Not much has been written about Juanita Wildebush (no, it's not her real name). Years ago Farf did a humorous piece centering on her (I miss the fuck out of Farf), but the most detail we got was found in Paul Watkins' book My Life with Charles Manson. Here is an excerpt followed by a couple of pics of her. She was one of the lucky ones. She escaped with her life, but lighter in the pocketbook. Enjoy...
"My name's Juanita," she said, still gauging traffic through her outside rearview mirror. She turned and smiled. "Juanita Wildebush."
"You're kidding." I beamed. "I'm Paul...Paul Watkins."
Juanita was a big, corpulent, rawboned blonde, with thick hair, thick lips, and generous well-tanned haunches. She wore an embroidered Mexican blouse, a tight pair of white shorts, and sandals. Her teeth looked like chunks of quartz crystal when she grinned, telling me she had just returned from Mexico City but was headed right back. "This culture sucks," she quipped. "After being down there for a year, everything up here seems dead." She said she spoke fluent Spanish and that after stopping in L.A. she'd be driving straight through to Oaxaca.
"We could have used you last night." I described briefly what had transpired with the rancheros. She seemed delighted with the story but felt that we should have gone to the party and had a good time. "It would have been a gas. Latin men are the greatest, let me tell ya." She went on to recount, quite graphically, several romantic episodes that she had enjoyed south of the border. "Those guys don't just ball; they get down!" So imbued was she with anything that smacked of Latin culture, I felt it futile to do anything but nod in agreement.
"Whereabouts you goin' in L.A.?" she said at last.
"I live in the Santa Susana Hills at a place called Spahn's ranch."
"Never heard of it."
We chatted amiably while her tape deck boomed out the Beatles and Three Dog Night. The inside of the van was completely customized, with a full leather tuck-in roll, a canopied bed, a propane stove, refrigerator, and a yellow life raft which sat perched on top of the mattress alongside some scuba diving gear. I got the distinct impression Juanita wasn't hurting for money. And that she was horny. I told her a little about the Family and Charlie and that our lifestyle was pretty much divorced from the rat race Anglo culture she so abhorred. When she mentioned that she had recently come into a small inheritance, I suggested, circuitously, that she stop by at the ranch and meet Charlie. She said she'd like that.
When we pulled up and parked in front of the ranch house that night, Charlie was sitting outside on the porch whittling on a piece of wood.
"Made good time, Paul," he said. "Only one back so far. Who's your friend?" Charlie stood as we approached the porch.
"This is Juanita, Charlie...Juanita Wildebush."
"No shit! That's your name?...Jesus! That's real poetic!" He laughed. "Come on in."
We followed Charlie into the house. While I poured a cold glass of water, he proceeded to introduce Juanita to Snake, Squeaky, Sandy, Ouisch, and the new girl Catherine Gilles, who were seated around the fire. Juan Flynn was lounging around the couch playing with Pooh Bear. Brooks was in the shower, singing. Juanita and Juan exchanged amenities in Spanish and Juanita seemed pleased at this.
Later, Charlie took her aside to smoke a dube while I parked her van down by the corral. I didn't hurry, so as to give him plenty of time to lay out his rap. I'd told him Juanita had money and that she might be willing to part with some of it. At the time, I wasn't averse to hustling money for the Family. It was like a game. I could think of no better cause than our own communal existence. And, like everyone else in the Family in those days, I wanted to please Charlie. By the time I got back, Charlie had the full scoop. Juanita's inheritance was no mere pittance—some fifteen thousand dollars, to be exact; what she needed most, he said, was to have her "wildbush" sucked, good and proper.
"She's partial to you, man." He beamed. "So just take her back to her van and ring her bell."
I hadn't figured on that. Generally, Charlie was first with any new girl. Had Juanita been physically attractive, he would have been. The fact is, I'd been thinking about Snake all the way home. But I didn't have much choice.
Juanita and I spent a long and active night in the van. And some of the next morning. She was eager, she said, to move in with the Family. That afternoon she made arrangements to give us some of her money. A week later George Spahn's four-thousand-dollar tax bill was paid in full.
When I was growing up, my parents kept their eclectic library of books on full display in our small downstairs den. From a very young age, a few stood out to me—namely a Life World Book about Japan, my mom’s copy of In Cold Blood, and a particularly lurid-looking paperback with a cover that looked like bad news through my young eyes.
This was the edition and cover of my mom's worn paperback on the bookshelf of my childhood home. Many consider this the definitive account, but Simon’s book, and this interview, may change your mind.
The book’s title, HELTER SKELTER, seemed to have been painted in blood, set against the kind of warm yellow backdrop one might associate with the California sun. I was also old enough at the time to know what “murder” meant, so of course I was sufficiently intrigued to flip through the photos—which were fortunately whited out. Undoubtedly, part of what’s made the book the #1 true crime book of all time was the shocking brutality of the killing spree—carried out by “hippie cult leader” Charlie Manson and select members of his so-called “Family” of mostly young, female, twentysomething drifters.
In my late 30s, I moved to San Francisco and revisited the topic by reading Manson in His Own Words by Nuel Emmons, which provided insight into Manson’s awful upbringing and distorted worldview. Flash forward to early 2020—before COVID, BLM, election anxiety—when I felt compelled to learn more about the Tate-LaBianca murders, Manson himself, and his young followers who carried out these unspeakable acts. I’ve since spent the last several months watching documentaries, reading at least a dozen more books on the subject, and sifting through infinite online archives.
Tellingly, more books, films, articles and documentaries have been written about Manson than one could possibly consume in a lifetime—it’s a bottomless rabbit hole. But longstanding interests in a number of subjects—Los Angeles, late ‘60s American history, San Francisco’s Summer of Love, the introduction of LSD to the counterculture, the music and Hollywood film biz, true crime, and cults—all compelled me to go deep on the topic. The story of Manson and Helter Skelter is one where all of these subjects seem to intersect.
One of Manson’s many mugshots since age 14, this one from 1969. You’ll find a gallery of them here.
Additionally, America has not felt this divided since the late ‘60s. Things seem to be breaking down to the point where it feels like there are strong parallels between then and what we’re going through today. Most writers and musicians like myself tend to be interested in pop culture and feel a certain attunement to the zeitgeist. Even so, I only recently realized that 2020 was the 50th anniversary of the August 8–10 murders, putting them in the spotlight all over again.
That’s my best explanation of why, like so many others—and perhaps more than ever—I’m compelled to understand why Manson and his followers did these things. Who were they? How did the social and political climate of the time make such horrifying and bizarre crimes even possible?
MEET SIMON WELLS, AUTHOR OF CHARLES MANSON: COMING DOWN FAST
In the many Manson documentaries I’ve watched these last many months, several familiar faces are interviewed with strong ties to the case—including Jeff Guinn, author of Manson, and retired FBI profiler John Douglas, who interviewed Manson in prison decades ago as part of his groundbreaking work on serial killers.
This was the first documentary (but not the last) I saw that featured Simon.
Even though the Introduction is seven pages long, I’d never read such a clear, concise, insightful summary of the Family and their crimes—along with the complex social and political climate that spawned it all. As I continued to read, I became utterly absorbed by the book’s craft, unique tone, and thoroughness.
My paperback copy of Simon’s book.
Once I’d gotten about halfway through, I reached out to Simon to learn more about the project, and he was gracious enough to agree to the following interview. Before we dig in, I’d like to thank him now for his time, the insights into his process, and for his unique perspectives on this pivotal event in American history.
What got you interested in Manson and how did the project come about?
Anyone who is a student of the 1960s will have come across Manson. He is the decade’s foremost bogeyman—the man who as legend informs us was the person “who killed the 60s.” I was intrigued by Charlie’s assignation of a serial killer and mass murderer when it was clearly obvious he was neither. So on that basis, I was hooked into exploring the story.
It was around 2008 I started pitching the idea around, and I was fortunate that Hodder in the UK was interested—so much so that they paid little attention to my brief to de-sensationalise the story. What they wanted was something to update the story and to cash in on the 40th anniversary. To be honest, I was just excited that they went with it.
The whole writing and research process was regrettably quick (I don’t recommend it). With the 40th anniversary looming in August 2009, it left me just 11 months to write a 500-page book. Nonetheless, I was intent on sticking with my quest to present what I believed would be the first sober account of the story.
So much has been written about Manson these past 50 years. What was your research process for this project, and how did you synthesize that into such a well written narrative in just 11 months?
A lot of hard work! I had the bare bones of the story—which is freely available—so I used that as a very bare skeleton to hang my story around. The next process was to challenge every aspect of what had been previously written and draw out as much of the truth dressed in as little emotion as possible. A lot of what I read didn’t ring true—so I decided to cross-check and re-investigate as well as interviewing many people who I feel had been badly represented earlier.
What is your daily writing routine (at least at the time)? Do you have any special rituals, tools or techniques you rely on—especially when taking on such a large project?
I always set myself a word target, but given I had research running in tandem it often blurred. Many of my interviews were done on the phone and with the time difference in the States (eight hours behind from the UK) it meant frequent late nights.
Leslie Van Houten, Susan Atkins, and Patricia Krenwinkel being escorted to court during the most infamous trial of the century—perhaps ever.
Of all the books I’ve read on Manson and the Family, you tell this story with such exceptional care and craft. It’s detached and objective, but at times also laced with a subtle dry wit. What informed and inspired your unique approach?
The brief of the book was to de-sensationalise Manson and place him and his cohorts in a more solid reality than before. To expand; I come from an alternative community and have spent time around many fringe and esoteric groups. I am not intimidated by the weird and alternative, and I have met many “Charles Manson” characters in my time—so Manson as a character did not faze me. Equally, the activities of the so-called “Family” were of no real shock to me (apart from the murders obviously) so I could view all of this in a way that hopefully didn’t offer any judgement or hysteria.
Given emotion, fear and horror had previously driven the narrative; it gave me a new angle to explore. At times, especially during the murders, I found it hard to detach myself—especially given the horrific detail of the murders. I found that particularly harrowing—but it had to be told.
Aside from the unbelievably brutal nature of the murders, and overall strangeness of the Family, why do you think this dark chapter in American history continues to fascinate the world some 50 years later?
It’s rock and roll. And to decode that a bit further, it’s that most murders are pretty dour and dismal affairs. However, the Manson case embodies all the elements of rock culture. With participants such as the Beach Boys, the Beatles, the counterculture of southern California and the 60s, it will endure as long as all these parts remain attractive. (This is not to act as an apologist of Manson or indeed the murderers).
Manson was cunning and manipulative, but his obsessions with race, the Beatles, and the Bible—along with his violent outbursts before the murders—seem almost schizophrenic. Do you think he really believed his vision of Helter Skelter, or it was just part of his act to keep his followers frightened and dependent as he felt his control over them slipping away?
I believe Manson believed and conceived Helter Skelter as a conversational point—something that would wow and (possibly) control his followers. Manson’s wacky spiel was not unique to him—as we know many were convinced that Paul McCartney was dead and that the Fabs had been sending messages about his demise through their records.
From left: Brenda McCann, Sandy Good, Cathy Gillies, and Kitty Lutesinger of the Manson Family, kneel on the sidewalk outside the Los Angeles Hall of Justice on March 29, 1971.
Charlie’s madness appeared to gain a greater precedence as his musical aspirations began to slide. His failure called for something to mask his (and by extension his followers) disappointment, but more importantly to preserve his self-appointed divinity and oracle status. Manson had lots of proclamations in the run-up to Helter Skelter, so it wasn’t an unusual topic. He’d previously been obsessed with the Fab’s “Magical Mystery Tour” album, so the connection with the Beatles had already been made. Helter Skelter remained a conversation topic up until August 8th when he flipped it into a reality. I doubt very much if Manson and the Family’s downturn in fortunes hadn’t occurred, it would have remained in the domain of a campfire chat.
Manson very much seemed to want to be a player in Hollywood’s music scene, but was rejected. How much do you think that fueled his commands to commence Helter Skelter and the Tate-LaBianca murders?
It was a combination of many elements. The murder of Gary Hinman, the shooting of a drug dealer “Lotsapoppa” (aka Bernard Crowe, who Manson believed was a Black Panther), the arrest of Bobby Beausoleil, Sandra Good and Mary Brunner, Manson’s rejection at the Esalen centre and not least, the defection of many Family members. With the music rejection ever present in the background, it presented a cocktail of dismal failure. All of this came to a head on the afternoon of August 8th. So it was a combination of rejection and upset.
It also was an example of what happens when commune living breaks down, something I know a lot about. I personally feel Manson didn’t plan Helter Skelter as a reality, it was just that circumstances forced it. I called my book “Coming Down Fast” as it really was that—a monumental collapse. The few weeks before the murders are the true key to what happened. I do detail it in great depth and to me at least, it is academic why they occurred.
There seems to be a good deal of circumstantial evidence of Manson murdering others before the infamous two nights of Helter Skelter. You seem to disagree. Can you expand on that?
There is something quite insidious that I couldn't really explore in the book—that being the rush to associate as many "freaky" murders with the Manson Family. Bugliosi's claim that there were somewhere in the region of "35" deaths ascribed to the Family is spurious. Given the resources available at the time, I would have thought in the 50 years plus since the crimes, at least one would have been proven.
My opinion is that in reality there is only one murder that could be ascribed to the Family after Tate-LaBianca, and that is the death of Christopher Haught (aka Jesus). To me, it seemed strange that police in Inyo County were eager to jump on the bandwagon with the Pugh case as if there were some kudos to be associated with the drama (ditto lawyers). They patently avoided the glaring evidence of Pugh's mental health status and failed to contact Joel's family—probably knowing the answers would derail their more sensational investigation. I did get a chance to expand on this on my blog, so I hope that will put the record straight—as far as it can be.
If you could change anything about how the book turned out, what would it be?
Ooh… I would have liked lots more time and twice the page count! To be honest, the story needs a three-volume approach to do it absolute justice. Before the crimes, the crimes and the trials, and the aftermath. It is such a complex and labyrinthine story—far too small for one book.
What have you been working on since the publication of Coming Down Fast?
I wrote a book on the Rolling Stones famous drugs bust of 1967, a couple of books on the Beatles, a book on the film Quadrophenia, a biography of Anita Pallenberg and a 60s London retrospective. A couple of books of poetry and a novel too!
Do you think a murderous cult like the Manson Family could ever happen again, or do you see it as something of an anomaly?
Not exactly like Charlie’s gang. Given the era, Manson had what appeared to be unchallengeable license to spew out his blurb to his followers. I dare say many today would Google what they heard and probably question him. The drugs are different too—and are far more acerbic. It’s very much an episode of its time and of region. That said, radicalization has many links with what happened with Manson, with young people—often from unremarkable homes—being brainwashed into killing. It’s a new and disturbing parallel.
Do you see any connections between the turmoil of the late ‘60s (race riots, social unrest, Vietnam, the Summer of Love) and what the world is going through today?
I don’t think so. There’s such passivity about life these days. It appears that revolt has been largely dampened down. I fear that IT, increased wealth and consumerism have swallowed up the hurt and the hunger that often underpins dissent. Yes, there are demonstrations and the occasional riot, but they are largely (as far as I can see) without the passion of what back-dropped the 1960s.
After the massive undertaking of researching and writing Coming Down Fast, do you have any lingering curiosity or feelings around Manson and the case? Does it still stick with you, or do you feel like the project provided a sense of closure to any of that?
The deeper you go with the Mason story, the more you uncover. I remember feeling that there were many lines that I hadn’t properly explored, or that other angles could produce some interesting stuff. Manson and the Family’s tentacles touched so many people in southern California, and everyone who came across them has a story to tell—so I dare say I could have reached out even further. Sadly, because of the time constraint, I could not. Who knows, I may dip my toe back in one day.
As we all know Mr. Bugliosi didn’t need to prove motive to convict the killers. But he did.
He did because people want to know ‘why’ something happened and juries are made up of people.
They also teach you this, your first year in law school: A motive makes a defendant…. ‘more, guilty’ ....and the lack of a motive makes him…. ‘less, guilty’. It is that simple.
So, Bugliosi chose a motive that doesn’t sit well with many, maybe the majority and everyone spends years trying to prove a different motive, because, well, Bugliosi’s motive is…goofy.
If, say, 20% of the readers of this blog accept the Healter Skelter [sic] motive (it was just repeated on TV on a recent Saturday night) the rest favor one of the other motives: drugs, copycat, revenge and now we can add the ‘deep state’ motive.
[Aside: I’m somewhere out in left field, all by myself, on the motive. But this post isn’t about the motive.]
Three of the alternative motives either consciously or unconsciously exonerate Manson or minimize, if not justify, what happened. At least two of them also have the tendency to ‘shift the blame’ making the victims or a third entity at least partially responsible for the deaths. In fact, that is part of the goal of some of those who support the alternative motives whether they are willing to admit it or not.
So, with the drug motive three of the victims deserve what they got. You can add Gary Hinman to that list making it four out of nine and if you dispense with reality you can make it six of nine. Shorty Shea was a snitch and thus got what he deserved. That leaves Sharon Tate and Steven Parent. I even once heard or read one proponent of this motive explain that the reason why Sharon Tate lived as long as she did was because she was not part of the drug deal and wasn’t supposed to be there. That, by the way, is an attempt to explain her murder as ‘collateral damage’ surrounding what was otherwise justifiable ‘pay back’. Think about that a moment.
The copycat motive actually admits that seven people were murdered on purpose. It then offers perhaps the most disturbing justification for the murders. We are told, through the oft repeated refrain, that seven people were murdered to ‘get a brother out of jail’. Under this motive the ends justify the means in some truly dark Machiavellian sense. A ‘brother’ needed help and that served a higher purpose, justifying brutal murders. The lives of the victims were to be exchanged for the life of a murderer. And, of course, Manson was not involved. It was the brainchild of Watson and Kasabian and some unidentified Family member who saw a James Cagney movie I have yet to identify. Shorty was a snitch and Gary ripped them off over some drugs.
More recently we have the deep state motive. I admit I don’t quite understand this motive because it trips all over itself too much and thus has to keep adding layers and explanations offered as questions instead of answers. But I think the gist is that Manson was either groomed or brainwashed in prison to be an agent to destroy the new left and the peace movement. I think we can thank Joan Didion as the sort of 'godmother' of this motive and I guess it doesn't matter that it didn't work as both continued for several years.
Manson's trainers are either the FBI, Esalen, the CIA or the someone else or maybe all of them. I think I am supposed to believe he used his training, then, to train the Family creating little Charlie Manchurian Candidates like Charlie was a CIA Manchurian Candidate. We are told, he had a lot of protection by someone because he never went to jail until he went to the gas chamber. After that happened Manson refused to disclose the conspiracy because Manson is a righteous dude. Or maybe it was the Black Panthers he was supposed to undermine and destroy by actually triggering a race war?
In any event, everyone is exonerated from at least some moral culpability because they were not acting under free will and the real criminals are still at large wearing grey flannel suits and Florsheim shoes. Most would be dead today which seems to be the hallmark of this motive: quoting dead people. The victims, at least, in this one, remain victims but Obama or Clinton or someone is actually responsible because no one picked up Manson from his early release from prison for smoking grass with underage girls. Shorty was a snitch and Gary ripped them off over some drugs.
The revenge motive is really just a motive used by Bugliosi to try to explain Atkins' early statements about the motive and why they went to Cielo Drive looking for Terry Melcher when they knew he wasn’t there. Of course the current media loves this one because celebrities are involved. Bugliosi also probably threw it in there because, like you and me, he was worried that Helter Skelter was too goofy to convince a jury. The revenge stuff is simple: anti-social/sociopath.
Revenge, at least, doesn’t blame the victims except when the Fam discuss it then the victims get the blame because Melcher thought Manson’s music was utter crap (so do I) and paid him $50 and said ‘I’ll call you next week”. Therefore they got what they deserved. Revenge as a motive gets a little ragged night number two. In fact it falls apart. Shorty was a snitch and Gary ripped them off over some drugs.
Regardless of which alternative motive you choose it is generally accepted in those motive-cliques that Bugliosi is an unethical, lying, villainous worm. Was he a good guy…no. Was he unethical….that’s a tough one. I don’t know….. maybe? Do these facts and the others thrown at him have anything to do with why Manson et al rotted away in jail? Sorry….no, they do not. But, again, it draws the focus away from the killers and their charismatic, Christ-leader, Charles Man’s Son, and creates that little scintilla of evidence that the trial wasn’t ‘fair’ and that Bugliosi made it up and covered it up.
Missing, of course, from all of these motives is any concern for the victims, who become like the table under my laptop where I write this crap: they become decor in horrific crime scene photos.
The Family, meanwhile, doesn't care who the victims were. Under their favorite motive they were expendable to 'get a brother out of jail'. Alternatively, they ignore the victims completely. They simply have no feelings at all for them. I mean, none.
One Family member wrote a book suggesting that her time in the Family was all peace, love, brotherhood, flowers and music punctuated now and again by a little group grope and a nice Indica high. The murders, to her, were ‘inexplicable’ (even though she was present while the orchestration went down). They were likely motivated, if she were pushed on the subject, 'to get a brother out of jail’.
See, that one comes closest to exonerating Manson as long as you can get him out of the car night number two. But the available 'testimony' of the Family suggests something different than the reflections of that old Family member. There is a reason the victims don't exist.
Here is the Manson Family in their own words. Some, perhaps, most, of these quotes may be familiar to some or all of you. I chose not to identify the speaker or the source but some are obvious. Read them aloud. Think about them. Notice what is missing.
“I’m the devil and I’m here to do the devil’s business.”
[Aside: Wasn’t Brad Pitt’s response to that, great.]
“The world of sanity is a little box. The world of insanity is endless, perfect. Charles Manson is the universal mind.”
“You are all next!”
"Woman, I have no mercy for you."
“What we did was necessary . . . to start a revolution against pollution! We made a statement and we wrote it in blood in the Tate house and in the LaBianca house: ‘This death you look at? This is your children. Tate-LaBianca is the house of the future.’ We were little kids, trying to save the sheep from the wolves—and I don’t mean, you know, to put down wolves! And where are Abbie Hoffman and Bernardine Dohrn and Jerry Rubin and all you liberal humanitarians now? Crying about Nelson Mandela? About jobs for the homeless? Jobs that destroy air, trees, water, animals? About some guy in a fur coat who left home without his rubbers . . . and got AIDS?! Excuse me, but that is just white-liberal-guilt-fear, the same that can’t forget nine little murders, and yet will ask me to lay down for a black man . . . and commit genocide?!”
“She was killed, that was war.”
“[Cutting down those trees] is worse than Tate-LaBianca.” [Reported to me by a witness.]
"I got no feelings for you bitch, we're doing you a favor, we're releasing you from this earth."
"Well it felt so good the first time that I stabbed her."
“I don’t even know what the word [remorse] means.”
“In war people die, Patty.”
“All those kids that did all those things in the 60’s- I never directed traffic, but I did influence a lot of people in a lot of ways- and I don’t think they were bad guys. I think they were perfect.”
Q: “Do you have any sorrow?”
Q: “Why did you kill her?”
A: “It was just there to do.”
“Your fear is your love.” [About the fear that precedes being murdered.]
Q: “What did you feel after you stabbed her?”
A: “Nothing. It was just there and like it was just right.”
A: “And Sharon went through a few changes, (laugh), quite a few changes.
Q: “What do you mean by changes?”
A: “Oh, her facial expressions – she said “Oh my God, no.” Miss Folger didn’t say anything, she just stood there.”
“By doing a murder that had no sense behind it, and by putting words that would make people scared.”
“Because the more fearful the people get, the more frantic it will get, and the faster it will happen.”
“People are being killed every day.”
“You know, in other words, we didn’t want to go out and actually like do somebody in, but it had, it had to be done; and we were the only ones that saw that it had to be done.”
Q: “Seven dead bodies are no big thing, right Sadie?
A: “Are they? With millions of people all over the world that are having napalm dropped on them in the name of your justice, is that a big thing? It doesn’t seem to be too big a thing to you all. If you all believes it’s right, it’s right, and what I believed was right was right.”
“You won’t be sending your son to war.”
“Q: And then the next night?
A: Well, I was feeling bad, to tell you the truth. Because Sadie — because Katie was my best friend. And to think that she was strong enough in her believing not — you know, to be able to go kill, I wanted to, too.”
“To get a brother out of jail, I would kill. I would have killed that night if I had gone along.”
“And almost it was like it would make myself stronger to know that I could kill somebody, because at the moment I’m killing them I have to be that willing to die.”
“Well, in order to create fear it had to be — look like an obvious, just an obvious murder; that there was no robbery, nothing behind it; just flat out to do it, to start this paranoia going.
And so, we had been told that this was the best time to use our witchcraft.”
Q: Was the actual stabbing of the woman — did that — was that unusual to you; did it feel different than you thought it might have felt?
A: “It felt so weird that I blew my mind behind it; if you understand what I mean by blow my mind.
I mean, I lost control. I went completely nuts that moment. It was —
Do you want me to explain?
It was hard to get it through. Like when I thought of stabbing, I didn’t really have any idea in my mind, but it’s a real feeling. It’s — it’s not even like cutting a piece of meat. It’s much tougher. And it was — I had to use both hands and all my pressure, all my strength behind it to get it in.
And so once I started, the feeling was so weird that I just kept doing it.
Like I say, I did it about ten times, I think.”
Q: “Now, when we sat down here before I actually turned on the tape recorder I asked you if you know what the word “remorse” meant; and you said “No.”
And I told you it meant feeling sorry.
Could you tell us how you feel now about what happened to the LaBiancas and all the other people that were killed?
A: “Well, I can’t really feel sorry, because I did it, and I did it with every intention of it being right.”
“I thought it was perfectly right, and I thought it was perfectly right.”
“So in other words, if the clock could be put back, if I saw that this is the way it was coming down, again, I’d do it again.”
“I didn’t relate to Sharon Tate as being anything but a store mannekin[sic].”
“She kept begging and pleading and begging and pleading and begging and pleading, and I got sick of listening to her, so I stabbed her.”
“Sorry never meant anything. It is just a five-letter word people use.”
“I don’t feel bad about anything that happened.”
Q: “She begged?
A: “Yes. So?”
Q: “Why were these seven murders committed?”
A: “It seemed like a good idea at the time. It just happened. And it was right. My brother was in jail for something that I did.”
“Once it [the knife] went in, it just kept going in and in and in.”
“Are you willing and ready to die or kill? When you aren’t ready or willing to kill it’s because you are not
ready or willing to be killed.”
“We were left to die in prison because we were white, man. And where were your liberal humanitarians when we were facing the gas chamber for trying to save Earth from people . . . getting drunk on the blood of children! Even child murderers get to point the finger at Charlie, accuse us of killing children. Peck, peck, peck, peck down the order. Sharon Tate’s baby dying? A baby that would grow up to be a fat fucking hamburger-eating, Earth-destroying . . . soul-destroying piece of shit?!”
The first thing we have to do with these statements is accept them as their truth: the group truth of The Manson Family. When the comments were made, they believed what they said. We could spend time debating ‘why’ this was their truth. It may be, perhaps, that Manson ‘brainwashed’ them. Perhaps. I don't think so.
The root of their extraordinary lack of empathy probably lies somewhere else. It may, as Charlie said, have had something to do with the ‘programming' of their parents. More accurately, whatever he did or they did to themselves, eliminated the parental 'programing'.
More likely, each one had narcissistic or sociopathic aspects of their personalities that were somehow released. That may have been Manson’s work, the CIA or the impact of LSD and/or speed. Or it may have been who they were and why they were drawn to him. They became unable to feel, unable to empathize with what they experienced; what they had done or what they knew had been done. The horror they inflicted or what they saw or learned after the fact had no impact on them. They were and remained, through the years covered by these comments, devoid of human feelings for the victims. By ‘feelings’, of course, I mean they were unable to see the suffering of their victims or even recognize that they suffered at all. Or maybe that is who they really were and they were simply drawn to a 'leader' who was like them.
Some of these quotes date back to the time. Some are more current. These are their words. There is no peace, love and flowers mentioned, here. There is no anger at the corporate machine or the Vietnam war (save a couple comments). There certainly are no statements in support of the environment. That is just revisionist history, created years after the events.
They killed because they wanted to kill. That is the scary part. Motive didn't matter.
All we learn from their words is that whether you are a conservative or a liberal, white, black or brown, gay or straight, man or women, rich or poor you were expendable. You didn’t matter. You and me, like Sharon Tate's unborn child, are earth destroying, soul destroying pieces of shit, especially if we like burgers.
In the years that followed these crimes most of those not in prison ran from their past or disappeared into irrelevancy, living on the public dole in some small town, unfortunately, frequently, in my home state. They never contributed anything to society I have ever been able to find. Nothing. Not one that I am aware of ever attempted to make amends or do some good deed for the victims. I see no profits going to victims assistance or anything else for that matter including the environment. Instead they likely live on the social security checks we members of the establishment, those they were willing to kill, worked to provide.
At least one hired a plastic surgeon to remove the “X” she so boldly carved in her forehead years before.
Many have changed their names and ‘disappeared’. Few want to talk about those days, unless they get a paycheck, and then they get the facts wrong, timing their books or appearances to profit from the anniversary of that horrible night. Pause and reflect on that a moment.
Fewer still admit they did anything wrong or were friends and lovers of those who could butcher nine, innocent, people. They simply didn't see it that way. They were helping a brother or paying back a drug burn.
I recently listened to an interview with one of those quoted above from 20+ years ago. A long time ago, I admit. In it she spent her time either denying they were responsible for anything or contradicting herself by saying they did nothing wrong.
So why did I title this post “Channeling Saint”?
Saint Circumstance used to write posts, here. He wrote from his heart, not the dry history and evidence based, crap, I used to write. His posts were filled with opinions that always made me think, especially about the victims.
I was reminded of that just recently having read a comment by him, here. This happened a couple days after I was having a glass of wine watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. I suddenly realized it was the anniversary of that first horrible night. I had forgotten.
I also had one of those moments. I realized those nine people never were able to experience watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean again after August 1969. But those responsible for at least doing nothing, write books and appear on talk shows. That, and Saint's comment a couple days later, made me channel Saint. I hope I did a good job.
There is a tendency among the members of this odd little hobby to worry about offending those who were there because they might, just might, give us a kernel in their latest fictional account of the Family. We support motives that blame the victims or exonerate the guilty. In our effort to prove a conspiracy we forget they were brothers, sisters, uncles, lovers and friends.
These were people. Living, dreaming, loving people we should remember. People whose suffering we should remember.
Many here respect that Kumbaya reminiscence and its author who still thinks Charlie was ‘love’.
Maybe we do that because we want her and others who were there in those days to ‘share’.
Share what, exactly? More bullshit?
I want her to dispense with the propaganda and share her truth.
I want them to explain those quotes up there. Explain why you all believed that. Tell us what you heard and saw on the evening of August 8-9-10, 1969 and share why you stood by and did nothing. Explain why those words up there were your truth and why you don’t care about the murdered. Why do the victims not even merit a footnote in your story? Explain why you are so mad at them. They did nothing to you.
Explain to us, please, why any of us should care about any part of a man or his ideas who taught one of
your sisters that Sharon Tate’s unborn baby, repeat 'unborn baby', “would grow up to be a fat fucking hamburger-eating, Earth-destroying . . . soul-destroying piece of shit?!” and therefore deserved to die.
I don’t think you can explain it without revealing a very disturbing truth about who you are.
I don’t have any interest in hearing anymore propaganda about the halcyon days at Spahn Ranch. I want to know why you all believed the things you said. I want to know why something inside of you died. What made you do these things (or watch them happen from afar and do...... nothing) and why you laughed.
Tell me what was so important that these nine people were, to you, collateral damage, nothing but objects that needed to die? Convince me this somehow furthered some grand cause and tell me what on earth that cause might have been. Tell me why you did nothing to stop it. More importantly, tell me why you felt nothing after it happened.
Somehow these people get lost in all the motive searching and they disappear when we listen to Family members.
In the end, the people behind these names are all that matters.
Gorodish has shared his scans of the Family Jams CD with us. Most people do not buy Manson's music even if the profit from that music does not go to any of those convicted. Manson's and the Family's music is available to listen to online for free in various places. What we don't get by listening to the music online are the goodies that might come with the production.
The Family Jams album is the most listenable, to me, out of the rather large catalog of music that has been produced since the arrests and convictions. The tunes have a catchy quality in a simple folksy way.