Monday, June 17, 2024

Bill Scanlan Murphy, Dennis Wilson and Charles Manson

 

Aisling and father, Bill Scanlan Murphy

The Beach Boys, Charles Manson and my dad: a Father’s Day story

by Aisling Murphy

Original Story


My parents make noise for a living.


Mom is a professional opera singer and voice teacher. My father, at various points in his life, has been a session musician, church organist and electronic music programmer (not to mention a journalist, teacher and naval historian). So, growing up, I was surrounded by music.


Just after my fifth birthday, my dad, Bill Scanlan Murphy, decided it was time to sit me, his only kid, down at the piano.


He shared the bench with me as my fingers babbled over the keys. Slowly, he began to build a melody under my simple, rambling descant. Before long, my dad was playing “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys, singing as he played, not minding the errant notes pealing from the right-hand side of the piano.


We played together like that often, him cycling through the Southern California band’s discography, and me experimenting with a soprano line, figuring out which notes sounded right. Before long, he was explaining basic music theory, showing me how I could play nearly any pop song using just four chords. When I took it upon myself to learn the theme from “Hannah Montana,” he taught me how to play a B-flat major chord on piano in a way that wouldn’t make my hands cramp up.


As I got a little older, I began to wonder just who these Beach Boys were and why they might be so important to my father. My dad’s always been eccentric; it didn’t occur to me at age eight to care much that he had performed with these rock stars, or that he’d had a close friendship with their drummer Dennis Wilson, or that his relationship with the band eventually led to him interview Charles Manson.


Now, at age 26, I care more, especially as another Father’s Day comes around. My dad just turned 70 — and the Beach Boys once again are in the headlines. I care quite a bit.


“I owed my mother some money,” he told me recently. “And she just wasn’t letting me off the hook. I was 18, and I needed to get some cash fast to pay the old lady off. So I went into the gig I didn’t want to do, which was playing jingles.”


It was 1972. My dad was living in Manchester, England, spending some time at home before going to study music at the University of Oxford. Though born in Glasgow, he’d moved to Manchester as a child.


“My jingle producer hated my guts,” he said, laughing. “He got a call during the session, and I only heard half of the conversation. But he got off the phone and asked if I knew ‘that Beach Boys s—t.’ And I said, well, of course I did. Who didn’t know the Beach Boys? As it turned out, they needed someone to play keyboards for them that night.”


He showed up to play the gig at King’s Hall. Whatever songs he didn’t already know, he was able to learn on the spot — and he got to meet the Beach Boys. He became particularly close with Wilson, who was known to be a drug-addled womanizer.


“He had a reputation of being dangerous,” my dad recalled. “He did a lot of drugs, and a lot of drinking, and he was actually a bit scary. But he was profoundly talented, and I got to know him really well. Over the next few years, he’d sometimes give me a call and have me come down to London and play.”


In June 1975, the Beach Boys had an opening slot at Elton John’s MidSummer Music bash, an all-day festival at London’s Wembley Stadium. Wilson called my dad to come play keys for a handful of songs.


“The place went crazy,” he said. “I had never seen a crowd react to a group like that before.” Today, that concert is regarded as one of the group’s great comeback performances.


My dad didn’t hang out with the other Beach Boys much — he was known by the band as “Dennis’ little buddy.” “I have never seen a gravitational pull like Dennis’,” he said. “He could talk to anyone. He was so self-destructive but so charismatic. I learned important things from Dennis and being around him.”


One day, Wilson told my dad about a songwriter he’d met a few years earlier. He was in awe of the guy, he said, adding that he also had decent guitar chops. He called him “The Wizard.”


But his name was Charles Manson.


My dad became fascinated by the connection between Manson and the Beach Boys, and in 1991 he created a documentary for BBC Radio One about “Smile,” the group’s legendary unreleased album. He continued to dig into Manson, finding himself at the centre of a story that became increasingly less about music and more about the convicted murderer’s criminal history. In the early ‘90s, my dad finally interviewed him in prison, and in 1994, he produced a radio show about the Beach Boys and Manson called “Cease to Exist.”


“Around the Beach Boys, there was always this unspoken rule,” my dad told me. “Don’t mention ‘Smile,’ and don’t mention Charlie. And of course, I did both. Making the ‘Smile’ documentary is something I’m really proud of — it’s the achievement I want on my tombstone. That’s the thing I hope people know about my relationship with the Beach Boys — not some tinkling on a keyboard for them at Wembley.”


After Wilson drowned in 1983, my dad kept chasing the Manson story. He’s even cited on page 666 of the paperback edition of “Helter Skelter,” the 1974 book by prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry about Manson and his Family. He’s often called a conspiracy theorist on internet forums devoted to Manson. (In my early teens, I discovered an online movement dedicated to disproving my father’s theories on the Tate-LaBianca murders — not exactly something my friends at the time knew how to handle or even understand.)



These days, my dad’s life is a little quieter. He’s no longer hopping from party to party in Manchester or London; he and my mother left the U.K. in 1998 just a few months before I was born in Baltimore. My dad’s the organist and music director for the oldest Methodist church in the U.S.; he’s a professor with a dedicated following of electronic music students in Howard County, Md.; and he’s the proud owner of two geriatric bearded collies, both of whom share my family’s penchant for noisemaking.


“People used to think of me as the Manson guy, or the Beach Boys guy,” he said. “But around here these days, I’m the dog guy. And I’m happy with that. I’m perfectly happy to be the dog guy, and to be your dad. That’s good enough for me.”


Last year, I bought an electronic piano, one of my more expensive and less practical whims. Before that, I hadn’t lived with a piano since leaving my parents’ home for university in Canada in 2016. I wasn’t sure how easily the notes would come to my unpracticed fingers.


Without my thinking about it, the opening phrase to “God Only Knows” tumbled from my hands. It must be in my genes.

----------------------------------------------------------

YouTube wouldn't let me embed the video of the two hour interview so here's the link. The sound is terrible.

https://youtu.be/QBvfib_MVlk?si=GW6CA3duQ8RkhUoc

This is narrated by Bill Scanlan Murphy and has some interesting moments. 

Monday, June 10, 2024

Odds and Ends




 There's some more scratch in the linked file. There's a precursor to Deemer's list with a couple of names I don't recall being on the final list. And there are a couple of memos written by Millie McCormack, DA Frank Fowles secretary, about Susan Atkins and her child. I think we all knew that Susan kidnapped her son from the Sylmar Welfare Center but it's nice to see it in writing.

Scratch 3 File




Monday, June 3, 2024

Geraldo's Manson Family Reunion

It was a pathetic circus, but historical content nonetheless.







 

Monday, May 27, 2024

Clark Nagle and Robert Bomse

 


Clark Nagle and Robert Bomse were two young men that were arrested June 22,1968 along with Susan Atkins (Sadie Mae Glutz), Patricia Krenwinkel (Cathran Smith), Stephanie Rowe (Suzanne Scott), Ella Jo Bailey (Ella Beth Cinder), and Mary Brunner.

Bomse was considered an adult at 18 years old so he was named in the article. Clark Nagle was one of the 17 year olds and was not named. 


Cielo Drive obtained a number of files relating to the Manson Family from the Los Angeles County Districy Attorney's Office which he has been doling out for the past few months on his Patreon website. Files on Clark Nagle and Robert Bomse are two of those files.

Clark Nagle 1967

Clark Eugene Nagle, a juvenile at the time of the so called Witches of Mendocino arrests, was a troubled youth. He had a string of arrests and was a runaway from foster care in Mendocino County on June 22, 1968. His parents had washed their hands of him because of his uncontrollable behavior. Clark's file is probably typical of a youth who has lost his way and can see no other way to conduct their life except to drink, use drugs and be a general menace. 

The one thing that is interesting about his file is that Roger Smith was asked to enroll Clark in his Amphetamine Research Project. There are a few pages between pages 31 and 43 where Roger Smith is mentioned. There's even a letter signed by Roger Smith explaining a little about what he does. It appears that the project was to be run out of a group home in Bodega Bay (Sonoma County). The project was to be facilitated under the auspices of the University of California at San Francisco, Children's Hospital.

We have little or no documentation about Roger Smith and his project. Dr. David Smith from the Haight-Ashbury clinic does mention Roger Smith and his project in his book "Love Needs Care" but that doesn't equate to documentation. So, it's nice to see a little something and know who sponsored the project.

As for Clark going forward after his Boonville arrest, it appears that Mendocino County kept him in their custody until a couple of weeks before his 18th birthday  and then cut him loose. He was no longer their problem. Clark, according to newspaper articles was arrested again for DUI and leaving the scene of an accident. His crimes weren't such that they warranted publication. He found the fortitude to get clean and eventually became a counselor at ABC Recovery Center in Indio CA. He was living in Palm Desert and working for ABC when he died Feb. 18, 1990, at age 39. 

CLARK EUGENE NAGLE FILE

Robert Michael Bomse was 18 years old when arrested. He was considered an adult. His file is confined to the the crimes he was arrested for on June 22, 1968. There is no real background other than saying he was from Brooklyn NY and his parents names.

Bomse pled guilty to possession of marijuana and was given a suspended sentence of 120  days in jail and two years probation. He was also ordered to the California State Hospital in Talmage (Mendocino County) for an evaluation.

Robert unlike Clark had a good relationship with his parents. His mother came out from New York soon after he was arrested. Presumably she helped him through the legal end of his arrest. It's what happened after his release that is notable.

Robert had such a good relationship with his parents that his father Dr. Emmanuel Bomse leased land in New Mexico for Robert and some of his New York friends to start the Kingdom of Heaven commune near Guadalupita NM. After a few months the locals took exception to the folks at the commune for applying for food stamps and other government handouts. They felt that the government assistance should go to the local people that really needed it as opposed to a bunch of college kids from out of state.

As a result six local men went to the Kingdom of Heaven commune and attacked. One of the men who came out from New York with Robert Bomse was killed. Bomse was hit in the head with a pistol and shoved in the trunk of a car with two other people. A woman was raped. In the end the locals got off pretty light.

The Hog Farm's New Mexico commune gets a mention in the Aug. 17, 1970 article.

BOMSE MURDER ARTICLES

There's not much of a trail on Bomse after the killing in New Mexico. There was a divorce announcement in the Hawaii Tribune Herald saying that Bonnie Bomse of Captain Cook, HI and Robert Bomse of London England had filed for divorce in Dec. 1972. 

Robert Bomse died in March 1984 at the age of 35.

ROBERT BOMSE FILE 


Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Fountain of the World is For Sale

 


California property with dark ties to 2 cults, including the Manson Family, lists for $6.2M

 


A promotional video for this listed California property calls it Xanadu — the fabled city built by Kublai Khan — but it’s not what many may think.

 

The massive parcel of wild land in Box Canyon in Southern California’s Simi Valley, which asks $6.2 million for sale, has a dark history.

 

For starters, the Spahn Movie Ranch, a former cowboy movie set where many western films and TV favorites like “Bonanza” were shot, is a neighboring property. Spahn was infamously taken over by the Manson Family in the late 1960s.


 

It was from up there, about 25 miles northwest of Hollywood, that Charles Manson and his followers plotted two of the most brutal multiple slayings in American history. Collectively known as the Tate-LaBianca murders, the six victims included actress Sharon Tate and her unborn child, coffee heiress Abigail Folger and the LaBiancas, an elderly couple. Charles Manson and several Family members were eventually convicted of nine murders, including these, but they are suspected in at least 15 more.

 

That certainly put the dilapidated Spahn Movie Ranch, owned by George Spahn, in the headlines. But it wasn’t Manson’s first choice as a place to hang his hat. Before moving a few miles west over to Spahn, Manson initially wanted to live on this plot of land in Box Canyon.

 




Today, this property listed as 585 Box Canyon Road is a serene 17-acre spread within the hills around the well-to-do town of Chatsworth. The land has several rental homes built among shading old oak trees at its lower elevation.

 

“It is a very unique property — huge, probably the largest in the area,” listing representative Chris Johnson told The Post. Johnson and his partner Holly Hatch — of Holly & Chris Luxury Homes Group, Coldwell Banker Calabasas — are handling the sale.

 

“It’s beautiful and peaceful, unspoiled. It’s like the wild, wild west up there,” he added. “But you’re very close to Calabasas and you can be in LA in 45 minutes.”

 

Those are the comforts of today. Even before Manson came along, bizarre events were already happening in Box Canyon.

 

In 1948, a man calling himself Krishna Venta (real name Frank Pencovic) founded the Fountain of the World cult, aka the WKFL (Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith and Love), there. It’s not entirely clear who owned the land at that time or how Venta acquired it. But smoke and mirrors was Venta’s modus operandi as he spun his doctrine to blindly faithful followers — one that said he came to Earth half a billion years before on a spaceship (he was born in San Francisco), and that he was the second coming of Jesus Christ. Venta also predicted that the human race would be all but obliterated after a black vs. white race war, also involving the Russians — it was the Cold War era, after all. The eventual survivors would, of course, be the Fountain members, who would then rise victorious in an inheriting the Earth-type scenario.

 

Venta wielded absolute power with his charismatic sermons from his pulpit in the Box Canyon compound’s church. He would make grand declarations, then sometimes miraculously disappear from the pulpit.

 

“There’s a tunnel on the property, which leads from the pulpit,” said Johnson with a laugh. “Apparently, he’d disappear and pop up and surprise people and say, ‘See, it’s a miracle! I really am Jesus,’” he added. “There are so many stories about this place it’s hard to keep up.”

 

One of them is especially tragic. Venta had a feud with a couple of men in the cult, who accused him of sexual interactions with their wives. Those men loaded up with explosives and blew up Venta in a suicide bombing, which also killed nine Fountain members — including children.

 




Apparently, according to UCLA records, Venta’s right hand man, Bishop Asiaiah, became the cult’s new leader. Around 1968, the already much-troubled Manson and his followers moved in, and Manson tried to take over the cult.

 

The already-mentally unstable Manson is thought to have admired Venta and is said to have wanted to emulate the way he had absolute control over his followers. Also, Venta’s doctrine is eerily similar to Manson’s rantings about a race war destroying the US, and it is widely thought that the cult leader’s influence steered him onto his megalomaniacal path.

 

“Manson seems to have viewed Krisna Venta as a role model,” Hatch agreed. “The new leader tried to push Manson out of the way. That’s how Manson and his followers ended up at nearby Spahn Movie Ranch.”

 

Apparently, Bishop Asiaiah may have thought Manson a bit of a loser, and mocked him, saying Manson didn’t hold absolute power over his followers like he and Venta did. According to local lore, to show Bishop Asiaiah who was boss, Manson challenged one of his own followers to prove his loyalty by tying himself to a pole on a nearby rock formation, telling him to stay there for two weeks.

 

That cave-like rock, shaped like a wolf’s skull, is called Skull Rock.




 

“Yes, Skull Rock is right there on the Box Canyon property,” said Johnson, who had heard the story. “The land has so many caves. I grew up in the area and would hike the hills with my father. The locals called the caves up there the Manson Caves, because the Manson Family members would use them.

 

“After the murders,” he added, “the Manson girls are said to have fled to the caves to hide out. They would certainly have known about them, so that story is quite likely.”

 

Hatch agreed: “They knew where to hide up there because they had been there on the property so much.”

 

The property includes 11 parcels with several buildings, which date to the Fountain’s occupation, including the original main lodge.

 

“Nobody has done much with the buildings since then. They are lived in, but they need modernization,” said Hatch.

 

“The land has three artisan wells, and there are waterfalls and seasonal creeks,” added Johnson. “It’s really beautiful.”

 



Spahn Movie Ranch burned to the ground in 1970. A couple years after, the Fountain began petering out with members dispersing to found or join other cults — two members even died in Jim Jones’ Jonestown mass suicide in 1978 in Guyana.

 

Only one member of the Manson Family murderers has been freed from prison; Manson himself died in prison in California in 2017 at age 83.

 

After the Fountain folks moved on, the current family acquired the land and buildings, and it’s been happily inhabited ever since by many tenants.

 

Hatch and Johnson are wary of oddballs being attracted to this listing, but neither thinks the controversy surrounding Box Canyon will harm the property’s sale.

 

“There’s so much more to this intricate property than that controversial side,” Hatch said. “Most people know it for its incredible landscape. It’s magical; it’s very different. Nobody says anything negative about it. This would be perfect as a resort or wellness center with a focus on healing.”

 

“I don’t think it’s a big deal, the property speaks for itself,” agreed Johnson. “It’s very creative and … flowing. It would make a great resort or artist colony. It’s similar to Topanga Canyon, but Topanga has become so oversubscribed. Box Canyon is still undiscovered. It’s quiet, untouched and mountainous. It’s the last frontier of LA.”

Original Article

A detective magazine story on the bombing.

Friday, April 26, 2024

Randy Starr and Sherry Cooper

 This picture was found in the Simi Valley Star and published May 17, 1968. Was it Randy Starr that clued Sherry Cooper in about Spahn Ranch?



 A magnification of Randy and Sherry.



Monday, April 15, 2024

A confidential Report on the Warren Dulaney Murders



Cielodrive just released a never before seen report compiled by the California Department of Justice on the Nancy Warren and Clyda Dulaney murders that occurred October 13/14, 1968 in Mendocino County about six miles south of the city of Ukiah on Highway 101.

If you recall the murders took place about three and a half months after Susan Atkins, Mary Brunner, Patricia Krenwinkel, Stephanie Rowe and Ella Jo Bailey were arrested along with a number of young men, who were local to the area of Boonville. By mid October most, if not all, of the court hearings were completed but a few members of the Family were still in Hopland and the very southern end of Mendocino County.

Once the arrests for the TLB murders were made in Los Angeles County in December 1969 jurisdictions from all over questioned whether or not members of the Family could have possibly committed an unsolved murder in their towns. The murders of Nancy Warren and Clyda Dulaney were two of the murders. 

We have made quite a few posts in the past about these murders. Mansonblog's Saint Circumstance even went to interview Clyda Dulaney's oldest son Johnny in Florida. The blog became friends with Johnny. He sincerely wanted to see the murders of his mother and great grandmother solved. Unfortunately Johnny passed away a little more than a year ago so he won't be able to learn what is in this report.

There is a brief mention of the so called Witches of Mendocino on page two of the report. At the end of the page it states "Investigation Suspended" with no reason. The remainder of the report details the crime and leans heavily on Clyda's husband, Donald Dulaney a CHP officer, as the prime suspect. After reading the report, I understand why.

Thank you Cielodrive for sharing all of your hard work!

Warren-Dulaney File


Monday, March 25, 2024

DeWayne Allen Wolfer

About a year ago Deb sent me almost everything that follows on DeWayne Wolfer. Thank you, Deb.
______

 

DeWayne Allen Wolfer was born July 25, 1925. At the time of the Tate-LaBianca trial he was employed in the Scientific Investigation Division (SID) of the LAPD as a criminologist. While technically a police officer by pay rate, Wolfer makes it pretty clear in his testimony that he did not really consider himself to be one. 

 

On August 18,1969 Wolfer went to 10050 Cielo Drive to conduct acoustic testing with an assistant named Butler. To be specific, he went there to test whether Garretson could have heard the gunshots that night. He took a decibel or sound meter and a .22 long barrel, Colt version of the revolver used in the murders. 

______

 

In Helter Skelter Bugliosi says this about Wolfer’s acoustic experiment. 

 

“Using a general level sound meter and a .22 caliber revolver, and duplicating as closely as possible the conditions that existed on the night of the murders, Wolfer and an assistant proved (1) that if Garretson was inside the guest house as he claimed, he couldn’t possibly have heard the shots that killed Steven Parent; and (2) that with the stereo on, with the volume at either 4 or 5, he couldn’t have heard either screams or gunshots coming from in front of or inside the main residence.* The tests supported Garretson’s story that he did not hear any shots that night.” (Emphasis added by me)

 

Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (pp. 71-72). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

 

That’s not what Wolfer said at trial. But we’ll get there in a bit.

______

 

At first blush Wolfer looks like a great witness. 


Wolfer had a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Southern California in chemistry or physics. He had served as a criminalist since 1951. He was a professor at the California State College of Long Beach where he taught 'criminalistics' and he had previously taught at the University of Southern California, El Camino College, Fullerton College, Santa Barbara College and Ventura College. He had testified hundreds of times involving firearms and ballistic matters. He had written the lab procedures manual for SID and he was a member of the American Association of Forensic Scientists.

 

His resume included acting as chief investigator and testifying in the trial of Jack Kirschke. In 1967 a deputy DA from Los Angeles County, Jack Kirschke, killed his wife and her lover. He was arrested and charged with the double murder, tried and found guilty in large part, according to the press, based upon Wolfer’s testimony that included a dramatic reenactment of the lover’s body falling to the floor to explain a sound heard by witnesses that helped undermine Kirschke’s alibi. 

 

Wolfer was brought in to testify in the closing days of the trial. He was the prosecution’s key witness. His testimony that it was Kirschke's gun that killed the two lovers and his testimony that one of the bodies fell off the bed because of a shift in blood after death was credited with Kirschke's conviction. His third area of expertise during the trial was to explain acoustically how several witness might not have heard the gunshots. He opined that Kirschke used a crude silencer. 

 

Kirschke was paroled in 1977. 

 

In 1968 Wolfer was the key ballistics investigator in the assassination of Robert Kennedy and subsequently testified in the trial of Sirhan Sirhan. He is the guy who testified that all the shots came from Sirhan’s gun. In fact, he said 'no other gun in the world' could have fired the shots. He also testified on an acoustics issue. The picture up there is from that case. 

 

Sometime in 1971-72 he became the chief of SID despite the objection of a number of people orchestrated by an attorney named Barbara Warner Blehr. These objections led to an investigation into Wolfer’s practices including the Sirhan gun. He was cleared of any wrongdoing by a LA DA ‘s investigation. 

 

Wolfer passed away in 2012.

 

Deb dug a little deeper and found a few blemishes on Wolfer’s resume. 

 

In 1975 Mr. Kirschke filed an appeal of his conviction. The appeal was denied by the Court of Appeals on grounds that are legally correct but here is what the court had to say about Wolfer. 

______

 

"We conclude that while Wolfer negligently presented false demonstrative evidence in support of his ballistics testimony, Kirschke had ample opportunity to rebut the demonstrative evidence at trial so that the negligently false evidence is not a basis for collateral attack. (In re Manchester, 33 Cal.2d 740, 742, 204 P.2d 881; In re Waltreus, 62 Cal.2d 218, 221, 42 Cal.Rptr. 9, 397 P.2d 1001, cert. den. 382 U.S. 853, 86 S.Ct. 103, 15 L.Ed.2d 92.) We conclude further that while Wolfer's acoustical testimony was false and while his testimony on qualifications as an expert on anatomy was also false and borders on the perjurious, the opinion evidence given by Wolfer dealing with acoustics and anatomy pertained to essentially irrelevant matter and beyond a reasonable doubt could not have affected the outcome of the trial" (Emphasis added by me).  

 

https://caselaw.findlaw.com/court/ca-court-of-appeal/1830296.html

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Ouch!

 

By 1980 Wolfer, now the head of SID, was suspended without pay for 30 days and his entire department was disciplined for a host of offenses including sloppy handling of evidence, drinking on the job and firing pellet guns out the windows. 

 



 






















On November 24, 1988, an article appeared in the LA Weekly entitled Robert Kennedy: The Assassination This Time. The article followed the release of documents related to the assassination by the LAPD. Now, admittedly, the LA Weekly is not the LA Times. But here is what they say about Wolfer, referencing, in part, his issues from 1971 and the opinion of a colleague from that time that is far from flattering. 

 

So, according to this information and a court, Wolfer had a problem with the truth and used very sloppy or negligent techniques. He also is alleged to have fudged his results to get the DA what he wanted. 

 

Now back to Cielo Drive. 

 

Wolfer and Butler arrive at Cielo Drive at noon on August 18th. So much for “duplicating as closely as possible the conditions that existed on the night of the murders”. 

 

In fact, very little about the experiment duplicated the night of the murders. Wolfer testified that Sergeant George Deese opened the rear door (pool?) and rear (nursery?) windows and ‘reconditioned the scene to its original positions’ (tipped over the trunks?). Humidity, wind, background noise and temperature were not compared even though Wolfer admitted they could play a factor. Wolfer appeared to not recognize that the rear of the house was actually the front of the house.

 

Butler then went to three locations on the property: where Parent’s car was found, near the location of the trunks and close to the front porch near the heel print. Butler fired five rounds at each location two times, towards the ground, into a sandbag. That too could effect the decibels recorded. So too, could Butler's position. If he was between the gun and the meter his body could help muffle the sound. 

 

Wolfer was inside the guest house near the stereo with the meter. Garretson testified he was on the couch (which would buffer the sound of the stereo) and at one point was at a window in the bathroom. Wolfer never changed his location.  


The first set of five were fired with the stereo off. The second set were fired, he testified at first, with the FM radio in the stereo on at volume “5”. Wolfer testified he could hear and register on his meter the first 5 but not the second five shots. 

 

He also testified that somewhere around volume 2-3 the shots could probably be heard but he wrote nothing down at the time regarding any test.

 

Fitzgerald: You are a man with an obvious scientific orientation, are you not? 

A. I would say yes. 

Q. And I take it that when the stereo was set at 3 you wrote down the reading on your decibel meter, correct? 

A. No, I did not. 

Q. Was there some reason for that? 

A. Yes. 

Q. What was the reason? 

A. My major reason was I was sent there to conduct tests at the setting of 5. 

Q. And you did not record the decibel level when the stereo was set at 4 either, did you? 

A. Mentally, yes, but recording it physically, no. 

Q. You are depending on your memory today when you testified as to the decibel level when the stereo was set at 4 and 3? 

A. Yes.

 

Stewart, Mike. The People of the State of California vs. Charles Manson Vol III (pp. 3290-3291). Kindle Edition.

______

 

As an aside, one thing I have noticed about the defense lawyers in this trial is how utterly unprepared they were. When you try a case, you have a pretty good idea who the witnesses will be (in a criminal case the DA has to tell you) and prepare exhibits and questions based upon what you know. Now and again, you might have to lean over to your client in a civil case and ask, ‘who is this?’ but generally you know. 

 

During his testimony Wolfer denied he was an expert on acoustics, which should have brought an objection: irrelevant, since all he is doing is vouching for the credibility of Garretson. At that point no witness for the defense has challenged Garretson’s credibility. 


In Kirschke (and the RFK trial) he stated he was, indeed, an expert on acoustics and Bugliosi certainly qualified him with questions as an expert, generally although not on any specific subject. One of the things you do with an expert is check out how they testified before and maybe ask Wolfer what happened in the last three years to change his status. 

______

 

Wolfer initially claimed he played the FM radio to record his test firings and then modified his testimony to include a record on the turntable but noted neither the radio station, the length of time needed to perform the test firings, the name of the record or which songs he played. 

 

Fitzgerald: Were you playing records? Were you playing tapes? Or were you listening to FM-AM through the stereo, or what? 

A. As I recall we were listening to FM—or there was a stereo record on. We did play the stereo record, too. 

Q. Was it any different? 

A. Basically, no, it wasn’t. 

Q. Do you remember what the stereo record was that you played? 

A. No, I don’t recall that I do.

Q. I take it you are an expert— 

A. May I finish? 

Q. I’m sorry. 

A. I did not know what the record was by name then. I never looked at the name of the record. It was on the turntable when we arrived.

 

Stewart, Mike. The People of the State of California vs. Charles Manson Vol III (p. 3292). Kindle Edition. 

______


On August 18th he did not simulate screams or yelling and thus did not conclude what was claimed by Bugliosi in Helter Skelter, above, that Garretson could not hear the screams. One has to ask why he didn’t make this test when in September, using off site locations like Knott's house, this is precisely what he did. 

 

Kanarek:  Now, in connection with the previous experiments that you ran, that you have already related to us concerning which Mr. Bugliosi has interrogated you, is it a fact that Officer Butler also used the word “Help” in the experiments? 


A. No. Officer Butler did not holler in the first series of tests, if that is what counsel is referring to. The first series of tests on August the 18th was conducted merely with the firing of the Colt revolver.

 

Stewart, Mike. The People of the State of California vs. Charles Manson Vol III (p. 3335). Kindle Edition.

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He did not make any notes during his experiment. Not one. 

 

Bugliosi: With respect to your experiment on August the 18th, 1969, the first formal written report you prepared was dated August 26, 1969, is that correct? 

A. That’s correct. 

Q. That is eight days later? 

A. That’s correct. 

Q. And you do not recall whether you made any report prior to that time? 

A. No, I mean I did not make any report. I might have made a verbal report, but I made no written report. 

Q. You don’t recall whether you made any notes prior to that time? 

A. No.

 

Stewart, Mike. The People of the State of California vs. Charles Manson Vol III (pp. 3409-3410). Kindle Edition.

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As he testified, Wolfer also did not immediately write his report. 


He wrote his report eight days later on August 26th apparently from memory, using a form called an Evidence Analyzed Report. This report was subsequently lost. He wrote a second report on September 22, 1969, relating to efforts to hear shots and yelling from off-site locations.  At Bugliosi’s request he wrote a third report, October 51970, in a narrative form. But we only care about the first one. It was rediscovered the day of his testimony. 

 

All of this is very sloppy. Much of what a jury could learn from Wolfer would require them to rely on Wolfer’s testimony, not a report, which in turn was based in large part on his memory. They would have to trust he is reporting accurately and his history says he was not. 

 

Kanarek and Fitzgerald identified two issues with the August 26th report but neither asked the right question about those issues. Fitzgerald never asked the key question and Kanarek, being Kanarek, asked compound questions that likely baffled everyone in the courtroom. 

 

Kanarek did manage to point out that while the form had a specific blank where the analyzing officer was supposed to state his opinion about the analysis, this blank was not filled in.  In other words, his report does not express the opinion that Garretson could not have heard the shots with the stereo at 5. 

 

Kanarek had Wolfer read the August 26, 1969, report. Here is what it said. 

 

Q. Would you read that to us, please. 


A. August the 18th, 1969. Scene: 10050 Cielo Drive. 12:00 noon. Sound test. Colt, 9-1/2 inch barreled revolver, Remington golden L-R—which is Long Rifle. Sound level meter-General Radio Company.

 

Car position in driveway to the rear of house, 31 to 32-1/2 decibels. Front room to the rear of the house, 31-39 decibels. Car position in driveway to rear of house (radio) 78-78 decibels. Front room to rear of house, radio, and then in parens—I am sorry, radio was in parenthesis. Over this is “Set 5.” 78-78 decibels. Steps to the rear of the house, 31-42 plus decibels. Steps to the rear of the house (radio) 78-78 decibels. 

 

Blood samples, et cetera. Taken. Bullets examined.

 

Stewart, Mike. The People of the State of California vs. Charles Manson Vol III (pp. 3390-3391). Kindle Edition.

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It is never explained why he took blood samples or examined bullets, which samples or which bullets. You should note he refers to the rear of the house. Parent's car was not in the rear of the house. The front porch steps are not the rear of the house, either. 


Here is an Analyzed Evidence Report from LaBianca. The arrow points to the opinion section. 



Fitzgerald noticed that the First Homicide Progress Report dated, if I recall correctly, September 1, 1969, contained an opposite conclusion regarding Garretson and the gunshots but Fitzgerald never asked the right question. 

 

BY MR. FITZGERALD: 

Q. At the time that you went to the Cielo Avenue location to perform certain acoustical tests, did you have information that the tests, similar type tests, had been conducted by persons within your department? 

A. No, I did not. 

MR. FITZGERALD: I have nothing further.

 

Stewart, Mike. The People of the State of California vs. Charles Manson Vol III (pp. 3407-3408). Kindle Edition.

 

Wait! That’s the wrong question. He should have asked if Wolfer was aware of any such test, period. He then should have shown him the First Homicide Progress Report and asked him if it is referring to his test or another test.

 

The First Homicide Progress Report says this: 

 

“Investigating officers went back to the crime scene and reviewed the physical and acoustical aspects of the scene as related to what Garretson, who claimed to have been awake all night in the guest house writing letters, claimed he heard or saw.

 

In the opinion of the investigating officers and by scientific research by S.I.D., it is highly unlikely that Garretson was not aware of the screams, gunshots and other turmoil that would result from a multiple homicide such as took place in his near proximity. These findings, however, did not absolutely preclude the fact that Garretson did not hear or see any of the events connected with the homicide.” (Emphasis added by me)

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Remember on August 18th Garretson, although released from jail with charges dropped, was still a suspect. In fact, in the report he is still suspect #1. 


Wolfer did not go to Cielo Drive to prove Garretson could not hear the shots. He went there to prove the opposite and that is likely why there is no opinion in the report and why the Homicide Report has that odd contradiction at the end of the quote.

 

I believe the SID reference is Wolfer. Given the above history, it is not a stretch to conclude that in August 1969 he would have testified that Garretson could hear the shots if Garretson was on trial. Garretson never would have testified. Whisenhunt would have said the stereo was not on. His testimony would be he could have heard the shots which contradicted his statements to the police. 

 

I should note that William Whisenhunt mentions an acoustic experiment two to three days after the murders during his testimony. 

 

Bugliosi: Did you return to the Tate residence a few days later? 

Whisenhunt: Yes. 

Q. Do you know when it was, approximately? 

A. I returned that day, the next day and the day after, for a period of three days. 

Q. Did you ever participate in any type of an experiment at the scene of the Tate residence involving the firing of a .22 caliber revolver?

MR. KANAREK: May we approach the bench, your Honor, on this kind of an interrogation? 

THE COURT: That question calls for a yes or no answer. 

MR. KANAREK: I think it is immaterial. There is no foundation. Certainly, there is no foundation. 

THE COURT: No. That question can be answered yes or no. You may answer. Do you have the question in mind? 

THE WITNESS: Yes, your Honor. The answer is yes. 

BY MR. BUGLIOSI: Q. When did this experiment take place? 

A. Sometime within the first three days. Approximately the 11th, I believe. 

Q. August the 11th? 

A. Yes. 

Q. ’69? 

A. Yes.

 

A side bar occurs after that answer which concludes as follows: 

 

THE COURT: Then there is the other question of whether or not the gun and the ammunition used in the experiment were similar to the gun and the ammunition fired by whoever shot Mr. Parent. 

MR. BUGLIOSI: Okay. I will pass it for now. 

MR. FITZGERALD: Also, the official reports of the Los Angeles Police Department indicate that they didn’t believe Garretson, and the reports of their tests were that they could hear. 

MR. BUGLIOSI: Really? 

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes. 

MR. BUGLIOSI: Do you have it? 

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes. 

MR. BUGLIOSI: I don’t have it and I asked for the reports about five months ago.

 

Stewart, Mike. The People of the State of California vs. Charles Manson Vol II (pp. 3650-3658). Kindle Edition.

 

Bugliosi is obviously referring to Wolfer (when he passes) and his missing August 26, 1969 report (in the last line). Fitzgerald is referring the First Homicide Progress Report. 

 

But Bugliosi says this in Helter Skelter, which, oddly, contradicts Whisenhunt's testimony. 

______

 

Whisenhunt remained behind [at the guest house], looking for weapons and bloodstained clothing. Though he found neither, he did notice many small details of the scene. One at the time seemed so insignificant that he forgot it until later questioning brought it back to mind. There was a stereo next to the couch. It had been off when they entered the room. Looking at the controls, Whisenhunt noticed that the volume setting was between 4 and 5. 

 

Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (p. 13). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

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This is an example of the leading questioning Bugliosi inflicted on several witnesses in their interviews and points out the problem with his style. It is possible that Buglosi’s questioning reminded Whisenhunt that he saw the stereo between 4 and 5. Did he actually remember that or did Bugliosi supply that memory and why wasn’t the test done between 4-5 but only recorded at 5 in the August 26th report? 

_____

 

There may have been another informal test on August 11 and that may be why Wolfer was sent to conduct a more scientific test seven days later. That makes sense. 

 

By the way, Garretson didn’t say he was listening to the FM radio which Wolfer certainly tested. He said this: 

 

Q. BY MR. FITZGERALD: Is that the entrance you customarily used for ingress and egress?

A. Yes. 

Q. Do you recall what you were listening to in the guest house on the stereo? 

A. Yes, some records. 

Q. Do you recall what the records were?

 A. The Words and The Mamas and The Papas—no, wait a minute—Mama Cass, and The Doors.

 

Stewart, Mike. The People of the State of California vs. Charles Manson Vol II (pp. 197-198). Kindle Edition.

 

I could not find a band called “The Words” in the sixties. I am guessing the stenographer mis-heard The Byrds.

 

I did some math using all the Doors albums and Byrds albums released up to August 1,1969 and the two by Cass Elliott: Dream a Little Dream, October 1968 and Bubble Gum, Lemonade and Something for Mama, June 1969. While they vary album to album, a side of an album comes in around 15-18 minutes with the early Byrds’ albums on the short side. 

 

As all of us who grew up with vinyl know, there are ‘dead’ spaces between songs. Not all songs have the same recorded volume (acoustic versus electric for example) and some fade at the end or start quieter and rock later like Stairway to Heaven or  You Can't Always Get What You Want


More importantly, you have to flip the album or put on the next one, unless you were dumb enough to stack them. Then you had to wait for the next one to drop. Wolfer says a record (singular) was on the turntable not records (plural). 


None of this was considered by Wolfer. 

 

A definitive timeline for the murders has never really been established. A clock says 12:15 a.m. and with some help from the police, Rudolf Weber remembers looking at his clock at 1:00 a.m. so let's just take five minutes off each end for Parent to reach his car and the murderers to reach Weber: 35 minutes or 30, I don't care. 

 

That means, during the crime, Garretson flipped the album at least once or put on a new album at least once. And during that time the guest house would have been quiet. And while Wolfer had the album right in front of him he didn’t test that either. 

 

Wolfer’s history suggests rather strongly that his investigation was likely negligent, leading to false results. The opinion of others suggests he would go so far as to create results for the DA. I think you see that when you compare his testimony (Garretson couldn’t hear the shots) to the First Homicide Progress Report (Garretson could hear them). 

 

Since I doubt the murderers paused, like an escaping Andy Dufresne, to wait for the next side of The Soft Parade to kick off, I think we can eliminate Garretson couldn’t hear the gunshots from the list of established facts. 

 

Pax vobiscum, 

 

Dreath with a lot of help from Deb