Monday, September 23, 2019

Movie Geeks United: TLB in Six Episodes

Friday, September 20, 2019

Newsom denies parole to Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten, overruling parole board

JUNE 3, 2019 4:49 PM

California Gov. Gavin Newsom overruled a parole board’s decision to free Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten on Monday, marking the third time a governor has stopped the release of the youngest member of Manson’s murderous cult.

Van Houten, 69, is still a threat, Newsom said, though she has spent nearly half a century behind bars and received reports of good behavior and testimonials about her rehabilitation.

"While I commend Ms. Van Houten for her efforts at rehabilitation and acknowledge her youth at the time of the crimes, I am concerned about her role in these killings and her potential for future violence," he wrote in his decision. "Ms. Van Houten was an eager participant in the killing of the LaBiancas and played a significant role."

It was the first time Newsom rejected parole for Van Houten. Former Gov. Jerry Brown denied her release twice.

Van Houten was 19 when she and other cult members stabbed to death wealthy Los Angeles grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, in August 1969. She said they carved up Leno LaBianca’s body and smeared the couple’s blood on the walls.

The slayings came the day after other Manson followers, not including Van Houten, killed pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in violence that spread fear throughout Los Angeles and riveted the nation.

No one who took part in the Tate-LaBianca killings has been released from prison.

Earlier this year, Newsom reversed a parole recommendation to free Manson follower Robert Beausoleil for an unrelated murder. Beausoleil was convicted of killing musician Gary Hinman.

At parole hearings, Van Houten described a troubled childhood that led her to use drugs and hang around with outcasts at school. When she was 17, she and a boyfriend ran away to San Francisco during the so-called Summer of Love in 1967.

She later encountered Manson while traveling the coast. Manson had holed up with his "family" at an abandoned movie ranch on the outskirts of Los Angeles when he launched a plan to spark a race war by committing a series of random, terrifying killings.

Despite her youth at the time of the crime, abuse by Manson and more than four decades of good behavior, Brown rejected parole for Van Houten in 2017 because he said that she still blamed the cult leader too much for the killings.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge upheld Brown’s decision last year, finding that Van Houten posed "an unreasonable risk of danger to society." An appeals court will decide whether to uphold or reject that ruling by the end of July.

Manson and his followers were sentenced to death in 1971, though those punishments were commuted to life in prison after the California Supreme Court ruled capital punishment unconstitutional in 1972.

Van Houten’s case was overturned on appeal and she was later convicted and sentenced to seven years to life in prison.

Tate’s sister, Debra Tate, has routinely shown up to parole and court hearings to oppose the release of any Manson follower. Even though Van Houten didn’t take part in her sister’s killing, Tate said she didn’t deserve release under any circumstances.

Supporters of Van Houten said she had been a model prisoner who mentored dozens of inmates and helped them come to terms with their crimes.

Van Houten’s lawyer said in January after her latest release recommendation that the parole board found she had taken full responsibility for her role in the killings, so Newsom would have a harder time overturning the decision to release her.

"She chose to go with Manson," attorney Rich Pfeiffer said. "She chose to listen to him. And she acknowledges that."

Manson died in 2017 of natural causes at a California hospital while serving a life sentence.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Manson & Me: The Human Side of Charles Manson

This new book, published on July 29, opens, “21 years ago, I went to meet Charles Manson in the visiting room of Corcoran State Prison. He was just as special as I expected him to be.”  The last sentences of the book:  Charlie “is like a drug, and his followers, junkies visiting him every weekend to get another hit of the Manson formula. What the formula was exactly? I cannot tell you and no one ever will.”  The rest of the book?  A combination of interviews with Manson, Squeaky, Sandy, ex-cons and others who loved him the most.  Lots of pictures, letters from fans, artwork and poems.  It’s a quick read and and it mentions little about the sheer brutality of the crimes. My initial opinion?  I almost threw up reading it. I was disgusted that the author is a smart, modern woman who seemed to believe Charlie's nonsense and based a book on the opinions of Charlie, wackadoodle Sandy and Squeaky, and others known for making crappy decisions. I finished the book feeling dirty and embarrassed and wishing I’d never decided to write this review. 

Then, I decided to read the book again.

The second time, I read it as a young, empathetic girl might have interpreted it - someone who knew nothing about the crimes. Here’s why:  Since I started learning about this case, I’ve been fascinated by how Charlie influenced normal, smart girls to do things they’d never ordinarily do. I am similarly fascinated by how Hitler convinced smart people to obliterate the Jewish population and how anyone would willingly behave horribly to further a cause. I’ve often wondered whether I would have succumbed to Manson's charms, had I been an impressionable girl in the late sixties. So, the second time I read the book was to gain the perspective of a Manson groupie.  

And I kid you not, I was charmed. I get it now. If Manson presented himself like the book represents him, I can totally see why the Family members fell for it.  In the book, he is a loving, weary old man who wants to be understood. He’s been persecuted all his life.  He feels awful about how everything went wrong in the summer of 1969 – he just wanted to support the decisions of the Family. Many of the other inmates and guards have grown to respect him. He doesn’t know why strangers adore him, but he tries his best to be what his visitors want. Mostly, he wants to die in peace.

Then, I decided to read the book again.

The third time, I read it with a critical eye.  Is it different than the other Manson-related books?  Yes. It’s written in a softer voice. The tone of the book is very gentle. The whole thing is about Manson’s last twenty years, written by someone whose goal was to present him as a human and not a monster. The book doesn't go on and on. It has lots of pictures I hadn’t seen. Was there anything surprising in the book?  Yes. Manson claims to have had recurring nightmares during which he is haunted by the ghost of Sharon Tate, and he keeps trying to reason with that ghost. He also says he wants people to forgive him for what he and the family did. Is the book believable? Meh. 

So...who should read the book?

If you are pro-Manson, add it to your collection right away.  It is, by far, the most sensitive pro-Manson book I’ve read.  You’ll love everything about it.  You’ll feel sorry for this old man who’s been in prison all these years for what he said is Tex’s crime. You’ll be proud of good ole Charlie and happy that someone captured his last years so well.

If you want to learn more about the facts of the case, stay far away from this book. You’ll learn nothing.  Instead, read Helter Skelter.  Read Restless Souls.  Read Deb’s new book about Shorty.  Watch all of Stoner’s videos. Watch Six Degrees of Helter Skelter. Read every blog entry on this site and on Col's old site. 

If you are anti-Manson and think he is delusional and dangerous, you’ll be very offended. Do not read this book under any circumstances. 

If you think you know every single thing about this case, read the book to gain a better understanding of how Charlie captured the hearts of the Family. As you read it, change your perspective to that of a young, impressionable, questioning teenager. It may help you understand Charlie's charm. 

This book is available on Amazon. 

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Murders of Doreen Gaul and James Sharp

We have explored a few of the unsolved murders that are said to have been discussed on the elusive Tex Tapes.  It has been reported that there were up to 12 murders that could be on the tapes and attributed to members of the Manson Family.  The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office has not said specifically which 12 murders they are but, we know of quite a few that have been suggested as “Manson Murders” from various sources.

Tex Watson was in Texas at the time of the Gaul/Sharp murders so I’m not sure why anyone would think that he spoke of these murders to his attorney, Bill Boyd.  As far as we know Tex did not communicate with anyone in the Family after he left California and I’m not sure how he would have known where to contact them after the Barker Ranch raids.  However, the Gaul/Sharp murders have consistently cropped up as having been committed by the Family, more specifically by Bruce Davis, and they have been mentioned in articles about the Tex Tapes.

Doreen Gaul and James Sharp’s bodies were found November 21 1969 at around 11:00 PM in an alley behind the residence at 1138 South Magnolia, Los Angeles.  They had been placed there after death.  Doreen was nude except for a necklace that newspaper articles described as “Indian beads”.  James was fully clothed except for shoes.  James had an ID bracelet on his wrist with his name, saying he was a member of the Church of Scientology which is why they were identified so quickly.

Both had been stabbed numerous times with a knife blade that measured ½” to 1” in width and 4” in length.  There were also patterned marks on their bodies, they were thought to have been whipped by a chain.  Semen was found on and in Doreen’s body.  Each of their right eyes had been slashed.  These were very gruesome murders.

Doreen Gaul, 19 years-old, was from Albany NY.  She had been in California for about six months prior to her death.  She was the oldest of four children.  Before learning about Scientology, she had gone to parochial school in Albany, graduating in 1968 and was said to be a devout Roman Catholic.  Doreen’s father said she had been planning on coming home as she had become disenchanted with Scientology.

James Sharp, 15 years-old, came from an upper-class family who lived in the suburb of Crestwood outside of St. Louis MO.  His father, a prosperous salesman, said that James was very, very intelligent and he had given James permission in June 1969 to travel to California to study Scientology.

Early on the murders were branded the Scientology Murders much to the church’s dismay.

Newspaper articles made a loose connection between the Church of Scientology and The Process Church of the Final Judgement saying that the Process was an offshoot of Scientology.  That was probably true in a sense as Robert DeGrimston, founder of The Process, was a former Scientologist but there was no legitimate connection between the two, neither church supported the other’s ideology.

A December 10 1969 Los Angeles Times article made a connection between Charles Manson and the Church of Scientology saying Manson was known to have dabbled in Scientology.  If I remember correctly, a Scientology E-meter was found during the Spahn Ranch raid August 16 1969.  That is likely how law enforcement knew Manson had knowledge of Scientology so early after his being charged with the Tate LaBianca murders.

The Scientologists really got into a dither about the rumors swirling around and to that end they made a public statement.  They believed that authorities and others were trying to tie their organization to the Tate LaBianca murders.  Due to these rumors, they offered $30,000. in rewards which were not for the arrest and conviction of those who murdered Doreen and James but rather the rewards were for cleaning up their reputation.

“The $30,000 reward- $10,000 for each of three categories- was posted for information leading to prosecution and conviction of persons responsible for these alleged acts:

1      * Impeding investigation into the murders of Doreen Gaul, 19, and James Sharp, 15, found slain Nov. 5* in an alley.  Both were members of the church. * The church got the date wrong, the two were killed Nov. 21st.

2     *“Knowingly causing to be denied” to police information about “this vile and murderous act.”

3      * Causing circulation of falsehoods including allegations that the church membership “includes notorious individuals… never members of the Church of Scientology… but held by police in connection with other charges.”
From the San Bernardino County Sun December 13, 1969 Page 5

A November 26, 1969 Los Angeles Times article quoted Lt. Deemer saying that there might be a connection between the murder of Jane Doe 59, more recently identified as Reet Jurvetson from Canada, and the Gaul Sharp murders.  The similarities cited that all three victims were stabbed repeatedly by an apparent “fanatic”.  Jane Doe wore hippie clothing much like Doreen was known to wear and was favored by many young female Scientologist.  To that end an investigation was being made to find out whether or not Jane Doe might have been a member of Scientology. The third similarity was that both Doreen and Jane Doe had arrived to the Los Angeles area recently which was determined by the absence of smog in the lungs.

In the interest of presenting the facts of the case we are providing a 22 page pdf of the police report.


When reading the police reports you will find a Property Report on page 5 of the pdf.  Lines 2, 6, and 10 say “threat” when referring to something found on James person.  I believe this is a typo and should read “thread”.

Page 5 also says that a hair was found in James right hand.  On page 19 of the pdf the report states the hair is identified as having the texture of Mexican or Indian hair.  I assume they are referring to Native Americans when they say Indian.  I can’t think of anyone associated with the Family would fit those descriptions except maybe Juan Flynn or Lee Saunooke aka Windy Bucklee and I don’t seriously believe either of them were personally involved in any murders.
Also, on page 19 of the pdf, right above the info on the hair found in James Sharp’s hand, it says that various other jurisdictions have been notified.  It is standard procedure for police to contact other law enforcement agencies who have had similar murders.   

Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office had the still unsolved murder of a Jane Doe found near a quarry August 3 1969 in Lompoc CA.  This location is near where Bobby Beausoleil was arrested for the murder of Gary Hinman on August 4.  Jane Doe was stabbed repeatedly and her throat was slit.

San Jose had the August 3, 1969 murders of Deborah Furlong, 14, and Kathy Snoozy,15, who were both stabbed numerous times.  These murders and the later murder, April 11, 1971, of Kathy Bilek in Saratoga CA were solved.  They were all committed by Karl Warner who had been a classmate and neighbor of Furlong and Snoozy.  He was arrested two weeks after the Bilek murder and plead guilty September 1971.

Napa County had the Zodiac killing of Cecelia Sheppard and wounding of Bryan Hartnell by stabbing at Lake Berryessa.  This bizarre attack by a hooded attacker has never been solved.  I’m not exactly certain why San Francisco was read into the Gaul Sharp murders but by November 1969 San Francisco was the lead agency in charge of the Zodiac murders.

Page 20 of the pdf gets closer to investigating the Family.  12-30-1969 at 2000 hours says that two journalists believe there is a connection between Gaul Sharp and Tate LaBianca.  To that end they have gone to Bishop CA and interviewed “several nomads” some of who claim to be Scientologists.

Further down that page detectives actually interview Family members at a residence located on Cerro Gordo Drive in Los Angeles.  The home was searched and no evidence of murder was found.  This is not a residence that I am familiar with being associated with the Family and no Family members are named.  It’s anyone’s guess whether or not they truly interviewed someone associated with the Family.

On the face of it nothing stands out as implicating the Family in these murders.  The police report doesn’t offer any solid evidence in that direction and, in fact, tends to rule them out solely based on the hair found in James Sharp’s hand.   Bruce Davis got the attention of Bill Nelson because Bruce spent a few months in London England studying Scientology.

Let’s hope that the evidence that could be tested for DNA, the hair and the semen, was stored properly all these years and the families of these two people can have some sort of resolution.

HERE are some very graphic crime scene photos that are from Bill Nelson's "Manson Behind the Scenes".  Do not open if you are the least bit queasy or object to these type of photos.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Jason Freeman Compelled to Give DNA

In the continuing saga of settling Charles Manson's estate the judge overseeing the proceedings has answered Michael Channels motion to have Jason Freeman's DNA compared to Charles Manson's DNA to determine whether or not Freeman is Manson's grandson.

Michael Channels

There have been a few court hearings over Manson's estate since we last visited this subject.  The past couple of court hearing have Channels submitting a motion to have Freeman's DNA tested.  The judge said that he would need to explore whether or not it was possible for the court to demand DNA from Freeman.

Freeman has declined to voluntarily produce a DNA sample but said he would, if the court ruled that he had to submit his DNA.

Jason Freeman

I think this might be a precedent setting decision by the judge because the decision does not cite any previous cases on the subject of DNA.  But I will let our resident attorneys weigh in on that aspect.

Here is a transcription of the judge's decision-

Probate Division Stanley Mosk Dept. - 9, Stanley Mosk Dept. - 9
In re: Manson, Charles M. - Decedent
August 30, 2019
8:30 AM

Honorable Clifford Klein, Judge
Janelle Brooks, Judicial Assistant Not Reported, Court Reporter
NATURE OF PROCEEDINGS: Ruling on Submitted Matter

The following parties are present for the aforementioned proceeding:
No appearances.

Out of the presence of the court reporter, the Court makes the following findings and orders:

The Court having taken the above captioned matter under submission on Thursday, August 22, 2019 hereby rules as follows:

Motion to Compel DNA Testing

Ruling on Submitted Matter:

This case concerns the estate of Charles Manson. He was admitted to state prison in 1971 and died on November 19, 2017. His estate is now at issue.

Charles Manson Jr.’s, a.k.a. Charles Jay White, statement that he was one of Charles Manson’s children is notcontested in this case. Mr. White predeceased Manson, dying in Colorado in 1993. Jason L. Freeman states he isthe son of Mr. White, and thus the grandson of Charles Manson. This petition alleges that that the decedent died intestate, that Freeman is an heir and is entitled to Letters of Administration. Freeman nominated Dale Kiken to
act as administrator, per Prob. Code § 8465.

Michael A. Channels filed an Objection to the Petition. On January 22, 2018, Channels filed his own Petition,seeking to probate a will allegedly executed by Manson in 2002, which expressly disinherited his sons as well as any other known or unknown children, and which purportedly give his entire estate to Channels.

This motion concerns an allegation by Channels that Freeman is not the decedent’s grandson. The motion is to compel Freeman to undergo DNA testing. The decedent’s DNA is reportedly available from the Department of Corrections or the Kern County Coroner where the autopsy was conducted. There is no evidence that a sample of the DNA of Charles Manson Jr./Charles Jay White, Freeman’s alleged father, is available.

Although White does not appear as the father on Freeman’s birth certificate, a 1986 default family court judgment of the state of Ohio provides that it is “ORDERED ADJUDGED, AND DECREED” the Defendant Charles Jay White aka Charles Millis Manson, Jr., “shall be, and hereby is, determined to be the natural father of Jason Lee Freeman.” The court order stated that White was served by “certified mail”, but does not indicate there was any postal documentation that he received the mail, nor that he received the notice of the court’s judgment. White resided in Texas and did not appear in the case. Court records do not indicate what contacts White had in Ohio, although this court presumes the Ohio court had legal jurisdiction. There is no record that this order was ever enforced, that the child support payments ordered were ever collected, that Mr. Channels was served with notice of this proceeding, or that he appeared. This raises the question of whether this Court is bound by the default judgment of paternity.

Basic intestate succession law provides that the estate of a deceased person shall, if the deceased is unmarried, pass to their children, or to the issue of their children. (See Prob. Code § 6400 et seq.) Parenthood is thus relevant to establishing intestate succession. Probate Code § 6534 provides for how a parent-child
relationship may be established for purposes of probate:

For the purpose of determining whether a person is a “natural parent” . . . :

(a) A natural parent and child relationship is established where that relationship is presumed and not rebutted pursuant to the Uniform Parentage Act (Part 3 (commencing with Section 7600) of Division 12 of the Family Code).

(b) A natural parent and child relationship may be established pursuant to any other provisions of the Uniform Parentage Act, except that the relationship may not be established by an action under subdivision (c) of Section 7630 of the Family Code unless any of the following conditions exist:

(1) A court order was entered during the parent’s lifetime declaring parentage.

(2) Parentage is established by clear and convincing evidence that the parent has openly held out the child as that parent’s own.

(3) It was impossible for the parent to hold out the child as that parent’s own and parentage is established by clear and convincing evidence, which may include genetic DNA evidence acquired during the parent’s lifetime. (Prob. Code § 6453.)

Per section 7636 of the Family Code, “the judgment or order of the court determining the existence or nonexistence of the parent and child relationship is determinative for all purposes except for actions brought pursuant to Section 270 of the Penal Code.” (Fam. Code § 7636). Family Code § 7646 does provide that a
judgment establishing paternity may be set aside or vacated based upon genetic testing in some circumstances inapplicable to the facts in this case.

Per section 5604 of the Family Code, “a previous determination of paternity made by another state, whether established through voluntary acknowledgment procedures in effect in that state or through an administrative or judicial process shall be given full faith and credit by the courts in this state, and shall have the same effect as a paternity determination made in this state and may be enforced and satisfied in a like manner.” (Fam. Code § 5604 [emphasis added].) A default judgment for paternity in Ohio would therefore have the same effect as a valid judgment of paternity in this state and would therefore hypothetically be determinative under Family Code § 7636. However, while Fam. Code § 7636 provides that such a judgment would be “determinative for all purposes,” Prob. Code § 6524 simply provides that a “natural parent and child relationship” may be established pursuant to the Family Code. Moreover, despite the “full faith and credit” language of Fam. Code S 5604, case and statutory law requires the judgment of paternity to have been valid and the alleged father to have been given a reasonable opportunity to be heard. “If a valid judgment of paternity is rendered in Ohio, it generally is binding on California courts if Ohio had jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter, and the parties were given reasonable notice and an opportunity to be heard.” (Estate of Griswold (2001) 25 Cal.4th 904, 922 [emphasis added].) If the Ohio judgment was “void” then under C.C.P. § 473(d), the Court may “set aside any void judgment or order.”


Channels argues that the Court is neither bound by nor should give full, force, and credit to the Ohio default judgment, because the Ohio court lacked jurisdiction over White and that White was not sufficiently notified and given an opportunity to be heard. It has not been established that White actually received reasonable notice
and an opportunity to be heard and had a fair opportunity to litigate the issue. Even if White was present or received notice, Channels was not present, did not receive notice, and thus argues that he should not be bound by a court decision that had no foreseeable relevance to an issue of heirship in a future estate proceeding in California.

Although the Ohio court found “that service [had] been properly completed by certified mail,” for purposes of res judicata for the probate proceeding in California, actual notice cannot be presumed. A subsequently enactedOhio statute requires proof of actual service (Ohio Code section 3111.06 (B). This was a default judgment that was not contested. As White lived in Texas, and apparently ignored the judgment if he learned of its existence, he may have been indigent and seen no reason to travel to Ohio to contest its validity and to incur the further expense of retaining an attorney. Regardless of the actual blood relationship between the parties, White may have felt it unnecessary to contest such an issue, especially when the child support order might never be enforced against him.

In addition, had Channels or any other possible heirs received notice of the Ohio hearing, they may have decided that the relationship between White and Freeman was important for purposes of inheritance. This would be different than a court hearing to enforce the child support obligations against another person. Channels never had any notice or opportunity to contest the relationship of Freeman for purposes of intestate succession. This does not make the default judgment void for purposes of family support. However, applying this nebulous default judgment against a nonparty to the family support case could defeat the purpose of California’s intestate succession laws.

The question of the disposition of the remains of the decedent was litigated in the Kern County Superior Court. Kiken argues that the decision of the Kern County Court to release the remains to himself is res judicata on the issue of paternity. The issue in the remains proceeding involved the validity of the various wills submitted in the case, rather than paternity. The court’s finding was that “No sufficient probative evidence was provided to this court to refute Freeman’s claim.” This court does not find this limited ruling to constitute res judicata on the question of whether Mr. Freeman is the son of Charles White.

The recently enacted California Family Code sections refer only to DNA testing to establish a parent-child relationship, rather than establishing a grandparent-grandchild relationship. Although there is no explicit legal authority to require DNA testing with grandparents, the DNA of Mr. Freeman’s purported father, Charles Manson Jr., is not available. It is also impossible to consider evidence that either Manson as the grandparent or Charles White as the parent held out the child as that parent’s own due to the grandfather’s life imprisonment and Charles White’s death in 1993. Technically speaking, parentage of Freeman could be established by genetic DNA evidence acquired during the parent’s lifetime, as such evidence from the decedent Charles Manson most likely would have been acquired during the lifetime of Charles White. If one considers a broader definition of “parentage”, the word is defined in American College Dictionary, Third Edition, as “descent from parents; lineage”, and lineage is the precise issue in this probate case. However, this technical construction should not be required as the legislative intent to permit DNA testing to determine the identity of a parent would logically be expanded to include grandparents.


The Court is not bound by either the Ohio court’s judgment of paternity or the Kern County Court’s decision as to the disposition of the decedent’s remains. DNA testing may provide probative and relevant evidence. The motion to compel DNA testing of Jason L. Freeman is granted.