Book Two: Porfiry's Complaint
Jack Webb couldn't have cast him better. Trim, dark-haired, maybe in his early forties, he looks not like a cop but a no-nonsense college dean. California suntanned, New York tough talker. Movements precise and full of energy. Nothing is wasted: zero defects, zero limp wrists. Neatness counts. Blue Sears shirt rolled to the elbows, he carefully clears his desk for lunch, consisting today of one dietetic Sunkist grapefruit placed properly atop its brown paper bag.
Suddenly his thick fingers plunge into the fruit as if it were an orange, ripping off the skin and exposing the virgin sections to the heavy, worldly air of the Los Angeles County Hall of Justice. As he talks, he devours the sections one by one, biting them in two like mice, the juice dripping from his mouth, down his fingers, onto the paper bag.
He is, in fact, a prosecutor. That is to say, he works in the District Attorney's office, investigates crimes, prepares cases and occasionally appears in court. For our purposes, he probably knows as much about Charles Manson's past three years as any member of the Establishment after the facts after the fact. He agreed to speak only if his name would not be revealed. So we give him another name, a prosecutor from another time, Porfiry.
The case against Manson, told in Porfiry's own words with grapefruit and with relish:
Now in order to fully understand the thing and give an accurate picture to your readers, you have to start with Gary Hinman. Now Gary Hinman's murder took place around July 25th. Gary Hinman was a musician, as you know. He played several instruments. He was quite good, I understand, and worked quite a bit. He had these two automobiles. A Toyota and another car.
Anyway, Bobby Beausoleil is charged with his murder. He's already had a trial in Santa Monica and that trial ended in a hung jury. [Editor's note: Since Porfiry's interview, Beausoleil has been retried in Los Angeles, found guilty and sentenced to death.] Manson now faces more first degree murder charges in the slaying of Hinman. During that trial Danny DeCarlo testified, and Danny DeCarlo testified for us at the Grand Jury hearing.
Now, Danny DeCarlo is a member of a motorcycle gang, Straight Satans. He used to live out at the ranch 'cause he used to get free pussy. Broke up with his wife. They used to take care of his baby.
He used to admit it. He'd say, this is the greatest thing next to mother's milk. They'd bring you food, make love to you any time you could. It's very interesting, though, he didn't believe this philosophy about the end of the world coming up.
Manson, you see, had this crazy philosophy that the world was coming to an end, or at least there would be a revolution, and he wanted a place in the desert, which he'd already picked out.
Manson used to keep DeCarlo around because DeCarlo was the leader of his gang, and in case Manson ever needed any physical protection, there weren't enough men around there to give him protection. He had all these guns up there at the Spahn Ranch, a machine gun and a lot of other guns, but he needed someone like DeCarlo who knew something about guns to keep them in good condition and supply the manpower. So he let DeCarlo stay around there.
DeCarlo testified at the first Hinman trial that it was Manson who sent Beausoleil out to Hinman's house with these two girls, Mary Brunner and Susan Atkins. They got out there, they asked him for his money. He said, "I don't have any money. The only thing I have are these two cars." And he signed over the cars.
See, this was another thing Manson used to use. If you ever talk to Dennis Wilson, he'll tell you that. What's yours is mine. You take my pen, I'll take your pen. You take my guitar, I'll take your guitar. Because material things don't mean anything. He took a lot of things on the pretext: "What does it mean? It doesn't mean anything."
So Hinman says he doesn't have the money. So then they had one of the girls hold a gun on Hinman while Beausoleil was looking for the money. Somehow or other Hinman was able to get up. The girls didn't shoot him. Beausoleil comes back and starts pistol whipping Hinman with the gun. During the pistol whipping, the gun goes off. The bullet was recovered.
Now, at the first trial we didn't have that gun. Since the first trial, we have found the gun. That gun has been traced to Manson. They know who he purchased it from, so it has been traced.
Now, a fingerprint of Beausoleil was found in Hinman's residence. August 6th, Beausoleil was arrested driving Hinman's Toyota up in San Jose.
When he's arrested, he gives a real cock and bull story about Black Panthers killing Hinman, and that he got there when Hinman was dying, and he asked him to take his car and gave him the car keys, signed over the keys. The knife that was used to kill Hinman was found in the back seat of the Toyota that he was driving.
Now, knives are not like guns. All you can say is that a knife similar to the one used was found. With a gun, you can say, ballistically speaking, this gun fired this bullet.
With a knife [Here Porfiry takes a small paring knife from his desk, stabs a piece of grapefruit rind several times and examines the wounds] you can only say that it was three centimeters long, it's got a sharp edge and a dull edge, and so forth.
Anyway, and the timing here is very significant, August 6th he's arrested in San Luis Obispo. August 7th Beausoleil is returned to L.A. County, and he puts a phone call in at the ranch telling them that he was arrested there and telling them he hasn't said anything.
Now – this is only a supposition on my part, I don't have any proof to support it – I suppose he, meaning Manson, said to himself, "How am I going to help my friend Beausoleil out? By showing that the actual murderer of Hinman is still at large. So I know that Melcher used to live in this house on Cielo Drive.
"Go out there, Watson, with these girls and commit robbery and kill anyone that you see there.
"Don't forget to leave – " and this is very important because in the Hinman case they wrote POLITICAL PIGGIES in blood. He said – "Don't forget to leave a sign."
So after the killings were all over, Susan Atkins goes back and writes the word PIG on the door. This is the same door where Watson's fingerprint was found. And on the back door is where Krenwinkel's fingerprint was found. And that also has the blood of Abigail Folger.
Oh, I was telling you about Linda Kasabian. She is a true flower child. She came out here from New Hampshire to meet her husband, Bob Kasabian, July 1st, 1969, and when she and he had a falling out, she ended up at the ranch.
When she saw the way Manson had beaten these girls, she wanted out. We have witnesses' statements of where he was beating these girls up, and unfortunately she didn't get out in time. She was in on the Tate charge.
As a result of her not going in the house, we don't have her fingerprints like we do with Krenwinkle and Watson. She didn't kill anybody. She threw away the three sets of clothes not her own.
Channel 7 found the three sets of clothes which have been traced to the three sets of clothes that Gypsy bought. They have blood on the clothes that fit the victims. The police didn't find the clothes, so you can't say it was manufactured.
Channel 7, in going over Susan Atkins' story in the Times, said to themselves, "Jesus, if I had committed this murder, I'd want to pull off the first wide space in the road and throw these bloody clothes away."
And that's exactly what they did. About two miles up Benedict Canyon they found the clothes on the side of a hill.
The night the killing occurred, they stopped and washed their hands off with a hose at a man's house on Portola Drive. This man should have reported to the police the next day when he heard about the killings, which were just a mile from him, but he says to his wife, "They didn't steal anything from me, they're just a bunch of hippies. Okay, so they lied; they said they were walking past, instead they were driving past," and he took the license number of the car.
He talked to his neighbors about it. So he just didn't make it up out of thin air after he heard Susan Atkins. And Susan Atkins testified to that to the Grand Jury about stopping off some place, and sure enough the witness appears.
He took the license number down which belonged to the car they were using. There were only two cars at the ranch that were operable. There was a bakery truck, Danny DeCarlo's bakery truck, that Manson drove.
You see, Manson has an alibi right up until August 7th, 'cause he met this girl, Mary Brunner, and drove with her from Big Sur all the way down to Oceanside. And they made gas purchases on these stolen credit cards all the way down the line.
And lo and behold, August 7th he's given a traffic citation in Oceanside, driving this bakery truck. But Mary got arrested in San Fernando on August 8th, and when she got arrested forging these credit cards, she was driving this bakery truck. If the bakery truck came back, we can therefore assume Manson came back.
Mary, by the way, is a college graduate, a librarian, Manson's first patsy, so to speak. He met her up in Haight-Ashbury, turned her into nothing but a thief. She wasn't a thief before. She used to get money from her parents, things like that, but he turned her into a thief.
She used to go out with these phony credit cards, which they stole, and sign other peoples' names and get things. So it's not true they only went behind Safeway markets and other markets and got stuff they were throwing out. They did do that. In fact, they once did that with a Rolls Royce, I understand.
Now Sandra Good was along when Mary was arrested. She wasn't charged because she didn't actually sign any of the credit cards, so she was let go after a few days. So we know Sandra Good wasn't along on the Sharon Tate deal, and we know Mary wasn't along because they were in custody all this time.
Anyway, Watson and the others get back to the ranch, and they hear about it on TV and radio the next day. And the same night Manson goes out, and he wants to shock the world even more.
They were supposed to make two killings on the night of La Bianca; not two people, but two separate incidents. They only killed the La Biancas. And on La Bianca's stomach someone wrote the word WAR with either a knife or a fork.
Why did they pick out La Bianca? There's a fella by the name of Harold True, and this fits in with your LSD acid bit. In August, '68, Harold lived next door to La Bianca. They had gone over there and had pot parties and LSD parties.
Harold True was supposed to go into the Peace Corps, a college boy at UCLA and so on. He moved out at the end of the year, and his two friends kept on living there. The Manson family kept coming there all the time, but finally everyone moved out of there, and the house was vacant at the time the La Biancas were killed.
So after circling the city for a while, they go into the True residence. No one is home, so they go next door. Manson goes in himself, according to Susan Atkins' testimony.
On La Bianca, I'll rap with you on the level, our case is not that strong. There are no fingerprints, no one saw them. All we're depending on is the testimony of Susan Atkins, up till now. If she doesn't testify, which she says now she isn't going to, then Linda Kasabian corroborates that.
Now, why do we believe her? Why do we believe Linda? If she were going to lie, she'd say that Manson killed him. She'd say that Steve Grogan, that's Clem Tufts, actually killed the people, that they went inside.
But she says no, there were seven in this car. The three that went in were Krenwinkel, Watson, and Van Houfen. The next day Krenwinkel came back and told Susan Atkins what went on inside, and only someone who had been to that house could have said what happened.
It was never published in the papers that they left the fork sticking in the fella's stomach. It was never published that they left the knife sticking in his neck. It was never published that pillowcases were put over their heads. It was never published in the paper what they wrote on the wall.
They wrote the words RISE and HELTER SKELTER. They wrote DEATH TO THE PIGS. Patricia Krenwinkel just went crazy writing all these things. According to her statement to Susan, she wrote all these things.
Manson's a very funny fellow. He lets these three people off, and then he lets them get back to the ranch by themselves. We're trying to find the person who picked them up. There was one car who picked up these three hitchhikers, and it seems to me he should remember it because they were dressed in this black clothing and it was late at night.
So somebody picked up these two girls and Charles Watson in the vicinity of Griffith Park and drove them all the way out to the vicinity of Spahn's ranch. They didn't want to tell him where they lived. But he was someone who lived in that vicinity, maybe Simi Valley or Santa Susana Pass, because he said to them, "Are you going to the Spahn ranch?" and they said no. Like a girl who didn't want her parents to see who she was going out with, they asked to be let off about a quarter of a mile from the ranch and they walked the rest of the way. And this guy has never come forward in spite of the fact that the story had been somewhat written up in the newspapers.
They got back to the ranch, they talk among themselves, not to these other girls or fellas. DeCarlo hears it because he's living there at the ranch.
August 15th, DeCarlo's men come up to the ranch to bring him back to them. They think he's been kidnapped and held there against his will, and they were going to bust the place up that night. They didn't give a shit about these girls; they wanted Danny back. And he talked them out of it. He says, "No, I'll leave tomorrow."
August 16th, the sheriffs arrested everybody at the ranch on charges of grand theft of automobiles, because there were about six stolen cars out there including this Ford automobile, the one they used for Tate and La Bianca. But because this man never reported the license number, nobody knew it.
The reason they thought the car was stolen – the truth was it wasn't stolen, it belonged to one of the ranch hands – but it had a license plate on it from a later model car. I think it was a '59 Ford they used; well, it had a license plate from a '63 car, and this fella said instead of trying to get new plates, he used to just switch his plates back and forth. Whichever car was in operable condition, he'd put the plates on, but he owned both cars.
He himself was arrested, this fella, and when they cleared up that that car wasn't stolen, they released him, but he never had enough money to go down to the impound garage and get the car out. They never knew that it was the car that was used. They had cleaned up the car quite well, and there is only one light trace of blood in the front section of the car; and it's so slight they can't tell whether it's human blood or not, and naturally they can't tell the type.
In the meantime Linda Kasabian borrows another ranch hand's car and drives down to New Mexico, leaving her child Tanya there. Also, Watson was not there on August 16 when the raid occurred. He had gone up to Death Valley in the meantime.
The police can only hold you for 48 hours and charges have to be filed or the case dismissed. Seeing as they couldn't connect any of the defendants with any of the stolen cars, and they couldn't connect any of the defendants with the submachine gun, everybody was released.
After they were released they all went up to Inyo County. And now it comes up to where we started to get some breaks. They had checked out every darn theory under the sun, and they just didn't come up with anything.
They get up to Inyo County, and they're living up there. Here's the first reports by the sheriff's office up there.
By the way, under our rules of discovery, the defendants get to see all of these police reports. We can't hide anything from them. They can make independent tests of the fingerprints if they want to, they can make independent tests of the blood. They don't have to take our word for it.
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