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).





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.



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.



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.


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. 



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)



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. BUGLIOSI: Do you have it? 


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.



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



Monday, March 11, 2024

The Grogan File: Something is Missing.

 When I was a little kid my brother and I and our cousins used to walk about five blocks from my grandparent’s house to a little store on a main avenue in Detroit. We were not allowed to walk on the avenue, so we had to cut through a narrow alleyway to get there. 

In the back of the store the owner had some toys. More importantly he had this bin of boxes containing individual toy soldiers. These guys. 


The owner let us dig through the bin to our heart’s content as long as we bought something before, we left. If we didn’t find anything in the bin we would buy baseball cards. I always got crappy ones; you know, some unknown rookie or one of the Mets. But sometimes I found a pirate in the bin. 


The anticipation I had walking to that store back then returns every time I receive a notification from Cielodrive of a new document post. Sometimes it’s one of the Mets but sometimes it is a pirate. Thank you, Cielodrive. 


This one, I think, is a pirate. This is the file related to Grogan exposing himself to children. 


The_Grogan_FilePDF Document · 10.3 MB


What does the official narrative say about this incident? Well, that narrative would be the book, Helter Skelter and here is what Vincent Bugliosi had to say. 



Grogan had been observed exposing himself to several children, ages four to five years. “The kids wanted me to,” he explained to arresting officers, who had caught him in the act. “I violated the law, the thing fell out of my pants and the parents got excited,” he later told a court-appointed psychiatrist. After interviewing Grogan, the psychiatrist ruled against committing him to Camarillo State Hospital, because “the minor is much too aggressive to remain in a setting which does not provide containment facilities.”


The court decided otherwise, sending him to Camarillo for a ninety-day observation period. He remained a grand total of two days, then walked away, aided, I would later learn, by one of the girls from the Family. 


His escape had occurred on July 19, 1969. He was back at Spahn in time for the Hinman, Tate, and LaBianca murders. He was arrested in the August 16 Spahn raid, but was released two days later, in time to behead Shorty Shea.



So we had virtually nothing on Clem. 


In going through Grogan’s file, I noticed that one of his brothers had made application for the California Highway Patrol; I made note of this, thinking maybe his brother could influence Clem to cooperate with us. DeCarlo had described Grogan in two words: “He’s nuts.” In his police photograph—big, wide grin, chipped front tooth, moronic stare—he did look idiotic. I asked Fowles for copies of the recent psychiatric reports. 


Asked, “Why do you hate your father?” Grogan replied, “I’m my father and I don’t hate myself.” He denied the use of drugs. “I have my own bennies, adrenalin. It’s called fear.” He claimed that “love is everything,” but, according to one psychiatrist, “he also revealed that he could not accept the philosophy of interracial brotherhood. Quotes supposedly from the Bible with sexual correlation were given in defense of his attitude.” 


Other quotes from Clem: “I’m dying a little every day. My ego is dying and knows he’s dying and struggles hard. When you’re free of ego you’re free of everything…Whatever you say is right for yourself…Whoever you think I am, that’s who I am.” 


The philosophy of Clem? Or Charles Manson? I’d heard the same thoughts, in several instances even identical words, from the girls. If the psychiatrists had examined one of Manson’s followers and, on the basis of such responses, found him insane, what of his leader?


Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (p. 173-175). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.




The records confirm Helter Skelter. Grogan’s brother was indeed trying to get into the California Highway Patrol. The psychiatrists even confirm DeCarlo’s comment. Grogan was considered to be mentally unstable, receiving a diagnosis of schizophrenia. 


Grogan, as you know, was never charged with the LaBianca murders even though he was as guilty as Susan Atkins and the exact evidence that convicted Atkins of conspiracy to commit murder and thus murder would have also convicted Grogan. Certainly, this diagnosis could have influenced any DA to hesitate to charge Grogan on LaBianca. Grogan had a defense of insanity or diminished capacity confirmed by state psychiatrists and that just might influence the jury as to all of the defendants and especially Charles Manson, as Bugliosi noted. 

There is also something missing in the records that also caught Bugliosi's eye. He noted it: "The philosophy of Clem? Or Charles Manson?". Where is the Charlie Says (to borrow a movie title)? No mention of Manson appears in these records or in Grogan's comments. That's not what Bugliosi wants, or needs.


But something else is missing. Its not that something is missing from he file. The file is complete. But there is definitely something missing from Bugliosi’s narrative.



When I was in law school long ago, I had a first-year law professor who had been in the real world as a litigator for many years before some health issue forced his retirement. Even though his class had nothing to do with litigation (it was Contract Law), practically every class he would give us a tidbit about being a trial lawyer. He once pointed out that someday many of us would ‘troop into court’ with our witness outlines eager to begin our ‘scintillating cross examination’ of a witness. He then said “Stop! Listen first. What a witness does not say is more important than what they do say. Once you find that ask them ‘why’. Any jackass can answer who, what, when or where but ‘why’ is the tough one to answer and sometimes the answer reveals motivation.”


So, what is missing? Bugliosi knew precisely who the family member was who helped Grogan escape. We know that because he quotes the same documents we now have more than once. That family member was revealed, right here.


It was Linda Kasabian. She signed as Linda Drouin (her family name). She used Dennis Wilson’s address and listed herself as Grogan’s girlfriend when she visited him on July 19, 1969 about two weeks after she joined the Family. 

This too may also have something to do with why Grogan wasn’t charged. In the hands of a competent defense attorney this page pokes a hole in one of Bugliosi’s main themes: that Kasabian only went along on two nights of murder because she had a valid driver’s license. You know, the innocent hippy chick theme.


This document suggests, instead, that Kasabian was much closer to the inner circle of the Family pretty quickly after she got to Spahn Ranch and was at least involved in planning and executing Grogan's escape.  This made me rethink that courtroom comment "when are you going to tell your part" just a little.


Now, one could try to argue that the only reason she went to see Grogan is, again, because she was the only one who had a valid driver’s license. I hope Cielodrive will put this issue to rest for me but until he does, I don't think she had one. 


This is from a New Hampshire newspaper from May 1969. I used it in a post a half dozen years ago. The cite is there. I don't have it anymore. She wasn’t charged with driving without a license: ‘Oh, I must have left it at home’. She was charged with driving without a valid license. She pled guilty. She didn’t say ‘wait, here it is” when she got to court. She paid the fine. 

Now maybe she fixed that before she cut out to California a few weeks later. But I don't think she did.  


Deb reminded me of this. Thanks Deb. Remember that detective named Deemers? Remember his list? 

Deb: "Regarding Kasabian's driver's license, look at Deemer's list. While it is true that not a lot of Family members have driver's licenses there were members with licenses. Kitty Lutesinger, Dianne Lake, Tex, Nancy Pitman, Mark Ross, Claudia Smith aka Linda Baldwin, Leslie Van Houten to name a few of the inter-circle members. 

But if you look at Linda Kasabian's entry on Deemer's list, no DL#. 
I figure Deemer's list was compiled in November or early December 1969. You will notice that Tex is listed under the name Charles Montgomery. They still hadn't quite gotten the names straight. There're a couple other people who are listed by their alias and not their true name."

Kitty Lutesinger from the list: 


Deemers listed her Missouri address and noted the Missouri driver's license. 

And Kasabian: 

Deemers got her New Hampshire address right but something else is missing. Where is the "DL#"? 

Even in the unlikely event that her license was valid, that fact might explain her driving or riding along to visit Grogan, while Manson drove and a member of the inner circle like Brunner went inside to talk to Grogan but it does not explain why she was the messenger. Someone told her the escape plan or she already knew it and she was the one to pass it on to Grogan and probably even waited for him to make his break. 

Her visit is the same day he skipped out: July 19th. The hospital noted their belief someone left Grogan a car. Tracing Linda Drouin would lead to Wilson's house and, of course she would not be there. But maybe they/she waited for him. How many cars did they have at the ranch? 

This page shows Kasabian as an active participant in the organization, planning and execution of Grogan’s escape (a crime by the way). I do not think Bugliosi wanted that to be part of the record, any record, including his own version when he did everything in his power to distance Kasabian from any such role including, specifically, disarming her at Cielo Drive.


I think Ms. Kasabian was a little more involved, a little closer to the throne so to speak, than we were led to believe by Mr. Bugliosi. I also think Bugliosi knew that and that is why he didn’t name the "one of the girls from the Family" who helped Grogan escape. “One of the girls from the Family” makes you think of someone other than Kasabian, doesn’t it? 


I tried to find where Bugliosi eventually identified this ‘girl’ in Helter Skelter. I searched the terms Grogan, Clem, escape, Camarillo, hospital and even Kasabian and Drouin and found nothing. If it is there somewhere I couldn’t find it. 


But even if I missed it and it is there, one could still ask ‘why didn’t you name her right there on page 173? I think the answer is obvious. 


Pax vobiscum



Monday, March 4, 2024

The Road To Heaven

 Back when I was researching something related to all this, I stole this image from Cielodrive. 

The photograph immediately intrigued me. The intrigue had nothing to do with that guy on the ladder reaching for the phone wires and wearing a short sleaved white business shirt like my father used to wear in the sixties. It also wasn’t because of the wall where Atkins, Krenwinkel and probably Kasabian hid while Watson murdered Steven Parent. It is behind the uniformed officer. It wasn’t the really nice striped pants on the guy pointing at the camera or even the question why one guy showed up in a tee shirt. It wasn’t the cat, either. It was the wagon in the junk pile. Why was there a wagon at Cielo Drive? 

A Bit About JF Watkins


We all know Michele Morgan (Simone Renée Roussel) built the house. Well, it is actually more accurate to say she had it built and then bought it but that’s a technicality. She bought the house from “M.M. Landon”. That would be Minnie M. Landon. Minnie had been married to Arthur Landon who was a contractor. He bought the lot several years before. He passed away sometime in the 1930s. They had a daughter named Opal who married a guy named John F. Watkins. He’s the guy who built the house.


Far from being a small-time operator, the J. F. Wadkins Company appears repeatedly in real estate advertisements in the LA Times in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. Several have him advertising multi-home subdivisions. In fact, in 1942 he got in trouble for violating the regulations that limited production at the start of World War II by starting a 36-home subdivision without authorization. 

Wadkins passed away in 1943 after a horseback riding accident. Ed Sanders might add an oo-ee-oo, here: horses…Wadkins…Spahn Ranch. I was not able to find the location where Wadkins was injured. It obviously was not at Spahn Ranch.



The Michele Morgan Ghost Story

I don’t think Michele Morgan actually sold the home because of the creepy factor as she claimed in her autobiography. That story can be found, here.


Later in her autobiography, she seems to contradict her own claim. She says that she sold 10050 Cielo Drive because her new husband, William Marshall, refused to live in a home owned by his wife. Obviously, Mr. Marshall was a modern, open minded and progressive male. Ok, he wasn't. However, apparently, he wasn’t above using the money from the sale of his wife's home to buy a home in his name. A home he was awarded in their divorce.


Bill Marshall never lived at Cielo Drive. However, Michele Morgan’s good friend, Madeleine LeBeau, was her roommate at Cielo for a time before Michele married. You might recognize her. She had a small role in the film, Casablanca. 


Morgan was supposed to get the role of Ilsa Lund in Casablanca, but RKO, her studio, wouldn't release her for the amount of money Warner Bros. was offering and Ingrid Bergman was cast instead. That is a bit of a shame because Morgan’s flight from occupied France is straight out of the movie. She escaped occupied France (Normandy) and first crossed Vichy France to Spain. She crossed Spain and left Europe from Lisbon, Portugal. 


Rudolfh Altobelli bought the house in 1963. There are several deeds changing ownership in the 1950's. But the various deeds all involve a guy named Louis Clyde Griffith (“LC”). Griffith was a theater tycoon in Oklahoma in the 1930’s and 1940’s and from what I could tell he was a pioneer of drive-in movie theaters. Everyone on the deeds from 1949 to 1963 (and there are several) are either business associates of Griffith, his attorney, or his stepson. I believe the transfers are related to a debilitating stroke he suffered in 1946 which led to him relocating to LA in 1949. Eventually the house landed with LC and LC Griffith sold it to Altobelli. The deed is dated October 17, 1963.


Despite the various deeds LC Griffith lived in the home throughout the 1950s. The available Los Angeles city directories consistently show LC Griffith as the occupant of Cielo Drive during this time period. The 1950 census places him at Cielo Drive with a nurse. 


The Tenants

Here, in order, is everyone I could confirm rented Cielo Drive or the guest house after Altobelli purchased the home until Terry Melcher and Mark Lindsay. 


Henry Fonda rented the guest house for a couple of months in 1964.



"One of the houses I sublet and lived in with Shirlee for a couple of months was on Benedict Canyon in Bel Air," Fonda says. "Does that street name ring a bell? Remember the place where Sharon Tate and her friends were massacred? Remember the guest house? That's where we stayed during the summer of sixty-four. It was a pleasant place. I did a lot of painting there. I had to drive in and park in the area where those violent people parked that night. I'd walk down the same path below the main house to the guest house. That's where the young guy was murdered when he made an exit at the wrong time.”

"My God, timing is everything, even outside the theater."


My Life by Henry Fonda and Howard Teichmann, Book Club Assoc., page 295, 1982.



For two years after Henry Fonda George Chakiris rented first the guest house and then the main house. 


"By now [1964]I was renting a charming guest house at the end of a pretty little tree-lined cul-de-sac off of Benedict Canyon in Beverly Hills. The guest house and the main house, which I eventually moved into, were owned by a talent manager named Rudi Altobelli. One of his clients, Henry Fonda, had preceded me in the guest house. Henry Fonda was a talented artist, and a painting he’d been working on was still there on an easel.



I didn’t want to leave Paris. No one ever wants to leave Paris. But I had some packing and moving to take care of back in L.A. The lease was up on the Rudi Altobelli house I was renting off of Benedict Canyon. I’d lived in the two-thousand-square-foot guest house for a year, and then in the thirty-two-hundred-square-foot main house for another year. I’d loved it there. It was quiet and just secluded enough, very French Country, on three acres, with a pool, lots of pine and cherry trees, and a private driveway. I knew I’d miss it, but it was way more space than I needed, and I had too much traveling ahead to justify staying there anyway. Sadly, I’d see that house again, a few years later, on the news. So would the rest of the world.



Some time after the horror on Cielo Drive, I mustered up the courage to finally visit Rudi Altobelli, who’d cleaned up the house and the grounds and moved back in with a couple of guard dogs. It was eerie and uncomfortable. I didn’t stay long, and I never went back again. I’ve been told that Rudi finally sold the property, the structures there were demolished and replaced by a 12,000-square-foot mansion, and the street address has been changed to discourage the nonstop stream of trespassers, tour buses, and curiosity seekers. Some part of me likes knowing that nothing that was there in August of 1969 is there anymore, not even a single brick or stick of wood or blade of grass.



I also became socially acquainted with the extraordinary film actress Michèle Morgan. She has too many acting credentials to even try to list them here, including a Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival, and she was utterly charming. One night Michèle told the story of how she moved to Hollywood during World War II. She designed a French Country-style home to be built there, fairly private and only a short distance away from the heart of Beverly Hills where most other movie stars were living. But in time she was frightened to live there because she kept hearing what she described as “sinister noises,” and she eventually sold the property. 


The house Michèle Morgan built, the house full of “sinister noises” that frightened her, was 10050 Cielo Drive, my former residence and, of course, the house where the murders occurred. What are the odds that I would just happen to become acquainted with her, through a chance encounter with a Greek singer at an Athens I?"


Chakiris, George. My West Side Story (p. 118, 133, 149 and 151). Lyons Press. Kindle Edition.



I believe Samantha Eggar was next. That’s her on the cover of the April 2, 1966, edition of Hola magazine near the pool.  Here’s a couple more blurry images from that magazine. 


By the way, that’s Samantha Eggar in the top right photo, not Candice Bergen as most online sources claim. 

This is Candice Bergen and the source claims that it was taken at Cielo Drive.


I left out Cary Grant. I don’t think he ever lived at Cielo Drive. The source of the ‘Cary Grant had a bad acid trip while renting Cielo Drive’ story, as far as I can tell, originates from this gossip column I pulled from the Miami Herald (September 1, 1969). It cites Dyan Cannon as the source. 

I have five Cary Grant biographies. I am kind of a fan. Now you listen to me, I’m an advertising man, not a red herring. I’ve got a job, a secretary, a mother, two ex-wives and several bartenders that depend upon me, and I don’t intend to disappoint them all by getting myself “slightly” killed.

One of the biographies places Grant at Cielo Drive in 1940. That, of course, is not possible. The rest do not mention Cielo Drive. They mention the murders either in connection with Grant hiring a full time bodyguard for his daughter after the murders or to mention Grant being on Manson’s Hollywood Hit List.  


Dyan Cannon says this. Again, no mention of Cielo Drive.

"And so, Cary left for Tokyo, and I was left with the task of finding us a house to live in as fast as possible. I spent weeks looking at houses with Cary’s real estate agent. I airmailed photos to Tokyo for Cary to see. We wound up renting a home off Benedict Canyon recently vacated by the Beatles."


Cannon, Dyan. Dear Cary (pp. 225-226). It Books. Kindle Edition.



The Beatles House is located at 2850 Benedict Canyon. When it is listed for sale the Beatles and Grant are usually mentioned. The Beatles rented the house in August 1965. George Chakiris was renting Cielo Drive during that time-frame. 

The Newlywed Murder-Suicide 

The Melcher-Lindsay period gives us the murder-suicide myth. I am sure everyone has read this. 



"Rudy said that one of the first couples to occupy the house had been newlyweds, and on their wedding night the bride somehow learned that the groom had cheated on her in the recent past. Supposedly after the marriage was consummated and he was asleep, the new lady of the house took a large knife from the kitchen and stabbed him to death in bed. She then put a bullet in her brain using the small "lady's pistol" that he had given her for protection as one of her wedding gifts.


Rudy told us the whole affair had been hushed up and was never talked about because it would reflect negatively on the real estate value. He said that although the femme fatale's spirit still lingered, she probably wouldn't bother two guys -- although he warned that she didn't seem to tolerate beautiful women very well. "As long as you don't let your girlfriends stay over too long, you should be okay," he warned. And then he went back to his residence, leaving us to ponder."




It never happened. No newlyweds ever lived in the home and there were only three owners prior to Altobelli. All three lived in the house and/or the guesthouse the whole time they owned the home. 

The Wagon

I am sure most of you know most of the above information. This post is about that wagon but if I had not added the other stuff the post would be really short which would be out of keeping with my post history. 

And that brings us back to Doctor Hartley Dewey and his wife, Louise. Hartley was this guy’s cousin. 


The Deweys bought the house from Michele Morgan in June 1943. They had three sons all of whom served in World War II. One, a bomber pilot over Europe, was missing in action for several months. 

The Deweys came to LA from Yosemite National Park. 

"Doctor Hartley G. Dewey opened the new W. B. Lewis Memorial Hospital during Christmas week 1929. The services to Yosemite rendered in this fine hospital were much needed as the increase in visitors, as well as permanent and seasonal employees, had doubled during the past decade. Dr. Dewey needed additional help so another doctor and more nurses were added to the staff. A permanent Dentist Office was also established for full time work, with Doctor Raleigh Davies in charge.

Doctor Avery Sturm joined Doctor Dewey at the Lewis Memorial Hospital in 1935. This team practiced until 1942 when Doctor Sturm entered Military Service during World War 2. Doctor Dewey’s contract was up in April 1943, so he, too, left the Park."

After they purchased Cielo Drive, the Deweys converted the barbeque pavilion into the guest house. They added a dressing room for the pool off the back of the house and redecorated the home. 

Their friend, Walt Disney, hand rendered images of Mickey Mouse on the walls of the bar. I don’t know if the drawings were still there in 1969. I couldn't find anything about them after the Deweys. I find that sort of surreal if they were there in August 1969.


The Deweys make multiple appearances on the society pages of the LA Times in the 1940s. I believe Louise was good friends with Lucille Lambert who wrote the column Confidentially. Here is an example. 


Ms. Lambert even wrote an article about the remodel for the Times. 

Lillian Gish rented the main house from the Deweys in 1945. 

She later sued the Deweys for over $11,000 for violating the wartime rent restrictions. She won. 


The Deweys moved to Carmel in 1949 and sold the house to Henry Griffing. Griffing worked for LC Griffith at the time. Later he attempted to launch what we would now call cable (pay) TV. In theory you could drop coins in a box on the TV and watch movies that had recently been in the theater. It didn’t catch on. Griffing died in a plane crash in 1960. 

I periodically stop at antique malls looking to replace the vinyl I sold to fund one of my obsessions when I was in college. I later married her, but I digress. 

On one such trip I wandered into a stall filled, in part, with sixties memorabilia. They wanted too much money for the 1964 GI Joe and they didn’t have any Moby Grape albums. 


They had a whole section of magazines dating back to the 1920s including the Manson Life magazine. I already have that one. They had several Look and Life magazines from the sixties including the walk on the moon, the assassination of Robert Kennedy and even the Mets 1969 World Series win. 

My eye, however, was drawn to another magazine less prominently displayed and sort of tossed aside with some other obscure pre-sixties titles. 


Here was the August 1945 edition of American Home. There on the cover, in full color, stood Louise Dewey. She was standing in front of the garage at 10050 Cielo Drive and there in the background of that photo.... was the wagon. 


August 1945. Ed Sanders might add an oo-ee-oo here too. Here is the whole American Home article. The text on the last page is not about Cielo Drive. In fact, aside from the image captions, there is no text.  Louise took the photographs. I also included the LA Times article about the remodel which mentions the Disney characters and, oddly, a garage 'at the foot of the hill'.



One more thing. 

I think most people have seen this image. It originally appeared in the November 15, 1969, edition of Paris Match magazine. 


The photograph was likely taken in October 1969. The photographer was standing off the north end of the porch, to the right of the walk, just about in front of the window Watson entered that night. Kasabian would have been standing about five feet to his left that night according to the trial exhibit. This is as close as we will ever get to seeing what she saw that night. How many still think she saw the pool from here? 



Pax Vobiscum