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.