"I fear that if the matter is beyond humanity, it is certainly beyond me"
- Arthur Conan Doyle
"All motives for murder are covered by 4 L's: Love, Lust, Lucre and Loathing"
- P.D. James
"By the summer of 1969, most expenses at Spahn's Ranch were financed by drug deals and auto-theft. All activity around Charles Manson and the men he trusted concerned procuring drugs, or money for drugs."
- Susan Atkins (The Myth of Helter Skelter)
I worked as a Restaurant Manager from my final year in college until my late 30's. It was brutal. 65 hours a week of nights, weekends and Holidays. It was a lonely and miserable existence. No chance of a real relationship working those kind of hours. Not even the possibility of the random hook-up either. All the girls were passed out, or asleep, by the time I got out of the building. Nope, when others were finished paying the tab and on to the real fun, I was helping the dishwashers and busboys take out the trash so I could turn off the lights, lock the doors, and get out of there as early in the middle of the night as possible. Then I would go home and watch whatever crap happened to be on television in the wee hours of the morning, while using Coors-light and shitty weed, to try and get to sleep before the sun came up. All of that great fun so that I could get some kind of, mostly passed out, rest before going back and doing it all over again. But it wasn't all bad. Sometimes it had it's moments. I met many very cool people. I got to eat and drink for free for almost 20 years. I was able to be part of the party- in fact host the party- without having to spend any money. Most importantly though, I learned lifelong people skills that would eventually serve me very well in my next career incarnation. You see, from line-cooks to servers and bartenders, office accountants to dishwashers- I had to communicate with all types of individuals. Single moms, to married dad's. College students to high-school drop-outs. Career hospitality people to kids working their very first part-time job. I met and worked with all of them. More often than not, the challenge of trying to relate to so many different types of personalities ended up leaving me feeling quite off balance. But it usually turned out alright and, believe it or not, once or twice I was even able to make a connection. One such connection came through a game I created, spur of the moment- and by accident, to play with the hostess' that I worked with. The Hostess' were often 16 to 20 year old girls. They worked two or three shifts a week after school, or on weekends. Most of the time they were consumed with school, parents, or boyfriend drama. It was tough for me to figure out a way to break through and earn the confidence of this particular younger group of people, without trying too hard and looking cheesy. That is, until the game came along. The game was called "Drugs or Money?"
The rules were as simple as how the game itself came about. One day a couple came into the restaurant who were really ridiculously mismatched. The hostess sat them at a table and as she was walking back to the hostess stand, she passed me. As she did, she made a face at me as if the say "Why would she come in here with a guy like that?" She never said a word, but you could see the question in her eyes and facial expression. So at the exact moment she walked by me, without looking directly at her or anything else, I said "Either drugs or money." The hostess burst out laughing. She kept looking back at the couple, and giggling, her entire walk back across the restaurant. After that every time we saw a mismatched couple come into the restaurant together, we would walk by each other and venture our guess as to which of the two was the reason a particular girl was with a specific guy. Eventually the other hostess' started to ask us why we were always saying the words drugs or money to each other, and we let them in on our game. After a short time, every hostess at the restaurant knew there would be an inside joke going with me whenever we worked the same shifts. Believe it or not it made me just cool enough to be able to communicate with these young girls about other things when I needed to. It was an awesome thing at the time to break through with a group of people who otherwise made me feel very awkward and out of date lol
So, that brings us up to date. Why this matters today:
I wrote a post recently exploring the Revenge motive as a possible reason for the Tate crime. I have long studied the Helter Skelter, and Music Snub Revenge motives in much more detail than any of the others. I have written posts about both. The motive(s) I would rank next in order of probability would be "Copycat/Get a brother out of jail." I think George Stimson wrote a fine book making the best case for that motive. I couldn't do a better job than he did. That leaves the The "Bottom of the barrel" motives. It is those two motives that I am going to take a quick look at today. Robbery or Drug burn. Or, in other words, "Drugs or Money". See where this is going?
Could the true motive for the Cielo crimes have been attached to either Drugs or Money?
"I believe Manson went up to the house and Manson wanted sell cocaine and marajuana. He showed Jay and Wojciech the product. They were going to buy some if it, but the two of them beat him up at the gate. The next night Manson sent the Family up."
- Jim Markham, Beauty industry Icon and close friend of Jay Sebring, speaking to Hollywood Reporter
So what the Hell was really going on in Sharon's clique of friends? Out of respect, and maybe out of deference to a career military father, much of what these people were quietly doing behind the scenes in their lives has really never been totally outed. I think it is fair to keep some of it under the rug if it is irrelevant to why they were killed. But if it played a role, then maybe not so much. I usually like to only use direct quotes from people involved, or facts that were entered and accepted as such in a court of law. I very rarely use anyone who writes rumors and uses anonymous sources- as a reference in my posts. I try to stick to trial manuscripts, parole hearing transcripts, or direct quotes from by the subjects/participants themselves. This is a little tougher to do when trying to argue these types of motives. So today I am going to mention a few people who normally. I probably wouldn't.
Bobby swears that Truman Capote is a liar. He says he was misquoted by Truman, and that he never said most of what was in the interview Truman published with him at San Quintin. Maybe that is so. But Bobby is a proven liar in my opinion, so who knows how much of the interview was legitimate, and how much was Truman making mashed potatoes? I would guess it was a little of both. So, the challenge then becomes figuring if any quotes Truman attributed to Bobby can be backed up by unrelated testimony elsewhere. Maybe this is one:
"They burned people on dope deals. Sharon Tate and that gang, They picked up kids on the Sunset Strip, and took them home and stripped them. Made movies of it. Ask the cops. They found the movies. Not that they would've told you about that"
- Bobby Beausoleil in interview with Truman Capote at San Quinten
Now that may sound like some Truman Capote sensationalism, or Bobby making some stuff up to sound interesting. Either could be true. However this next quote attributed to Actor/Director Dennis Hopper in an interview with The LA Free Press is sort of curious if you read both:
"They had fallen into sadism, machoism and bestiality. And they recorded it all on videotape too. The LA police told me this. I know 3 days before they were killed 25 people were invited to that house to a mass whipping of a dealer on the Sunset Strip who had given them bad dope."
That is a pretty interesting coincidence, Sunset Strip, Drug-burn, video-tapes. A set of people who really cant be connected to each other at all, and both came up with very similar claims about the lifestyles of the victims. Again, while intriguing, this is not really the type of testimonial evidence I normally like to offer. The problem with using this type of material is verification. What else do you have besides the word of the person saying it? Even if it is more than one person saying it. It just gets murkier and murkier when it comes to "Video-tapes."
In "One Hand Jerking: Reports from an Investigative Satirist" Paul Krasner recounts how Hal Lipsett, the legendary private investigator on whose career The Conversation was based, told him that "Elements of the LA police force were offering seven straight hours of celebrity skin flicks seized from the Polanski residence for a quarter of a million dollars".
We know these video's kept coming up over and over, but we don't know where they are now, or how/why they never surfaced after 50 years? I prefer to stick with what we do know. We know the official record of the crime scene. We know the only video that was reported discovered by Sergeant Mike McGann was screened at the Police Academy and returned to the house after it showed only Roman and Sharon making love. In all of the years since, no other tapes have ever surfaced. That is what we know. As in the video-tapes, this is the problem you encounter over and over when it comes to the Drug Burn theory. Factual evidence of drug dealing, or even personal encounters, between the Victims and Family members are very hard to verify. Just like the videos, second-hand stories and rumors are frequent. Actual, verifiable examples are not.
"Charles, Tex Watson, who allegedly led the death squad responsible for the carnage at Cielo Drive, lived for a time on - guess where- Wonderland Avenue. During that time, curiously enough, Watson co-owned and worked in a wig shop in Beverly Hills, Crown Wigs Creations LTD., that was located near the mouth of Benedict Canyon. Meanwhile one of Jay Sebring's primary claims-to-fame was his expertise in crafting Men's hairpieces, which he did in his shop near the mouth of Laurel Canyon. A typical day then in the late 1960's would find Watson crafting men's hairpieces for an upscale Hollywood crowd near Benedict Canyon, and then returning home to Laurel Canyon, while Sebring crafted men's hairpieces for an upscale clientele near Laurel Canyon and then returned home to Benedict Canyon. And then one crazy day, as well all know, one of them became a killer and the other his victim. But there is nothing odd about that, I suppose, so let's move on...."
- Dave McGowan (Inside the L.C.- The Strange but Mostly True Story of Laurel Canyon and the Birth of the Hippie Generation Part 1)
Once again, a very interesting coincidence. Tex and Jay were in very close proximity. BUT, who can verify that they ever met, or knew, each other?
Think about something:
There is no testimony from any court transcript, parole hearing, nor statement from a witness or killer, that says Jay made any statement or acknowledgment indicating he knew Tex when they were all in the living room before Tex Shot him. In all of the years, and all the times the various killers changed their stories, in no version did any of the killers and victims know each other. Why wouldn't Jay have said something if he knew Tex? If you recognize a person who has appeared in front of you with a gun in the middle of the night, wouldn't the first words out of your mouth be "Hey Tex, what are you doing here?" If Jay knew his attacker, don't you think he would have tried any way he could have to talk to him and reason his way out of the situation? I sorta do. There is no testimony anywhere that says Jay tried to do that. In fact- the one consistent story they have all told over the years is that Tex was asked who he was, which gave him the chance to utter that infamous phrase about being the Devil there to do the Devils work. Sigh. We can go on all day with rumors and speculation. Bill Scanlon Murphy has a whole story you can read about Mob connections and 40K drug deals between Jay and the Manson people at Cielo, but I am not going to recreate that garbage here, because none of it can be backed up by actual evidence or factual testimony by any of the principals or witness'.
Is there any actual witness or victim testimony about drugs, money or either being part of motive?
Well... there is Tex:
"There were three basic motives behind the murders that took place sometime past midnight on August 9. The most obvious was the one that Charlie had articulated to us that afternoon: to do what blackie didn't have the energy or smarts to do- Ignite Helter Skelter and bring in Charlie's Kingdom. There was also the need for more cash, first of all to finance our preparations for Armageddon- the same thing that motivated the drug burn and Bernard Crowe's supposed murder, the killing of Gary Hinman, and all of the proposed abductions and murders in the Chatsworth area, and also to pay $600 bail for Mary Brunner, who had been arrested earlier in the day for using a stolen Sears credit card."
"Beyond getting money, and bringing down Helter Skelter, there was a third, less important motive; to clear Bobby Beausoleil of the Hinman slaying by committing a similar crime while he was in jail."
"I want all the money you've got here" I barked, and Abagail took Sadie into her bedroom and gave her the money in her wallet. When they came back with only 70 dollars, I shouted: "You mean that's all you've got?" "How much do you want?" Frykowski asked. "We want thousands."
- Tex Watson (Will You die for Me)
But, if you keep reading on in Tex's story, he says he starts stabbing Jay almost immeidately after saying that. He never waited, or gave anyone a chance to get any money. Nor, did he take money he saw. Jay had already been shot at this point. He was certainly no threat. Why would Tex ask for money then start the blood-bath withought giving them a chance to produce any? Did they really go there to rob Cielo on that August night? Was that the true intent? After all, Tex gives three motives. His explanation in "Will you Die for Me" leaves me with questions. Tex is also a proven self-serving liar.
And then there is Susan Atkins:
"An ever increasing appetite for an illegal substance that pushes Charles Manson further and further into illegal means of obtaining it. Robberies and swindles were performed, sometimes including very dangerous drug burns. And all to obtain more money for drugs. By the summer of 1969, Family members were being encouraged to steal from their friends and even their parent's homes to help make up for this drug deficit. And the best part about all of this, as far as Charles Manson was concerned, is that they were giving him the money and he didn't have to get near the crimes. He thought he was faultless because he hadn't gone out and actually stole the money himself. This was a pattern he would try and do again later."
-Susan Atkins (Myth of Helter Skelter)
Susan is also a well-documented liar who has told about half a dozen different versions of the story over the years. Maybe we should review what the authorities who investigated thought when they first came upon this. To do that we must consult "The Oracle"
I know Bugs beat up the milk-man, lied to the Col about the motive, and is an all-around terrible guy. I hope he burns in hell working at a TGI Fridays 70 hours a week for all eternity to repent for his transgressions. But, Bugs could investigate. The way he took over and coordinated the early days of the investigation was genius in my opinion. I trust what he and his team found, and I believe in the evidence they ultimately presented. How Bugs used it and may have twisted it later to fit his narrative is an argument for another time. Yes, Bugs himself mocked the earliest days of the investigation, but it is still relevant to hear what the actual people investigating were thinking. Let's remember what they initially thought about "Drugs or Money" as a motive.
"Or could the murders have been the result of a drug "burn", the killer(s) arriving to make a delivery, or buy, an argument over money or bad drugs erupting into violence?" This was the second, and in many ways the most likely, of the five theories the detectives would list in their first investigative report. The third theory was a variation of the second, the killer(s) deciding to keep both the money and the drugs. The fourth was the residential burglary theory."
"The drug theories seemed to make the most sense. In the investigation that followed, as the police interviewed acquaintances of the victims, and the victim's habits and lifestyles emerged into clearer focus, the possibility that drugs were in some way linked to the motive became in some minds such a certainty that when given a clue which could have solved the case, they ignored it."
- Pages 44/45 Helter Skelter (Vincent Bugliosi)
Now lets be practical. What actual Drugs or Money were found at the scene?
- 1 gram cocaine ( Jay's Porsche)
- 6.3 grams Marajuana, 1 two inch roach (Jay's Porsche)
- 6.9 grams Marajuana (Living Room cabinet)
- 30 grams Hash (Gibby's nightstand in bedroom)
- 10 MDA capsules (Gibby's nightstand in bedroom)
- Marajuana residue (Ashtray by Sharons bed)
- 1 Marajuana cigarette (Desk near front door)
- 2 Marajuana cigarettes (Guest House)
"There was no indications of ramsacking or robbery. McGann found Sebring's wallet in his jacket, which was hanging over the back of a chair in the living room. It contained $80. John Doe had $9 in his wallet, Frykowski $2.44 in his wallet and pants pocket, Folger $9.64 in her purse. On the nightstand next to Sharon's bed, in plain view, were a ten, a five, and three ones. Obviously expensive items- a videotape machine, TV sets, Stereo, Sebring's watch and Porsche- had not been taken"
Money, Jewelry, drugs, appliances, sports-cars. That is what they did NOT take. If they were really there to rob the place, they sucked at it no? Then there is the drugs. or lack of drugs really. This, to me, is the inventory of pretty heavy partiers. For the times, not even really excessive. Divided by three and separating the stuff in the car and bedroom, this looks very much like personal use to me. Not one of these drugs is in quantities that would make me think they were dealing. Take away the MDA and the rest of this stuff could have been found in my college apartment ( I shared with 3 guys) at almost any time. Again, where is there any testimony over 50 years from any of the Family members that they suddenly came into any money or drugs after August 8, or 9? It doesn't exist. I have looked very hard lol. Unfortunately, I can't show you what I can't find. I do not think Bugs or the investigators were able to find it back then either, which is probably one reason why they moved on to other motives. Furthermore, there is plenty of testimony about how little money, or drugs, they had when they got out to Barker and how hard life started to become out in the desert as they started to run out of drugs and money...
"Finally, ready or not, the Family is moved to the desert. Manson could have gone much sooner on his own, but he's afraid to move without his bodyguard of followers. Supplies are sparse and conditions rough. More people try to leave."
"Money was very limited. but Manson was afraid to go back to the city. Luckily for everyone, our stay in the desert didn't last very long."
- Susan Atkins ( Myth of Helter Skelter)
"When we were in the desert, we were busy trying to find an indication of where the hole would be that would lead us to the center of the Earth. We were learning how to live off the land which, you know, there's no food. So we were basically down to surviving."
-Leslie Van Houten ( 6/5/13 Parole Hearing transcript- stolen as always from Ceilodrive.com)
Do you think this sounds like the voices of people who had just become flush with cash? I sorta don't.
I believe Tex sold pot. He says so himself. I believe some of the Family Members probably dabbled a little as well in making moves with one drug or another. I believe that Jay sold coke to celebrity friends, and other friends. I believe that Gibby and Wojciech were doing drugs pretty heavily, and certainly were associated with several dealers (including Jay) both in and outside of California. You can read about that in Helter Skelter if you haven't already. I believe it was serious use, but I do not believe they were dealers themselves. What you will not read in Helter Skelter, or anywhere else, is documented evidence that anyone in the Family was related to any of this in any way. While the friends and families of the victims would certainly never publicly stain their memories, you can hear the truth about what Sharon's co-victims were doing around her if you listen carefully. Plenty of important people all worked together to make sure that the story stayed as clean as possible, but it was a party time and they were living party lives. Until it all ended in tragedy. I wonder if the people who cared about the victims could have done such an amazing job of keeping certain things so hushed in the world we live in today?
I will not pursue it any further than that because...
I do not believe that Sharon's clique and Charlie's Family were doing drugs with, or selling drugs to, each other. I do not believe that "Drugs or Money" were the reason Sharon and the others were killed. I have found nothing that connects the two groups of people in any way that can be proven factually. I do not believe that Tex and the others went to Cielo that night to rob anyone either. Outside of a book Tex wrote decades after the fact where he is clearly trying to pass himself off as fair and reasonable, there is even less proof of that. The killers blatantly ignored money and items of value that would have been easy to grab. Cash and joints were laying out in plain view. The killers did not seem no notice these things at all. I think they must have had some other motivation to be there. Robbery or Drug deal gone bad are much easier to understand as motives in general, but just do not really fit here. Sometimes the easier answer to understand is not the correct one. And let's face it- this would all be much more simple to comprehend if the motive could be as basic as drug-burn or robbery. We all want so badly to comprehend how something like this could have happened? Then again lol, it wouldn't be the same case if we could- would it? Isn't the not knowing what really makes this case so unique to some of us at the end of the day? All we know for sure about the motive after 50 years is that we really don't know the motive for sure.
Why did these murders happen? As much as I despise Roman Polanski, maybe he had it right all along.
"If I'm looking for a motive, I'd look for something which doesn't fit your habitual standard, with which you used to work as police- something much more far out...."
Whatever the answer to the motive question for the Tate ( and Labianca) crimes is, It is not going to end up being one of the easy, obvious, or "habitual" answers such as drugs or money. Sometimes you have to really dig deep to get at the real answer to a question. Its not always as easy as making the typical assumptions about things. And, I started learning that lesson going all the way back to that game I created in the Restaurant so many years ago. Sometimes it is not Drugs or Money...
Sometimes its just the hot girls older cousin visiting from Cleveland.
- Your Favorite Saint