Who is this little boy with little dimples and a precious smile? One would never guess that behind these innocent eyes lies a deceitful, lying, manipulator who would around ten years from this photo turn to a life of crime. A young boy who would years later be the puppeteer of some very vicious murders.
This young boy was born on November 12th of 1934 in the General Hospital of Cincinnati, Ohio. He was born to an unmarried, sixteen-year-old girl by the name of Kathleen Maddox who would leave his name as “no name Maddox” for a few weeks before giving him the name of Charles Milles Maddox. The boy’s biological father appears to have been Colonel Walker Scott, a man whom our subject possibly never knew. For some time after his birth, his mother would marry a man and give her son this man’s surname. The man that Kathleen would marry was named William Manson, and now we reveal our subject’s name at this point in his life as Charles Milles Manson, or as most people know him, Charles Manson.
***Some images and descriptions may be disturbing to some readers***
As a Boy
Charles’ mother filed and agreed to a judgment of a paternity suit against his biological father when Charlie was just three-years-old. There are several statements in a 1953 case file of Charlie’s from seven months that he would spend at the National Training School for Boys in Washington D.C. that would allude to the possibility that “Colonel Scott” was an African-American. The first two sentences of his family background section from the school read as follows:
“Father: unknown. He is alleged to have been a colored cook by the name of Scott, who got promiscuous with Charles’s mother at the time of her pregnancy.”
When Charlie was asked about these official records by attorney Vincent Bugliosi in 1971, he would emphatically deny that his father had any black ancestry. In addition to the school records, the 1920 and 1930 census lists show that Colonel Scott and his father were of Caucasian ancestry. In a biography called “Manson in His Own Words”, Colonel Scott has been said to have been “a young drugstore cowboy…a transient laborer working on a nearby dam project.” However, it’s not clear what “nearby” means. There is also a description in this paragraph that indicates that Kathleen gave birth to Manson “while living in Cincinnati”, after she’d ran away from her own home in Ashland, Kentucky. A lot of Charlie’s early life is in dispute because of the varying stories that he has offered to interviewers, many of which have been proven to be untrue.
Kathleen was allegedly a heavy drinker, and according to her son, she had once sold him in exchange for a pitcher of beer to a childless waitress of whom his uncle had retrieved him from some days later. When she and her brother were sentenced to five years in prison for robbing a Charleston, West Virginia service station in 1939, by brandishing a ketchup bottle, Charlie had been placed in the home of his aunt and uncle in McMechen, West Virginia.
When his mother was paroled in 1942, she retrieved Charlie and lived with him in a series of rundown hotel rooms. He would later characterize Kathleen’s physical embrace of him on the day of her return as his sole happy childhood memory. Could you imagine just having one happy memory of your mother?
In 1947, when Charlie was just thirteen-years-old, Kathleen tried to have him placed in a foster home. She would fail to do so because no home was available. The court ended up placing him in Gibault School for Boys in Terre Haute, Indiana. After ten months at the school he ran away to get to his mother who turned around and rejected him.
Charlie’s First Offenses
After being rejected by his mother, Charlie burglarized a liquor store to obtain money that would enable him to pay rent for a room. He would commit a string of burglaries at this time of other stores as well, including one from which he would steal a bicycle. However, like most any criminal, Charlie was eventually caught in the act and then sent to Indianapolis, Indiana to a juvenile center. After being there for just one day he escaped. He was recaptured and placed then in Boys Town. Four days later, he escaped from here with another boy. Together they would commit two armed robberies on the way to the home of the other boys’ uncle.
Charlie was caught a second time after two subsequent break-ins of grocery stores. At the age of thirteen, he was sent to the Indiana Boys School, where he would later claim that he was brutalized sexually and more. After many failed attempts at escaping, he did manage to escape with two other boys in 1951. The three boys would head for California after stealing some cars and on the way robbed several filling stations. They were caught in Utah and charged with federal crimes of taking a stolen car across state lines, and Charlie was sent to Washington D.C.’s National Training School for Boys. A psychiatrist at this time would state that Charlie was “slick” but was “extremely sensitive”. A caseworker would deem the young boy as aggressively antisocial. Even though he would have four years of schooling, his I.Q. was 109, which was later tested at the age of twenty-one, and he was illiterate. In October, on a psychiatrist’s recommendation, Charlie was transferred to Natural Bridge Honor Camp, which was a minimum security institution. From here he was transferred again to the Federal Reformatory in Petersburg, Virginia.
A year later, another psychiatrist would say that he was “dangerous” and had “homosexual and assaultive tendencies”. In September of 1952, a number of other serious disciplinary offenses would result in him being transferred to the Federal Reformatory in Chillicothe, Ohio, which was an even more secure institution. At some point in this same year, Charlie also sodomized a boy while he held a razor to his throat. Already we can see the kind of person that he was becoming. However, about a month after he was transferred to Chillicothe, he became an almost model resident. His good working habits and rise in his educational level from the lower fourth grade up to the upper seventh grade had won him a May 1954 parole. Afterwards, he temporarily honored the parole conditions that he live with his aunt and uncle in West Virginia. He then moved in with his mother who was in the same state.
In January of 1955, Charles married a hospital waitress by the name of Rosalie Jean Willis. According to Charlie himself, he had found genuine, but short-lived, marital happiness. He supported the marriage by having some small-time jobs and automobile theft. Around October, after he and his pregnant wife had arrived in Los Angeles in a car he stole from Ohio, three months before, he was again charged with the federal crime of taking a vehicle across state lines. After a psychiatric evaluation, he was put on five years of probation. Probably along with this evaluation the psychiatrist also stated that he had “an unstable personality” but was potentially able “to straighten himself out”.
His subsequent failure to appear at a Los Angeles hearing on an identical charge filed in Florida resulted in his March 1956 arrest in Indianapolis. This resulted in his probation being revoked. He was then sentenced to three years of imprisonment at Terminal Island in San Pedro, California. Another psychological examination was probably done when entering this prison and the psychiatrist here probably reported that he was “unable to control himself” and had “a tendency to cut up”. While Charlie was in prison, Rosalie had given birth to their son, Charles Manson Jr. It was during Charlie’s first year at Terminal Island that he had received visits from her and his mother who were now living together in Los Angeles.
In March of 1957, when the visits from his wife had stopped, his mother informed him that Rosalie was living with another man. Less than two weeks before before his scheduled parole hearing, he tried to escape by stealing another car. He was subsequently given five years of probation and his parole was denied. Yet another psychiatrist would note that Charlie, at this time, had “work habits that range from good to poor”.
In September of 1958, Charlie received a parole sentence of five years. In this same year, Rosalie received a divorce decree. Another psychiatrist would state that Charles was being “erratic and moody” and was “a classic text book case of a correctional institution inmate”.
By September of 1959, he pleaded guilty to a charge of attempting to cash a forged United States Treasury check. He received a ten year suspended sentence and probation. Afterwards a young woman with an arrest record for prostitution made a “tearful plea” before the court that she and Charlie were “deeply in love…and would marry if Charlie were freed”. Before the year was out, the woman did marry Charlie, possibly so that the testimony against him wouldn’t be required of her.
After Charlie had taken a woman by the name of Leona, or Candy Stevens, which was her prostitute name, and another woman from California to New Mexico for the purpose of prostitution he was then held and questioned for violation of the Mann Act. Even though he was released, he suspected, rightfully, that the investigation wasn’t over, and when he had disappeared in violation of his probation, a bench warrant was issued.
In April of 1960, an indictment for the violation of the Mann Act had followed. By June he was arrested in Laredo, Texas when one of the previous women was arrested for prostitution. Charlie was returned to Los Angeles and for the violation of the probation on the check-cashing charge, he was ordered to serve his ten year sentence.
During July of 1961, after Charlie spent a year, unsuccessfully appealing the revocation of his probation, Manson was transferred from Los Angeles County Jail to the United States Penetentiary at McNeil Island. It was here that he would take up guitar lessons from Barker-Karpis, a gang leader Alvin “Creepy” Karpis. Charlie would obtain a contact name of someone at Universal Studios in Hollywood from another inmate by the name of Phil Kaufman.
According to Jeff Guinn’s 2013 biography of Manson, his mother had moved from California to Washington state at this time, to be closer to him during his McNeil Island incarceration, working nearby as a waitress. Although the Mann Act charge was dropped, the attempt to cash the Treasury check was still a federal offense. Sometime in this year, a psychologist would say Charlie was an “energetic person” who hides “his loneliness, resentment and hostility behind a facade of superficial ingratiation” In September an annual review noted that he had a “tremendous drive to call attention to himself”. This was an observation that would be echoed in September of 1964.
In the next year, 1963, Leona was granted a divorce from Charlie. In pursuit of the divorce, she would allege that she and Manson had had a son together by the name of Charles Luther Manson. A psychologist would say that Charlie was being “emotionally insecure” and tends to “involve himself in various fanatical interests” during this time.
Then in June of 1966, Charlie was sent, for a second time in his life, to Terminal Island. He was sent here in preparation for an early release. Probably during this process, a psychologist would have spent some time with Charlie and said that he was “in need of a great deal of help in the transition from institution to the free world.”
1968-1969 Followers and Crimes
By March 21st of the following year, Charlie’s release date, he had spent more than half of his thirty-two years of life in prisons and other institutes. This was mostly because he had broken numerous federal laws. Then, as now, his federal sentences are much more severe than the state sentences for many of the same offenses. He would tell the authorities that prison had become his home and requested permission to stay in prison. This is a fact that he would touch upon in a 1981 television interview with Tom Synder. A few years later, this plea from Manson, would make many people understand that he should have been able to stay rather than be set free.
On Charlie’s release in 1967, Manson received permission to move to San Francisco. It was here, with the help of an acquaintance of his, that Charlie moved into an apartment in Berkeley. While in prison, bank robber, Alvin Karpis, had taught him to play the steel guitar. Now living by mostly panhandling, Charles would soon get to know Mary Brunner.
The twenty-three year old graduate of University of Wisconsin-Madison was working on as a librarian assistant at the University of California in Berkeley and Manson would soon move in with her. According to a second-hand account, Charlie had overcame Mary’s resistance to his bringing more women in to live with them. Before long, they were sharing her residence with eighteen other women. Charlie would establish himself as a guru in San Francisco Haight-Ashbury.
During the same year the “Summer of Love” was beginning to emerge as a signature hippie locale. Bugliosi said in his book called “Helter Skeleter” that Charles appeared to have been borrowed philosophically from the Process Church. The members of the church had believed that Satan would become reconciled with Christ. They would all come together at the end of the world to judge humanity. Expounding a philosophy, of which included some of Scientology, which he had studied in prison, he soon had his first group of followers. This group would be known as the Manson Family, and most of them were females.
Charlie taught his followers that they were reincarnations of original Christians and Romans. He himself had strongly implied that he was Christ. He had often told them a story that would envision himself on the cross with nails in his feet and hands.
Sometime around 1967, Charles began using the alias of “Charles Willis Manson” and would often say it very slowly as “Charles’ Will Is Man’s Son”, implying that his will was the same as that of the Son of Man. Before the summer had ended, Manson and eight or nine of his enthusiasts would pile into an old school bus that they decorated in a hippie style, with colored rugs and pillows in place of many of the seats that they had removed. They roamed as far North as Washington state, and then towards the South through Los Angeles, Mexico and the Southwest and then returned back to the Los Angeles area. They would live in Topanga Canyon, Malibu and Venice, in the western parts of the city and county. In November, they would set out in the bus from San Francisco with an enlarged group. It was in 1967 that Brunner became pregnant by Manson.
On April 15, 1968 Brunner would give birth to a son that she would name Valentine Michael, who had the nickname of “Pooh Bear”, in a condemned house in the Topanga Canyon. The birth was assisted by several of the young women from The Family. She, like most of the members of the group, acquired a number of aliases and nicknames, including “Marioche”, “Och”, “Mother Mary”, “Mary Manson”, “Linda Dee Manson” and “Christine Marie Euchts”.
Other activities of The Family at this time included sexual orgies, hallucinogenic drug trips, and frequent sermons by Charlie on the meaning of Beatles’ music and the coming of Helter Skelter. Charlie would dominate Family life, even to the point of telling them who they could have sexual relationships with. No one would question his authority and many of the Family members seemed to even see him as having “Christ-like” characteristics. This was one perception that was encouraged by Manson often asking “Don’t you know who I am?”
Manson’s Presentation of Himself
An actor by the name of Al Lewis, who had let Manson babysit his kids a couple of times, described him as “A nice guy when I knew him”. Through Phil Kaufman, Charlie was introduced to a young Universal Studios producer Gary Stromberg, who was at the time working on a film adaptation of the life of Jesus, but set in modern America with a black Jesus and Southern redneck “Romans”. Stromberg, though Charlie made some interesting suggestions about what Jesus might do in a situation, seemed strangely attuned to the role. He’d illustrate the place of women by having one woman kiss his feet, then he kissed hers in return.
At a beach one day, Stromberg had watched while Manson preached against a materialistic outlook, only to be questioned about his well-furnished bus. Nonchalantly, Manson tossed the bus keys to the doubter who had promptly drove it away while Manson watched, apparently unconcerned. According to Stromberg, Charlie had a dynamic personality with the ability to read a person’s weaknesses and “play” them. On one occasion, an enraged father of a runaway girl who had joined the “Family” pointed a shotgun at Manson, telling him that he was about to die. Charlie quietly invited him to shoot, before he talked to the man about love. With the aid of LSD he ended up persuading the man to accept the situation.
Manson and a Beach Boy
By some accounts, when Dennis Wilson of the band, The Beach Boys, picked up two hitchhiking Manson women, Patricia Krernwinkel and Ella Jo Bailey, he brought them to his Pacific Palisades house for a few hours. When he returned home in the early hours of the following morning, after a night recording session, Wilson was then greeted in the driveway of his own residence by Charlie Manson who had emerged from the house. Uncomfortable, he had asked the then stranger whether he had intended to hurt him, assuring Dennis that he had no such intent, Manson began to kiss Dennis’ feet.
Inside the house, Wilson found twelve strangers, mostly women. Over the next few months, as their number doubled, Family members who made themselves part of Dennis’ Sunset Boulevard household would end up costing him about 100,000 dollars. This would include large medical bills for treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and $21,000 dollars for accidental destruction of his uninsured car that they had borrowed.
Dennis would sing and talk with Charlie, while women were treated as servants to them both. Wilson had paid for studio time to record songs written and performed by Charlie and he also introduced him to entertainment business acquaintances, including Gregg Jakobson, Terry Melcher and Rudi Altobelli. The last of whom had owned a house he would soon rent to actress Sharon Tate and her husband and a director, Roman Polanski. Jakobson, who was impressed by “the whole Charlie Manson package” also paid to record Manson materials. An account given in “Manson in His Own Words” is that Manson had first met with Wilson at a friend’s San Francisco house where Charlie had gone to obtain cannabis. The drummer had supposedly given him his Sunset Boulevard address and invited him to stop by when he came to Los Angeles.
Charlie would establish a base for the group at Spahn’s Movie Ranch, not far from Topanga Canyon Boulevard in August of 1968 after Wilson’s manager had evicted the Family. The entire group then relocated to the ranch, which had been a television and movie set for Western productions. By the later part of the 1960’s the buildings had deteriorated and the ranch was earning money by primarily selling horseback rides.
The Family members would be helpful doing work around the grounds. Manson would also order the Family’s women, including Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, to occasionally have sex with a nearly blind, eighty-year-old, owner George Spahn. The women also acted as his seeing eye guides, in exchange he would allow the group to live at the ranch for free. Squeaky would acquire
her nickname because she had often squeaked when Spahn pinched her thigh.
Charles Watson soon joined the group at Spahn’s Ranch. Watson was a small-town Texan who had quit college and moved to California. He’d met Manson at Dennis Wilson’s house and had given Wilson a ride while he was hitchhiking after one of his cars had been wrecked. Spahn nicknamed Watson “Tex” cause of his pronounced Texan accent.
In the first days of November of 1968, Manson established the Family at an alternative headquarters in Death Valley’s environs. They had occupied two unused or little-used ranches, Myers and Barker. Myers was the first ranch that the group initially headed to. It was owned by a grandmother of a new woman in the Family. Barker was owned by an elderly local woman, to whom Manson had presented himself and a male Family member as musicians in need of place congenial to their work. When the woman had agreed to let them stay if they had fixed things up, Manson honored her with one of the Beach Boys’ gold records. The record was one of several that Dennis Wilson had given to him.
No later than December of 1968, at Spahn Ranch, Manson and Watson visited a Topanga Canyon acquaintance who had played them the Beatles’ White Album, which was then just released. Manson became obsessed with the group. While at McNeil, Manson had told fellow inmates, including Alvin Karpis, that he could surpass the group in fame. To the Family, he had spoke of The Beatles as “the soul” and “part of the hole in the infinite”.
For some time, Charlie had been saying that racial tension between blacks and whites was growing and blacks would soon rise up in a rebellion in America’s cities. He would emphasize Martin Luther King’s assassination, which had taken place on the 4th of April of 1968. On a bitterly cold New Year’s Eve at Myers Ranch, Family members gathered outside around a large fire, listening as Manson had explained the social turmoil he’d been predicting had also been predicted by The Beatles.
The White Album songs, Manson had declared, told it all, although in code. He had maintained, or at least soon maintained, that the album was directed at the Family itself, an elect group that was being instructed to preserve the worthy from the impending disaster. In the early part of January of 1969, the Family would escape the desert’s cold and positioned itself to monitor Los Angeles’ supposed tensions. They moved into a canary-yellow home in Canoga Park, not far from the Spahn Ranch. Since this locale would allow the group to remain “submerged beneath the awareness of the outside world”, Manson called it the Yellow Submarine, another reference to the Beatles. There, the Family members prepared for the impending apocalypse around a campfire. Manson termed the coming apocalypse “Helter Skelter” after a song of the same name.
By February, Manson’s vision was complete. The Family would create an album whose songs, as subtle as those of the Beatles, would trigger the predicted chaos. In Manson’s vision, ghastly murders of whites by blacks would be met with retaliation and split between racist and non-racist whites who would yield the whites’ self-annihilation. The blacks triumph, as it were, would merely precede their being ruled by the Family, which would ride out the conflict in “the bottomless pit”, a secret city beneath Death Valley.
At the Canoga Park house, while the Family worked on vehicles and looked over maps to prepare for their desert escape. They also worked on songs for their world-changing album. When they were told that Terry Melcher was supposed to come to the house to hear their material, the women prepared a meal and also cleaned up the place, but Melcher never arrived.
Manson’s Encounter with Sharon Tate
On March 23, 1969, Charles Manson entered uninvited to the property of 10050 Cielo Drive, which he had known as Melcher’s residence. In actuality the property was that of Rudi Altobelli. Melcher was no longer the tenant as of February, when the new tenants became Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski. Manson would be met by Shahrokh Hatami, a photographer and Tate’s friend. He was at the home to photograph Sharon prior to her departure for Rome the following day. Hatami had seen Manson through a window as he had approached the main house. He had gone onto the front porch to ask him what he wanted.
When Charlie told him he was looking for someone that Hatami didn’t recognize, Hatami informed him that the place was the residence of Polanski. He then advised him to try “the back alley”, of which he meant the path to the guest house, beyond the main house. Concerned about this stranger on the property, Hatami went down to the front walk to confront Manson. Behind Hatami, in the front door, Sharon asked him who was calling. Hatami said there was a man that was looking for someone, the two maintained their positions while Charlie, without a word, went back to the guest house, returned a minute or two later and then left.
That evening, Charlie returned to the property and again went to the back to the guest house, presumably to enter the enclosed porch, he spoke with Rudi Altobelli, who was just coming out of the shower. Although Manson had asked for Melcher, Altobelli felt that he’d come looking for him. Later this would be consistent with prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi’s discovery that Manson had apparently been to the place on earlier occasions after Melcher’s departure. Speaking through the inner screen door, Altobelli told Manson that Melcher had moved to Malibu, he lied though and said he didn’t know Melcher’s address. In response to a question from Manson, Altobelli said he too was in the entertainment business. Manson however, had met Altobelli the previous year at Dennis Wilson’s home, and Altobelli was sure that Manson had known known that. While at Wilson’s Altobelli had complimented Manson lukewarmly on some of his musical recordings that Wilson was playing.
When Altobelli had informed Charlie that he was going out of the country the following day, Manson said that he’d like to speak with him when he returned. Altobelli lied again and said that he would be gone for more than a year. In response to a direct question from Altobelli, Charlie explained that he’d been directed to the guest house by the people in the main house. Altobelli expressed to Charlie that he wished that Manson would not disturb his tenants again. Charlie then left.
As Altobelli flew with Sharon to Rome the following day, she asked him if “that creepy-looking guy” had gone back to the guest house the evening before.
The Crowe Shooting
On May 18, 1969, Terry Melcher took a visit out to Spahn Ranch to hear Charlie and the women sing. Terry had arranged a subsequent visit after that, during which he had brought a friend who had possessed a mobile recording unit, however, he didn’t record the group himself.
In June, Charlie was telling the Family that they might have to show the blacks how to start “Helter Skelter” when he tasked Watson with obtaining money supposedly intended to help the Family to prepare for the conflict. Watson defrauded a black drug dealer by the name of Bernard “Lotsapoppa” Crowe, who responded with a threat to wipe out everyone at Spahn Ranch.
Charles would counteract the threat on July 1st of 1969 by shooting Crowe at his Hollywood apartment. Charlie’s mistaken belief that he’d killed Crowe was seemingly confirmed by a news report of the discovery of a dumped body of a Black Panther in Los Angeles. Although Crowe wasn’t a member of the Black Panthers, Manson concluded that he had been and expected retaliation from them. He would turn Spahn Ranch into a defensive camp with night patrols of armed guards, and Tex Watson would later write that “If we’d needed any more proof that Helter Skelter was coming down very soon, this was it, Blackie was trying to get at the chosen ones.”
A little over two months later on July 25th, Charlie sent Family member Bobby Beausoleil along with Mary Brunner and Susan Atkins to the house of acquaintance Gary Hinman to persuade him to turn over money to Manson, though Hinman had inherited it. The three held the uncooperative Hinman hostage for two days, during which Manson showed up with a sword to slash his ear.
Afterwards, Beausoleil stabbed Gary to death, upon Manson’s instruction, before leaving the Topanga Canyon residence, Beausoleil, or one of the women, had used Hinman’s blood to write “Political Piggy” and a panther paw, a Black Panther symbol on the wall. In later magazine interviews in 1981 and 1998-1999, Beausoleil would state that he went to Gary’s to recover money that was paid to Hinman for drugs that had supposedly been bad. He also added that Brunner and Atkins, unaware of his intent, went along idly, merely to visit Hinman. On the other hand, Atkins, in her 1977 autobiography, had written that Charlie had directly told Beausoleil, Brunner and her to go to Gary’s and get the supposed inheritance of $21,000. She said that Charlie told her in private, two days earlier, that if she wanted to “do something important”, she could kill Gary and get his
On August 6th, Beausoleil was arrested after he had been caught driving Gary’s car. Police had found the murder weapon inside of a tire well. A couple of days later, Charles told Family members at Spahn Ranch, “Now is the time for Helter Skelter”.
On the evening of August 8th, Charlie told three women to gather together an additional change of clothes, a knife and a driver’s license. He then discussed details of his plan with a fourth Family member, Charles “Tex” Watson. He told him to take Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian and Patricia Krenwinkel to Melcher’s former home and kill everyone there. Charlie also instructed the women to do as Tex told them to
do. The group piled into an old Ford and drove down the driveway of the ranch. Charlie stuck his head in the window before they left and told them “to leave a sign” and said “you girls know what I mean, something witchy.” Though Tex had understood his mission fully, the three women knew neither their destination nor that the night was destined for murder.
After driving forty-five minutes or so, and shortly before midnight, the group pulled up in front of the Bel-Air residence of actress Sharon Tate. Sharon was famous at the time for her recent role in the movie “Valley of the Dolls”. She shared the home with her husband and director Roman Polanski. Roman was in London at the time working on his next film project, “The Day of the Dolphin”. In his absence, two friends were staying at the large home at 10050 Cielo Drrive, including coffee heiress Abigail Folger and her boyfriend, Voytek Frykowski. Also in the home that night was hair stylist Jay Sebring, who was also a friend of Sharon Tate’s.
After Tex had cut the telephone wires leading to the home, the four Family members scrambled over the fence at the bottom of the property and started up the hill that lead to the residence. A car pulled up the driveway and Tex leaped forward, stuck his hand through the vehicle’s window, aimed at the driver’s head and pulled the trigger four times. The Family’s first victim that night was an eighteen-year-old, Steven Parent, who was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. Kasabian waited by the car as the other three members entered the Tate home. Within a few minutes the screams began.
Tex would later describe the next four victims as “running around the place like chickens with their heads cut off”. In all, the four victims would receive 102 stab wounds. Sharon was the last to die, stabbed by Tex while she was held down by Susan Atkins who later said that she tasted Sharon’s blood and found it to be “warm and sticky”. She then took some of Sharon’s blood and used it to write on the porch wall the word “PIG”. Abigail, Sharon, Steven and Voytek weren’t the only ones at the home that were killed that night. Sharon was two weeks away from giving birth at the time of her murder and because she had died so had her unborn baby boy.
The next morning, a maid arriving at the Tate home left the house screaming “Murder! Death! Bodies! Blood!” Within a few hours, investigators would discover the two badly mutilated bodies of Folger and Frykowski on the lawn of the Tate residence. Inside, near the couch in the living room, they found the bloody pregnant body of Sharon and with a rope around his neck and a bloody towel over his face, Jay Sebring.
Charlie, in the meantime, had expressed his displeasure with the attack at the Tate residence. He would say that the job was too messy and decided that with the next Helter Skelter mission, scheduled for later that night, he would accompany the group. In addition to the four Family members from the previous night’s mission, he was joined by Clem Tufts and Leslie Van Houten. Charlie would order Kasabian to cruise around Los Angeles neighborhoods in search of potential victims before settling on the home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Tex, Krenwinkel and Van Houten were the members that Manson chose for their next mission.
August 9th-10th, the evening after the Tate murders, six Family
members, Leslie Van Houten, Steve “Clem” Grogan, and the four members from the previous night rode out on the next mission upon Manson’s orders. Charlie also went along with the group this night, to “show [them] how to do it”. Before leaving Spahn Ranch, Tex complained to Charlie that the weapons used the previous night were inadequate.
After a few hours of driving around, Charlie gave Kasabian directions that would bring the group to 3301 Waverly Drive. This was the residence of supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary, a dress shop co-owner. The home was located in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles. The home was next door to a house at which Charlie and some Family members had attended a party at in the previous year. According to Atkins and Kasabian, Charlie disappeared up the driveway and returned to say that he’d tied up the house’s occupants. He then sent Tex up with Krenwinkel and Van Houten. After Charlie pointed out a sleeping man through a window, two of the group entered through an unlocked back door. Tex added later at trial, that he “went along with” the women’s account, which he figured made him “look that much less responsible”. Tex would relate that Manson had roused the sleeping Leno LaBianca from a couch at gunpoint and had Tex bind his hands with a leather thong. After Rosemary was brought briefly into the living room from the bedroom, Tex followed Charlie’s instructions to cover the couple’s heads with pillowcases. He bound the pillowcases in place with lamp cords and Manson left after sending Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten into the house with instructions that the couple be killed.
When the women were sent from the kitchen to the bedroom that Rosemary had been returned to, Tex went to the living room and started to stab Leno with a chrome-plated bayonet. The first thrust was into Leno’s throat. The sounds of a scuffle in the bedroom drew Tex there to discover that Mrs. LaBianca was keeping the women at bay by swinging the lamp around that was tied to her neck. After subduing her with several stabs with the bayonet, he returned to the living room and resumed his attack on Leno, who would receive a total of twelve stab wounds from the bayonet. When Tex had finished, he carved the word “WAR” on Leno’s exposed abdomen. In a later, unclear portion of her eventual grand jury testimony, Atkins, who hadn’t entered the LaBianca house, said she had believed Krenwinkel had carved the word. However, in a ghost-written newspaper account based on a statement that Atkins had made earlier to her attorney, she said Tex had carved it.
After returning to the bedroom, Tex found Krenwinkel stabbing Rosemary with a knife from the LaBianca kitchen. Heeding Manson’s instruction to make sure each of the women played a part, Tex told Van Houten to stab Mrs. LaBianca too. She did so and stabbed her about sixteen times in the back and her exposed buttocks. At trial, Van Houten would claim that she was uncertain that Rosemary was dead when she had stabbed her, however, evidence had shown that many of Rosemary’s forty-one stab wounds had, in fact, been inflicted post-mortem.
While Tex was cleaning off the bayonet and showering, Krenwinkel wrote the words “Rise” and “Death to Pigs” on walls and “Healter Skelter” on the fridge door, all in the blood of the LaBianca’s. She gave Leno fourteen puncture wounds with an ivory-handled, two-tined carving fork, of which she had left jutting out of his stomach, and also planted a steak knife in his throat.
Meanwhile, hoping for a double crime, Charlie had gone on to direct Kasabian to drive to a Venice home of another actor acquaintance of hers, another “piggy”. Depositing a second trio of Family members at a man’s apartment building, he drove back to Spahn Ranch, leaving them and the LaBianca killers to hitchhike home. Kasabian thwarted this murder by deliberately knocking on the wrong apartment door and waking up a stranger. As the group abandoned the murder plan and left, Susan Atkins defecated in the stairwell.
On August 9, 1969, before the LaBianca murders took place, the Tate murders had already become news. Polanski’s housekeeper, Winifred Chapman had arrived for work when she had found the murder scene and it was immediately reported to the police.
A day later, detectives of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which had jurisdiction in the Hinman case, informed the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) detectives that were assigned to the Tate case of the bloody writing found at the Hinman house. Thinking that the Tate murders were a consequence of drug transactions, the Tate team ignored this and the other similarities of the crimes. The Tate autopsies were underway and the LaBianca bodies had yet to be discovered.
Steven Parent, the first victim of the Tate murders, who had been shot in the driveway, was determined to have been an acquaintance of William Garretson, who had lived in the guest house. Garretson was a young man that was hired by Rudi Altobelli to take care of the property while he was away. As the killers arrived, Steven had been leaving Cielo Drive after visiting Garretson. Held briefly as a Tate suspect, Garretson told the police he neither saw nor heard anything on the night of the murder. He was released on August 11th, after undergoing a polygraph exam, which indicated he had not been involved in the crimes. After being interviewed decades later, he stated that he had in fact, witnessed a part of the murders as the examination had suggested.
On August 10th at about 10:30 pm, the LaBianca crime scene was discovered, about nineteen hours after the murders had been committed. A fifteen-year-old, Frank Struthers, Rosemary’s son from a prior marriage and Leno’s stepson, had returned from a camping trip and was disturbed by seeing all of the window shades of his home drawn and by the fact that his stepfather’s speedboat was still attached to the family car, which was parked in the driveway. Frank then called his older sister and her boyfriend, Joe Dorgan. Joe accompanied Frank into the home and discovered Leno’s body. Rosemary, however, was found by the investigating police officers.
Two days later, the LAPD told the press that they had ruled out any connection between the Tate and LaBianca homicides. Four days after this, on August 16th, the sheriff’s office raided the Spahn Ranch and arrested Charles and twenty-five others, but not for the murders. They were instead, “suspects in a major auto theft ring” and had been stealing Volkswagens and converting them into dune buggies. Weapons were also seized, but because the warrant was misdated the group was released a few days later.
At the end of August, in a report, when pretty much all leads had gone nowhere, LaBianca detectives noted that it was possible for there to be a connection between the bloody writings at the LaBianca house and “the singing group the Beatles’ most recent album”.
While still working separately from the Tate team, the LaBianca team had checked with the sheriff’s office in the middle of October about any possible similar crimes. They would learn about the Hinman case and also learned that Hinman detectives had spoken with Beausoleil’s girlfriend, Kitty Lutesinger. She was arrested a few days earlier with other members of “The Manson Family”. The arrests had taken place at the desert ranches of which the Family had moved and unknown to the authorities, its members had been searching Death Valley for a hole in the ground to access the Bottomless Pit.
A joint force of National Park rangers and officers from the California Highway Patrol and the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office—federal, state and county personnel—had raided both the Myers Ranch and Barker Ranch after following clues unwittingly left when the Family had burned an earth-mover that was owned by the Death Valley National Monument. Raiders had stolen dune buggies and other vehicles and arrested two dozen people, including Manson. A Highway Patrol officer had found him hiding in a cabinet beneath a Barker’s Ranch bathroom sink.
After following up on leads, a month later they spoke with Lutesinger. LaBianca detectives contacted members of a motorcycle gang that Charlie tried to enlist as his bodyguards while the Family was at Spahn Ranch. While gang members were providing information that had suggested a link between Manson and the murders, a dormitory mate of Susan Atkins had informed the LAPD of the Family’s involvement in the crimes. As one of the people arrested at Barker Ranch, Atkins had been booked for the Hinman murder. After she had confirmed to the sheriff’s detectives that she had been involved in it, as Lutesinger said, she was transferred to the Sybil Brand Institute, a detention center in Los Angeles, and began to talk to other bunkmates, Ronnie Howard and Virginia Graham. She would also give accounts of the events in which she had been involved in to them as well.
Atkins told Virginia an almost unbelievable tale of a “beautiful cat” named Charles Manson, on November 6th of 1969. She told of the murder of Sharon Tate, and how she had found her in bed with her bikini bra and underpants on. She also stated that Sharon cried out for help and begged her to let her live so she could have her baby, and after Sharon was dead how she had tasted her blood. Atkins would express no remorse at all over the killings and even told Graham a list of other celebrities that she and the other Family members had planned to kill in the future, among those were: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Tom Jones, Steve McQueen and Frank Sinatra. Through Ronnie Howard, word of Atkin’s amazing story soon reached the LAPD.
It was also about this time that detectives on the LaBianca case had interviewed Al Springer. Al was a member of the Straight Satan biker group. He was also a person who Charlie tried to recruit into the Family. Word had leaked to the police that the Straight Satans might have some knowledge about who was responsible for another recent murder with several similarities to that of the LaBianca killings. Springer would tell detectives that Charles Manson had bragged to him in August at the Spahn Ranch, after offering him his pick from eighteen or so “naked girls” that were scattered around the ranch. He also bragged to Springer about “knocking off” five people. When he told them that Charlie had said the Tate killers “wrote something on the…refrigerator in blood, something about pigs,” detectives knew that they may be on to something. It still struck detectives as odd that anybody would confess to several murders to someone that they barely knew.
It had taken another member of the Straight Satans, Danny DeCarlo, to move the focus of the investigation decisively to Charles Manson. DeCarlo had told the police that he had heard a Manson Family member brag, “We got five piggies,” and that Charlie had asked him what to use “to decompose a body.” Based on Ronnie Howard’s account of what Susan Atkin’s had confessed and interviews that were conducted with various Manson Family members, the LAPD eventually identified five people who had participated in the actual murders on December 1, 1969.
The LAPD announced that they had obtained warrants for the arrests of Watson, Krenwinkel and Kasabian for the murders at the Tate household. These women were also noted as being suspects involved in the LaBianca murders as well. Charlie and Atkins were already in custody so they were not mentioned in the warrants. The connection between the LaBianca and Van Houten, who was also among those that were arrested near Death Valley, had not yet been recognized.
Tex and Krenwinkel were already under arrest by authorities in McKinney, Texas and Mobile, Alabama. They had been picked up on a notice from the LAPD. Atkins would remain in custody at Dormitory 8000 in Los Angeles and Van Houten was picked up for questioning elsewhere in California. Kasabian would voluntarily surrender to local police in Concord, New Hampshire on December 2nd.
Before long, physical evidence, such as Krenwinkel’s and Watson’s fingerprints, which had been collected by the LAPD at Cielo Drive. On September 1st of 1969, a distinctive 22-caliber Hi Standard “Buntline Special” revolver of which Tex had used on Steven Parent, Jay Sebring and Frykowski had been found and given to the police by Steven Weiss. Steven was a ten-year-old who had lived near the Tate residence.
By the middle of December, when the Los Angeles Times published a crime account based on information that Susan Atkins gave her attorney, Weiss’ father made several phone calls, finally prompting the LAPD to locate the gun in its evidence file and connecting it with the murders via ballistic tests. Acting on the same newspaper account, the local ABC television crew quickly located and recovered bloody clothing that was discarded by the Tate killers. Knives that were discarded while en-route from the Tate residence were never recovered, despite a search by some of the same crewmen and months later the LAPD. A knife was found behind a cushion of a chair in the Tate living room and was apparently that of Susan Atkins, who had lost the knife in the course of the attack.
Knowing that convictions of at least some defendants would require the testimony from one of those people present at the murders, the District Attorney’s office had first reached a deal with the attorney of Susan Atkins. The deal would promise that they would not seek the death penalty in return for her testimony before the grand jury, plus consideration of a further reduction in charges for her continued cooperation during the trial. She would tell the grand jury that she was “in love with the reflection” of Charles Manson and that there
was “no limit” to what she would have done for him. She also described to them in an emotionless voice the horrific events of the early morning hours of August 9th at the Tate residence. She said how Sharon pleaded for her life saying “Please let me go. All I want to do is have my baby.” Atkins would describe the actual murders and how after returning to the car and leaving, they stopped on a side street to wash off the bloody clothes with a garden hose, and of Manson’s reaction upon their return to Spahn Ranch. She said that when she got to the Ranch she “felt dead” and added that “I feel dead now”.
On June 15th of 1970 the trial would begin in an 8th floor courtroom of the Judge Charles Older in the Hall of Justice in Los Angeles. The prosecutions main witness would be Kasabian, who, along with Manson, Atkins and Krenwinkel, had been charged with seven counts of murder and one count of conspiracy. Since Kasabian, by all accounts had not participated in the killings, she was granted immunity in exchange for testimony that had detailed the events of the nights of the crimes. Before this time, the deal with Atkins ended up falling through.
Since Van Houten had only participated in the LaBianca killings, she was charged with only two counts of murder and one of conspiracy. Originally, Judge William Keene was reluctant to grant Charles Manson the permission to act as his own attorney, since his conduct, including violations of a gag order and submission of “outlandish” and “nonsensical” pretrial motions. The permission was withdrawn before the start of the trial, and Manson would file an affidavit of prejudice against Keene, who was then replaced by Judge Charles H. Older. Charlie’s request to ask potential jurors “a few simple, childlike questions that are real to me in my reality” was also denied.
On Friday, July 24th, the first day of testimony would take place. Manson would appear in court with an X carved into his forehead and issued a statement that he was “considered inadequate and incompetent to speak or defend [him]self”–and had “X-d [him]self from [the establishment’s] world”. Over that weekend, female defendants would duplicate this mark on their own foreheads, as did most Family members within another day or so. Years later, Charlie would go on to carve the X into a swastika.
The prosecution would argue during the trial that the triggering of “Helter Skelter” was Manson’s main motive. The crime scene’s bloody “White Album” references (pig, rise, helter skelter) were correlated with testimony about Manson’s predictions that the murders that the blacks would commit at the outset of Helter Skelter would involve the writings of “pigs” on the walls in the victims’ blood. Charlie would say in his testimony that “now is the time for Helter Skelter” which was supplemented with Kasabian’s testimony that, on the night of the murders of the LaBiancas, Charles had considered discarding Rosemary’s wallet on the street of a black neighborhood. Having obtained the wallet in the home, he “wanted a black person to pick it up and use the credit cards so that the people, the establishment, would think it was some sort of an organized group that killed these people”. Upon his direction, Kasabian had hid it in the women’s restroom of a service station near a black area. “I want to show blackie how to do it,” Manson would say as the Family members had driven along after leaving the LaBianca home.
Throughout the trial, the Family members would loiter near the entrances and in the corridors of the courthouse. To keep them out of the courtroom, the prosecution subpoenaed them as prospective witnesses, who wouldn’t be able to enter while others were testifying. When the group eventually established itself in a vigil on the sidewalk, some of the members would wear a sheathed hunting knife that, although in plain view, was carried legally. Each of them was also identifiable by the X that they had carved into their foreheads. Some other Family members attempted to dissuade witnesses from testifying. The prosecution’s witnesses, Paul Watkins and Juan Flynn were both threatened.
Paul Watkins would be badly burned in a suspicious fire in his van. A former Family member, Barbara Hoyt, who had overheard Susan Atkins describing the murders at the Tate household to a Family member by the name of Ruth Ann Moorehouse, had agreed to
accompany Ruth to Hawaii. While in Hawaii, Moorehouse had allegedly given her a hamburger that was spiked with several doses of LSD. Barbara would be found sprawled on a Honolulu curb in a drugged semi-stupor and was then taken to a hospital where she did her best to identify herself as a witness in the murder trial. Prior to this incident, Barbara had been a reluctant witness, but after the attempt to silence her permanently, she reluctance disappeared.
On August 4th, despite precautions being taken by the court, Manson flashed the jury a Los Angeles Times front page headline that said “Manson Guilty, Nixon Declares”. This was in reference to a statement that was made during the previous day when the United States President, Richard Nixon, who said that what he saw a media glamorization of Charlie. Jurors would contend that the headline had not influenced them. On the next day, the female defendants in the case stood up and said in unison that, in light of Nixon’s remark, there was no point in going on with the trial.
Almost two months, to the day of when the article was flashed, Charlie was denied the court’s permission to question a prosecution witness of whom defense attorneys had declined to cross-examine. He would leap over the defense table and attempt to attack the judge. He was wrestled to the ground by bailiffs and then removed from the courtroom along with female defendants, who would subsequently rise and began chanting in Latin. From then on, Older allegedly began wearing a revolver under his robes. After this incident, Manson sat fixing his penetrating stare for hours, first on Judge Older and then one day on Prosecutor Bugliosi.
After being given the staring treatment, Bugliosi took advantage of a recess to slide his chair next to Charlie and asked him “What are you trembling about Charlie? Are you afraid of me?” Charlie responded “Bugliosi, you think I’m bad and I’m not”. Bugliosi would go on to tell Manson that Atkins was “just a stupid little bitch” you told a story “to get attention”.
Kasabian would tell the jury during testimony that no Family member ever refused an order from Charlie: “We always wanted to do anything and everything for him”. She also offered her account of the murders of the LaBiancas. She said that she hadn’t wanted to go, but went anyhow “because Charlie asked me and I was afraid to say no”.
The Defense Rests
On November 16th, the prosecution rested its case. Just three days later, after arguing the standard dismissal motions, the defense stunned the court by resting as well, without even calling a single witness. Shouting their disapproval, Atkins, Krenwinkel and Van Houten demanded for their right to testify. In chambers, the women’s lawyers had told the judge that their clients had wanted to testify that they had planned and committed crimes and that Manson hadn’t been involved.
By resting their case, the defense lawyers had tried to stop this. Van Houten’s attorney, Ronald Hughes, vehemently stated that they wouldn’t “push a client out the window”. In the prosecutor’s view, it was Charlie who was advising the women to testify in this manner as a means of saving himself.
The next day, Manson would testify. If his address would violate the California Supreme Court’s decision in People v Aranada by making statements implicating his co-defendants, the jury would be removed from the courtroom. He would speak for more than an hour, saying among other things, that “music is telling the youth to rise up against the establishment.” He would go on to say, “I don’t recall every saying ‘Get a knife and a change of clothes and go do what Tex says.’”
As the body of the trial concluded and with closing arguments impending, attorney Ronald Hughes would disappear during a weekend trip. When Maxwell Keith was appointed to represent Van Houten in Hughes’ absence, a delay of more than two weeks was required so as to permit Keith to familiarize himself with the large amount of trial transcriptions.
No sooner had the trial resumed, just before Christmas, than the disruptions of the prosecution’s closing argument by defendants led Older to ban four of the defendants from the courtroom for the remainder of the guilt phase. This might have occurred because the defendants were acting in collusion with each other and simply were just putting on a performance, which Judge Older said was becoming obvious.
Conviction and Penalty Phase
On the 25th of January 1971, the jury would return their guilty verdicts against four defendants, each on twenty-seven separate counts against them. Not far into the trial’s penalty phase the jurors saw, at last, the defense that Charlie, in the prosecution’s view, had planned to present. Atkins, Krenwinkel and Van Houten would testify that the murders had been conceived as “copycat” versions of the Hinman murder, of which Atkins now took credit for.
They would say that the killings were intended to draw suspicion away from Bobby Beausoleil by resembling other crimes of which he’d been jailed for. This plan supposedly had been the work of, and carried out under the guidance of, not Charlie, but someone that was allegedly in love with Beausoleil, Linda Kasabian. Among the narrative’s weak points was the inability of Atkins to explain why, as she was maintaining, she had written “political piggy” at the Hinman house in the first place.
Halfway through the penalty phase, Charles shaved his head and trimmed his beard to a fork, he told the press “I am the Devil, and the Devil always has a bald head”. The prosecution would regard as a belated recognition on their part that imitation of Manson only proved his domination. Female defendants would refrain from shaving their heads until the jurors had retired to weigh the state’s request for the death penalty. The effort of exonerating Charlie though the copycat scenario had failed.
On the 29th of March, the jury returned the verdicts of death against all four of the defendants on all counts. Almost a month later, on the 19th of April, Judge Older would sentence all four defendants to death .
The day that verdicts recommending the death penalty were returned, the news reported
that a badly decomposed body of Mr. Ronald Hughes had been found wedged between two boulders in Ventura County. It was rumored, though never proven, that Ronald’s murder was done by the Family. This is possibly because he had stood up to Charlie and refused to allow Van Houten to take the stand and absolve him of his crimes. Though he may have perished in flooding, Family member Sandra Good stated that Hughes was “the first of the retaliation murders”.
Tex, who had returned to McKinney, Texas after the Tate-LaBianca murders was arrested in the state on the 30th of November of 1969. After the local police were notified by the California investigators that his fingerprints were found to match a print that was found on the front door of the Tate home. He would fight against extradition to California long enough that he was not included among the three defendants that were tried with Charlie. Unlike the others, Tex had presented a psychiatric defense. Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi made short work of Tex’s insanity claims, and like his co-conspirators, Tex was sentenced to death.
In February of 1972, the death sentences of all five parties were automatically reduced to life in prison by California v Anderson, in which the California Supreme Court had abolished the death penalty in the state. After his return to prison, Charlie’s rhetoric and hippie speeches would hold little sway, though he had found temporary acceptance from the Aryan Brotherhood, his role in the group was as a submissive to a sexually aggressive member of the group at San Quentin.
Before the conclusion of Manson’s Tate/LaBianca trial, a reporter from the Los Angeles Times had tracked down Manson’s mother. She was remarried and was living in the Pacific Northwest. The former Kathleen Maddox would claim that in Charlie’s childhood her son suffered no neglect and that he had even been “pampered by all the women who surrounded him”.
On November 8th of 1972, the body of a twenty-six-year-old Vietnam Marine combat veteran by the name of James L. T. Willett was found by a hiker near Guerneville, California. Some months earlier James had been forced to dig his own grave and then was shot and poorly buried.
His body was found with one of his hands protruding from the grave and his head and other hand were missing, most likely have been eaten by scavenging animals. James’ station wagon was found outside of a house in Stockton, where several Manson followers had been living, including Priscilla Cooper, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme and Nancy Pitman. The police would force their way into the house and would arrest several of the people that were there, along with Fromme who had called the house after the police had arrived.
James’ nineteen-year-old wife, Lauren “Reni” Chavelle Olmstead Willett was also found dead, she was buried in the basement of the house raided by the police. Reni had been killed very recently by a gunshot to the head, the Family members would initially claim that her death was an accident. It was later suggested that she was killed out of fear that she would reveal who had killed her husband, as the discovery of his body had become prominent news.
The Willett’s infant daughter was found alive in the home. Michael Monfort would plead guilty to the murder of Reni. Priscilla Cooper, James Craig and Nancy Pitman would plead guilty to the murder of James Willett and James Craig would plead guilty as an accessory after the fact. The group had been living in the house with the Willetts while they were committing various robberies.
Not long after the killing of James, Monfort had used his identification papers to pose as him after being arrested for armed robbery of a liquor store. News reports had suggested that James was not involved in the robberies and wanted to move away, but instead was killed out of fear that he would talk to the police. After leaving the Marines after two tours in Vietnam, James had been an ESL teacher for immigrant children.
In a 1971 trial that took place after the Tate-LaBianca convictions, Charlie was found guilty of the murders of Gary Hinman and Donald “Shorty” Shea and given a life sentence. Donald Shea was a Spahn Ranch stuntman and horse wrangler who had been killed about ten days after the August 16, 1969 sheriff’s raid of the Ranch.
Charlie, who had suspected that Shea had helped to set up the raid, had apparently believed that he was trying to get Spahn to run the Family off of the ranch. Manson may have considered it a “sin” that the white Shea had married a black woman and there was a possibility that Shea knew about the Tate-LaBianca killings. In separate trials, Family members, Bruce Davis and Steve “Clem” Grogan were also found guilty of the Shea murder.
During 1977, the authorities learned of the precise location of the remains of Shorty Shea and, contrary to Family claims, Shea hadn’t been dismembered and buried in several places. According to the prosecutor of the case, Steve Grogan told him that Shea’s corpse had been buried in one piece. He would draw a map that had pinpointed the location of the body, which would be recovered. Of those convicted of the Manson-ordered murders, Grogan would become, in 1985, the first, and as of 2016, the only one to be paroled.
Remaining in View
On September 5, 1975, the Family would rocket back into national attention when Squeaky Fromme had attempted to assassinate the United States, Gerald Ford. The attempt would take place in Sacramento when, at the time, Squeaky and another Manson follower, Sandra Good, had moved to be near Manson while he was incarcerated at Folsom State Prison.
A subsequent search of an apartment that was shared by Fromme, Good, and another Family recruit, had turned up evidence that, coupled with later actions on the part of Good would result in her conviction for conspiring to send threatening communications through the U.S. Mail and transmitting death threats by way of interstate commerce. The threats had involved corporate executives and U.S. Government officials. Fromme was sentenced to fifteen years to life and became the first person sentenced under U.S. Code Title 18, Chapter 84 (1965), which had made it a Federal crime to attempt to assassinate the President of the United States.
In December 1987, Squeaky, serving a life sentence for the assassination attempt, escaped briefly from Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia. She was trying to reach Charlie, of whom she had heard had testicular cancer. She was apprehended within days and was released on parole from the Federal Medical Center, Carswell on the 14th of August 2009.
1980s- Present Aftermath
During 1994, in a conversation with Charlie, prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, Catherine Share,
a one-time follower of Manson’s, had stated that her testimony in the penalty phase of Manson’s trial had been fabricated with the intent to save Charlie from the gas chamber and had been given on Manson’s explicit direction. Share’s testimony had introduced the copycat-motive story, which three female defendants would echo the testimony, and according to which Tate-LaBianca murders had been Linda Kasabian’s idea.
In 1997, in a segment of the tabloid television program “Hard Copy”, Share implied that her testimony had been given under a Manson threat to her family. During August of 1971, after Charlie’s trial and sentencing, Catherine had participated in a violent California retail store robbery, the object of which was to acquire weapons to help free Manson.
During the month of January in 1996, a Manson website was established by a latter-day Manson follower, George Stimson, who was helped by Sandra Good. Sandra had been released from prison in 1985 after she had served ten years of her fifteen year sentence for death threats.
William Garretson, the once young caretaker at Cielo Drive, would indicate in a program broadcast “The Last Days of Sharon Tate” on July 25th of 1999 on E!, that he had, in fact, seen and heard a part of the Tate murders from his location in the guest house on the Tate property. This was comported with unofficial results of the polygraph examination that had been given to Garretson on August 10, 1969, and had effectively eliminated him as a suspect. The LAPD officer who had conducted the examination had concluded that Garretson was “clean” on his participation in the crimes but “muddy” as to his having heard anything. He didn’t explain why he had withheld his knowledge of the events.
In early 2008, it was announced that Susan Atkins was suffering from brain cancer. An application for compassionate release, based on her health status, was denied in July. She was also denied parole for the 18th and final time on September 2, 2009. Susan would die of natural causes just twenty-two days later on September 24th of 2009 at Central California Women’s facility in Chowchilla.
During the same month, the History Channel had broadcast a docudrama that covered the Family’s activities and murders as part of its coverage on the 40th anniversary of the killings. The program included an in-depth interview with Linda Kasabian. She spoke publicly for the first time since her 1989 appearance on “A Current Affair”, an American television news magazine. The show also included interviews with Vincent Bugliosi, Catherine Share and Debra Tate, the sister of Sharon Tate.
As the 40th anniversary of the Tate-LaBianca murders had approached in July of 2009, the Los Angeles Magazine published an “oral history”, in which former Family members, law enforcement officers, and others that were involved with Manson, the arrests, and trials offered their recollections and observations on the events that made Charlie notorious. In the article, Juan Flynn, a Spahn Ranch worker who had become associated with Charlie and the Family, said that “Charles Manson got away with everything. People will say, ‘He’s in jail’, but Charlie is exactly where he wants to be”.
During the 1980s, Charlie too gave four notable interviews. The first was recorded at the California Medical Facility and aired on television on June 13, 1981. The interview was with Tom Snyder for NBC’s “The Tomorrow Show”. The second was recorded at San Quentin Prison and aired on March 7, 1986, Manson was interviewed by Charlie Rose for the CBS News’ Nightwatch. The interview won a national news Emmy Award for “Best Interview” in 1987. The third interview was with Geraldo Rivera in 1988 and was a part of the journalist’s prime-time special on Satanism.
At least as early as the Snyder interview, Manson’s forehead bore a swastika in the spot where the X was at that he carved during his trial. In 1989, Nikolas Schreck conducted his interview with Manson, cutting the interview into pieces for material in his documentary called “Charles Manson Superstar”. Schreck would conclude that Charlie was not insane, but was merely acting that way out of frustration.
On the 25th of September 1984, while he was imprisoned at California Medical Facility in Vacaville, Charlie was severely burned by a fellow inmate who had poured paint thinner on him and set him on fire. Another prisoner, Jan Holmstrom, would explain that Charlie objected to his Hare Krishna chants and had verbally threatened him. Even though he had suffered second and third degree burns on over 20% of his body, Manson recovered from his injuries. In June of 1997, Charles was found to have been trafficking drugs by a prison disciplinary committee and in August he was moved from Corcoran State Prison to Pelican Bay State Prison.
In a 1998 interview in Seconds magazine, Bobby Beausoleil rejected the view that Charlie ordered him to kill Gary Hinman. He stated that Manson did come to Hinman’s and slashed him with a sword. In a 1981 interview he had denied doing this. Beausoleil went on to state that when he read about the Tate murders in the paper, “I wasn’t even sure at that point—really, I had no idea who had done it until Manson’s group were actually arrested for it. It had only crossed my mind and I had a premonition, perhaps. There was some little tickle in my mind that the killings might be connected with them…” In the Oui magazine interview, he stated, “When [the Tate-LaBianca murders] happened, I knew who had done it. I was fairly certain”.
On the 5th of September 2007, MSNBC had aired “The Mind of Manson”, a complete version of a 1987 interview at California’s San Quentin State Prison, footage of an “unshackled, unapologetic, and unruly” Manson had been considered “so unbelievable” that only seven minutes of it had originally been broadcast on “The Today Show”, for which it had been recorded. Then in January of 2008, a segment of the Discovery Channel’s “Most Evil”, Barbara Hoyt said that the impression that she had accompanied Ruth Ann Moorehouse to Hawaii just to avoid testifying at Charlie’s trial was erroneous. Barbara said she’d cooperated with the Family because she was “trying to keep them from killing” her family. She also stated that, at the time of the trial, she was “constantly being threatened: ‘Your family’s gonna die. [The murders] could be repeated at your house.’”
The Associated Press would report on March 15, 2008, that the forensic investigators had conducted the search for human remains at the Barker Ranch in the previous month. After following up on some longstanding rumors that the Family had killed some hitchhikers and runaways who had come into its orbit during their time at Barker, investigators would identify “two likely clandestine grave sites…and one additional site that merits further investigation.” Though they had recommended digging, CNN reported that on the 28th of March, an Inyo County sheriff, who had questioned methods they had employed with search dogs, had ordered additional tests before excavation.
On the 9th of May, after some delay, caused by damage to some test equipment, the sheriff announced that the test results had been inconclusive and that “exploratory excavation” would start on the 20th. In the meantime, Tex Watson commented publicly that “no one was killed” at the desert camp during the month and a half that he was there, after the Tate-LaBianca murders. After two days of work the sheriff brought the “excavation” to an end on the 21st of May. There were four potential grave sites that had been dug up and had been found to hold no human remains.
In March of the following year, a photograph of the then seventy-four year old Manson, showing a receding hairline, grizzled gray beard and hair and swastika tattoo still prominent on his forehead was released to the public by California corrections officials.
Eight months later, a Los Angeles DJ and songwriter by the name of Matthew Roberts had released correspondence and other evidence that would indicate that he may be the biological son of Charlie Manson. Matthew’s biological mother claims that she was a member of the Manson Family and had left in the summer of 1967 after she was raped by Charlie. She would return to her parent’s home to complete her pregnancy and delivered Matthew on March 22, 1968, and subsequently put Matthew up for adoption. Charles himself would state that he “could” be the father, acknowledging that the biological mother and he had a sexual relationship during 1967.
In 2010, the Los Angeles Times had reported that Charles was caught with a cell phone the previous year and had contacted people in California, New Jersey, Florida and British Columbia. A spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections stated that it was not known if he had used the phone for any criminal purposes.
Four years later, on November 17, 2014, it had been announced that Charlie was engaged to a twenty-six year old named Afton Elaine “Star” Burton while he was still in prison. They had obtained a marriage license ten days earlier and Burton had been visiting Charlie in prison for at least nine years, maintaining several websites that had claimed his innocence. The wedding license expired on the 5th of February of 2015, without a marriage ceremony having ever taken place.
It was later reported that, according to the journalist Daniel Simone, the wedding was canceled after it had been discovered that Burton had only wanted to marry Charlie so she and her friend Craig “Gray Wolf” Hammond could use his corpse as a tourist attraction after he had died. According to Simone, Charlie believed that he will never die and may just be using the possibility of marriage as a way to encourage Burton and Hammond to continue visiting him and bringing him gifts.
Together with a co-author by the name of Heidi Jordan Ley and with the assistance of some of Manson’s fellow prisoners, Simone would write a book about Charlie and is seeking a publisher for it. Burton said on her website that the reason the marriage didn’t take place is merely logistical. She would say that Manson is suffering from an infection and has been in the prison medical facility for two months and can’t receive visitors. She goes on to say that she still hoped that the marriage license would be renewed and the marriage could still take place.
The Parole Hearings
In the 1972 conclusion of California v Anderson which neutralized California’s death sentences and stated that, “any prisoner now under a sentence of death…may file a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the superior court inviting that court to modify its judgment to provide for the appropriate alternative punishment of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole specified by statute for the crime for which he was sentenced to death”, a footnote to the decision would make it so that Manson was eligible to apply for parole after seven years’ of incarceration. Accordingly his first parole hearing had taken place on the 16th of November 1978 at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, his petition would be rejected.
Charlie was also denied parole for the twelfth time on the 11th of April 2012. He didn’t attend his hearing, of which prison officials argued that he had a “history of controlling behavior” and “mental health issues” including schizophrenia and paranoid delusional disorder and was also too great a danger to be released. It would be determined that Charlie wouldn’t be reconsidered for parole again for another fifteen years, making him eligible again in 2027, at which time he would be ninety-two years old.
On the 4th of October 2012, Bruce Davis, who had been convicted of the murder of Shorty Shea and attempted robbery by the Manson Family members of a Hawthorne gun shop in 1971 was recommended for parole by the California Department of Corrections’ parole board at his 27th parole hearing. In 2010, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had reversed the board’s previous finding in favor of Davis, which would deny him parole for two more years. On the 1st of March of 2013 and again on the 8th of August of 2014, the new Governor of California, Jerry Brown also denied Davis’ parole.
In July of 2016, former Manson follower Leslie Van Houten’s petition for parole was endorsed by the parole board and then forwarded on to California’s governor Jerry Brown who also rejected it as well. Charles’ California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation inmate number is B333920 and he is incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison.
On March 6th of 1970, the day that the court vacated Manson’s status as his own attorney, an album of Manson’s music was released called “LIE”. The album included, “Cease to Exist”, a Manson composition that the Beach Boys had recorded with modified lyrics and title “Never Learn Not to Love”. Over the next couple of months, only about three hundred of the album’s 2,000 copies had sold.
Since this time, there has been several releases of Charles’ recordings, both musical and spoken. “The Family Jams” includes two compact discs of Manson’s songs that were recorded by the Family in 1970 after he and others had been arrested. Guitar and lead vocals are supplied by Steve Grogan and additional vocals are supplied by Lynette Fromme, Sandra good, Catherine Share and others. “One Mind”, an album of music, poetry and spoken word, which was new at the time of its release in April of 2005, was put out under a Creative Commons license.
The American rock band Guns N’ Roses recorded Manson’s song “Look at Your Game, Girl”, which was included as an unlisted 13th track on the band’s 1993 album “The Spaghetti Incident?” The song “My Monkey” appears on “Portrait of an American Family” by Marilyn Manson. There is no relation to the singer and Charlie. Lyrics for the song include: “I had a little monkey/I sent him to the country and I fed him on gingerbread/Along came a choo-choo/Knocked my monkey cuckoo/And now my monkey’s dead”. These are from Manson’s “Mechanical Man” which can be heard on “LIE”.
Crispin Glover would cover “Never Say ‘Never’ To Always” on his album entitled “The Big Problem, The Solution” which was released in 1989. Transgressive punk rock performing artist G G Allin covered “Garbage Dump”, which was another song from “LIE” on his album “You Give Love A Bad Name”.
Several Manson songs including: “I’m Scratching Peace Symbols on Your Tombstone”, also known as “First They Made Me Sleep in the Closet”; “Garbage Dump” and “I Can’t Remember When” are all featured in the soundtrack of the 1976 television-movie “Helter Skelter”. The songs are performed by Steve Railsback who portrays Charlie Manson in the film.
According to a popular urban legend, Charlie unsuccessfully auditioned for The Monkees in the latter part of 1965. This has been refuted by the fact that he was still incarcerated at McNeil Island at that time.
Manson’s Cultural Influence
In January of 1970, Charlie was embraced by the underground papers, Los Angeles Free Press and Tuesday’s Child, with the latter proclaiming he was “Man of the Year”. In June, he was the subject of a Rolling Stone cover story “Charles Manson: The Incredible Story of the Most Dangerous Man Alive”. When a Rolling Stone writer had visited the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office in preparing his story, he was shocked by a photographer of the bloody “Helter Skelter” that would bind Charlie to popular culture.
Bernardine Dohm, leader of Weather Underground had reportedly said this about the Tate murders: “Dig it, first they killed those pigs, when they ate dinner in the same room with them, then they even shoved a fork into a victim’s stomach. Wild!” Charlie also had a presence in fashion, graphics, music, movies, television and on the stage. In an afterword composed for the 1994 edition of the non-fiction book “Helter Skelter”, prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi would quote a BBC employee’s assertion that a “neo-Manson cult” that existed in Europe was represented by, among other things, about seventy rock bands that played songs by Charlie and “songs in support of him”. He’s even influenced names of musical performers such as: Kasabian, Spahn Ranch, and Marilyn Manson, who had been mentioned earlier. Marilyn’s name was assembled from “Charles Manson” and “Marilyn Monroe”.
The story of the Family’s activities would inspire John Moran’s opera, “The Manson Family” and Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Assassins”, with Lynette Fromme as a character. The Manson crimes have also been the subject of several movies, such as the 1984 film “Manson Family Movies” and two television dramatizations of “Helter Skelter”. They’ve even been represented on a South Park episode called “Merry Christmas, Charlie Manson”, where Charlie is a comical character whose inmate number is 06660, an apparent reference to 666, Biblical “number of the beast”.
In 2002, a novel by John Kaye called “The Dead Circus” includes activities of the Manson Family as a major plot point. In 2015, NBC premiered the crime drama Aquarius with Gethin Anthony playing Manson. He series was set in 1967 and included story lines that were inspired by actual events involving Manson.
Sharon was born on January 24th of 1943 in Dallas, Texas to Colonel Paul James Tate, who was a United States Army officer, and his wife Doris Gwendolyn Willett. Sharon was the eldest of three daughters born to the couple.
At six months of age, Sharon had won the “Miss Tiny Tot of Dallas Pageant”, however, her parents had no show business ambitions for their baby girl. By the time that she was sixteen years old, Paul Tate was promoted and transferred several times, making Sharon an “army brat”. She had lived in six different cities and had found it hard to maintain friendships. Her family would describe her at the time as being shy and lacked self-confidence. When she became an adult, Sharon would say that people would misinterpret her shyness for aloofness until they would get to know her better.
As Sharon grew up, people would compliment Sharon on her beauty and she started to enter into beauty pageants, eventually winning the title of “Miss Richland” in Washington by 1959. Sharon had wanted to study psychiatry. However, before she could follow her dreams, her father was transferred to Italy, taking his family along with him.
After arriving in Verona, Sharon had learned that she’d become a local celebrity, owing to the publication of a picture of her in a swim suit on the cover of a military newspaper called “Stars and Stripes”. Sharon had finally found a kinship with some other students at the American school she had been attending in nearby Vicenza, recognizing that their backgrounds and feelings of separation were very similar to her own experiences. For the first time in her life she would make long-lasting friendships with some people.
Her and her friends would become interested in the filming of “Adventures of a Young Man”, which was being made nearby. It involved actors Paul Newman and Richard Beymer and actress Susan Strasberg, and the friends would obtain parts as film extras. Beymer would notice Sharon in the crowd and introduced himself, the two would date during the production of the film, with Beymer talking Tate into pursuing a film career. In 1961, Sharon was employed by the singer Pat Boone and would appear with him in a television special that he had made in Venice.
Later in the year, when Barabbas started filming near Verona, Sharon was once again hired on as an extra. One actor, by the name of Jack Palance was impressed with Sharon’s appearance and her attitude, so he arranged a screen test for her in Rome, but this would fail to lead to any further work. Sharon would return to the United States by herself, stating that she had wanted to further her studies, but tried to find film work as well. After just a few months, Doris Tate, who feared for her daughter’s safety, suffered from a nervous breakdown and Sharon was then persuaded to return to Italy.
The family would eventually return together in 1962 and Sharon moved to Los Angeles, where she contacted Beymer’s agent, Harold Gefsky. After they had first met, Gefsky agreed to represent her, and secured work for her in television and magazine advertisements.
In 1967, after doing some more acting work and appearing in a Playboy article, Sharon met with French actor Philippe Forquet and started a relationship with him. They actually became engaged, but the relationship was volatile and they argued a lot. Pressures in their careers drove them apart and they eventually broke up.
Back in 1964, Sharon had met Jay Sebring, who was a former sailor who had established himself as a leading hair stylist in Hollywood. Tate would later say that Jay’s nature was especially gentle, but when he had proposed marriage, she wouldn’t accept. Sharon would say that she would retire from acting as soon as she married, and during this time she had intended to focus on her career.
After some time in the entertainment industry, Tate was filming in France and Jay Sebring returned to Los Angeles to fulfill some business obligations that he had to take care of. After the filming had completed in London, England, Sharon remained in the city where she immersed herself in the fashion world and nightclubs. It was about this time that she would meet Roman Polanski. Both Tate and Polanski had later agreed that neither of them were really impressed by the other when they had first met.
Sharon and Roman started to film together on a movie called “The Fearless Vampire Killers” in 1967. The company they were working for would travel to Italy where Tate’s fluent Italian would prove useful in communicating with the local crew members. As a perfectionist, Roman had little patience with inexperienced Sharon and would even say in an interview that one scene had required seventy takes before he was satisfied. In addition to directing, Roman also played one of the main characters, a guileless young man who was intrigued by Sharon’s character and begins a romance with her.
As the filming continued, Roman praised Sharon’s performances and her confidence began to grow. The two started a relationship and she would move into Roman’s London apartment after filming ended. Jay Sebring would travel back to London, where he insisted on meeting Roman. Even though Jay’s friends would later say that he was devastated, he befriended Roman and remained Sharon’s closest confidante. Roman had later commented that Sebring was a lonely and isolated person, who had viewed Sharon and himself as his family.
It was during the latter part of 1967 that Sharon and Roman returned to London and were frequent subjects of newspaper and magazine articles. She was depicted as being untraditional and modern and would be quoted as saying that couples should live together before they were married. However, Sharon and Roman were married in Chelsea, London, England on the 20th of January of 1968. The couple moved into Roman’s mews house off of Eaton Square in Belgravia. A photographer by the name of Peter Evans later described them as “the imperfect couple. They were the Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford of our time…Cool, nomadic, talented and nicely shocking”.
While Sharon had reportedly wanted a traditional marriage, Roman had remained somewhat promiscuous and described her attitude to his to his infidelity as “Sharon’s big hang-up”. He would remind her that she had promised that she’d not try to change him. Sharon had accepted Roman’s conditions, even though she confided to friends that she had hoped he would change. Evans would quote Sharon as saying, “We have a good arrangement. Roman lies to me and I pretend to believe him.”
Roman urged Sharon to end her association with Martin Ransohoff, and Sharon began to place important on her career, until Roman told her he had wanted to be married to “a hippie, not a housewife”. Together they would return to Los Angeles and had quickly became part of a social group that included some of the most successful young people in the film industry. Sebring would remain one of the couple’s most frequent companions. Roman’s circle of friends included people he had known since he was a child in Poland, such as Wojciech Frykowski and his girlfriend, coffee heiress Abigail Folger. Sharon and Roman moved into the Chateau Marmont Hotel in LA for a few months, until they had arranged to lease Patty Duke’s home on Summit Ridge Drive in Beverly Hills during the latter part of 1968. The Polanski home was often full of strangers, and Sharon regarded the casual atmosphere as part of the “free spirit” of the times, saying that she didn’t mind who came into her home as her motto was “live and let live”. Sharon’s close friend Leslie Caron would later say that the Polanski were too trusting–”to the point of recklessness”–and Leslie had been alarmed by this.
Sharon would become pregnant near the end of 1968 and on February 15, 1969, her and Roman moved into 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon. The home had previously been occupied by their friends, Terry Melcher and Candice Bergen. Sharon and Roman had visited the home several times, and she was thrilled to learn it was available, referring to it as her “love house”.
At their new home, the Polanskis continued to be popular hosts for their large group of friends, even though some of their friends still worried about the strange types who had continued to show up at their parties. Encouraged by positive reviews of her comedic performances, Sharon chose the comedy “The Thirteen Chairs” as her next project, as she later would explain largely for the opportunity to co-star with Orson Welles. In March of 1969, she had traveled to Italy to start filming, while Roman went to London to work on “The Day of the Dolphin”. Frykowski and Folger then moved into the Cielo Drive house.
After completing “The Thirteen Chairs”, Sharon joined Roman in London. She posed in their apartment for photographer Terry O’Neill in casual domestic scenes of glamour photographs for a British magazine “Queen”. One journalist would ask her in a late July interview if she had believed in fate, to which she responded, “Certainly. My whole life has been decided by fate. I think something more powerful than we are decides our fates for us. I know one thing—I’ve never planned anything that ever happened to me.”
Sharon had returned from London to LA on the 20th of July 1969, traveling alone on the QE2. Roman was due to return on the 12th of August in time for the birth, and he asked Frykowski and Folger to stay in the home with her until then.
On the 8th of August, 1969, Sharon was two weeks from giving birth. She entertained two friends, actresses Joanna Pettet and Barbara Lewis, for lunch at her home, confiding in them her disappointment at Polanski’s delay in returning from London. That afternoon, Roman phoned her as did her younger sister, Debra, who had called to ask if she and their sister, Patti, could spend the night with her. Sharon had declined, but offered to have them over at a later time. Later that evening, Sharon dined at her favorite restaurant, El Coyote, with Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski and Abigail Folger, then returned to Cielo Drive at about 10:30 pm.
A little bit after midnight, they were all killed by members of Manson’s “family” and their bodies were discovered the next morning by the housekeeper, Winifred Chapman. When police arrived, as stated before, they found the body of Steven Parent, shot dead in his car, which was in the driveway. Inside the home, the bodies of Sharon and Jay were found in the living room; a long rope tied around each of their necks connected them. On the front lawn lay the bodies of Frykowski and Folger. All of the victims, except for Parent, had been stabbed numerous times. The coroner’s report for Sharon would note that she had been stabbed sixteen times, and that “five of the wounds were in and of themselves fatal.”
Roman was informed of the murders and returned home where police, unable to determine a motive would question him about his wife and friends. On Wednesday, August 13, Sharon was interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California, with her son in her arms, Paul Richard Polanski, named posthumously for Roman’s and Sharon’s fathers.
Jay Sebring’s funeral took place later the same day. The funerals were scheduled several hours apart so as to allow mutual friends to be at both.
Mia Farrow said that Sharon was as “sweet and pure a human being as I have ever known”, while Patty Duke had remembered her as “a gentle, gentle creature. I was crazy about her, and I don’t know anyone who wasn’t”. Roman berated a crowd of journalists at a press conference, saying that many times they had written that Sharon “was beautiful. Maybe the most beautiful woman in the world. But did you ever write how good she was?”
In the early 1980s, Stephen Kay, who had worked for the prosecution in the trial, became alarmed that a Manson Family member, Leslie Van Houten, had gathered nine hundred signatures on a petition for her parole. He would contact Sharon’s mother, who would say she was sure that she could do better, and the two mounted a publicity campaign, collecting over 350,000 signatures supporting the denial of parole. Van Houten had been seen as the most likely of the killers to be paroled; following Kay’s and Tate’s efforts, her petition was denied. Doris Tate became a vocal advocate for victim’s rights and, in discussing her daughter’s murder and meeting other crime victims, she assumed the role of a counselor, using her profile to encourage public discussion and criticism of the corrections system.
For the rest of her life, Doris strongly campaigned against the parole of each of the killers and had worked closely with other victims of violent crimes. On several occasions, she confronted Charles Watson at parole hearings, explaining, “I feel that Sharon has to be represented in that hearing room. If they’re (the killers) pleading for their lives, then I have to be there representing her”. She would address Tex directly during her victim impact statement in 1984 saying, “What mercy, sir, did you show my daughter when she was begging for her life? What mercy did you show my daughter when she said, ‘Give me two weeks to have my baby and then you can kill me’?…When will Sharon come up for parole? Will these seven victims and possibly more walk out of their graves if you get paroled? You cannot be trusted.”
President George Bush, in 1992, would recognize Doris Tate as one of his “thousand points of light” for her volunteer work on behalf of victims’ rights. By this time, Doris had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and her health and strength were failing her. Her meeting with the President would mark her final public appearance. When she passed later that year, her youngest daughter, Patricia Gay Tate, known as Patti, continued her work. She would contribute to the 1993 foundation of the Doris Tate Crime Victims Bureau, a nonprofit organization that aims to influence crime legislation throughout the United Sates and to give greater rights and protection to victims of violent crimes.
Three years after meeting with George Bush, the “Doris Tate Crime Victims Foundation” was founded as a nonprofit organization to promote public awareness of the judicial system and to provide support to the victims of violent crimes.
After Patti’s death from breast cancer in 2000, her older sister Debra would continue to represent the Tate family at parole hearings. Debra said of the killers: “They don’t show any personal responsibility. They haven’t made atonement to any one of my family members.” She also has unsuccessfully lobbied for Sharon to be awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Sharon’s father, Paul Tate, preferred to not make public comments, however, he was a constant presence during the murder trial, and in the following years attended parole hearings as well, and wrote letters to the authorities in which he strongly opposed any suggestion of parole. Paul would also pass away in May of 2005.
Roman gave away all of his possessions after the murders, unable to bear any reminders of the time that he had called “the happiest I ever was in my life”. He remained in LA until the killers were arrested and then traveled to Europe. He had tried to explain his anguish after the murder of his wife and unborn son in his 1984 autobiography “Roman by Polanski”, saying “Since Sharon’s death, and despite appearances to the contrary, my enjoyment in life has been incomplete. In moments of unbearable personal tragedy some people find solace in religion. In my case the opposite happened. Any religious faith I had was shattered by Sharon’s murder. It reinforced my faith in the absurd.”
Jay Sebring was born as Thomas John Krummer in Birmingham, Alabama. He was the son of an accountant by the name of Bernard Krummer, and his wife Margarette. Jay had grown up with one brother and two sisters in a middle class home in Southfield, Michigan.
After he had graduated from Southfield High School in 1951, Jay decided to join the Navy for four years and it was during this time that he would serve in the Korean War. After being in the Navy he moved to Los Angeles, where he then changed his name to Jay Sebring. Jay after the first initial of his middle name and Sebring after the famous Florida car race.
During October of 1960, he would marry a model by the name of Cami. The marriage would unofficially end in August of 1963.
While he was in LA, Jay graduated from beauty school and quickly “invented a whole new way of cutting men’s hair”. His innovations would include shampooing men’s hair before styling it, cutting their hair with scissors instead of clippers and using blow dryers, which were popular in Europe but not well known yet in the United States. He would even use hairspray in an era when Brylcreem was the accepted hair product for men. Jay’s modish salon and his style of cutting hair proved to be popular. He would teach his methods to others who then opened Jay Sebring Salon franchises; his styling techniques were still being taught forty years after his death. In 1967, Jay opened the company Sebring International to franchise his salons and sell hair care products.
At a time when barbers were charging a dollar or two for a men’s haircut, Jay was charging fifty dollars or more. His hair styling clients included Warren Beatty and Steve McQueen. He would even fly to Las Vegas every three weeks to cut the hair of Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. Upon Kirk Douglas’ request, Jay did the hair styling for the movie Spartacus and later even designed the free-flowing style of The Doors’ Jim Morrison.
His business, Sebring International, was flourishing by the late 1960s, with profitable salons in West Hollywood, New York City, and London. He would maintain a playboy lifestyle, with high-profile Hollywood personalities like Beatty among his closest associates. Adjacent to his salon on Fairfax Avenue in West Hollywood, Pat Woolley ran her iconic fashion shop, catering to both musicians and movie stars.
Jay also had a hand in launching the film career of Bruce Lee, after he met him at the International Karate Championships in Long Beach in 1964. Jay also had wanted a union for cosmetologists and presented the idea to the State Board of Cosmetology in Sacramento, but the idea would never happen.
He was introduced to Sharon Tate by a journalist Joe Hyams in October of 1964 and they started a relationship together. Jay would buy the former home of Paul Bern, husband of Jean Harlow, on Easton Drive in Benedict Canyon, that was at the time owned by Sally Forrest. Sharon had spent a lot of her time there, and was also remembered by Jay’s clients as a constant presence in his LA salon.
When Sharon went to London in the early part of 1966 to work on a film she would work with director Roman Polanski. They had stared a relationship and Sharon ended her relationship with Jay, who had traveled to London to meet Roman. He would befriend Roman, while he still remained a friend of Sharon’s. Roman later would comment that despite Jay’s lifestyle, he was a very lonely person, who had regarded Sharon and Roman as his own family.
In 1968, Roman and Sharon would introduce Jay to Roman’s friend Wojciech Frykowski and his girlfriend, the coffee heiress, Abigail Folger, who recently moved to LA from New York. Abigail would later invest in Jay’s hair-care products for men.
During early May of 1969, Sebring opened a new salon at 629 Commercial Street in San Francisco and a champagne reception would follow. Guests had included Abigail Folger and her mother, Ines, as well as Paul Newman and his wife, Joanne Woodward.
On the 8th of August 1969, Sebring, Tate, Frykowski and Folger went to El Coyote, a Mexican restaurant, together. After they had returned to the Polanski home on Cielo Drive, Patricia Krenwinkel, Susan Atkins, and Charles “Tex” Watson would enter the home. After coercing the four occupants of the home into the living room, they would order them to lay down on the floor, face down. Jay protested and asked the intruders to consider Sharon’s advanced pregnancy. He was then shot by Tex, who then kicked him several times in the face as he lay there dying, breaking his nose and an eye socket. He was then stabbed seven times and died from blood loss that was caused by the stabbing. The group then murdered Frykowski, Folger and then Tate.
Jay was buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Southfield, Michigan. Steven McQueen would give his eulogy.
Abigail Anne Folger was born in California on the 11th of August 1943 to Peter Folger, chairman of the Folger Coffee Company and Inez Mejia. Folger and Mejia would divorce when Abigail was still a young girl.
She would grow up in the San Francisco area and displayed an interest in art, passing much of her free time by painting. She was also musically inclined and was noted as being a talented pianist. Abigail had attended the Catalina School for Girls in Carmel, California. She then moved on to Radcliffe College where she would graduate with honors, and finally ended up at Harvard. It was there that she did graduate work and received a degree in Art History. In 1967, she had taken a good job at the University of California art museum in Berkeley, California.
Abigail didn’t stay in Berkeley long though. Instead she decided to move to New York City, where she got a job working for a magazine publisher. She would eventually leave the job for a job at Gotham Book Mart on 17th Street. It was during a bookstore party that she had met the Polish author Jerzy Kosinksi, who in-turn introduced her to Wojciech Frykowski. Frykowski could hardly even speak English, but like Abigail he was fluent in French. She would give him tours of the city and in time a roman had developed. The couple shared an apartment together for a few months before they decided to move to California in the summer of 1968.
In LA, the couple had found a house on Woodstock Road in the Laurel Canyon. Like her mother, Inez, who was active doing charity work with the Haight-Asbury Medical Clinic in San Francisco, Abigail got involved with volunteer work. She would register as a volunteer social worker for the Los Angeles County Welfare Department. In 1968, she attended fundraisers set up by her mother to help aid the Haight-Asbury Medical Center, and around the same time many of the Manson family women were being treated there. Back in LA, Abigail would spend her days in the ghettos doing volunteer work with children. She was very involved with the civil rights cause, and contributed large amounts of money to the campaign of Tom Bradley, a black councilman that was running for mayor.
Her job with the Welfare Department started to take a toll on her, and she became overwhelmed when she realized that her work did little to combat the massive social problems within the inner city. “A lot of social workers go home at night, take a bath and wash the day off, I can’t. The suffering gets under your skin”, she had told a friend. Further adding to her depression was the election between Tom Bradley and Sam Yorty. Bradly would end up losing the race after becoming the victim of an intense racial smear campaign.
During the spring of 1969, both Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski went to Europe to work on separate film projects. Roman didn’t want his Cielo Drive home to be unattended in his absence so he arranged for Wojciech and Abigail to house sit. They had moved in on April 1st. It had been about this time that Abigail made the decision to quit her job with the Welfare Department and she started to consider leaving Wojciech as well. Their relationship had begun to sour, and they fought constantly, both started to use drugs more frequently as well.
Then on the 8th of August, by this time I am sure you know what happened. Abigail and Wojciech joined Sharon and Jay for dinner at El Coyote on Beverly Boulevard. After dinner, the four returned to Cielo Drive. Wojciech fell asleep on the living room couch, Abigail retired to her bedroom to read a book, while Jay sat and talked with Sharon in her bedroom. A little after midnight, Susan Atkins passed by Abigail’s bedroom, Abigail smiled and waved thinking Atkins was someone’s friend. A few minutes later Susan came into the room showing her a buck knife and instructing Abigail to go into the living room, there Charles “Tex” Watson ordered her, Wojciech, Sharon, and Jay to sit on the floor. The
intruders attempted to tie everyone up, however, chaos ensued and Watson shot and started to stab Jay Sebring. Wojciech freed himself while Patricia Krenwinkel and Abigail began to wrestle. After being stabbed several times, Abigail broke free and ran down the hallway in an effort to escape. Krenwinkel followed with an upraised knife, finally tackling her on the lawn just outside of Sharon’s bedroom. Krenwinkel continued to stab her until Tex came over to help. According to her killers, Abigail lifelessly begged for them to stop saying, “I give up, you’ve got me”, and “I’m already dead”.
Abigail would be buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, California on Wednesday, August 13, 1969.
Wojciech was born in Poland on the 22nd of December 1936 to Jan Frykowski, who was a small textile printer who had fought with authorities to remain in control of his business after World War II. Wojciech had graduated from school with a degree in chemistry, but chose instead to spend his time hanging around filmmakers.
He would meet Roman Polanski at a school dance. Roman was working the door and refused to let him in because he was a known troublemaker. According to Roman, the altercation almost resulted in a fistfight. A few weeks later, the two met again, this time at a local bar. Wojciech bought Roman a drink and the two instantly became friends. Wojciech financed and produced an early short that Roman had made titled “Mammals”, but wouldn’t be credited because he wasn’t an official member of the film community.
Wojciech was also an exceptional swimmer and was hired to be the lifeguard on the set of Polanski’s first full-length motion picture, “Knife in the Water”. In Roman’s own memoirs he had told stories of wild nights out at the bar with Wojciech, one of which included a brawl where Frykowski struck a man twice with a chair. “Beneath his tough exterior, Wojciech was good natured softhearted to the point of sentimentality, and utterly loyal.” Frykowski would marry twice and also had a son, Bartek. One of his marriages would be to the famous polish writer Agneski Osiecka.
In 1967, Wojciech would leave Poland and after spending some time in Paris he moved again to the United States. In New York, Polish author Jerzy Kosinski introduced him to Abigail Folger. Wojciech couldn’t really speak English, as was stated in Abigail’s short bio, but they both were fluent in French. For months the two lived together in New York but then decided to move out west. In August of 1968, the couple had rented a car and drove to California where they had taken up residence at 2774 Woodstock Road, across the street from Mama Cass, in the Hollywood Hills.
While Abigail was tutoring Wojciech in English, he kept a diary where he would take notes on American customs. He had seemed to have wanted to become a writer like Jerzy Kosinksi and started to write poetry. He had a brief job with Paramount as a set constructor but was unhappy with the work and ended up quitting.
On April 1, 1969, Wojciech and Abigail moved into Roman and Sharon’s Beverly Hills home to house sit while the couple were aboard working on film projects. When Sharon returned from Italy, Roman asked Wojciech if he and Abigail would stick around until he returned from England in August.
By August, neither Wojciech nor Abigail seemed to have been happy with one another. They would fight constantly and both started to use drugs more frequently. Nonetheless, they had stayed together and spent their summer hosting several parties at the Cielo Drive home. Through a friend, Wojciech was introduced to a group of Canadian drug dealers and supposedly agreed to traffic their drugs into LA. Frykowski’s actual involvement in the trade remains a mystery and continues to generate controversy among people who had believed that there was a connection between him and the Manson Family. Year later, Roman would deny the rumors about Wojciech selling drugs, stating that those stories were just media sensationalism.
On August 8, 1969, when the murders had occurred, Wojciech was woken, while sleeping on the living room couch, by the voice of Charles “Tex” Watson. He was barely awake and asked him what time it was and Tex replied by kicking him in the head. Being even more confused, Wojciech asked Tex who he was, and he would answer “I’m the devil and I’m here to do the devil’s business.” At knife and gunpoint, everyone in the home was rounded up and brought into the living room. Watson had ordered Susan Atkins to tie
Wojciech’s hands with a towel. When it became clear that the intruders intended to kill everyone, he freed his hands and began struggling with Susan Atkins. They rolled around on the floor together and Atkins managed to stab him in the legs four times.
When Susan began losing the battle, she called for help from Tex. He came over and tackled Frykowski, beat him over the head with the butt end of the .22 Buntline revolver that he had. Wojciech, determined to escape, managed to make his way outside. He screamed for help as Tex shot him two times, but he would finally succumb to the killer when Tex continued stabbing him on the front lawn.
Wojciech was cremated on August 22, 1969. His remains were buried at St. Josef Cemetery in Lodz. Poland.
Steven Earl Parent was born two days before Valentine’s Day, on February 12, 1951 in California. He had lived in a Los Angeles suburb known as El Monte, with his father Wilfred Elmer Parent, who was a construction superintendent. He also lived there with his mother Juanita, younger sister Janet, and two younger brothers, Greg and Dale.
The six foot tall, red haired teen attended Arroyo High School on North Cedar Avenue in El Monte. He didn’t have a serious girlfriend but had dated here and there. His free time had been spent listening to popular folk music and playing the guitar. His main interest was electronics, which led him to getting into trouble with the law. Steven was arrested several times for petty theft and spent some time in a youth correctional facility. There he tested at near-genius level for electronics.
According to Steven’s sister, Janet, “Steve was fascinated by electronics and mechanics and he stole several radios, bringing them home and tearing them apart to understand how they worked.” In June of 1969, Steven graduated from Arroyo High School and planned on attending Citrus Junior College in Azusa the following September. Most of his time was spent working and saving money for school. He had two jobs, he had worked full time during the day as a delivery boy for Valley City Plumbing Company in Rosemead, in the evening as a salesman at Jonas Miller Stereo on Wilshire Boulevard.
A month after graduating, Steve picked up the nineteen year old, William Garretson as he was hitchhiking in Beverly Hills, California. William was the caretaker of Rudi Altobelli’s’ Cielo Drive estate in Benedict Canyon, which at the time was being rented to Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate. After Steven gave William a ride back to the home, the young caretaker thanked him; inviting him to stop up anytime that he was in the area.
Another month later, on August 8th, Steve had eaten lunch at home and then asked his mother to lay out some clothes for him, so that he could make a quick-change between jobs. After leaving Jonas Miller Studio, Steven stopped at Dales Market in El Monte to talk to John LeFebure, elder brother of a girl he had once dated. From there he drove to Benedict Canyon and then arrived at 10050 Cielo Drive at about 11:45 pm. He had hoped that he could sell a Sony AM-FM Digimatic clock radio to William Garretson.
As Steven headed up the walkway that led from the parking area to the guest house, he could see Abigail Folger reading in her bedroom. Farther down the path he could see Sharon in her bedroom at the end of the main residence. In the guesthouse, Steve demonstrated the clock radio for Garretson, but the caretaker didn’t want to buy it. Steven then placed a call to Jerrold Friedman, a UCLA student he was going to build a stereo for, and hung around long enough to drink the can of beer that Garretson had given to him. At around 12:15 am he said good-bye to Garretson and left the guesthouse.
Steven climbed into his father’s white 1966 AMC Ambassador and backed up into the split rail fence. He drove down the parking lot and stopped to push the button that operated the electronic gate. As he rolled down his window, he was met by a dark figure that shouted, “Halt!” This figure was Tex Watson, with a .22 revolver in one hand and a buck knife in the other. Steven told Tex, “Please don’t hurt me. I won’t say anything.” Steven raised his arm to protect his face as Tex swung the knife at him, slashing his watch off his wrist. Watson shot Steven four times in rapid succession.
Friends and family would bury Steven at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Rowland Heights, California on Wednesday, August 13, 1969.
Leno was born as Pasqulino Antonio LaBianca in Los Angeles, California on the 6th of August 1925. He took his first name, shortened to Lino, from his grandfather and his middle name from his father, which was an Italian tradition. Both of his parents, Antonio and Corina LaBianca had come to America in the beginning of the century. Antonio had a growing grocery business with Gateway Ranch Markets and State Wholesale Grocery Company. The latter had purchased food at wholesale prices and distributed it to a group of grocers. Meanwhile, Corina was staying at home taking care of Lino and his two elder sisters, Emma and Stella.
During High School, Lino was an exceptional student, this led him to even skipping a grade. As a member of the Benjamin Franklin High School track team, Flash, which was his nickname, competed in both shot put and discus competitions. People had constantly mispronounced his name so he chose to change the spelling of his name from Lino to Leno. Outside of school, Leno had worked for his father at Gateway Markets. During his free time, he frequented places like the Hollywood Rollerdrome, the Sycamore Drive-In, and the Pasadena Civic Auditorium with his girlfriend Alice Skolfield. According to Alice, Lino was “quiet, shy and equipped with a subtle humor, had a great capacity for getting himself innocently into all kinds of trouble.”
In 1940, Leno’s father bought a house on Waverly Drive in the Los Feliz district of Los Angeles. This had put him in another school and also away from Alice. It wasn’t long before Leno forged his father’s name on a change of address form and went back to Benjamin Franklin High School, so he could be with his first love.
Two years later, in the fall of 1942, he started working at State Wholesale and also enrolled at Los Angeles City College, where he would study Business Administration. After a semester at the college he transferred to the University of Southern California (USC) and went back to working for Gateway.
In November of 1943, Leno received his Army induction papers and was sent to Fort Macarthur in San Pedro, California. Eventually he went on to become a member of the 524th Military Police Battalion. In December, he and Alice became engaged. They would marry in March of 1944 and lived for brief periods of time in Salinas, California and Gainesville, Texas. In September, Leno was ordered to go to Europe to serve in World War II, forcing the couple to be separated for eighteen months as he was on duty in England, France, Holland and Germany. Alice had lived with his parents on Waverly Drive, eagerly waiting for him to come home as Leno was on the move through Europe. Leno would pass his free time by writing home to his wife, gambling, and watching movies. He finally returned home in March of 1946, having risen up to Technical Sergeant. He immediately joined the Army Reserves where he had taken the rank of Sergeant First Class.
Back at home, Leno’s parents had his life planned out for him; he and Alice would live in an apartment behind the Waverly Drive house. As their family had grown and they needed more space they decided to move into the main house. Alice though, desperately wanted her and Leno to have a home and life of their own. Their marriage would suffer as he tried hard not to hurt his parent’s feelings. Unhappy with their marriage, Alice decided to leave. The couple talked for a brief time about divorce, but after spending some time apart they reconciled and then purchased a small home of their own in Alhambra.
Leno would become a father in the Spring of 1948, when his wife gave birth to Corina Jane LaBianca. A couple of years later, he was elected to the Board of Directors and was named Vice President of both Gateway Markets and State Wholesale. In December of 1950, Leno and Alice were blessed with their first son, Anthony Carl LaBianca.
A little later, in 1951, Leno and Alice would purchase a bay front summer house on Newport Beach. They had use of the home for two weeks in June and rented it out for the rest of the year. In August, Leno’s father passed away. Leno then became president of Gateway and State Wholesale and moved his family back to Waverly Drive. Alice committed herself to getting her degree in Accounting, while Leno found himself buried in his work from his new responsibilities.
Through the years, Leno and Alice had grown apart, and while they still cared for one another they both had wanted different things from life. They decided to separate in January of 1955. Alice and Leno then moved out of the Waverly Drive home, finding separate apartments in Los Feliz. In September, Leno became a father for the third time when Alice gave birth to Louise LaBianca.
State Wholesale started to become more and more of a burden on Leno. He chose to sell the business and focus his attention on the expansion of Gateway Markets. Leno and Alice would officially divorce and he finally graduated from USC with a Bachelors in Finance. In 1959, Leno met Rosemary Struthers.
Leno and Rosemary fell in love and were married later in 1959 in Las Vegas. He had started to live out his life long dream of breeding and racing thoroughbred horses. He was tired of the grocery business and was looking for a way out of his responsibilities at Gateway. Rosemary started her own business and was very successful. The two would buy a house in Los Feliz that had previously been owned by Walt Disney.
The house needed a lot of work done to it and turned out to be more trouble than what it was worth. In 1968, Leno had sold the Disney house and bought the Waverly Drive home from his mother. The couple and Rosemary’s son Frank moved in. However, they had only planned to stay there until Leno was officially finished at Gateway. In the summer of 1969, there had been a number of break-ins at the Waverly Drive house. Leno had finally come to an agreement with the other shareholders at Gateway that would allow him to get out of the business for good. The couple had wanted desperately to get away from Waverly Drive.
In August of 1969, Rosemary’s son Frank had been vacationing for a week with his friend, Jim Saffie on Lake Isabella. Early in the week, Leno had driven up to the lake and dropped off his boat for the boys to use. Then on Saturday, August 9th, both Leno and Rosemary drove up to Lake Isabella to pick up Frank and the boat. Frank was having a great time so Leno and Rosemary decided that he could stay another day and return to LA with the Saffie family. At around nine that evening, Rosemary, Leno and Rosemary’s daughter Suzan would leave Lake Isabella with the boat and started to head back to Los Angeles. Rosemary and Leno would arrive home at about one in the morning on Sunday, after they dropped off Suzan and stopped at a newsstand for a paper and a racing form. Leno was an avid gambler and had spent a lot of time at the racetrack. At that time though, the only thing that his gambling was winning him was a $230,000 debt. Rosemary had seemed quite disturbed about the news of the Tate murders, and had retired to her bedroom while Leno fell asleep in the living room while reading the sports page.
Charles Manson and Tex Watson would wake Leno at gunpoint. He was then assured by the intruders that he would not be hurt and that they simply were there to rob them. Charlie removed a leather thong from his neck and had Tex use it to tie Leno’s hands. He was asked if there was anyone else in the home, and told the two that his wife was in the bedroom. Charlie went to the bedroom and returned to the living room with Rosemary. After they collected all the cash in the home, Charlie had Tex bring Rosemary back to the bedroom. Tex returned to the living room with a pillowcase and put it over Leno’s head and then gagged his mouth with a lamp chord.
Charlie had left within a few minutes and Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel entered the home and were instructed by Tex to go to the bedroom. Tex started to stab Leno with a bayonet, and Leno screamed out “stop stabbing me”. The stabbing did stop, but only for a brief time, Tex then went to the bedroom to help the girls with Rosemary.
Leno was still alive when Tex returned to the living room where the stabbing had resumed. After Tex was done, either he or Patricia carved the word “WAR” into his stomach. Patricia then stabbed him a number of times and left a carving fork protruding from his stomach and a steak knife from his throat. The girls then wrote “death to pigs”, “rise” and “healter skelter” on the wall and the refrigerator in Leno’s blood.
Leno LaBianca would be laid to rest at Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles, California on Saturday, August 16, 1969.
It’s believed that Rosemary LaBianca was born in Mexico on the 15th of December of 1929. Her parents are reported to have been Americans, who had either abandoned her or died prematurely. She would grow up in an Arizona orphanage until she was twelve, when a California family with the last name Harmon had adopted her.
In the late 1940s, Rosemary would meet Frank Struthers while she was working as a carhop at the Brown Derby Drive-In in the Los Feliz district of Los Angeles. The pair were married shortly after. During her marriage to Frank, she gave birth to two children, Suzan, who was conceived out of an extra-marital affair in 1948, and Frank Jr. in 1955. In 1958, Rosemary and Frank chose to get a divorce.
A year later, Rosemary met Leno LaBianca while working as a waitress at the Los Feliz Inn. The two had fallen in love and one weekend they rushed down to Las Vegas and got married. Rosemary got along with Leno’s children and Suzan and Frank were about the same age as his daughter Cory and son Anthony. Rosemary’s sophisticated style and fashion sense was a big hit with Cory. According to his first wife, Alice, Rosemary “showed [Cory] new ways to wear her hair” and “spent time doing things with her that I didn’t have time for.”
In a 1957 Ford, Rosemary entered the business world; converting an old Gateway Markets truck into a mobile dress shop under the name of Boutique Carriage. It was a success, and the business grew, with a partner, Rosemary opened a dress and gift shop within a Gateway shopping plaza on 2625 North Figueroa St. While her business had flourished, she made smart investments in stocks and commodities, and suddenly she was a millionaire.
In 1968, Leno, Rosemary, and Frank had moved into Leno’s childhood home on Waverly Drive. It was there, in the following summer, that a number of odd occurrences had frightened them. Rosemary had told a friend that “someone is coming in our house while we’re away. Things have been gone through and the dogs are outside the house when they should be inside.” It wasn’t the first time that the home had been broken into. In August of 1943, while Leno was in his late teens the home had been robbed while the family was sleeping.
During May of 1969, she would write to Leno’s daughter Cory, “We haven’t had any more robberies, but every time I come home I expect to either find someone in the house or something missing. I think the police have stopped working on the case and we haven’t heard anything from the insurance company.”
In August, the Manson Family showed up at the home of the LaBianca’s. Charlie woke Rosemary at gunpoint in the couple’s bedroom. He allowed her to put a dress on over her nightgown before he led her to the living room where Tex had Leno. Charlie and Tex reassured that they were only there to rob the couple, not kill them. Within a few minutes after Charlie left the home, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel entered the residence and were instructed by Tex to go to Rosemary’s bedroom. Leno started to scream as Tex began stabbing him. Rosemary screamed from the bedroom, “what are you doing to my husband?” She began flailing around the room still blinded by the pillowcase that had been placed over her head. The girls called Tex to help them; Rosemary was swinging the lamp, still attached to the chord used to gag her. Tex lunged forward and started to stab her until she fell to the floor. By the time that the stabbing had ended, Watson, Krenwinkel, and Van Houten stabbed her forty-one times.
Rosemary was cremated on the 16th of August 1969.
Gary Allen Hinman was born in Colorado on Christmas Eve in 1934. He would graduate school with a degree in chemistry, but continued on to UCLA where he was close to receiving a Ph.D. In Sociology. He was remembered as having a kind, gentle soul, and for being an intellect. Gary’s house in Topanga Canyon was a regular crash pad for anyone that needed to have a place to stay. He would befriend the Manson Family and often let various members live at his home. Gary was a talented musician and worked at a music shop where he taught bagpipes, piano, trombone, and the drums. Sometime in 1968 he started to be interested in Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism. In the summer of 1969, he was planning a religious pilgrimage to Japan.
When Gary was murdered by the Manson Family he passed away on the floor with his prayer beads in his hand, chanting “Nam Myo Ho Renge Kyo Nam Myo Ho Renge Kyo”, the chant of his faith.
Donald “Shorty” Shea
Donald Jerome Shea was born in Massachusetts on the 18th of September 1933. He had moved to California to pursue a career in acting, but had ended up spending most of the time working at Spahn’s Movie Ranch. George Spahn had hired him to help with the horses that were on the ranch, however, he would continue to pursue his dreams of working in Hollywood. A bunch of his friends would let him use their phone numbers as an answering service for acting opportunities. When these opportunities would arise, he would leave the ranch, returning weeks later, after the filming he was doing was complete.
Donald was a big and stocky guy and worked long days at the ranch, getting along well with the other ranch hands and had always looked after George Spahn’s interests. He didn’t mind Charlie and the girls when they had first moved into the ranch, but as the time had gone by, he grew to dislike Charlie immensely. Shorty, Donald’s nickname, had married a black stripper that he had met in Las Vegas. Although they had separated, they still got along and Charlie, who had detested black people, had looked down on Shorty because of his relationship.
Shorty had known that the family, specifically Charlie, were up to no good and had wanted to get them off of the ranch. Early on the morning of Saturday, August 16, 1969, police would raid Spahn’s Movie Ranch to arrest the family on auto theft charges. Charlie was then convinced that Donald had snitched to the police and helped set-up the raid. For Charlie, this was the last straw.
Sometime around the 28th of August, family members Tex, Bruce Davis, Steve Grogan, Bill Vance, Larry Bailey, and Charles Manson would take Donald for a ride. From the backseat, Grogan struck Donald with a pipe wrench while Tex began stabbing him. The group would take Donald out of the car, brought him down a hill behind Spahn Movie Ranch and stabbed him to death.
Donald’s body wasn’t found until December of 1977. From prison, Steve Grogan had drawn up a map that would lead authorities to his remains in an effort to prove to them that Donald hadn’t been, as previously rumored, cut into nine pieces.
These murders should be never forgotten about, there were no reasons for any of these people to be dead. A lesson I think I have learned from reading about these people is that just because someone seems like you can be trusted, they shouldn’t be. Anyone can manipulate people into doing or saying things if they can convince you to love them. Not everyone is your friend and if you don’t really know someone you should take time to really get to know them and watch out for warning signs to arise that they aren’t your friend and shouldn’t be trusted, even if they do seem to be family.
In the time of the Manson murders, people didn’t have the internet, and so I feel that more so now you have to really be wary of who you get to know and who you trust. People more so now can appear to be someone that they are not, and the internet could make it easier for this to be the case. Remember if you go to meet someone that you “trust” and “know” online in person, take someone with you, meet in a public place, and still don’t trust them right away.
The people who did these crimes, for the most part are still living. Never should we let them get out, because they had known Charlie and were so influenced by them, they could full anyone into believing them and thus are a danger to our society since they too could come out of prison and influence others to do what they had done over forty years ago. They do not deserve a second chance because they took away any chance from their victims at life. One victim that we know of even begged for a second chance, not only for herself, but for her unborn baby as well, so why should any of these people get a second chance?