Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The Manson Family in Fiction: Some Short Takes, Part One

   When it comes to all things Manson related, the truth is often stranger than fiction. While there have been quite a few attempts at film dramas, there aren't a lot of novels and stories that deal with Manson and company. Kind of surprising considering the people and events involved. 

  There are two types of fictional treatments to look at: stories directly about the people and events, albeit in a fictional context, and stories based on the people and events. The latter will feature characters that may be easily recognizable as being based on Charlie, Squeaky, Sadie, etc., but the stories do not directly mention the crimes or the people involved directly by name, and the events will often be similar to what actually transpired. 

    The books that are directly about the Manson Family will obviously be held to a different standard than ones that are loosely based on the events. Readability will also be factored in. No point in taking the time to read it, if it isn't ultimately entertaining. Oddly, a majority of these books are directed towards the young adult (YA) market, and they often have a feminist slant. For the first post, I thought I would tackle two that deal directly with the Manson Family.

    First up is the short story 'Charlie's Girls' by Laura Elizabeth Woollett, which appears in the short story collection The Love of a Bad Man (2016). The book itself is a collection of short stories from the point of view of the wives, lovers, etc of various bad men throughout history. 

  'Charlie's Girls' starts right smack in the middle of the murders on Cielo. We are not sure who is actually narrating the story, other than one of the 'girls.' At first it seems like it could be Katie or Sadie, until they are in the car (being driven by 'Darling') leaving the residence, and the narrator mentions what Tex, Sadie, Katie, and 'Darling' are doing. The addition of an unnamed fifth person at Cielo totally destroys the credibility. This one is not worth it, particularly since it is only 10 pages. Check it out at the library if you are really interested.   

   Next up is the novel American Girls (2016) by Alison Umminger, which goes by the much better title My Favorite Manson Girl in the UK. this one is marketed toward the YA market, and it definitely does have a feminist slant. The story revolves around a young woman, Anna, who is in high school and moves to Hollywood to spend time with her older half-sister. The older half-sister is an actress and is working in B Movies. Her director puts Anna to work researching the Manson Girls for a project. The book is mostly about Anna interacting with the various people in her life, but a decent amount of it is her musings on the Manson Girls. These observations make the book worth reading. Some key passages:

- when discussing Mary and Katie: 'it's not like either of those girls had crazy written all over them- more like ugly with a big fat side of alone.' 

- referencing Sadie: 'Atkins was like a lot of the other Manson girls- their lives were kind of screwed up, but definitely not screwed up enough to go out and start killing people.'

Sharon Tate- 'I kept going back to that part of the murder- a bunch of okay looking girls killing the really beautiful one. Not because it was creepy, but because it wasn't so terribly hard to imagine after all.' When someone says a friend of hers reminds her of a Manson girl, she muses that she 'was more like Sharon Tate. Pretty, but pretty boring.'

Barbara Hoyt- 'looked every bit as crazy as the crazy girls.'

One of the best lines is when she refers to the Family as 'Manson's battalion of zombie bimbos.' That would make a great title for a B-Movie. 

  Anna's overall take on the Manson girls is that they should never have been the Manson girls. She doesn't excuse their behavior, but she does feel that they weren't monsters, and that the right turn of events could have turned even her into a Manson girl. They were the children of America at the time.

 There are only a couple of errors as far as the history of the events- the author has six people killing the LaBiancas, forks in both of their stomachs, and the killers wearing the LaBiancas clothes

American Girls is worth a read, mostly for Anna's commentary on the girls and their place in society. Her observations are sharp and funny and thought provoking. The point of view of a teenage girl works well, since she is very close in age to the Manson girls, and can relate to them on some of the same levels. 

    Next up: The Girls and Cold: a novelized biography of Susan Atkins. 


Monday, September 26, 2022

Charles Manson's Leggett Arrest


The only things we know about Manson's first arrest after being released from Terminal Island Federal Prison in March of 1967 are one newspaper article and many years later what Lynette Fromme wrote in her book "Reflexion." The section on Lyn and Mary meeting Dean Moorehouse, his daughter Ruth, and the arrest incident are on pages 107 to 113.

The newspaper article is brief, the headline is suggestive.  It reads as if Charlie and the 15-year-old girl were shacked up by themselves somewhere in Mendocino County. Fromme, in her book, dispels the misconception that Charlie and Ruth Ann were alone in the woods.

The police report goes even further to explain the situation. When the crime was originally written up it the crime on the first page in the upper left of the report was 148 PC (resisting arrest). Written on the second page is 272 PC (contributing to the delinquency of a minor) and 92 PC (threat of violence).  Those two crimes were scratched out and 148 PC (resisting arrest) was written above them.  So, the ultimate charge that Manson received was resisting arrest. There is no hint of contributing to the delinquency to a minor nor any charges of improper activities with a minor in the narrative of the report as the newspaper headline might have you believe.

Present at the incident per the report were Mary Brunner and Lynette Fromme. A young man named Christopher Walsh was also present. He had turned 18-years-old a week prior and his occupation is listed as musician. 

The information on Manson's rap sheet, as to the charges, is at odds with what the Mendocino County Sheriff's report states.

Here is the two-page report.

The day after Manson's arrest Dean Moorehouse wrote a statement for the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office absolving Manson of any wrong doing.

Investigation Report

Date 1-28-67                                                         Date 1-29-67

Victim People of State of Calif.                    Court

Suspect Charles W. Manson                           County Mendocino

Statement of Mr. Dean A. Moorehouse, age 47, living at Adanac, Leggett and residence 4999 Paso Olivos, San Jose, Calif.

My wife Audrey, my daughter Ruth,15, & I moved into this cabin in Leggett one week ago.

My wife got angry with me Wednesday night, July 26th & on July 27th she left and went to San Jose, Calif.

On Friday July 27th about 9 AM I left my daughter with adults, Charlie, Chris, Mary and Lynn at my home. I left for San Jose on business & intended to return Fri. night or Sat. AM. I got back home this AM about 11:00 AM and found that my daughter had been taken to Juvenile Hall & my friend Charlie, was arrested.

The above people are friends of mine & I left my daughter in their care, temporarily. In my opinion, the order from the San Jose Police Dept., was invalid as no proceedings for divorce or separation, have been filed by either party.

(signed) Dean A. Moorehouse

Friday, September 23, 2022

A Tsunami at Devil's Hole in Death Valley!


Mexican Earthquake Triggers 4-Foot Waves in Death Valley National Park

A magnitude 7.6 earthquake rattled Mexico's Pacific coast on Monday and left at least two people dead in its wake. Repercussions of the tremor extended as far as 1,500 miles north, where four-foot-tall waves began churning inside a Death Valley cave called Devils Hole, in what the National Park Service called a "surprising quirk of geology."

Video footage of the phenomenon — which is technically known as a seiche, when sudden changes are observed in a lake or partially enclosed body of water — shows a birds-eye view of the cave as its initially still water erupts into a series of waves that roil and crash intermittently over the course of several minutes.

Devils Hole is a geothermal pool within a limestone cave, located in a section of Death Valley near the border of Nevada and California. The cave itself is hundreds of feet deep, as the park service noted in a news release explaining the "desert tsunami" recorded late Monday morning, but its relatively shallow water level is crucial for the endangered marine species, called pupfish, that live there.

The fish, whose naturally-occurring population totaled just 175 earlier this year, feed on algae "that grows on a shallow, sunlit shelf" in Devils Hole, according to the park service. 

Because Monday's seiche removed algae that had been growing in the cave, it will reduce the pupfish's food supply in the short term. But Kevin Wilson, an aquatic ecologist with the federal agency, suggested that the creatures may be resilient enough to withstand the temporary shift in their environment.

"The pupfish have survived several of these events in recent years," Wilson said in a statement. "We didn't find any dead fish after the waves stopped." An annual count to tally the pupfish inside Devils Hole is set to take place this upcoming weekend, the park service said.

Monday's earthquake was the first of two powerful tremors that shook Mexico this week. A second happened further inland near the country's capital, Mexico City, early on Thursday. It was given a preliminary magnitude of 6.8, and killed at least one person while causing buildings to sway.

Link to footage of the action in Devil's Hole from the National Park Service.

Thanks to Panamint Patty for sending this!

Original Article

Monday, September 19, 2022

Bread Truck Arrest Report April 19 1969

Courtesy of LAPL Photo Collection

We have all heard about the Bread Truck Bust but have you ever read the arrest report? It is not a major event in the Mansonsphere except possibly for the sheer number of people involved. Fourteen adults and two 13-year-old juveniles were taken into custody.

As was typical of the Family, only half of them used their true names.  Some of those arrested as adults were actually juveniles.  Law enforcement suspected it but were stymied as to how to figure who was really who until much later.

For those who don’t have a cheat sheet to know who was using what alias here is a list suspects including those who used alternative names, numbered according to how they are listed in the reports:

1. Heuvelhurst is Ruthann Moorehouse

2. Cottage is Patricia Baldwin

3. Bluestein is Dianne Lake

4. McCann is Nancy Pitman

5. Sankston is Leslie Van Houten

6. Bo Rosenberg

7. Barbara Jean Lipsett is Barbara Hoyt

8. Lynette Fromme

9. Wright is Catharine Share

10. Stephanie Rowe

11. Sandy Good

12. Paul Watkins

13. William Feeney

14. David Lipsett (Karate Dave) was David Ralph Baker, confirmed by his rap sheet

The two 13-year-olds are named in the report but I won’t name them here. One of the 13-year-olds was a first cousin of Herbert Townsend. You might remember a post discussing The Fountain of the World where it was revealed in the comments that Herbert Townsend’s brother, Danny Wayne Townsend a resident at the Fountain, along with accomplices, murdered two teenaged girls. Those Townsend boys were a tough lot and seemed to be drawn to communal settings.

The Bread Truck arrestees were pulled over by the CHP in Lancaster CA at 8:00 AM because the truck didn’t have a current registration sticker. You drive through Lancaster on your way to Death Valley. David Lipsett was driving. The charges were Grand Theft Auto and Contributing the Delinquency of a Minor, all but Lipsett were eventually released without any charges sticking. The Bread Truck wasn’t exactly stolen because the CHP couldn’t figure out who it belonged to as it was not in the system. The license plates belonged to another vehicle entirely.

Thanks to my behind-the-scenes posse who helped fill in some of the blanks!

Monday, September 12, 2022

Steve Grogan Probation Report

This is a transcription of a probation report for Steve Grogan dated June 30, 1970. It was ordered by the court after Grogan pleaded guilty to Section 10551 of the vehicle code (driving without the owner's consent) involving a truck he had rented from Doug's U-Rent in Woodland Hills CA. Grogan had not been charged in the murder of Shorty Shea as of the date of the report.

The report has a lot of background information on Grogan, there are details about him that I bet you never knew. It also explains the indecent exposure charge that led to him being committed to Camarillo State Hospital for observation. Grogan was charged with child molestation as well but the report does not address the molestation charge. The bottom line is that Grogan was not tried, much less convicted of either of the charges. The incident happened at his parents' home with adults present on June 11 1969. Ventura County terminated the case February 17 1970.

I've typed this report because it is not a great copy and is difficult to read but I'm also supplying a link to the actual report so that you can see I've faithfully transcribed it.



(As supplied by the defendant and substantiated in part by his father)

Defendant was born in Van Nuys, where he lived with his family until his early teenage years. Defendant last attended school at Simi High School, which he left after the 10th grade, at age 15. Defendant ran off with a young woman and lived with her for the next year. Upon his release from custody the defendant wants to try to get into college. He hopes to study communications or music. 

Defendant's father works for Holiday Hardware, Santa Susana. His mother is a registered nurse who is in college and studying social work. Defendant's 22-year-old brother and 15-year-old sister live with their parents. He also has a brother who is in the Highway Patrol Academy in Sacramento.

Defendant has never been married nor has he fathered any children. He has not served in the Armed Forces and has not registered with the draft board.

Until his arrest the defendant had worked as a ranch hand at the Spahn Ranch in Chatsworth. He received only board and room for his work. The defendant worked there since he was 16-years-old. It was there that he met and became associated with the "Manson Clan." Defendant has also worked as a service station attendant (for two months); a painter (periodically for six months); and a packer. At present the defendant has neither debts nor assets nor income. 


Defendant says he has used marijuana frequently in the past. He does not use alcoholic beverages.





6-5-67 LAPD- 602 WIC. 11530 H&S (possession of marijuana)- counseled and released.

8-12-67 LAPD- 484 PC (shoplifting)- 9-29-67, bail forfeiture.

4-5-69 SO Los Angeles- Grand theft money and prowling- 4-8-69 released insufficient evidence.

5-20-69 LAPD- 487.3 (Grand theft auto)- D.A. Reject.

6-11-69 SO Ventura- 647A/314 PC (child molesting and indecent exposure)- Referred to Ventura County Probation Dept.

(Ventura County Probation Department referred the defendant to Camarillo State Hospital for observation. The defendant escaped from the hospital after being there for only a few days. The probation case was terminated on February 17, 1970. Defendant said that his offense occurred while he was visiting his parents' home. He was wearing rat-eaten trousers with a large hole in them. He said his genitals accidentally became partially exposed while he was playing with the children. The mother of one of the children observed this, and after talking to her neighbors called the police. The defendant categorically denies that he deliberately exposed himself.)

8-16-69 SO Los Angeles- Grand theft auto- D.A. reject.

10-10-69 SO Independence- 272 PC, 496 PC, 12020 PC, 10851 VC, Escape from state mental hospital- 12-5-69, Dismissed in the interest of justice, released to Los Angeles County on their homicide warrant.

12-5-69 LAPD Warrant 487.3 PC; 10851 VC - present offense. 


On June 3, 1970 defendant appeared in Department-D of the Los Angeles Superior Court and entered a plea of guilty to the charge of violating section 10851 of the vehicle code (driving without owners consent), deemed a misdemeanor, matter has been continued to instant case for probation and sentence hearing.

The deputy probation officer assigned to this case has not been able to obtain a transcript of the preliminary hearing. From the district attorney's file, the following appears to have occurred:

On October 4, 1969 the defendant rented a 1966 one-ton truck from Doug's U-Rent, 20956 Ventura Boulevard, Woodland Hills. Rental period was for one day. Defendant did not return the truck. The truck was recovered by the highway patrol in Death Valley on October 14, 1969. The truck has been returned to the owners. Defendant rented the truck under an assumed name, Tufts.


Defendant's written statement is attached to this court report. He writes that he rented the truck knowing that he could not possibly return it within 24 hours. Defendant writes, in part, "Now I know this was wrong, but at the time I was not thinking, and this is the price I have to pay. If I was granted one more chance, this mistake will never happen again. I plan to go back, and live with my parents and go to school and try to work my way through college."

Defendant told the probation officer that he rented the truck to deliver food and camping equipment to Charles Manson and others who had gone to the desert. They gave him money and asked him to buy various items and bring them to Death Valley. On the way there the truck got stuck in sand and rocks. The defendant said he was unable to get it out. He said he neglected to summon help immediately or to inform the owners of the truck's condition. Several days later the defendant was arrested.

Regarding the future, the defendant said he will try to get into college. He wants to return to the home of his parents and stay there. The defendant realizes that his present troubles have been caused, for the most part, by his association with less than desirable companions. Defendant categorically denies involvement in any further criminal activities. He also said that he was not a member of any "Family." He was living at Spahn Ranch before Charles Manson moved there. Defendant denies that he was a follower of Charles Manson in any fashion.


Doug's U-Rent informed the probation officer that the defendant made full restitution for the damage to the truck and the expense incurred in its transportation. This restitution amounted to something over $700.

Defendant's father said he would like to have his son return home. He said the door has always been open for his son. The defendant has been away from his home since he was 15-years-old. Regarding the defendant's emotional condition, his father believes he is emotionally balanced. He said his son has always been a very idealistic boy. The probation office asked the defendant's father concerning the charge of child molesting and indecent exposure in Ventura County on June 11, 1969. The father believes that the exposure was unintentional. He said his son always liked children and has never shown any signs that he would do harm to them.

Attached to this report is a letter from the investigating police detective.


The defendant left home at age 15. For a year he lived with a woman six years his senior. When he was 16 years old he went to live at the Spahn Ranch, where he was given board and room for the work he did. Defendant has lived without adequate supervision for the past three years.

Defendant appeared to be quite cooperative during probation investigation. Probation officer could discover no signs of emotional imbalance. Regarding the present offense, the defendant is fully admitting that he could have obtained help to free the truck so that it could be returned to the owners. Defendant has made full restitution for the financial damage to Doug's U-Rent.

The defendant's offense has been deemed a misdemeanor. At the time of his sentencing, the defendant will have spent approximately eight months in custody.

The best plan for the defendant would be to place him under supervision. He should be required by the court to remain in the home of his parents until allowed by the probation officer to move to a different residence. Hopefully, this will have the effect of removing the defendant from associating with less than desirable companions. Certainly such association is a major factor in the defendant's involvement in the present offense. Furthermore the defendant should be required to seek and maintain full-time employment or school.


It is therefore recommended that probation be granted under the following terms and conditions:

1. Spend a suitable time in county jail.

6. Not use or possess any narcotics or narcotic paraphernalia and stay away from places where addicts congregate.

7. Not associate with known narcotic users or sellers.

15. Seek and maintain employment as approved by probation officer.

19. Obey all laws, orders, rules and regulations of the probation department and of the court.

Maintain residence in the home of his parents until allowed to change that residence by the probation officer.

Respectfully Submitted,

Kenneth E. Kirkpatrick

Probation Officer

By H.L.D.

Harry L. Dawson, Deputy

East San Fernando Valley Office

(Dictated 6-30-70)

HLD:EJ (6)

I have read and considered the foregoing report of the probation officer.

Judge of the Superior Court.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Once Upon A Time In Cielo Drive

10050 Cielo Drive, Los Angeles. It has been 53 years since the murders there in the summer of 1969, but the story surrounding them has not showed signs of fading away. The house, built in the 1940's for actress Michelle Morgan, also served as home to Lillian Gish, Candice Bergen, Samantha Eggar, and many other Hollywood celebrities. For those interested in the Tate/LaBianca murders, the story of this famous address probably acquires its greatest significance beginning on November 19, 1963. This is the date, according to his trial testimony, that Rudy Altobelli moved in to Cielo. Everyone who lived there contributes to the story of the house in some way, but it is the story of the events of August 1969 that endures.

Little appears to be known about Cielo from the time Altobelli purchased the property, to, say, when Terry Melcher moved in, renting the main house beginning on May 15, 1966, along with Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders. This all changes, of course, with the introduction of Charles Manson and Tex Watson into the story. 

Yet there is certainly a subset of this time, all but forgotten, if it were not for a few passages of witness testimony at the trials. To be sure, many witnesses contributed to this aspect of the story (the backstory), but this post will focus on a select few of these. These are parts of the story which are background, apocryphal.  According to his mother, William Garretson left his hometown of Lancaster Ohio in October 1968, hitching out to Los Angeles. It took Bill and a companion only a couple of rides to make it to California, and with not much more than change in their pockets.

William Garretson enters the story of Cielo in a rather strange way: he all but materializes suddenly into the narrative. Bill early on conveyed to his attorney, Barry Tarlow, that he encountered his future employer, Altobelli, while hitchhiking in Hollywood. Bill later confirms the same to LT. A.H. Burdick of the LAPD at Parker Center, along with everything else he was asked about Cielo.

 William Garretson in guest house at Cielo

W.E. Garretson in conversation with B.G. Tarlow

LT. Burdick interviewed Garretson on Sunday August 10, 1969:

Q How did you come upon that job?
A Well, I met Mr. Altobelli on--in Hollywood. And he, you know, he wanted--he's just got back from Europe, and he let some woman stay there before[in the guest house]that he knew for twenty years, and, you know, she partied every night and everything and the place was torn up and he--and just, you know, he told me if I wanted a job, I could come up and clean his house, and I was going to go back to Ohio in March, and I was picked up for Possession of Marijuana, and  it was lowered to Visitation. And so, you know, after that I was going to go back to Ohio, but he was going to Europe and he wanted to--he said the dogs liked me and everything, and he wanted to know if I would stay on while he went to Europe, then he would be back, you know, and he asked me, you know, he'd give me an airplane ticket home and everything.

Q Who was the woman who had your job before?

A Edith Stoltan(phonetic).

From this exchange we learn the most famous caretaker at Cielo had a predecessor, a certain Edith Stoltan. I could find no information on her, but apparently, she was a long-time friend of Altobelli, and equally, it would seem, as trustworthy as young Bill.

Again, Garretson:

Q But she lived in this house on--

A --when he went to Europe before.

Q On Cielo before?

A Yeah.

Q And she partied every night and he didn't like this?

A Well, that's from what I hear, you know, the place was a mess when I got there and everything. 

Q What place was a mess? 

A The guest house.

Q The guest house?

A Yes. She was taking care of the dogs and the bird. The bird died and everything...
(Tape Recorded Polygraph Examination of William Eston Garretson. Tape #32116. August 10, 1969 1625 hours.)

Guest house at Cielo, view of front door towards kitchen and bathroom. Notice the phone with the long extension cord on the table, along with the Budweiser beer cans.


During the trial, Rudy Altobelli, on the stand, corroborates Bill's story to LT. Burdick, and adds some detail. One detail that I find most interesting is the following exchange with Ron Hughes:

Q Now, did you know Mr. Garretson prior to your hiring him?

A No.

Q You just met him that day?

A No, I did not.

Q Well, he wasn't a friend, though?

A No.

Q How much previous to hiring him had you met him? 

A He had been hired way before that, when I first came back from Rome. I came back because of the heavy rains and I needed somebody to clean up some things, and Mr. Garretson was hired by me, and he seemed to be very nice and he loved the animals and the animals loved him. He seemed to be ideal to leave my dogs with. He seemed to be trustworthy.
(p. 14,781 Manson, et al trial testimony. Courtesy

Q When you left for Europe in March did you know that Voityck Frykowski and Abigail Folger were going to live in the house in Sharon's and Roman's absence?

A I was told they were going to stay there, yes.

Q Did you know that they were going to entertain while they were there?

A No, that was not a question.

Q Did you know they were going to have large parties?

A No--

Mr. Bugliosi: That is assuming a fact not in evidence, your Honor. 

The Court: Sustained.
(p. 14,795 Manson, et al trial testimony. Courtesy

Apparently the winter of December 1968 into early 1969 produced some very heavy rains and damaging floods in the L.A. area. No doubt this caused some storm damage at Cielo, and Bill Garretson was hired to help clean up the property (or was it just the guest house?), "way before" assuming the official caretaker duties at the guest house on March 24, 1969. It could have conceivably been in late 1968, during the heavy rains, but obviously before Rudy and Sharon Tate made their trip to Europe on March 24. Rudy hired Bill because he was "trustworthy". He had to have known Bill long enough and well enough to come to that conclusion. After all, Rudy had known Edith Stoltan for twenty years.

Rudy Altobelli

Hughes continues:

Q How long to Abigail Folger and Voityck Frykowski moving into the main house had you met them?

A I had met them at the party, I guess I was introduced to them at the house the day before. [March 23, 1969. The day before Altobelli and Sharon Tate left for Europe together]. It was very casual. I never had any conversation except for Abigail once, by telephone from London, when we were waiting for the plane to Rome, I was concerned about the boy in the back, and Sharon said I should call Abigail because she was a social worker and she could keep an eye on him and get him on the right path.
(p. 14,798).

Abigail Folger and Voytek Frykowski. Was Abigail keeping an eye on Bill Garretson?

At the trial, defense attorney Shinn cross examined William Garretson:

Q Have you ever been inside the Tate residence?

A Yes.

Q How many times?

A Twice.

Q What was the occasion?

A Well, before Mrs. Polanski, you know, moved in to, you know, the main house, I was there. I mean, you know, that was before anybody moved in.

Q Was this the first time you entered the house?

A And I was invited over another time.

Q Invited for what? For a party? For a dinner?

A No. That was when Abigail and Frykowski were staying there. They invited me over.

Q And how long did you stay?

A Five to ten minutes.

Q Did you have anything to eat or drink at that time?

A Just a beer.

Q One beer?

A Yes.
(p. 4,635).

Hughes continues:

Q And Christopher could that evening get out from the guest house on to the back patio, the double doors, as you indicated; is that correct?

A He could have gotten out. He could have been gone and I wouldn't have known about it.

Q And there was nothing to keep him, then, once out in the back patio from going around in front of the guest house up to the large residence; is that correct?

A Yes.
(p. 4706).

William Garretson waiting to be called to testify at Manson trial

Backyard of guest house at Cielo. Is this what Garretson referred to as the "little place"?

Bugliosi & Garretson:

Q The three dogs that you took care of for Mr. Altobelli, where were they that night?

A They were staying with me in the living room.

Q Did they leave the house at all during the night or did they stay with you the entire night?

A Yes, I had the back door open on the patio by the stereo.

Q Did they leave during the night or did they stay with you inside the living room?

A Well, the Weimaraner left. The larger dog.
(p. 4,636).

Cielo guest house. View from front door towards stereo

If Edith Stoltan liked to party in the guest house, Bill kept it rather respectable by comparison. But this did not stop Bill from entertaining guests while in residence. To be sure, Bill Garretson became lonely, and did what lonely people do: he reached out for companionship. These companions included, principally, Darrell Kistler and Roy Plank, both of whom were from Bill's native Ohio.

Students of this case will remember Kistler and Plank from Bill's recorded polygraph examination. They both factor significantly, and were of keen interest to LT. Burdick. Bill volunteered that he asked Kistler, who just returned from Vietnam, to live with him in the guest house in late May. He lived with Bill for about a month. This came to an abrupt end in late June when Bill threw Kistler out for stealing bottles of champagne from the main house. How Kistler accomplished this is unknown, but it happened on more than one occasion. Undoubtedly this was champagne that was delivered to Cielo, and perhaps left outside by the front door, or at the service porch area in the rear. It should be remembered that Billy Doyle loved champagne, and Abigail Folger did give champagne as a gift, at least to Witold-K for his birthday, which was in May).

Roy Plank high school yearbook photo, fourth row, last picture

I could find no photos of Kistler anywhere on the internet, and no yearbooks that I was able to locate had a photo of him in them, either. The same can be said for Patricia Montgomery, although her name appears in lists of graduating students of Indio High, at places like The girls did not live at Cielo, but had occasionally stayed overnight, according to Bill Garretson. When Bill kicked Kistler out, the girls left with him, returning to Indio. LT. Burdick asked Bill if both girls were from Indio, and Bill replied, "[Y]es, both the girls." Apparently it was Debbie Tidwell that Bill favored.

Debbie Tidwell yearbook photo

Another visitor to the Cielo guest house, according to Bill Garretson's interview with LAPD, was Roy Plank. Roy and Bill were classmates in high school back in Lancaster Ohio. Plank was a Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton, who ultimately went A.W.O.L. and wound up being apprehended in Lancaster. Very little is known of the whereabouts of Plank and Kistler immediately following the murders of August 1969, but I was able to locate some newspaper clippings. This from the Indio Desert Sun: 
"Driver Has Repeating Accidents"
"Indio--An accident looking for a place to happen happened twice Wednesday night, in Palm Desert, and between Palm Desert and Indio. Booked at the Indio Sheriff's Sub-Station on a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol after the accidents was Darrell Kistler, 23, of 80-521 Highway 111, Indio, a California Highway Patrolman said. 

The first accident occurred at 9:45p.m. at the Security Pacific National Bank at 74-011 Highway 111 in Palm Desert. According to the CHP officer, Kistler, driving a panel truck, attempted to drive into the bank parking lot, missed the driveway, knocked over an entrance sign, backed up into the bank wall and also broke off a sprinkler...

At 11:30p.m., on Highway 1121, 1300 feet west of Dune Palms Road, the panel truck, driven eastbound by Kistler, crashed into the rear of another eastbound vehicle driven by John Bailey, 48...Taken to Indio Community Hospital and treated for minor injuries and released after the crash were Kistler and two passengers in the Bailey vehicle..."(Desert Sun, Volume 44, Number 229, 29 April 1971).

Darrell Kistler obituary notice from the Lancaster Eagle Gazette in the 1980's. Unfortunately he died a young man.

Roy Plank died in 2014 in Lancaster Ohio while mowing the grass. Apparently he had a heart attack.(Lancaster Eagle Gazette, August 11, 2014). I did manage to locate Debbie Tidwell on social media, and reached out to her, asking if she would care to comment on the summer of '69 at the guest house on Cielo. I have not received a reply from her.

Other regular visitors to the guest house were brothers Tom and Dave Vargas, gardeners employed by Rudy Altobelli since about 1965 at Cielo. The brothers tended to the Cielo property twice a week professionally, and when they were not working there, they used the guest house, shall we say, recreationally. According to Garretson, it was Tom Vargas who visited the guest house Thursday night, August 7, 1969. Accompanying Tom that evening was his girlfriend. Tom bought Bill the now famous Budweiser beers that--along with a couple of joints and a Dexedrine capsule--got poor Bill rather sick, causing him to feel somewhat fragile Friday August 8th.

Tom Vargas, like his brother Dave, were married men. Dave, it appears, brought his girlfriend to Cielo, but parked outside the gate to the property for their fooling--around sessions. This would probably have been in about the same place where Tex Watson would park the car on Friday August 8th when he cut the phone lines to Cielo.

LT. Burdick continued to question Bill Garretson:

Q What have you seen going on there that is different?

A I never seen--well, that night?

Q Any time?

A Oh, maybe one time I seen that--I don't know, I--I was asleep and I woke up, and that was when Darrell was living there and those two girls were staying that night, and they were over in the pool swimming and I went over there and they said that they'd seen Polk (phonetic)--Sharon wasn't there yet, I don't think, on mescaline--that somebody was on mescaline or something.

Q I didn't hear you.

A Somebody was on mescaline or something that lived in the main house. That was what they told me. 

Q How would they know this?

A They said that they told 'em.

Q They told them? What do you mean?

A They told them that they were on mescaline or something.

Q Someone that was in the main house told the two girls that were visiting you that?

A Yeah, yeah, and that they were on mescaline or something--I don't know.
Q How many times have you been in that big house, the main house?

A I think about twice.

Q When was the last time?

A That's when they asked me over one time. Abigail and the young Polanski. And they asked me--they asked me up. Abigail called me up and asked if I didn't have to go to court the next day for a (*) Possession of Marijuana charge which they lowered to Visitation. They wanted to talk to me, and that was the last time I was there. 

Q They wanted to talk to you?

A Yes.

Q About what?

A About going to court. 

Q What did they tell you?

A Well, it seemed like they were really concerned, you know, because Mr. Altobelli left and she, you know, he left with Mrs. Polanski, and she seemed a little bit concerned, you know, what was going to happen, if I was going to get, you know, a probation or whatever. You know, we discussed it. That was the last time I was there.

Q Did they offer you any narcotics?

A No.

Q Did they ask whether you could get some information for them? Or could you get some from them?

A They offered me a beer when I was there.

Q Offered you a beer?

A Yeah, or a glass of milk.

Q That was how long ago?

A Let's see, that was in March--middle of March.

Rudy Altobelli further contributes to the story of Cielo by filling in more gaps, and by expanding upon the association between Abigail and Bill while occupying the property. To me at least, Rudy placed an enormous amount of trust in both Bill and Abigail while they lived at Cielo. According to Altobelli's testimony, he met Abigail and Voytek for the first time on the day before he and Sharon left for Europe. Within a week Abigail and Voytek would be fully moved into the main house, while they invited friend and artist Witold-K to occupy their rented house at 2774 Woodstock in Laurel Canyon.

Altobelli, however, was concerned about Bill living in the guest house on his own, so Sharon suggested that Abigail keep an eye on him as she was a social worker. The ultimate extent to which she and Bill had contact is unknown, but through testimony we learn that Abigail and Voytek did offer Bill rides down to Sunset, and possibly back up to Cielo. Bill claimed that he was never invited to any gatherings at the main house, probably in an effort by Abigail to distance him from outside influences? Obviously Abigail and Voytek knew about Bill being charged with possession of marijuana, and were at least concerned about it.

Thus far, the story of Cielo, after Rudy Altobelli moved into it, may appear to be idyllic. We may imagine lazy summer days and evenings by the pool; famous and beautiful people coming and going; the gardeners performing their work; housekeepers keeping house; neighbors visiting. Everyone involved with these vignettes could, and in many cases did, contribute to this story: Samantha Eggar, Terry Melcher, Candice Bergen, Mark Lindsay, Witold-K, Billy Doyle, Debra Tate, Maureen Serot, Seymour Kott, Winifred Chapman, Tom and Dave Vargas.

Had this gone on uninterrupted, the world may have never heard about 10050 Cielo Drive. That is, of course, until Susan Atkins took over as a storyteller, and essentially created the official narrative of Cielo Drive for all time.

Susan Atkins, author of the master narrative

Unknown to Bill Garretson during the night of August 8, 1969, was that both his story and duties at Cielo Drive would fade, only to be usurped by the story Atkins would weave, literally while he wrote letters and listened to the music of the Doors and Cass Elliot. On that night, as the crickets chirped, the inflatables nudged each other in the pool, and the wind chime hanging by the front door gently sounded its song, the first word of Atkins' enduring narrative would be scrawled in blood on the front door. And perhaps, just perhaps, Patricia Krenwinkel became the last visitor to the guest house, attempting to gain entrance, but failing. It is in this failure that the transference of the story from Bill Garretson to Susan Atkins is solidified: Bill Garretson indeed lived to tell his part of the story, but the story of Susan Atkins would eclipse it, becoming the story of the "crime of the century".

 Linda Kasabian would confirm and amplify the master narrative


After the murders at Cielo, and with the conclusion of the immediate first week of the investigation, is a part of the story that I call, the interstitial period. It is a time of the continuing story, extending into the early '70s, but with several new storytellers. One of these is actress Olivia Hussey, star of the film, Romeo and Juliet in 1968, and directed by Franco Zeffirelli.

Ms. Hussey enters the pre-murder Cielo story as a footnote. In her autobiography, Olivia details how she factored into Cielo Drive, by meeting with Rudy Altobelli and the actor Christopher Jones.

Olivia Hussey autobiography book cover

It begins with Olivia, who was living in London in 1969, received a call from Rudy Altobelli. Both he and Stuart Cohen were managing young actor Christopher Jones, and Jones prevailed upon Altobelli to call Olivia, inviting her to dinner. Olivia and Christopher apparently got on well together, and before long, she was visiting him on the set of his latest movie, Ryan's Daughter.

Christopher Jones and Olivia Hussey

Olivia developed a relationship with Jones, and became very close to Altobelli as well. Soon enough, Rudy asked Olivia if he could manage her career. Olivia acquiesced, and thus began the professional and personal friendship with Altobelli that would ultimately bring her to 10050 Cielo Drive. Shortly thereafter, Olivia received word that she was to be a recipient of the Donatello award for best actor of the year(rather like the Oscar)in Italy. Before leaving, Rudy made a phone call to California, and spoke to Sharon Tate, who along with Roman Polanski had rented the Cielo main house that spring. The Donatello award ceremony was held on August 2, 1969. Olivia spoke to Sharon the day before, on August 1st, a mere week before Sharon's death.

Rudy then handed the phone to Olivia, and as she described it, Rudy said, "Olivia, I want you to say hello to a lovely woman who's looking forward to meeting you. Her husband is the director Roman Polanski. Her name is Sharon Tate." She went on to say, "Sharon Tate sounded warm and friendly. She told me that she adored me in Romeo & Juliet and that I must come out to LA so I could meet her, Roman, and their new baby, who was expected any day."(Olivia Hussey, The Girl On the Balcony. Kensington Publishing Group, 2018. p. 106).

After the Donatello award ceremony, Rudy introduced Olivia to Roman Polanski, who also received an award. Olivia recalled, [H]e talked about Sharon and moving to Los Angeles, he talked about how beautiful Rudy's home was and how I must come and see it if I ever found myself in LA. As I left that night, I thought how nice it would be to spend time with this couple."(Hussey, p. 107).

Roman Polanski receiving his Donatello award, August 2, 1969

Later, the relationship between Olivia and Christopher Jones began to take a dark turn. Jones was obviously significantly mentally ill, brooding, and sometimes violent. Rudy tried to help, but to no avail. After Jones' film wrapped, Olivia called their relationship a wrap--she had had enough. To be sure, during the filming of Jones' movie, while he spoke to Oliva alone one night, he punched her violently in the abdomen. But while still involved with Jones, Olivia began a friendship with Dino Martin, son of legendary film actor Dean Martin. Dino himself would ultimately enter the story of Cielo, dating and later marrying Olivia Hussey.

Altobelli convinced Olivia to move to L.A. and she agreed. But she had one problem: she had nowhere to live. To Rudy, this was no problem at all, and he offered her the bedroom at Cielo in which Abigail and Voytek had been staying. She would move in during September 1969. But five weeks before moving into the main house, the murders took place. As Olivia claims, "Rudy was still in Italy when he received the call with the news...I didn't know Sharon, having only spoken to her on the phone that one time. I did know Rudy, and I saw how much it affected him: He had known Sharon. The crime was vicious and senseless, and it happened in his home. Which would be my home for the next four years. Let me say simply that the whole time I lived at Cielo Drive there was nothing strange or macabre about it. I was still very young, and by the time I arrived all traces of the crime had been erased. Certainly something awful had happened there--it was sometimes odd to stand in the living room and look out at the front lawn, knowing that those terrible things had happened right there--but it was not the house's fault. As someone once said, evil does exist, but it is always human."(Hussey, p. 113).

Olivia Hussey poolside at Cielo and in the former bedroom of Abigail and Voytek

Olivia Hussey in 1969

However, the interstitial period was not without its problems for Olivia Hussey. When she moved into Cielo, she was informed by Altobelli that, since he still represented him, and because he had nowhere  else to live, Christopher Jones would move into the guest house, just a few weeks after William Garretson vacated it. Jones was instructed by Altobelli to keep his distance from Olivia, and for a while, Jones did just that.

Meantime, Olivia enjoyed her new friendships with the Hollywood elite, including young Dino Martin. She enjoyed Hollywood nightclubs and meeting people who came to Altobelli's parties at Cielo. Olivia said of Altobelli, "Rudy, I was learning, had a malicious streak and a medieval kind of humor: He laughed loudest at others' misfortune or embarrassment. It was not a pleasant quality, but more often than not it was obscured by his flamboyant, circus-act personality."(Hussey, p. 120).

Olivia met Terry Melcher, who according to Tom O'Neill in his book, Chaos, revealed that Terry moved back into Cielo not long after the murders. Terry and Olivia began a "very casual" relationship, but ultimately she found Terry "brooding and moody and always high, and after about a month our relationship fizzled out."(Hussey, p. 121).

Terry Melcher at Manson trial

Olivia lived the good life at Cielo, which included, as she says, smoking weed with Altobelli. And ostensibly, like many in her circle, she was not frightened away because of the murders in August. But evil had not entirely left 10050 Cielo Drive after the murders. One might think that with the rise of the sun on Saturday August 9, 1969, the evil specter of the night before would have vanished, frightened away by the dawn. This was not the case, as Olivia unfortunately soon would learn: 

"There was a standing lamp in the corner of my bedroom[Abigail and Voytek's]at Cielo Drive. When the door was pushed open, say by one of Rudy's two dogs, a shadow would slide slowly, like an eclipse, from the ceiling to the floor...One night, I was almost asleep when the shadow began to move across the room. Out of habit I dropped my hand down off the bed and waited for Lady, Rudy's German Shepherd, to find it and snuggle up. This time, though, it wasn't Lady; it was Christopher. And he closed the door behind him. The next five--and--a--half hours were the worst of my life. Christopher was hearing voices. He was twitching. He was so far gone it was shocking.(Hussey, p. 124).

Olivia goes on to detail the terror of the night, describing how Jones beat and then raped her. Jones left the former bedroom of Abigail and Voytek at 5:30AM. "After a while, I managed to get up and walk gingerly into the kitchen, where Rudy took one look at me and started to scream."(Hussey, p. 125). With that, Rudy Altobelli immediately threw Christopher Jones out of Cielo forever.

Long story short, Dino Martin came to Olivia's rescue, and the two fell in love. The rape resulted in a pregnancy, and Olivia decided upon an abortion, as she did not want a child to link her to Jones. In the end, Martin and Olivia were married, and had a child together.

Olivia Hussey and Dino Martin. At Cielo?

The interstitial period saw many people come and go from Cielo Drive, including a certain Robert Conrad(not the actor), an exchange student from Yugoslavia studying design at UCLA. According to Rudy's testimony at the trials, Conrad was hired as a houseboy(probably to assume the duties of the previous caretaker, William Garretson), from February to August 1970.

Bob Esty and Stuart Cohen in the living room of 10050 Cielo Drive, 1970's

Bedroom of Olivia Hussey at 10050 Cielo Drive, formerly occupied by Abigail Folger and Voytek Frykowski

After the early 1970's what I call the interstitial period comes to a conclusion, ending as ambiguously as it started. Of course, many more years of the story of Cielo Drive would follow, with the addition of many now famous storytellers. Sadly, and for reasons unknown to me, Rudy Altobelli decided to sell his beloved house on the hill, in the late 1980's. He purchased the property in 1963 for $86,000, and sold it for $1.6 million. According to Tom O'Neill, both he and Altobelli--who had became friends--visited Cielo one evening after the original house had been demolished, and replaced with the house that presently stands there. It was a melancholy visit. Says Altobelli, "I lived in that house twenty--five years, four months, and thirty--eight hours[.]" O'Neill went on to say that Altobelli wound up living "in a converted garage in a neighborhood known for its gang activity."(Tom O'Neill, Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties. Little Brown and Company, 2019. p. 106).

Front yard of 10050 Cielo Drive, October 1, 1969

Pool area of Cielo

The house that occupies the former 10050 Cielo Drive property is currently up for sale, for a paltry $85 million, if one felt so inclined. Obliterated are the neat front lawn, manicured hedge and gardens, so treasured by the inhabitants of the original 10050. The utility pole that Tex Watson climbed has been moved to the other side of the road, but one of the original majestic fir trees in the front yard remains, known as the "Abigail Folger Tree," as it stood very near where Abigail died in the front yard of 10050.

I suppose if the hill on which this famous property sits could speak, it too would have a story to tell. We continue to hear about this famous address by Tex Watson and Patricia Krenwinkle at their various parole hearings, essentially parroting the official master narrative of Susan Atkins. But long after the Tex Watsons and Patricia Krenwinkles of our current world depart, we no doubt will not have heard the end of the stories of Cielo Drive. And we never will.