|Reeve Whitson - Freshman Year of High School|
Did photographer Shahrokh Hatami doom Sharon Tate and her friends one March morning in 1969 after a confrontation with Charles Manson at the Cielo front door? Were Rudi Altobelli's tenants cursed that evening when the Rudi told Charlie he'd be in Italy for a year after Charlie stood in front of the guesthouse and said he'd like to talk more in the future?
Was Manson even there that day? Hatami wasn't sure. Mighty Max Frost, I am reaching out with my mind. Beep boop tell me what Rudi said.
Today, we're exploring Tom O'Neill's claim that a possible CIA agent named Reeve Whitson has been left out of the Manson study history. According to O'Neill, after hearing Hatami's story, Whitson delivered his friend Hatomi (and his Ides of March tale) to Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, and then sat in on the unrecorded interview.
- Here is Hatami's backstory in case you think he's some hanger-on with a fancy camera who took a two year degree at Santa Monica College after UCLA laughed at his high school GPA and asked him to jump through hoops before achieving main campus status. Hatami was no state school guy.
- Here is Bugliosi's closing argument in the Manson, et al, trial. Photographer Hatami is mentioned fourteen times.
During the trial, Bugliosi argued that Hatami's high-handed dismissal at the Cielo to the guesthouse sent Charlie over the edge. Bugs asked about Hatami's aggressive posture, tone, and had him describe how he jabbed an index finger toward the guesthouse when dismissing Manson.
- Here's a newspaper article from a courtroom reporter (via the almighty) if you are new to our study or desire a quick refresh on Hatami's testimony.
Others weren't so sure about the encounters. Filmmaker and author Robert Hendrickson smelled a rat and believed Bugliosi needed those March 1969 confrontations to convince the jury Charlie visited Cielo before the murders took place and had an axe to grind after the Hatami and Altobelli brush offs. Hendrickson was so passionate about about Bugliosi's duplicity that he continued his argument across two Hatami posts in our blog library.
- This video in Matt's post from 2014 shows Sharon and Hatami in better days. Hatami is the shirtless hunk. Sharon is as pretty as pretty gets. Hatami's girlfriend is hanging around because she's no fool.
That fateful day in March, Hatami takes the chivalry route when an uninvited man reaches the Cielo front door. Not shocking. Manly man exhibitions in front of attractive women have always been a thing, even if sometimes it's only pretend.
According to author Tom O'Neill, Hatami first shared his Charlie encounter story with possible CIA agent Reeve Whitson. The son of an actress and a circus acrobat, Whitson enters our story when Tom O'Neill has Whitson phone Hatami early that Saturday morning we all know so well before anyone else discovered the bodies up on Cielo.
In O'Neill's Chaos, Whitson claims to friends he was the CIA surveillance team watching the Cielo house. He was supposedly on the scene early that fateful Friday but didn't stick around. According to his friends, Whitson forever lamented his inability to prevent the killings.
We need to back up a bit because things are already not making sense. How does Reeve Whitson, a rumored CIA super spook, find his way to the Cielo crowd?
Bugliosi never mentions Whitson in his book, but Chaos provides insight. According to O'Neill, Whitson might've bonded with Sebring over race cars. And Whitson's mom was good buds with Doris Tate. Third, O'Neill writes, Paul Tate told him Whitson was a friend to himself, Sharon, and Roman.
So there's three hows. Whitson maybe became a family friend after meeting Sebring at the track. Unfortunately, answering my first question created a second. Why was Whitson surveilling his good friends?
Reeve Whitson was an archconservative on an anti-drug mission. By some accounts, an ounce of blow was found in Jay Sebring's Porsche the morning following the murders. That's more than a personal stash, Idgaf who you are. An ounce was enough to get half the houses on the block trembling while searching for the man through their bedroom blinds the night of August 8th. Was Sebring doing deals out of the Cielo parking lot?
English Major Math time:
* In 1969, one gram of cocaine cost $100-$150 dollars in Los Angeles
* We know Jay sold little baggies out of his briefcase
* Sebring would be a fool to give rich people his lowest price - let's err on the bigger side this time
* Twenty-eight grams come out of an ounce - more if Sebring stepped on his dope
* $150 x 28 = $4200
* $4200 in 1969 money is more than $32000 today
** Let's pause for reader corrections on the amount of cocaine found in Sebring's car, and also to give others a chance to describe how much blow they snorted some random Friday night in the 80's at a Huey Lewis concert.
In addition to what is linked above, we're using newspapers articles, Helter Skelter, and Tom O'Neill's Chaos. Feel free to add links to any supporting or counterarguments in the comments below the posts.
Most of O'Neill's research we're discussing in this piece is found in Chapter Six of Chaos, titled Who Was Reeve Whitson? I'm using the Kindle version. You should explore digital searching if you don't already. Yes, chopped down trees feel great in my hands, but they are garbage when I wonder how many times Whitson is printed in the text (150).
Or Hatami (43). Btw, O'Neill doesn't care which version you buy. Both cost about the same.