Monday, August 6, 2018

Creepy Crawls

This is not a review of Jeffrey Melnik’s book, Creepy Crawling: Charles Manson and the Many Lives of America's Most Infamous Family.

[Aside: At the outset I have to make a confession. Until about 2002 I had never read a single thing associated with these crimes. I had never read Helter Skelter or The Family. I did watch the made for TV movie back in 1976. That same year, I believe, some friends and I piled into my one friend’s Camaro and drove 30 miles to see Robert Hendrickson’s documentary Manson (for any newbies, that was “Mr. H” around here). Being teenage boys ranging in age from 15-17 we were disappointed, especially with the Manson ‘girls’. It was almost 30 years later that a friend asked me to read Linda Kasabian’s testimony so he could ask some legal questions. He was obsessed. I agreed, assuming it would be about 50 pages long. This confession will become slightly more relevant below.] 

Creepy crawls are one of those things that make the whole aura of the Family, well, “creepy”. In fact, I would argue that the entire horror film aura that lingers around these crimes today is rooted in the creepy crawl. 

“What the Family meant by creepy crawling was at once simple and profoundly upsetting. Leaving their communal home at Spahn Ranch in the San Fernando Valley, the Family would light out for private homes. Once inside, the Family members would not harm the sleeping family members. Instead, they would rearrange some of the furniture. That’s all. Stealing was sometimes part of the agenda, especially toward the end, but it was not the raison d’ĂȘtre. 

No dead bodies, no blood on the wall. Just the bare minimum of evidence that the sanctity of the private home had been breached—that the Family had paid a visit to this family.”

(Melnick Jeffrey. Creepy Crawling: Charles Manson and the Many Lives of America's Most Infamous Family (Kindle Locations 126-130). Arcade Publishing. Kindle Edition.)

It is all rather frightening if you think about it. Someone comes into your house while you are sleeping. They don’t attack you or even rob you. They simply rearrange some furniture, maybe eat some food, leave the door open, let out the dog, turn on the stereo or the TV and perhaps go as far as coming into your bedroom and watching you sleep. It’s an invasion that is almost paranormal in a way. You wake to find that poltergeists crept out of the shadows of your closet while you slept.

Vincent Bugliosi was convinced that creepy-crawls were dress rehearsals for the murders that would follow. Were they? I don’t think so. And how prevalent were creepy crawls? Some suggest they were so infrequent as to be irrelevant. I think they were fairly commonplace. 

How Many Creepy Crawls Were There?

We actually know very little about creepy crawls other than that they happened. According to Ed Sanders, the ‘girls’ made up the name and, while the activity had been going on for some time, they were not called ‘creepy crawls’ until July 1969. (Ed Sanders. The Family. De Capo Press. Pp163. 2002). 

To the best of my knowledge only two witnesses ever testified at the time regarding the subject: Susan Atkins before the Grand Jury and Linda Kasabian at the trial. 



Q: How did you do that? What did you do? 
A: Well, we went out on garbage runs and we went and panhandled and one time one girl and I put on dark clothes and took it upon ourselves to do this -- Charlie had no knowledge of this -- we went out and creepy-crawled. 
Q: Creepy-crawled? 
A: Yes. 
Q: Explain to these members of the Jury what you mean by that. 
A: Moving in silence so that nobody sees us or hear us. 
Q: Wearing dark clothing? 
A: Wearing very dark clothes and move at night. 
Q: Where did you go? 
A: We hitchhiked over into -- I forget the area -- and we were scared to death, it was something neither one of us ever experienced, and wanted to experience it because everybody else in the Family was doing it. 
Q: They were doing what? 
A: Creepy-crawling. 
Q: Entering residences at night? 
A: Yes. 
Q: And taking things inside the residences? 
A: They never actually took anything inside the residence other than money. I never actually saw any money that they got from inside any of the residences. 
Q: You and this girl on one occasion did enter a residence and take some money? 
A: Not a residence, no. 
Q: What was it? 
A: There was an automobile parked on the side of the road. I opened the door and looked inside the glove compartment and saw some credit cards. I reached in and took them.

( Susan Atkins Grand Jury Testimony (Kindle Locations 231-244). Kindle Edition)

To say Atkins had credibility issues would be a vast understatement, I have to admit that. But under her version of the creepy crawl everyone was engaged in creepy crawling, although she only did it one time with a girl the world later learned was Linda Kasabian. And on this one occasion she and Kasabian didn’t actually enter a home. But Atkins clearly conveys the impression that creepy crawls were fairly commonplace as ‘everybody else’ was creepy crawling. 


[Aside: I have deleted Kanarek’s objections and shortened the quote by over half.]

Q: You testified you did not know what was going to happen that night. Did you have any idea what was going to happen?
A: Yes. I thought we were going to go on a creepy crawl mission.
Q: A creepy-crawl mission?
A: Yes.
Q: What is a creepy-crawl mission?
A: A creepy-crawl mission is where you creepy-crawl into people's houses and you take things which actually belong to you in the beginning, because it actually belongs to everybody.
Q: Who told you what a creepy-crawling mission was?
A: Everybody did.
Q: Did Mr. Manson ever tell you what a creepy-crawling mission was?
A: I remember one specific instance where the girls made Charlie a long, black cape, and one of the girls was fitting it to him, and he sort of said, "Now when I go creepy-crawling, people won't see me because they will think I am a bush or a tree."

(Linda Kasabian direct testimony Tate-LaBianca Trial)

A: I thought it was going to be a creepy, crawly mission.
Q (Fitzgerald): Your intent was to go out and steal, right?
A: Yes.
And your intent was to steal and you did not care where, or what you were stealing came from, did you?
A: I was told it was mine to begin with.
Q: And you had been on creepy, crawly missions before, is that correct?
A: Yeah, I guess it was creepy, crawl. It wasn’t roaming into a house, that is what I consider creepy, crawl. 
A: Well, I remember Mr. Manson was not at the ranch; he had just left for Big Sur, and that night I went out with Sadie on maybe what you could call a creepy-crawly mission. 

(Linda Kasabian cross examination Tate-LaBianca Trial)

"Yana told me about "cutting capers" with her friends out in L. A. What they would do was break into some expensive suburban house at night, either alone or in groups, and while making no attempt at secrecy or quiet, take or break anything they wanted to, Yana had gone into homes alone, unarmed, and turned on the stereo or television while she ransacked the house. She said no one ever tried to stop her. They were so "afraid of themselves," she said that they'd just lie frozen in bed thinking, "Oh my God! There's a BURGLAR in the house!"

(No writer attributed. The Road from Gallup to Albuquerque.The Harvard Crimson. December 18, 1969)

Kasabian corroborates Atkins testimony and actually provides us with the date of her creepy crawl. Her acknowledged creepy crawl took place on August 5, 1969 if Manson had ‘just left’ for Big Sur. But while hitchhiking across New Mexico Kasabian expressed to James Brekenridge (the actual author of the Harvard Crimson article, above) that she had creepy crawled several houses, not just one car. She also suggests that all her friends in the group in LA were participating in creepy crawls. 

As I read Kasabian's testimony and statements she is saying everyone knew about creepy crawl missions and many participated. That says they were fairly widespread. 

There are also reports by other members of the Family. 
“At night, he started sending the girls out on what he called “creepy-crawls” slipping into darkened houses while the owners were sleeping and crawling through them, rearranging things. Although it might seem that this kind of game was designed to frighten the people who woke up the next morning and found that things had been subtly shifted in the night, the real purpose was to make the girls doing the crawling face their fear and go beyond it. We began stealing anything we could get our hands on: money, credit cards, traveler's checks, dunebuggy parts. It was all for Helter Skelter, Charlie told us; we had to be ready. We creepy-crawled a couple of houses in Malibu and walked off with clothes and some tape equipment that turned out to have already been stolen from NBC.”

(Will You Die For Me? by Charles Watson as told to Chaplain Ray Hoekstra, Copyright 1978 Renewed Copyright 2010 by Steve Housden)

“Catherine Share:  The Family had been preparing for this. Charlie would take the kids on what he called “creepy crawls.” They’d break into houses and move around the furniture. There were a lot of creepy crawls before the Tate murders. He’d say, “Get your black clothes on, get in the car, and do a creepy crawl.” Tex, Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten, Clem, Squeaky, and Patricia Krenwinkel—they all went on creepy crawls.”

(Manson: An Oral History, Steve Oney, Los Angeles Magazine, July 1, 2009)

“Charlie began to instruct the older girls in what they called creepy-crawly missions. He would have them dress up in dark clothing that would be hard to spot at night. Then he would send them to random houses with the mission of moving things around unnoticed just to play head games with those he called “the sleeping pigs” or stealing small items to contribute to the coffers. These creepy-crawly missions were not burglaries per se. Charlie said these were training missions, a way to help them overcome their fear and learn to be silent and undetectable. I was never included in these.”


“Still, at the time, I was disappointed about not being included on the creepy-crawlies. While in hindsight, this non-inclusion was the best thing that could ever have happened to me, it was difficult feeling so separate from the group.”

(Lake, Dianne. Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties. Kindle Locations 4884-4888, 4895-4897. HarperCollins. Kindle Edition)

“I went “creepy-crawling” with Linda into homes and garages—an expression that came from me as we practiced and mastered silent entry into places, armed with our knives, and moved about the occupied houses without being detected. Barefoot, in old, dark clothes, deadly earnest, we became expert in burglarizing right under the noses of the occupants. The fear and thrill were exhilarating. I had always liked danger, although it kept me close to hysteria and panic. Furthermore, I felt we were perfectly justified in what we were doing. We were “in the Thought” . . . “in the now” . . . “free from thought” . . . “escaping from a doomed society. . . .”

(Susan Atkins. Slosser, Bob. Child of Satan, Child of God (p. 118). Menelorelin Dorenay’s Publishing. Kindle Edition)

Creepy and crawling but not creepy crawling
“Something big had happened the night before. Leslie didn’t know exactly what it was, but she knew it was part of Manson’s “Helter Skelter” plan. She concluded from the comments she’d overheard in the morning that unlike previous outings, this one had not been a trial run. In the past they had conducted what they called “creepy crawlies.” They would all dress in black and break into people’s houses as dress rehearsals. The point was not to be detected. On the previous night’s venture, confrontation was the point. She was pretty sure people had died. She knew Pat had been included, along with two others of Charlie’s inner circle: Tex and Susan.”

(Meredith, Nikki. The Manson Women and Me: Monsters, Morality, and Murder (p. 280). Kensington. Kindle Edition)

There are even reports that either were or sound like creepy crawls from the victims of the creepy crawl. 

“Lucille Ellen Larsen is the owner of Lucy's Pet Shop, 2524 Hyperion. She claimed to be a close friend of Rosemary.
She recalled Rosemary once making the statement "someone is coming in our house while we're away." Larsen suggested it might have been the children or their friends. Rosemary said she had questioned them and was satisfied it was not the children or their friends. Larsen asked Rosemary how she knew someone was coming into her home. Rosemary replied, "Things have been gone through and the dogs are in the house when they should be outside or visa versa." This was first mentioned prior to 1968. There were reported burglaries at the LaBianca residence yet it is common knowledge that Rosemary left the keys to her car and the house in her Thunderbird, which was usually parked in the rear of the house.”

(Second LaBianca Homicide Report)

“I had been in Arizona doing a film. When I came back, Al told me, “Some people are crawling over the wall, and every night at midnight, they crawl to your house and then they leave.” I thought it had to be some Manson people. So the first night I was back, I waited up and, sure enough, at midnight, they came over the fence. I had a shotgun and so did Einstein Eddy. I told my old lady to fetch Eddy. I saw the Manson people coming across the lawn and I was thinking, “What am I going to say?” I thought of a classic yet profound line I had learned from my earlier movie-extra days: I yelled, “Stick ’em up!” And that worked, just like it did in the movies. Their hands went up.”

(Kaufman,Phil. Road Mangler Deluxe (Kindle Locations 861-866). White-Boucke Publishing. Kindle Edition)

 “Most of the Family’s creepy-crawls took place near Spahn Ranch, but sometimes they ranged all the way into upscale neighborhoods, once even creepy-crawling the Bel Air home of Mamas and the Papas’ John and Michelle Phillips.”

(Jeff Guinn. Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson. Simon & Schuster. pp 212. 2013)

“Ed Sanders suggests in the Los Angeles Free Press that Wilson had, in early interviews with Bugliosi, taken a decidedly “mishiga” approach and was making it clear to the prosecutor that he would act crazy on the stand if forced to testify. By his own admission Wilson would not testify because he was scared—and by most accounts the musician had reason to worry. In addition to creepy crawling Wilson’s house, Manson also directly threatened to hurt Wilson’s son.”

(Melnick Jeffrey. Creepy Crawling: Charles Manson and the Many Lives of America's Most Infamous Family (Kindle Locations 2912-2917). Arcade Publishing. Kindle Edition)

“According to numerous reports, they creepy crawled the Malibu home of Doris Day, where Melcher and his girlfriend Candice Bergen had gone to live after leaving their Benedict Canyon house on Cielo Drive, a house soon to be occupied by Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski.”

(Melnick Jeffrey. Creepy Crawling: Charles Manson and the Many Lives of America's Most Infamous Family (Kindle Locations 340-342). Arcade Publishing. Kindle Edition)

There are even tales of daylight creepy crawls.

“Peter Biskind recounts a telling anecdote in his book on the New Hollywood, about Donna Greenberg—a woman who “wasn’t in the business” but who was “clever, wealthy, attractive, and had a wonderful home, with rooms and more rooms for guests, a swimming pool on the beach, and an expansive patio.” As Greenberg later recalled “One beautiful, sunny Sunday morning, I was having breakfast on the patio with my four-year-old, the nanny, my husband, and our oldest son, who was thirteen or fourteen…. We had just had a paint-in, painting our seawall with peace signs, graffiti, that sort of thing. Suddenly the most frightening group of hippies walked onto our patio, stood around and stared at us, wandered through our house. I was petrified, but I didn’t know what to say, and it was also the ’60s, being nice to people who wore lots of beads and jewels and bandannas. There was a piano covered with all the pictures one collects of children and family and loved ones and everyone I knew…. They gathered around the piano and looked at the pictures. Then they walked out, leaving us shaken. They got down to the end of the beach, but they couldn’t get out, and a police car came, and I found myself walking down there and telling the police to let them go, they were my guests. Don’t ask me what the impulse was. It was the Manson family.”

(Melnick Jeffrey. Creepy Crawling: Charles Manson and the Many Lives of America's Most Infamous Family (Kindle Locations 2267-2277). Arcade Publishing. Kindle Edition.)

And then there is this.

“At the end of the sixties I was renting an apartment in the Hollywood Hills and my life was still in chaos. I drank too much, jumped into bed with the worst choices of men and had again gotten fired from my job in advertising.

Grisly stories in the newspapers were about the Sharon Tate/LaBianca killings and one of the murder scenes was only blocks from my apartment. I'd gone to bed early that following weekend and sometime during the night my dog Mickey stood growling at the edge of the bed. I almost turned on a light, but stopped when I heard whispering. The hair twitched on the back of my neck. I slid my hand from under the sheet, grabbed Mickey's hind leg and the dog wiggled in beside me. My heart raced. I listened to the toilet flush, water splashing in the kitchen sink and what sounded like more than one person scooting around on the floor. I pulled the sheet over my face and pressed into the mattress. I lay barely inhaling until there was silence. Even then I didn't move and my heart continued to pound.

When sunrays filtered through the window, Mickey jumped off the bed and I stepped cautiously onto the floor. I entered the bathroom. The sink faucet was running. I hurried into the living room. The front door was standing open. I reached for the phone, but changed my mind. What could I tell police? Maybe I'd left the faucet on and had forgotten to close the front door. Maybe I'd dreamed the rest, or the place was haunted. Maybe my chanting had brought in the demons.

Years later I read Helter Skelter, the story of the Tate/LaBianca killings told by Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor who put Charles Manson behind bars. There's a chapter about the Manson family "creepy crawling" a house. Manson told his followers to go into homes in the Hollywood Hills and crawl around on the floor while turning on water faucets and flushing toilets. Chilled to my very core, I put down the book and paced the room. I knew during a scary night in the sixties, I had been "creepy crawled."”

(Suzanne Tilden-Mortimer. Brushes with Evil. 

Reports of having been creepy crawled by the Manson ‘girls’ almost feels like a badge of honor like the list of those invited over to Cielo on the evening of August 8th or the number of stuntmen who beat up Manson. But I believe creepy crawls happened and likely happened at houses the Family was familiar with as well as random houses. 

Based upon what we know I would go so far as to say creepy crawling had been going on for a while before July 1969 and that it was fairly widespread. I say this with a caveat: notice that aside from Kasabian and Atkins who testified they only went once the other Family members only report the activity of others, not their own creepy crawling. 

What was the Purpose of a Creepy Crawl?

I can see three possibilities here (1.) fun (2.) dress rehearsals for murder (3.) Manson’s first crack at the establishment. 


This where that confession comes in. When I was in college I was in a fraternity. One that more closely reflected the True House than your traditional notion of a frat. In the traditions of the Greek system at my university back then when you wanted a party with a sorority you went through a strange ritual where you stole their composite photograph of the members. They had to come over and sing to get it back and somewhere in there a party was arranged (or visa-versa if the sorority wanted the party). One semester our social chairman, a very nice but passive guy, got severely snubbed by a house. We stole the thing and they didn’t return his calls. In fact, they sent three goons from another frat to get it back. Had a few of us been home that afternoon, that might have gone badly for them. 

The next semester I held that post. I didn’t like sororities and didn’t want parties with them so myself and a couple others came up with a different plan. A plan that started as revenge against that sorority. We called it ‘A Mission’. Our inspiration was Mission Impossible and one guy even played the song on a cassette while we got ready. We would dress in dark clothing. We’d break into the house, rearrange the furniture (maybe even take it outside). Eat their food. Leave lights on. Etc. On the way home we’d have a gay old time imagining their faces the next morning. 

It was fun. The fear-based adrenalin was quite the rush. The absurdity of our actions was the point and we never got caught (although some guys from another house tried to take credit for it so we sent an anonymous letter to the Greek monthly paper, thingy, debunking their claim.).

Could creepy crawls have been just fun? Yes, they might have been part of those things the Family did like dress up in costumes. It could have simply been part of the Magical Mystery Tour.

“The creepy crawl was nothing if not theatrical. The rearranging of furniture and consciousness was devised as a sort of real-world guerrilla stage direction: “Square family members wake up from their nighttime stupor as Family members exit through doors and windows. They look around. On their faces we see that they are questioning everything they have believed in until this point.” In his book on the Doors, Greil Marcus refers to the Manson Family as a “band,” but a “troupe” is more like it.”

“John Waters, whose early films and later sculpture are so indebted to Manson, finds evidence of the creative impulse well in advance of the murders: “Was Manson’s … ‘creepy crawling,’ some kind of humorous terrorism that might have been fun? Breaking silently into the homes of middle-class ‘pigs’ with your friends while you are tripping on LSD and gathering around the sleeping residents in their beds, not to harm them but to watch them sleep…. It does sound like it could have been a mind-bending adventure. When the Mansonites went further and moved the furniture around before they left, just to fuck with the waking homeowners’ perception of reality, was this beautiful or evil? Could the Manson Family’s actions also be some kind of freakish ‘art’?”

(Melnick Jeffrey. Creepy Crawling: Charles Manson and the Many Lives of America's Most Infamous Family (Kindle Locations 6024-6030, 6046-6050). Arcade Publishing. Kindle Edition)

I think an argument can be made that the sole purpose of the creepy crawl was fun, thrills if you will. That is certainly why we did it in that fraternity, not even knowing we were creepy-crawling. 

Rehearsal for Murder

Vincent Bugliosi certainly thought the purpose of the creepy crawls was to prepare for murder. 

“These creepy-crawling expeditions were, I felt sure the jury would surmise, dress rehearsals for murder.”

(Bugliosi, Vincent. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (25th Anniversary Edition) (p. 214). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition)

And Jeff Guinn would certainly agree with Bugliosi. 

"According to Guinn: "Charlie wanted the Manson family — about two dozen mostly drug-addled kids — to believe they had the power to enter anyone's home at any time, without the people inside knowing that they were there. And so, he trained them, two or three at a time, to follow him. He would tell them to dress in dark clothes, they would get in the car and then they would drive to some of the fancier residential areas in Los Angeles.

"They knew some rich people, mostly rock stars. And what they would do is try to gain entrance into their homes — a lot of times doors weren't locked or windows weren't completely shut. Then, while the people inside slept, the creepy-crawlers would stealthily rearrange furniture. They might put the dining room table where a living couch had been. And then they'd sneak out, knowing that when the people woke up and saw how things were different, rearranged, they'd know someone had been there inside and could have done anything they'd wanted — murdered them in their beds. And they'd also have no idea who these people were." 

One of the break-in victims was Michelle Phillips, a member of the Mamas and the Papas, who wrote about it in a book.

Manson was using the creepy-crawls as "a sort of horrible spring training" for what he really intended. And that would most notoriously include the "Helter Skelter" rampage of back-to-back nights of murders that terrorized Los Angeles in 1969. The victims famously included Hollywood actress Sharon Tate, wife of director Roman Polanski.

"Everybody talks about the Tate-LaBianco murders, but I think they miss just how calculating Charlie Manson was in orchestrating the training he thought that his followers needed to carry out real murders," Guinn said on Strange." 

(Christopher Wynn. The Most Frightening Thing About Charles Manson was that He 'Never, Ever
was Insane'. Noevember 20, 2017)

There is evidence that supports this theory. One result of the creepy crawl would have been to diminish fear in the participants. Ed Sanders claims Manson showed the girls how to jimmy locks and slice screens and says Manson used creepy crawls as a teaching method. (same cite as above). 

There also is some indication that murder was the final step in a sort of creepy crawl progression. Atkins told Virginia Graham as much while they hung out together in Sybil Brand. 

 “That would be no problem, Susan said [killing the Hollywood hit list]. It was easy to find out where they lived. Then she’d simply creepy-crawl them, “just like I did to Tate.”

(Bugliosi, Vincent. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (25th Anniversary 
Edition) (p. 440). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition)

The timing of Kasabian’s creepy-crawl, August 5th is interesting. Notice, above, Kasabian’s one creepy-crawl (Atkins in her book says there were others and Kasabian contradicts herself as Yana) is one on one with Atkins, one of the killers, three days before the murders. Then look at Catherine Share’s comment. Every one of the killers went on creepy crawls, which likely was her point. Perhaps your performance under the observation of one of the elite helped determine whether you were ‘ready’. Whether you had sufficiently drunk the kool-aid to commit murder. 

But I don’t think creepy crawls were dress rehearsals. First, that would likely mean Manson was planning murder long before July-August 1969, if we assume creepy crawls were going on before July. Personally, being a proponent of a theory that this was a millennial movement gone bad due to outside threats and the charismatic prophet-leader’s perception he was losing control, I don’t believe the murder planning started long before the murders. The stressors were not there in January or March. It seems to me that everything unravels fairly quickly in July-August due to a combination of two factors: Melcher’s snub and the shooting of Bernard Crowe. 

Maybe Manson did suddenly unveil the creepy-crawl rehearsal after the Crowe shooting but to me the comments above sound like they had been going on for some time (even if they were not called creepy crawls). 

Phase One

I think we can agree that Manson had a miserable childhood. He spent most of his time in the clink. He was separated from his parents and spent little time in a traditional family setting. The bond that comes from that experience is missing and likely he harbored significant animosity towards ‘the traditional family’. An experience he never had and thus didn't value.

Joining ‘the Family’ had a few ‘initiation’ requirements that support this theory. You had to give up all your stuff to the group. You had to break your own family bond by, for example, giving up your children and your name. And, of course, your parents (family) were, according to Manson, responsible for all those hang-ups, fears and ego trips you had that you had to get rid of to reach enlightenment. 

As Ed Sanders put it: “They were into such a trip of mystic transformation that the Family evidently believed that there was an archetypal core personality in each human that could be discovered though acidzap, mind moil, role-playing, bunch-punching, magic, blasting the past and commune-ism. This was the Magical Mystery Tour” (Ed Sanders. The Family. De Capo Press. Pp 27. 2002)

Destroying the family was part of the game. But not the only part. ‘Fear’ also played a role in the process. Manson preached that one came to full awareness through fear. In fact, that was, apparently the catalyst for the creepy crawls: allowing the members to reach that level through fear.

But fear also had a second role. It was a weapon. The attack at Cielo was, according to Atkins to ‘instill’ fear into Melcher. Atkins also rapped with Ronnie Howard about “throwing some fear into the world”. Before the Grand Jury Atkins expanded the concept to the entire establishment. 

Q: Well, you can't ask me any questions, Susan, I'm just trying to find out what happened to the best of your recollection. Did you say why this [the murders] had been done? 
A: To instill fear into the establishment.

( Susan Atkins Grand Jury Testimony (Kindle Locations 741-743). Kindle Edition.)

Fear as both a weapon and a higher consciousness also explains another aspect of that bizarre notion that ‘you really have to love someone to kill them’. If fear is the ultimate level of consciousness then in the twisted minds of these acid casualties the fear they inflicted while murdering someone was raising their victim's consciousness.

“As Virginia understood it, there was this group, these chosen people, that Charlie had brought together, and they were elected, this new society, to go out, all over the country and all over the world, to pick out people at random and execute them, to release them from this earth. “You have to have a real love in your heart to do this for people,” Susan explained.”

(Bugliosi, Vincent. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (25th Anniversary Edition) (p. 127). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.)

Initially, the Family and Manson’s schtick was love, flowers, sex and dope. Manson symbolically tosses guns off a bridge, he gives things away to those who need them. He seeks to rescue the young girls from Haight Ashbury. He sits around singing songs, having sex and rapping about acid-soaked philosophy. In fact, the Family would have been nothing more than another failed 60’s commune had everything ended in December 1968. It’s at that point where things slowly begin to go bad, teetering over the brink by July 1969. 

So, my theory is that the creepy-crawls were not rehearsals for anything but initially they were a sort of light hearted way to attack the family and the establishment and progressed from there rather suddenly when other motives took over. Entering a house late at night and leaving the bizarre calling cards of moved furniture and open doors undermines the sense of security a home provides a family. It unsettles the family. They start locking doors, buying guns and live in fear. In the weird sense of reality possessed by the Family they likely even thought they were doing their creepy crawl victims a favor. 

Creepy crawls, in my opinion, were a way to damage the sanctity of the family by invading the home and to instill fear in the establishment. They were a way Manson could take away from others a piece of what he never had. Call it Phase I of what eventually led to the murderous creepy-crawls of August 1969. 

Pax vobiscum


Postscript: It appears creepy crawls continue decades later. 

“Russian intelligence and security services have been waging a campaign of harassment and intimidation against U.S. diplomats, embassy staff and their families in Moscow and several other European capitals that has rattled ambassadors and prompted Secretary of State John F. Kerry to ask Vladimir Putin to put a stop to it.

At a recent meeting of U.S. ambassadors from Russia and Europe in Washington, U.S. ambassadors to several European countries complained that Russian intelligence officials were constantly perpetrating acts of harassment against their diplomatic staff that ranged from the weird to the downright scary. Some of the intimidation has been routine: following diplomats or their family members, showing up at their social events uninvited or paying reporters to write negative stories about them.

But many of the recent acts of intimidation by Russian security services have crossed the line into apparent criminality. In a series of secret memos sent back to Washington, described to me by several current and former U.S. officials who have written or read them, diplomats reported that Russian intruders had broken into their homes late at night, only to rearrange the furniture or turn on all the lights and televisions, and then leave. One diplomat reported that an intruder had defecated on his living room carpet.”

(Josh Rogin. Opinion: Russia is Harassing U.S. Diplomats All Over Europe. Washington Post. June 27, 2016)