat, Susan and Ella Jo were on board. Enthusiasm sometimes creates its own momentum.

Robert C said...

Grim: What I was getting at was ....

Conformity and the gradual liberalization thereof. But the outcome of that transitional era continues today, manifest in many ways, for better or worse. The latest great transition that we are in the middle of right now is the early internet era and what that's doing to our values, truths and socio-political networks. The outcome, indeed the survival of our species, is in question. But as it relates the the Manson Family, Grim, I agree.

grimtraveller said...

Chris Till said...

the importance and function of the pimp's 'main old lady.' It is not unlikely that Ms. Brunner served this purpose in the late Mr. Manson's group

Somehow though, that just doesn't ring true of Charlie's troupe. There could be a world of difference between the main old lady and simply having been the first of the harem. Once Squeaky, then Pat was on the scene, I think everyone was aware that Charlie didn't have a main old lady in that sense.
It's also kind of natural that Dianne, at 13, would have looked at Mary the way she describes in her book.

Peter said...

I can see people who are moved by those aspects of the Church seeing something in Charlie. But what exactly?

I guess if you'd heard lots of biblical stories but that's all they were to you, stories with no reality or historicity behind them, taken acid and then met a charismatic and entertaining guy who came out of prison with $37, no job and nowhere to go but yet was musically inclined and seemingly hip and aware and then went on to speak a lot of stuff that maybe didn't make 100% sense but filled in some of the gaps and kind of hinted at more, maybe you'd see something that made pursuing a friendship seem like a good idea. Especially if he continually implied he was Christ, the real Jesus, not some imaginary version.
We retrospectively ask why people went with him or "were taken in by him" or stood for the treatment they received but we overlook something pretty obvious ~ those that chose to stay did not see things as we do now, with the story intact. They might have had a few misgivings and retrospectively they might have thought it was all terrible but they didn't at the time. That's one of the problems Leslie and Pat continually run into.
But running into the odd thing you don't like about a person is no reason to annul the friendship.

the ones chosen by Manson for TLB were the ones more desperate to show their loyalty

I don't buy that simply because they were chosen, they didn't volunteer. That would really only apply to Leslie.

So much is said about Helter Skelter but Manson must have talked about something else at least some of the time

He talked about pretty much the same stuff that loads of people were talking about in that period but he put slightly different twists on things and was รผber charismatic. That counts in any period but as we now know, in the 1960s, that was gold dust. Also, having spent so much time locked up and having escaped so many times and still having such a bright disposition, well, whatever such a man would go on to say to relatively inexperienced people finding their way would have an effect. HS actually came pretty late in the day although there was a lead up to that too.

ColScott said...

Young lady Mary grew up in a midwest household where she didn't get very much love or respect. Same with Patricia. Most of these people lacked self esteem and wanted to stay in THE GROUP

I think there's a lot in that. Whether or not she wasn't shown love and respect is unknown to us but it's unimportant if she felt she wasn't. If she felt that way, that's what counts, rightly or wrongly.
The 40s born 60s generation weren't the first generation to disagree with their parents' direction and morals but they were the first to do so in a world of mass communication and recognition of teenage as a specific period of development in itself ~ and also in such baby booming numbers.

CarolMR said...

I don't know about Catholic Manson followers seeing something in him. I know that every Cielo Drive victim was Catholic. That fact is neither here nor there, I guess. I saw a picture of Hillary Duff as Sharon in Tarantino's movie. No offense to Ms. Duff, who is quite pretty, but no one in Hollywood today is beautiful enough to play Sharon Tate.

Peter said...

I did some looking last week when I brought it up. It's surprising how hard this information is to find. You'd think it would be in any story about them. This is the best I could find.

Atkins: Protestant
Beausoliel: Catholic
Brunner: Catholic
Davis: Likely Protestant
Fromme: Catholic
Gilles: Likely Catholic
Goode: Likely Protestant
Grogan: Likely Catholic
Kasabian: Likely Catholic
Krenwinkel: Presbyterian
Morehouse: Methodist
Pittman: Likely Protestant
Van Houten: Presbyterian
Watkins: Catholic
Watson: Methodist

grimtraveller said...

Bill Slocum said...

Did she get the name "Mother Mary" in reference to another Beatles' song, "Let It Be?" Or was it just a straight play on Jesus's mother?

It's only very recently that I've even seen her called Mother Mary. It's certainly not a name that seems to have done the rounds back in the day. In fact, Mary even mentioned the fact that she wasn't given or known by another name in the Family.

fiona1933 said...

according to Susan, when Mary showed up in jail after the robbery she was full of hate for Manson and had switched allegiance

She certainly says that. In fact, she wouldn't even let Susan refer to Michael as Pooh Bear anymore. Although I do believe Atkins on this one, I'd also sound a note of caution when it comes to most of what she said post 1969. One of the things she seemed determine to convey was that however far gone she was, she was never so far gone as to actually believe HS, let alone be involved in murder for it and the other thing she seemed to want everyone to be aware of was just how pathetic a self centered loser Charlie was and she seemed to take delight in the notion that his former staunch allies dropped him as and when.

Funny to think how fast brain washing wears off

I wouldn't say any of them were brainwashed as such but there was certainly some waking up that needed to be done somewhere along the line. And interestingly, apart from a couple of celebrated cases, they all appeared to have done so. If what Shreck said in his book is true, that would even apply to Sandy. Eventually.
I'm not sure which is the more noteworthy, that they all gave Charlie such allegiance in the first place or that virtually all of them abandoned his oeuvre after once having been so committed.

orwhut said...

Is that a typo about Krenwinkle having been Presbyterian? Every reference I remember seeing about her religion has said she was Catholic. The Wikipedia article says she taught Roman Catholic religeous instruction and considered becoming a nun.

Peter said...

I believe i got that from her parents' testimony at the trial. I tried to go with the faith raised rather than one converted to later if they converted. And I did have to guess on a few, like Cappy and Clem based usually on their names.

Cause I'm prejudiced like that.

Peter said...

Testimony of Joe Krenwinkel.

Transcript Vol. 174 page 22,18.

Q: Generally speaking, was your family of the Protestant persuasion?
A: Yes.
Q: Any particular Protestant denomination?
A: No, actually I guess our longest time with any particular -- or my affiliation was with the Reform Church.
Q: Were some members of your family Presbyterian?
A: Yes, Dorothy was.
Q: Was Patricia baptized in the Presbyterian faith?
A: In that church, right.

Transcript Vol. 174 page 22,021.

Q: Up until the time she was 18 or 19 years of age did she express a continuing interest in religion?
A: Definitely.
Q: Why do you say definitely?
A: Because Pat enjoyed church. She enjoyed affiliating with people in church. She enjoyed these people who were, we say, the leaders, so to speak, the minister or whatever it may be in church. Now, Pat was not raised a Catholic. I at a very young age attended Catholic Schools and went to a Catholic military academy. But Dorothy was a Protestant and I was not one to try to make things work out, so she went to this Catholic college.
Q: Did Patricia ever sing in a choir?
A: Definitely, many times.
Q: What choirs did she sing in?
A: At the Park Hills Church.

orwhut said...

Thanks for explaining.

orwhut said...

I had never read Joe Krenwinkle's testimony before. Thanks again.

Unknown said...

I've never understood why Bugliosi said Mary was ugly. She looks less attractive seen from some angles, but looks a bit like actress Teri Polo or perhaps Jodie Foster from others.

howiejriii said...

I live next door to the Brunner house and it's super interesting. Every neighbor since has been terrible: late night drumming, sexual assault, drug dealing, child neglect. It's super interesting.

Unknown said...

Yikes! I drove by it a few weeks ago & it looked OK. It seems like it's in a nice neighborhood.

Gene Aquamarine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I live in Eau Claire and my mom actually worked for her aunts back in the 1980s. Though you provided some great information there are a few things you got wrong. She changed her name and didn't live in Eau Claire after she was released from prison. Out of privacy for Michael, I won't say what her name is or what city but Michael does live in the area.