Monday, December 4, 2023


 Scratch is a term that law enforcement uses for the notes that they take. They are informal and much like the notes and lists we make for ourselves, they can be on a variety of different types of paper written with whatever writing implement we have handy, with our own abbreviations.  

Some of the notes in the pdf are hard to read and decipher, I haven't quite figured all of them out. The notes do offer a look at the steps LE takes to develop leads to further the investigation. Not all leads pan out and some are bogus.

I will be posting the scratch over the next few weeks in small batches. If you look at it all at once, it's just too overwhelming.

On page 20 of the file there is mention of Bill Vance and Topanga Stables, it's something about a car given to the owner of the stables and Bill wanting the car back so he can start a church as near as I can tell.

I did a search on Topanga Stables and found that Phil and Karen Schoonmaker owned it. In 1968 there were ads in the local newspaper for horses that were for sale at the stables.

In September of 1969 Phil Schoonmaker received a Distinguished Service Citation from LASD for aiding in the arrest of arsonists.

Topanga Stables was a place where the public could go on trail rides much like Spahn Ranch. This is a portion of an article about the different places to go trail riding in LA.


Then in 1974 the Schoonmaker's manager Robert Stephen Cane, 25, was killed during an argument with James Lee Rambo, 30, over money matters. The killing was deemed justifiable.


Tragical History Tour said...

You're correct - hard to read.

But interesting on page 19 - 'Piggy and Helter Skelter turned Charlie on."

That's the whole case, right?

starviego said...

"Melba Kronkite could talk(?) to the court. Charlie told Clem to burn her house down."

What did Melba do to earn the ire of Charlie?

Medium Patty said...

Deb, you are knocking it out of the park these days.
Thanks for sharing (and doing so slowly so I have time to go through these).

JBernstein said...

Fascinating post. Whose work product is this?

Also, please post more.

DebS said...

JBernstein, it is the work of various law enforcement in Inyo County.

TabOrFresca said...

Thanks again for sharing your research and time. It moves us all forward; or at least “over under sideways down”.

Scratch notes at times can be puzzling. It’s not clear what the questions were, were there clerical errors, were they taken during an interview or are they notes from listening to a recorded interview, was it done in person or over the phone.

The note shown on page one depicts a (one-day) truck rental from “Doug’s U-Rent” by “Garth Tufts” (Grogan). This lines up with Von Ahn’s interview but the (presumed) expected return date has a year that appears to be 4 years earlier. Probably just clerical, but …

The 8 pages of notes at the end, pages 15-22, sound a bit like some info Watkins provided. I am curious as to why TJ was tagged “The Terrible”. These notes are the earliest instance of that nickname I recall seeing.

One scratch note definitely makes me scratch my head. Other than bad teenage judgement, I don’t know of anything insincere said or done by Schram. But she appears to be quite ditzy and it’s unclear what many of her statements mean, especially during the long recorded interview she gave at home. The way I read page 8 is,

“The week before Stephanie arrives in Golar Wash, 2 girls left - (Sherry & another [Hoyt]) - “ask Brenda”.

This statement implies that Sherry and Hoyt left earlier than commonly documented and Schram arrived later than commonly documented. I also wonder how much of what Schram saw was what she heard and not saw.

Medium Patty said...

What's this on page 6:
? Graves - "shovel"
/ or a P - pick axe
Box buried near Ballarat? /

And page 11, underneath contact information for Larry Barker:
re: Bodies Buried

I thought claims of additional murders came later from the Family?

Monica said...

This is good stuff, Deb! I find it interesting that the scratch mentions Charlie, Clem, Bruce, and Tex being there for Shorty's murder and making shorty sweat. Those four only, and this aligns with what I've always believed. So very sad.

DebS said...

Medium Patty, I know that LE was trying make a connection between a pick-axe found at the scene where Tenerelli's car was found and a receipt found that showed Nancy Pitman purchased a pick-axe among other things at a hardware store. I suspect that is what the scratch is referencing.

The Tenerelli Files are here:

DebS said...

Monica, that's very observant of you to notice that. Other accounts name Larry Bailey and Bill Vance as being at Shorty's murder but the scratch suggests that it was the three who were convicted and Tex who killed Shorty.

TabOrFresca said...

The 10/15/69 interview of Watkins includes:

“Regarding the rumor that a person known as "Shorty" had been killed, Watkins said Manson told him that Tufts had killed "Shorty". Watkins also stated that Tufts told him that he had killed "Shorty", that some of the girls dug a hole and put the body in it. Also at the site where Shorty was buried were Tufts, Manson, Bruce Davis, Tex Montgomery. Watkins did not know the location of burial site.”

This was part of the 10/20/69 Raid Report:

Unknown said...

Thank you DebS