Monday, February 19, 2024

The Melba Kronkright Letter


Cielo Drive has been gathering more and more documents for his Patreon website. Some of the things he has been able to obtain are very enlightening. Below is a letter that Melba Kronkright wrote to someone in law enforcement or the district attorney's office regarding her dealings with Charles Manson and members of the Family. One thing is certain, Mrs. Kronkright was terrified that she would be killed by Manson or his followers.

Mrs. Kronkright jumps around a bit when retelling her dealings with Manson and the Family. While it is clear that she knew them over a period of a couple of years, it’s difficult to pin down the exact timeline of each incident that she recalls.

I am not sure who Diane Adams was but think it might have been Dianne Lake. If anyone has an idea please post what you know in the comments.

This time Cielo Drive typed out the contents of Melba's letter!


December 15, 1969


Dear Sirs:


I keep getting phone calls that are unanswered after I speak hellow into the receiver.


I have also written a letter to the attorney Mr. Paul Caruso.


I am a widow and live alone at the above address and about two years ago I found a group of young unemployed people through a Mr. Sweeney. A service station owner here in Malibu. The group were the Charles Manson people. I needed their services to clean the stables and help on my property and home of four and one half acres in Malibu. I am in fear for my life and will give all of the reasons I can think of.


About two years ago as I have said Charles Manson directed various ones in his group to work at least once a week on my property. They were paid at first then I explained that a good sum of money was owed to me and that until that time I didn’t have money to continue their service of once a week. They continued to come here for at least six months from time to time and say they just wanted to help and didn’t expect me to pay them. One of the girls had had a baby and they had all been arrested for camping out on private property in Ventura county. The baby was just five days old. Mary Brunner the mother was charged with child neglect and kept in jail. Others came here knowing that I was a social worker and told me that Mary had promised to take the baby and go back to Eu Clair Wis. to Mr. & Mrs. George Brunner her parents. She was released in my custody. Mary used my address as her new address but stayed only one night. She did not go home as promised.


Early part of last August I received a phone call from Mary saying that she was in Sybil Brand jail and it would take sixty four dollars to bail her out with a property owners signature. I told her that my daughter is a police sargent and that if I put my name on any thing it could be traced and I would then be thought of as helping them do what got them in jail and I could be in trouble. My daughter is Mrs. Roy Hovas, Sherl Rae Hovas or Sargent Hovas. Then Charles Manson came here in the middle of the night and said that he needed money to get Mary out of jail. I told him that I didn’t have any money but if I did that I would only get myself in trouble in helping them that my daughter was a police sargent etc. He left, but I’m sure that this was the same night the couple that owned the grocery store was killed.


I feel had I received the money that they had been expecting me to and not given them what they asked for that they would have killed me. He had asked had I received my money as yet.


When Mary was in jail I called her mother to come out and get custody of the child (Michael). I again called Marys’ mother and told her after the Tate murder case was disclosed that not to ever tell Mary that I was the one that told her that Mary was in jail and to come here to get the baby.


At the time Charles Manson was coming here and directing his group to work he would talk to me in the kitchen about his views on the Negro situation. I told him how as a social worker I was in the mist of the Negro situation in the Gettos. He tried to discourage my efforts. Therefore, this if nothing else would have been a reason to direct the blame on the negros to have killed me. He also told me that there were many people as his followers all over the United States that at his word could start a war.


In my letter to Mr. Paul Caruso I gave names of most of the group that I had met at one time or another. I also told Mr. Caruso that if he defended these people to let them out on society that my death was next.


I just reread my letter to you and you can tell I am more than a little upset. I have pictures of Charles Manson and a picture taken by Mary Brunners mother of Mary and the baby since Mary was released if she would return to her parents. The letter from Mrs. Brunner speaks of it’s self in gratitude.


I don’t feel that we have seen the last of this mess. As long as the many young women that Manson fathered their children are out and about - with loyalty and love for him - there is going to be effort put forth to help him. Such as Lynn Frome, Sandy Pugh, Ella Cinders, Mary Brunner, Diane Adams and many, many more that I met but can’t recall their names.


I talked to Diane Adams father at the time she escaped from Silmar (indistinguishable). I told him to get Charles Manson. I said that Manson was the one that told me that he helped her escape and got her over to Arizona. Mr. Adams seemed relieved that he didn’t have to worry about her coming into his home and bringing such people and taking his car in the middle of the night etc.


Mr. Adams called me just before the news came out the Tate case was solved. He said that his daughter was on a boat up the coast the last time her heard from her. I know of at least three girls that have babies that know that Manson is the father. Mr. Adams also told me I was lucky to not have been killed by the Manson group.


I hope that something in this letter will help and because I pay three hundred dollars a month taxes that I can expect some extra thought of safety.


Feel free to come out and talk. Please don’t get my name in the papers or get me anymore added problems.


Thank you sincerely,


Melba Kronkright


Cielo Drive’s Patreon website is full of valuable information. He has obtained many documents and he is always working on getting more. The Melba Kronkright letter is one of his new acquisitions. You can view the site with a $5 per month subscription and cancel at any time. It is well worth the money.


Torque said...

Thanks Deb and Cielodrive for this fascinating document. Its particularly interesting that Melba thought Charlie & Company visited her on the night of the LaBianca murders.

TabOrFresca said...

Two thoughts:
1. (Indistinguishable) may be a phone number. Local phone numbers, 7 digits, were commonly written as two letters and 5 numbers. The two letters were usually expressed as a word such as CRestview, NOrthside etc. In the letter I believe it is “WE-11351”.
2. The letter may have been typed with a cursive typewriter.

Medium Patty said...

ToF: I think you are right on both counts. Phone numbers were comprised of the exchange and the local number.
My thoughts:
1. Who is Mr. Sweeney?
2. Its interesting that she has photographs of CM. I wonder if she took them or if he gave them to her?
3. I love that she was in touch with the girls' parents. She must have been close to them to learn personal information about them. So many people were concerned about the family, I feel the authorities would've swept them up eventually

Louise said...


D. said...

She doesn't mention the car Charles Manson gave her. This lady was a friend of theirs. She must have gotten freaked out by the media reports about what Tex did after Caruso's boy was stuffing his nose with speed behind Charlie's back. You know, the Italian on the motorcycle.

Truth is, is whenever he wanted anything he tried to earn it in those early days, being kind to local people and doing things for them, he did it for George too. He did a lot of good things for people. Paul Caruso was the mafia's legal arm in Los Angeles.

I wouldn't trust anything with the name of that mob attorney all over it.

DebS said...

I went a different way on the undistinguishable part. 11351 is the Health and Safety Code for possession for sale of a controlled substance. Since it appears that Diane escaped from "Silmar", likely Melba meant Sylmar, I thought it might have something to do with the charges she escaped from. Melba, being a social worker, probably knew some of the codes for criminal offences. Without more information it could be either one of the two guesses.

starviego said...

Great info Deb and Bo! Thanks.

This is from Reflexion, pg196:

"Then came Melba, a trim, fiftyish woman with Champagne hair and a Southern aristocratic manner. Melba came to the Lane looking for someone to clean her stables, figuring "some hippie kids might do it cheap." We took the job, three or four of us going on weekends into the Malibu hills where her stately white home on a private bluff distantly overlooked the ocean. Melba owned two thoroughbred horses kept in white stables, and, like her, were high strung and unapproachable. .... Then, testily, as if without her own consent, she invited us through the back door of her kitchen for lunch, directing us to wash in the bathroom, and, when we asked, to go ahead and shower. .... She was now working in an executive position for a government social service, which enabled her to bring home surplus foods that she gave to us...."


Some points:

--Melba sought out the Mansonoids; they didn't seek her out.

--If she owned racehorses, could she have known of the LaBiancas or Charlene Cafritz? The race horse community could not have been that big..

--"testily, as if without her own consent" Melba doesn't sound like she really liked their company. Was somebody else putting them together?

--If that surplus food belonged to the G, then the G in fact would have been subsidizing the Mansonoids for a period of time. I wonder for how long? Hers was no passing acquaintance. She was in touch for a longer period of time, from early '68 to '70, at least.

DebS said...

Star, I don't believe that Melba had racehorses. She and her daughter competed in equestrian events such as dressage, cross country endurance and show jumping. Melba and her husband Robert, before he died, belonged to the West Hills Hunt Club where they engaged in fox hunts. Bo sent me a link to some photos of Melba and her husband taken at the hunt club.

Melba's husband Robert, had been an executive sales engineer for Hollywood Radio Electronics Inc. when he died in a car accident at age 45, April 9, 1961. According to his obit he was an avid fox hunter and sports enthusiast. He was a former president of the West Hills Hunt club.

According to her letter she was seeking someone to help with cleaning the stables and other chores on her property so she asked a Mr. Sweeney who had a local gas station if he knew of someone to help. In that sense she did seek help but she didn't specifically seek out the Family. She was looking for cheap labor. As time went on she could not afford to pay them any longer and told them as such but they continued to periodically show up and work around the property even though she wasn't paying them.

Melba and the Family lived in two different worlds. What Lyn described as testy probably wasn't quite true. Melba allowed them into her home, fixed them lunches, let them take showers and gave them food to take back to the ranch. Most employers wouldn't have done any of that.

Melba also looked out for the welfare of the children and that was probably not appreciated by the Family members.

John Patrick said...

Why did Grogan, Watson, Kasabian, Van Houten, Atkins and Krenwinkel not mention this at trial, in interviews or parole hearings over the last 50 years? Did they deliberately lie or omit this detail. Can their version of events be trusted at all in this case?

starviego said...

"I told him how as a social worker I was in the mist of the Negro situation in the Gettos."

A southern aristocrat lady, a member of the Hunt Club, going into the ghettoes to help out. I'm telling ya, something ain't right here!

I wonder if Melba met Abigail down in da geto. Those bluebloods would have sniffed each other out.

starviego said...

"...they continued to periodically show up and work around the property even though she wasn't paying them."

The mansonoids were getting something out of it. Of that I am sure.

DebS said...

Melba was not from the south. She was born in Utah. Her mother was born in Mexico. Melba's family was not wealthy. Her father was a teamster when they lived in Utah but after moving to California, sometime before Melba turned 16, he owned a trucking company.

Her husband, Robert, was from Nebraska. When they married his occupation on the marriage license says he was a filling station attendant. Robert worked his way up to being an executive sales engineer.

No bluebloods here, simply people who worked their way up the financial ladder.

Lyn's impressions are not always correct.

starviego said...

Fromme, in her book:

"Melba was not wealthy. Her Southern relatives were. She had been married and divorced..."

Was there a hubby #2?

D. said...

Her nickname was "Malibu Melba" among them. I have the location of her house on the Manson Mythos map.

DebS said...

Robert was her second husband. They married in 1938. She did not marry again after he died. Her first husband was William Harkelroad. They married Nov. 19, 1933 and separated Mar. 26, 1935.The final divorce was in the Santa Ana Register April 22, 1935. Harkelroad was a rancher according to a 1934 voter registration. Melba's maiden name was Lake. She was born Nov. 8, 1910 and died Oct. 21, 2002.

Louise said...

Re: racehorses. Melba owned thoroughbreds. My dad had a couple of horses that didn't make it to the tracks, for one reason or another. They were beautiful horses but he solIt's within the realm of possibility that

Louise said...

Sorry my phone is acting up! To continue: it is in the realm of possibility that he may have sold a horse or two to this lady Melba. In No More Tomorrows there is a letter Dad wrote to Cory where he goes into detail about his horses. Just a thought.

Louise said...

I know about those horses (the LaBianca horses) because my younger half-sister Maurine trained one of them--we named her Leno's Lady--during the years following the murders, '70/'71/72. She was a very good equestrian rider and won several blue ribbons in that field.

starviego said...

So the racehorses that didn't make the grade, could instead be trained to be equestrian horses?

Louise said...

In my experience, yes. My half-sister Maurine did a wonderful job training Leno's Lady. She won lots of ribbons in horse shows etc.

Louise said...

I would post a photo but I don't know how to post pics here.

TabOrFresca said...

Link to photos of Leno’s horse(s).

Louise said...

Thank you. Yes, that is Maurine 🌹

Louise said...

She is riding Never Digress, not Leno's Lady--evidently we sold LL. I forgot 😕

klms said...

The extent to which this woman was truly terrified, is quite palpable. The events as described to our extremely terrifying.

klms said...

Hi Louise.
I hope all is well. I seem to recall someone commenting on Facebook photos that you posted. Is this a site that we can check or do you prefer this to be private. It’s completely understandable if that’s the case. Absolutely. No obligation or pressure. OK thanks

Louise said...

Kim, not sure who posted them but go ahead--I'm curious too now 🤔

Louise said...

I believe my photo settings on FB are private so it's someone else.

Louise said...

If I had more pics of me with my dad and his horses, I would gladly share them on Facebook. ♥️

Louise said...

I have a vague memory of going to the race track with him c. 1966/67 but no clear recollection of where--possibly Santa Anita. Rose went, too.

starviego said...

Squeaky says they weren't even paid for the first of the cleaning-the-stables events:

Reflection, pg196
After conceding that we'd done a good job, Melba hesitated, putting probing words into the air about how much she would need to pay us. ... We told her not to worry about it. ... [and they kept coming back] As the weeks went by and weekends came, Melba opened her back door smiling...

Manson even allegedly gave her a new car plus cash:

The Family, by Ed Sanders, pg50
Manson claims to have given her money. Manson also gave to Melba a 1967 Ford Mustang which a New Yorker named Michael.. had given to Manson.

So what did the Family get in return? Maybe it had something to do with activities other than shoveling horseshit:

The Family, by Ed Sanders, pg50
She was amazed at the brigade and became a close friend. Unmentionable and secret were the encounters around her heated Malibu pool.

TabOrFresca said...

This old article on “” has a few more news clippings that mention Melba.

What’s kind of funny (coincidence??) is that the clipping “Season’s First Formal Event” also mentions a “Paul Crockett”.

brownrice said...

Another interesting (but likely irrelevant) coincidence is that Melba's maiden name is the same as Diane Lake's...

starviego said...

TabOrFresca said...
What’s kind of funny (coincidence??) is that the clipping “Season’s First Formal Event” also mentions a “Paul Crockett”.

Interesting. Could it be referring to the same Paul Crockett?