Thursday, November 24, 2022
Monday, November 21, 2022
Most students of TLB probably know about subsequent suspected deaths of persons which have been attributed to the Family. Prominent among these are the murders of Doreen Gaul and James Sharp on November 21, 1969 in the Westlake area of Los Angeles.
Monday, November 14, 2022
|Grogan and Todd courtesy of lapl.org|
Inyo County District Attorney Frank Fowles had an agenda. I expect that he was a bit miffed that Los Angeles County had swooped up most of the people arrested in the Barker Ranch Raids. His county had spent a lot of time, manpower and money on the Manson Family and Los Angeles was getting all of the press. Few, if any, of the people arrested in Inyo County were convicted of anything in that county. They had either been released for lack of evidence or transferred to LA to face more serious charges.
By December 3, 1969 only 11 of those arrested remained in the Inyo County jail and the announcement had just been made that Charles Manson and a few of his Family members were responsible for the Tate and LaBianca murders.
One person that Fowles set his sights on was Steve Grogan. This letter sounds like he wanted Grogan in the worst way. By this time Grogan had been transferred to Los Angeles to answer for the stolen truck charges and the wanted charge for the escape from a mental hospital in Ventura County. Grogan settled both of those charges and had been frequenting the Los Angeles County Court House with other Family members.
August 3, 1970
Sergeant Paul Whitely
Los Angeles Sheriff's Department
Hall of Justice
Los Angeles, California
Re: Randy J Morglea
The last time you were up here I mentioned that there was a Randy Morglea who was apprehended with Tufts during one of the California Highway Patrol raids which occurred on October 10, 1969. Enclosed is a California Highway Patrol report concerning the particular raid, and on page 3, in the last paragraph, you will see Morglea's name mentioned. Morglea was charged with possession of a sawed-off shotgun and when it appeared he was 15 years old he was certified as a juvenile. Subsequently, he was sent to Patton State Hospital along with Dianne Lake under a conservatorship. His treatment was terminated at Patton and he was released by our court into the custody of his mother.
I have received a request from Vincent Bugliosi to recharge Tufts, aka Steve Grogan, with the possession of the sawed-off shotgun. The only possible defense would be that the shotgun was actually possessed by Morglea instead of Tufts. A statement from Morglea would be very interesting and even an admission that the shotgun was possessed by Tufts would give me perhaps all I need to put Tufts away following a conviction when I re-file.
Sgt. Paul Whitely
August 3, 1970
You indicated that you had never talked to Morglea, who also was known by the name Scott Bell Davis and Todd. He was with the Family for quite a while and might have some interesting information for you. In any case, when you question him, I would appreciate it if you slip in a question or two about who possessed the shotgun. This would be very helpful to me and any statement in that regard would be valuable as the least I could do is use it as a prior inconsistent statement when he called as a witness.
His mother is a member of the "Fountain of the World" religious sect. She appears to me to be a very nice lady although rather strange. She is totally against Manson and I am sure she would help us any way she can. Morglea is supposed to be with Mrs. Todd at this point. Her address is as follows.
Route 5 Box 523
Box Canyon Road
Canoga Park, California
Her phone number at her employment is Area Code 213-348-5161. She also has a friend where she may be reached and her address is as follows:
27 Box Canyon Road
Canoga Park, California
Phone: (213) 347-9281
I am also including a psychiatric report on this boy for background information for you. If you have any luck and can help me out let me know. We are all anxious to see Tufts put away.
Very truly yours,
Frank H. Fowles
*The psychiatric report on Morglea was not with the documents I received.
Apparently Frank Fowles did get his wish. Grogan was to appear in court, in Inyo County, for possession of the sawed-off shotgun November 11, 1970.
Fowles victory was short lived because on December 18, 1970 Grogan was released from the Inyo County jail to Los Angeles County to be charged and prosecuted for the murder of Shorty Shea.
By the time Grogan was paroled in 1985 the statute of limitations for the sawed-off shotgun charge had long since run out.
While I knew that Dianne Lake aka Diane Bluestein had been sent to Patton State Hospital, I did not know that Hugh Rocky Todd aka Randy Morglea had also been sent there. The first article in this post is dated December 3, 1969 stating that all 11 with charges pending were still in Inyo County’s custody, it was quite some time before they were sent to the state hospital apparently.
A previous post about the Fountain of the World quotes a December 11, 1969 article where Rocky Todd’s mother says that she has not seen or heard from her son since around October 1, 1969. That’s a long time for a juvenile not to have been identified and reunited with a parent. Rocky did not look particularly old for his age, he was only 15 years old.
Wednesday, November 9, 2022
Monday, November 7, 2022
Sometimes it takes a while to locate where a particular story got its beginnings. Ed Sanders, The Family, is one of the early books in the Manson Saga and he has quite a few stories in the book that make you wonder if they are true or not.
A number of years ago I wrote a post about Filippo Tenerelli who had been pegged as being a Gypsy Joker. Apparently, Sanders leapt to that conclusion because the Gypsy Jokers had a member named Dago. Dago being a slur for an Italian person. Since Tenerelli was Italian surely, he must have been the person who the Gypsy Jokers nicknamed Dago.
The post puts to rest that the Gypsy Joker named Dago was not Filippo Tenerelli. Phil Cross was the president of the San Jose chapter of the Gypsy Jokers. In 2013 Cross wrote "Phil Cross: Gypsy Joker to a Hells Angel". I contacted Phil through his publisher to ask about Dago and he replied with one of the more memorable emails I’ve received.
I’m glad you enjoyed the book.
In answer to your question, Dago’s name was Donald Ragante, and there was no Gypsy Joker named Filippo Tenerelli.
I have no problem with you posting my photo of Dago at the Chateau.
One other thing you might post is that Ed Sanders statement that the Gypsy Jokers were “heavily into the occult” is complete bullshit. We could have cared less about any of that shit. We rode, partied and fought, and that’s what we lived for.
So, where did Sanders get information that the Gypsy Jokers were into the occult, possibly tied to The Process? I have the answer and it came from an unexpected source.
Most of the recent documents I have been posting are from the Inyo County investigation and arrests of Charles Manson and other members of the Family. In with all of the documents I received there were some pages of information on The Process and a police interview with a woman who was the girlfriend of Victor Wild. Wild, as you might recall, had a leathercrafting shop in San Jose CA. He is said to have made the leathers that Manson was wearing when he was arrested at Barker Ranch. Wild, also known as Brother Eli, had been a member of The Process but dropped out to apparently start his own cult.
The address and name of the leather shop.
|74 San Fernando E San Jose CA|
The unexpected part of the story is that the girlfriend’s interview with the police was conducted during the investigation of the Doreen Gaul and James Sharp murders.
Victor Wild’s girlfriend was Leslie Bouffard, she contacted law enforcement after the Gaul/Sharp murders because she wanted to give a statement. She is mentioned on pages 18 and 19 of the Gaul/Sharp police report which is linked in the post about their murders. The date, November 15, 1969, on page 18 is the same date that is on the following interview.
Sanders, in the first edition of The Family pages 114-116, relates some of this interview, particularly the information on page three of the interview which involves the Gypsy Jokers.
Pages one and two of the interview give some standard information about the Process and mentions that Moore was once a member of Scientology. Bouffard states on page two that The Process tried to take over the Jokers.
Note: at the top on page one someone has written the word NO and over and underlined it. I did not do that; it was on the page when I received it. It does lead me to think that Bouffard’s statement may not have been taken seriously or considered not relevant to the Gaul/Sharp case by law enforcement though.
Page three of the interview gets into the connection of Victor Wild and the Gypsy Jokers. Leslie says that in 1967 Victor Wild had some success incorporating some of the Jokers into his group called the Agents of Satan. I could not find anything on the Agents of Satan that wasn’t bible related. I took Leslie to mean that the Agents of Satan was a motorcycle club.
The Labor Day 1968 run to Mendocino County is the only part of the interview where Bouffard gives a firsthand account of what took place among the Gypsy Jokers. The rest of her statements would be considered secondhand knowledge or hearsay in a court of law.
The account of the Mendocino run has a few problems. A newspaper article written just before the Labor Day weekend warns of influx of several motorcycle gangs for the weekend.
The Hells Angels were to meet near Squaw Rock in southern Mendocino County. Squaw Rock has been renamed to Frog Woman Rock in the last couple of years due to wokeness, “squaw” being derogatory to Native Americans. Leslie’s account has them meeting at Red Rock. There is an area in Mendocino County named Red Rock but it’s very remote with no paved roads and in the far northeast section of the county.
Leslie goes on to say that the Gypsy Jokers along with other clubs were meeting in another canyon. The way it is stated in the interview it sounds like the Hells Angels and other clubs were not a great distance from each other but the Gypsy Jokers were going to party on some land one of the members owned about eight miles west of Willits. Willits is a good 50 miles north of Squaw Rock. She continues, saying there were many guns being fired as well as explosives. She also tells of a girl having been “turned out” by some of the riders. The girl was raped by multiple men, threatened with a gun and stabbed. The girl did get away alive.
If all of that happened Mendocino County law enforcement missed it because an article written after the weekend said there was no trouble caused by the cyclists. There was no mention of a rape and stabbing or of gunfire and explosives.
Page four of the interview goes on to give more details about the Gypsy Jokers. Three Gypsy Joker’s were arrested for killing a Black man and injuring another for no apparent reason in February 1969. There were not three Black men killed.
Next on page four Leslie talks about a Gypsy Joker, Dirty Doug, and a Hells Angel being killed in a bar fight which started a war between the Jokers and Angels. There may have been a bar fight but no one was killed. Dirty Doug, T/N Doug Bontempi passed away in 2009. However, there was a war between the Jokers and Angels. It went on for a number of months though I could not find any deaths of either Jokers or Angels that were related to the war. Lots of fights though, many of which are recounted in Phil Cross’s book. The majority of Gypsy Jokers who died were killed in vehicle accidents or by law enforcement. The San Jose chapter of the Gypsy Jokers patched over to the Hells Angels June 11, 1969. The Jokers knew they could never beat the Angels so decided to join them instead.
I can’t speak to several students being stabbed in Santa Barbara. I could not find any articles saying there had been a rash of stabbings.
Leslie claims to have seen Grant Molan (Steve Grogan), and possibly Mary Scott (Patricia Krenwinkel) and Sadie Glutz in the leather shop. She does not say when she saw them. Because Leslie used the aliases of Grogan and Krenwinkel I suspect she was shown mug shots taken before law enforcement had a handle on the true names of the Family members.
As for the claim that the motorcycle clubs were discussing potential contract murders that went to the lowest bidder, I can only say that I looked through newspaper articles for murders for hire arrests. I found a handful that took place between 1966 and 1969. No motorcycle club members were named as suspects. Either they were very, very good at not getting caught or it just didn’t happen. I suspect the latter.
Sanders didn’t write about most of what was in Bouffard’s interview, that was probably a wise decision on his part. But what he did write obviously came from the interview and created a shit storm of controversary.
I attempted to contact Victor Wild. I told him I had Leslie Bouffard’s police interview and would like to ask him some questions. He did not reply to my email.
Thursday, November 3, 2022
THE DEATH OF THE MANSON FAMILY ATTORNEY, RONALD HUGHES, HAS SPARKED THEORIES FOR 50 YEARS
BY BRIAN MYERS/UPDATED: NOV. 2, 2022 1:03 PM UTC
The August 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders shook the world and shined a spotlight on Charles Manson and the killers, who he ordered to carry out lethal attacks on seven victims. As if the horrific murders themselves weren't fodder for the media, the arrest and trial of Manson and three co-defendants should have made the presses run dry of ink. A seven-month-long trial took place in 1970, becoming the longest trial in American history (per History) until the 1984 McMartin child abuse trial topped it (via The New York Times).
Representing a high-profile client for multiple murders can carry certain risks. This could have been the case for attorney Ronald Hughes, who was reportedly going to represent Manson at his historic trial. Two weeks before the trial began, Manson replaced him with attorney Irving Kanarek (via UMKC Law). This didn't take Hughes out of the picture, however. Manson was being tried alongside Patricia Krenwinkel, Susan Atkins, and Leslie Van Houten, each of whom would need their own legal counsel. Hughes represented Van Houten, a move that some speculate might have cost him his life.
Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi pointed out in an interview that Charles Manson was seeking what is known as an "umbrella defense," in which the sole purpose was to get him alone exonerated. But Hughes, hired to represent Leslie Van Houten, worked to secure and present the best defense for his client. This meant combatting the idea that she, along with co-defendants Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel, acted of their own free will and did not receive any order to kill from Manson.
Manson's followers acting in concert was tantamount to his defense strategy. Should any one of his co-defendants say under oath that they were acting on his behalf, Manson's case would have been doomed. Fully aware of this, Manson's attorney, Irving Kanarek, immediately rested their case the moment the prosecution rested theirs. This prompted outbursts from Manson and the others on trial, who demanded that they be able to testify. Their plan was to get on the stand and state that they planned and committed the murders without Manson, helping their leader but damning themselves.
Of this tactic, Ronald Hughes stated (per True TV) that he refused "to take part in any proceeding where I am forced to push a client out the window." After Manson was allowed to testify on his own behalf, he told Van Houten, Atkins, and Krenwinkel that their words on the stand were no longer needed, leaving him the only person who testified for the defense. Still, Hughes' work on Van Houten's behalf angered Manson, who recognized that the attorney had better odds of obtaining an acquittal for his client if Manson could be shown as having control and undue influence over some of his followers. Some theorize that Manson may have taken revenge.
After both sides presented their cases, Judge Charles Older declared a 10-day recess to give time for the state and the defense to prepare their closing arguments. When the trial was brought back into session on November 30, 1970, Hughes was conspicuously absent (per A&E).
It was revealed that Hughes had embarked on a camping trip to Sespe Hot Springs. Hughes didn't have a vehicle but was able to get a ride there with two friends. According to "Unsolved Mysteries," Hughes journeyed to the campsite with James Forsher and Lauren Elder in Elder's Volkswagen Microbus. Days into their trip, the Los Padres National Park was hit by rainstorms, triggering flash flooding. Elder and Forsher decided to leave, but Hughes wanted to stay and enjoy the rest of the trip. As the VW was stuck in the mud, the two were forced to walk out on foot and hitchhike back home.
When Hughes didn't show up to court after recess, a search party was formed. Elder's VW was located, along with the scattered court paperwork that Hughes had brought with him on the trip. Mysteriously, the file containing Leslie Van Houten's psychiatric reports was nowhere to be found. And neither was Hughes. Suspecting foul play, police immediately questioned Elder and Forsher in hopes of getting a solid lead or a confession. But Hughes' friends were steadfast in their account of what happened. They even submitted to polygraph testing and passed. Subsequent foot and helicopter searches turned up no trace of Hughes, who was now feared to be dead.
The weather conditions in the area where Ronald Hughes was last seen prompted some to speculate that he had succumbed to the elements. On March 29, 1971, the day that Charles Manson and his followers were sentenced to death for their crimes (via History), two fishermen made a grisly discovery: a badly decomposed body wedged in between two large rocks. It had been washed down a creek a good distance and showed no signs of foul play or injuries consistent with violence. "Unsolved Mysteries" tells us that Hughes' body was so far gone that he had to be identified by his dental records.
After examining the body, the coroner ruled that the cause of death of "undetermined." However, this ruling does not mean that they felt foul play was responsible. Charlie Rudd, who investigated the Hughes case for the Ventura County Sheriff's Department, stated that the heavy rains in that area would have swept Hughes off his feet. From his perspective, the attorney was overcome by the water and simply drowned.
But this revelation did little to stop growing speculation that Hughes' death was not an accident and that he was targeted by Manson for revenge.
The chilling last words Charles Manson spoke to Ronald Hughes may have helped put forth the idea that he ordered the attorney's death. "Attorney, I don't ever want to see you in this courtroom again," was the order barked at Hughes by the defendant just before the trial went into its 10-day recess (per "Hunting Charles Manson"). It would end up being almost prophetic, as Hughes died days later.
Vincent Bugliosi put forth the theory that Manson had Hughes murdered out of revenge. According to "Unsolved Mysteries," the Manson trial prosecutor was in total disagreement with the Ventura County Sheriff's Department and wanted a full investigation into Hughes' death. Though this request was ultimately denied, the fact that someone with some authority purporting that murder was a strong possibility gave more credence to the theory that Manson had ordered a murder.
Adding to this theory was what former Manson Family member Sandra Goode revealed to documentary filmmakers in December 1975. She claims that "the family" was responsible for nearly 40 murders and that Hughes was the first revenge killing. A year later, Bugliosi received a phone call from an anonymous source that told him that Manson ordered Hughes' death after Hughes angered him in the courtroom.
Ronald Hughes' disappearance left Leslie Van Houten without legal representation for the rest of the trial. Though the defense had already rested, she was appointed a new lawyer for the remainder of the proceedings. After being found guilty and sentenced to death, Van Houten filed for an appeal. The Lodi News-Sentinel reports that the appeals court ruled in her favor, stating that Hughes' disappearance resulted in her having an unfair trial. She was granted a new one, but the jury deadlocked. Of the 12-member panel, seven voted to find her guilty of first-degree murder, while five voted to find her guilty of manslaughter. Already in over $1 million for both trials, the state tried a third time to get Van Houten convicted.
Her legal defense strategy of blaming heavy LSD use and Manson's cult influence did not play out well the third time. In July 1978, Van Houten was found guilty of the murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca (via The Spokesman-Review) and sentenced to seven years to life in prison (per the Los Angeles Times).
A pdf of the LA Times articles written from the time Ron Hughes went missing until his funeral.