Book One: Year of the Fork, Night of the Hunter
But the decadence of history
is looking for a pawn
To a nightmare of knowledge
he opens up the gate
A blinding revelation
is served upon his plate
That beneath the greatest love
is a hurricane of hate.
—“Crucifixion” by Phil Ochs.
Three young girls dance down the hallway of the Superior Court Building in Los Angeles, holding hands and singing one of Charlie’s songs. They might be on their way to a birthday party in their short, crisp cotton dresses, but, actually they are attending a preliminary hearing to a murder trial.
A middle-aged lady in Bel Air wants to “mother” Charlie, and two little girls send a letter to him in jail.
“At first we thought you were guilty. But then we read in the papers about these kids who were stabbed to death in the same way as the Sharon Tate murders. We knew you hadn’t done it because you were in jail at the time. We knew you hadn’t done it anyway when we saw your face in the newspaper. . . .
“Love . . . “
Charlie gets letters from little girls every day. They come from New Hampshire, Minnesota, Los Angeles. A convicted bank robber who met Charlie in jail writes “The Gospel According to Pawnee Fred, the Thief on the Other Cross,” in which he asks:
“Is Manson Son of Man?”
Thirty miles northwest of the courthouse, seven miles due north of Leonard Nimoy’s Pet Pad in Chatsworth (Supplies – Fish – Domestics – Exotics), a circle of rustic women at the Spahn Movie Ranch weave their own hair into an elaborate rainbow vest for Charlie.
Most of them are early members of Charlie’s three-year-old family. There’s Lynne Fromme – they call her Squeaky – Sandra Good, Gypsy, Brenda, Sue, Cappy, Jeany.
“We’ve been working on this vest for two years,” says Sandra, “adding things, sewing on patches. It’s for Charlie to wear in court.” And Squeaky adds, “Wouldn’t it be beautiful to have a photograph of Charlie wearing it? And all of us standing around close to him, hugging him like we used to?”
Wouldn’t it be beautiful to have the others standing around too, the rest of the family, the others imprisoned? Tex Watson and Patti Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian and, oh yeah, the snitch, Sadie Glutz. Her real name is Susan Atkins, but the family calls her Sadie Glutz because that’s what Charlie named her.
Meanwhile Charlie sits blissfully in his cell at the Los Angeles County Jail, composing songs, converting fellow inmates to his gospel of love and Christian submission, and occasionally entertaining a disturbing thought: Why haven’t they gotten in touch? A simple phone call would do it. Surely they’ve received the telegrams, the letters. Surely they realize that he knows, he understands their glorious revelation; that he understands the whole fucking double album.
Everywhere there’s lots of piggies
Living piggy lives
You can see them out for dinner
With their piggy wives
Clutching forks and knives to eat their bacon.
Ten blocks from the new County Jail stands the old County Hall of Justice, a grotesque, brown brick fortress that for decades has guarded the Los Angeles Civic Center from aesthetic inroads. The entire sixth floor belongs to the District Attorney and his staff, a member of which, now alone on his lunch hour, unlocks a file cabinet and withdraws several neatly bound, family-type photo albums. Slowly he turns each page, studies each snapshot, each personality:
• Sharon Tate, considered one of Hollywood’s prettier, more popular promising young stars, wife of genius film sorcerer Roman Polanski. After her biggest film, Valley of the Dolls, she retreated to private life to enjoy her first pregnancy. The photographs show her in her eighth month.
• Jay Sebring, the handsome young hair stylist who revolutionized the fashion industry by introducing hair styling to men, convincing them – despite early masculine scoffs – there was something better looking than a shave even if you had to pay ten times the price. He once was Miss Tate’s fiance.
• Wociech Frykowski, Polanski’s boyhood pal who came to Hollywood with hopes of directing films himself. His luck at this was dismal, and even Polanski later admitted he had little talent. Instead, he began directing home movies inside his head, investing heavily in many forms of exotic dope.
• Abigail Folger, heiress to the Folger’s Coffee millions, an attractive Radcliffe girl considered by neighbors to be the most charming of the Polanski’s house guests. She met Frykowski in New York and became his lover.
• Steven Parent, an 18-year-old from Los Angeles suburb of El Monte, a friend of Polanski’s caretaker, unknown to the others, a nobody like the rest of us. Had fortune been on his side, he would have so remained.
• Leno La Bianca, owner of a grocery store chain, and his wife, Rosemary, an ordinary couple of the upper middle class, fond of such quiet pleasures as boating, water skiing and watching late night television in their pajamas. They knew nothing of Sharon Tate and her friends, living miles away in different neighborhoods and different worlds.
• Gary Hinman, music teacher, bagpipe player, and onetime friend of Charlie Manson’s. He once, in fact, gave the Manson family his Toyota, although the circumstances surrounding that gift have since come into question.
The snapshots are homey little numbers, color polaroids taken by staff photographers from the County Coroner’s office and the Los Angeles Police Department. They show all the wounds, the nakedness, the blood. Sometimes the exposure is a little off, but the relevant details are there – shots of the rooms, the bullet holes, the blood on the furniture and floors, the bizarre blood writing on the walls, words like RISE and HELTER SKELTER and PIGGIES.
And shots of the weapons found at the scene – ropes, pillowcases, forks and knives.
After replacing the albums, the D.A. investigator continues eating his lunch and now starts perusing an official looking 34-page document. It is an interview with Miss Mary Brunner, a former member of Manson’s family, by detectives last December.
Q. Mary, did you never see Charlie Manson or Bruce Davis hit Gary Hinman?
Q. Do you know how he got the slash on the side of his face that severed his ear?
A. He got it from one of those two, he had to.
Q. Now, after everybody left on Sunday night, did anybody ever go back to the house?
Q. Was anybody with Bobby?
A. Not that I know of. He told me about it and he talked like he was alone.
Q. What did Bobby tell you he went back to the house for?
A. He tried to erase that paw print on the wall.
Q. And how many days later did he go back to the house?
A. Two or three days after Sunday, Tuesday or Wednesday.
Q. All right. Did he describe to you what the house looked like or smelled like or anything like that?
A. He told me it smelled terrible. He could hear the maggots.
Q. Hear the maggots? What?
A. In Gary, eating Gary.
Q. Is there anything else you would like to add about this that we haven’t covered?
A. There isn’t anything else to it.
Los Angeles is the third largest city in America, according to population, but easily the largest according to raw real estate. It is bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the south and southwest, by Ventura County to the west, by the San Gabriel Mountains and fire-prone Angeles National Forest to the north and by scores of cruddy, smoggy little towns and cities to the east.
Its shape resembles some discarded prehistoric prototype for a central nervous system, the brain including the entire San Fernando Valley, the San Gabriel foothills, West Los Angeles, Venice, portions of the Santa Monica Mountains, Hollywood, Hollywood Hills and Highland Park – actually hundreds and hundreds of square miles – with a weird, narrow spinal chord extending from the Civic Center, through the country’s largest black ghetto, to San Pedro Harbor 25 miles away.
Charles Manson knew his city well. Like many Los Angeles residents he learned to drive long distances regularly without giving a second thought. During his two years as a free man in Southern California he frequently “made the rounds,” visiting friends, keeping business appointments, preaching to small groups, giving and taking material possessions.
For some reason, perhaps for no reason, many of the spots where he stopped or stayed are located on the extreme periphery of the brain of Los Angeles. Which at least makes it an easy, scenic drive – Sunday afternoon with the wife and kids. Who knows? Ten years from now these spots may be official points of interest, stations of the cross as it were. Save these handy directions for your personal map to the homes of the stars.
Starting at the Spahn Movie Ranch in the extreme northwestern corner of Los Angeles – drive two miles east on Santa Susana Pass Road to Topanga Canyon itself.
It was here that Manson and his family first lived after arriving from the Haight-Ashbury in late 1967, and it was here that Manson first met Gary Hinman. Hinman’s house is a little further down the road, almost where Topanga Canyon meets the beach at Pacific Coast Highway.
You can’t see into the house now, of course, because the cops boarded it up last July after they found Hinman’s body perforated with stab wounds. They say he was tortured for 48 hours. On a nearby wall they found the words POLITICAL PIGGIES and a neat little cat’s paw print in blood. Bobby Beausoleil, an electric guitarist and member of Manson’s family, has already been sentenced to death, and Manson and Susan Atkins are awaiting trial in the matter.
After driving on to Pacific Coast Highway, take a left, and after two miles, take another left. Now you’re on Sunset Boulevard, winding through wealthy Pacific Palisades where, for a short time in early 1968, the Manson family lived with Beach Boy Dennis Wilson. Wilson doesn’t live there anymore, however; he moved shortly after Manson allegedly threatened him with a bullet.
Keep driving east on Sunset for another eight or ten miles past Brentwood Heights, past Mandeville Canyon, over the San Diego Freeway, past UCLA and Bel Air and Beverly Glen. And when you reach the center of Beverly Hills, turn left on Canon and head north into Benedict Canyon.
Now here you may need a more detailed map because the streets get pretty tricky with all the turns and dead ends. But up in Benedict Canyon there’s this little dirt road, Cielo Drive, which dead ends at the old, rambling, hillside house where producer Terry Melcher, Doris Day’s son, used to live. Manson paid several business calls on him there, but the business was never completed before Melcher moved out early last summer.
Neighbors hardly had had a chance to meet the new residents when, on the bright Saturday morning of last August 9th, Mrs. Winifred Chapman, a maid, ran screaming from the house, across the huge grounds and parking lot, through the iron gate and down the road:
“There’s bodies and blood all over the place!”
Not a bad description. Police found Steven Parent just inside the gate, shot five times in his white Rambler, the wheels of the car already turned toward the road in a mad attempt to escape. Wociech Frykowski’s body lay in front of the house, shot and stabbed and stabbed again and again. Twenty yards down the rolling lawn, underneath a fir tree, they found Abigail Folger dead and curled up in a bloody nightgown.
Inside the house Jay Sebring and Sharon Tate lay stabbed to death near the living room couch, connected by a single nylon cord wrapped around their necks and thrown over a rafter. Sebring was also shot and his head covered with a pillowcase. On the front door police found the word PIG written in blood with a towel.
If the gate’s locked, you won’t be able to see the house because it’s set back some from the road. But anyway, that’s where it is.
Now make a U and head back down to Sunset. Continue east for another 10 miles, along the famous and more and more plastic Sunset Strip, past the tall, swanky office building monuments to Hollywood flackery, past the decaying radio empires of the Forties, clear to Western Avenue, where you take a left.
A mile north, Western turns right and becomes Los Feliz Boulevard, cutting east through the wealthy, residential Los Feliz District that skirts the foothills of Griffith Park. After about three miles, just before Los Feliz crosses the Golden State Freeway, drive into the winding, hillside streets to your right, where you’ll find Waverly Drive.
In August, 1968, Manson and his family started visiting Harold True, a UCLA student who lived with some other guys on Waverly. They were all good friends, and the family just liked to go up there and hang around and smoke dope and sing and shoot the shit. True later moved to Van Nuys, where he presently lives with Phil Kaufman, a former member of the family who produced Manson’s record.
True’s neighbors, incidentally, were Leno and Rosemary La Bianca who, a year later on the morning of August 10th, were found stabbed – or rather carved – to death inside their home. The words DEATH TO PIGS, HELTER SKELTER and RISE were written, again in blood, on the kitchen walls. And someone had etched WAR on Leno La Bianca’s stomach with a fork.
Anyway, those are just some of the spots Manson liked to visit on his frequent tours of the big city. Cut back to Los Feliz, head north on the Golden State Freeway for 18 miles, cut west across the north end of the Valley on Devonshire Street – another 10 miles – turn right on Topanga Canyon Boulevard, and you’re practically back at the Spahn ranch.
The whole round trip is eighty miles or so. That may seem like a big distance, but actually, the roads are good and it shouldn’t take longer than two or three hours, especially if you take it on a Sunday afternoon or, say, late at night.
* * *
Perhaps no two recent events have so revealed the cut-rate value of public morality and private life as the killing of Sharon Tate and the arrest of Charles Manson. Many were quick to criticize The Los Angeles Times for publishing bright and early one Sunday morning the grisly (and since recanted) confession of Susan Atkins. Any doubts about Manson’s power to cloud men’s minds were buried that morning between Dick Tracy and one of the world’s great real estate sections. Sexie Sadie laid it down for all to see.
Critics accused the Times of paying a healthy sum to promoter Larry Schiller, who had obtained the confession from Miss Atkins’ attorneys in return for a cut of the profits. The Times responded publicly with silence, privately with a denial. No money was paid, said the editors. Schiller had sold the story to various European Sunday editions, they said, and an eight-hour time difference allowed the Times to pick it up from one of their European correspondents. In other words, “If we hadn’t run it here, some other paper would have.” (Some paper, in fact many other papers, did run it, of course, with the excuse the Times had done it first.)
The Times response sounded like a hype from the start. For one thing their Sunday edition is put to bed, not a mere eight hours before Sunday morning, but late Friday night so their vast, haircurled, beer-bellied Supermarket weekend readership can get its comics and classified ads a day early. Also, why was Schiller himself seen hanging around the Times offices as the edition rolled off the presses?
Rolling Stone has since learned that the Times explanation was at least partly correct. No money was paid, that’s true, or at least not much. Because, dig, the Times people didn’t buy the confession, they wrote it. Word for word. Not only the confession but the book that followed, The Killing of Sharon Tate, with “eight pages of photographs,” published by New American Library, a Times-Mirror subsidiary.
In the volume, Schiller gratefully acknowleges “the invaluable aid of two journalists who worked with the author in preparing this book and the original interviews with Susan Atkins.”
Those two journalists, it turns out, were Jerry Cohen and Dial Torgerson, both veteran members of the Times rewrite crew. Torgerson wrote the first chapter to the book, and Cohen, an old friend of Schiller’s, wrote the confession and the rest of the book. Both subsequently have reported much of the news related to the case, and Cohen has been assigned to cover Charlie’s trial.
According to a freelance Life contributor in the area and since confirmed by several Times staffers, Miss Atkins’ attorneys gave Schiller tapes of her confession on the condition that he sell the story to foreign papers only and split the money. But Schiller is a promoter, not a writer, and he needed someone to put the thing together fast. His first stop was The Los Angeles Times where he found Cohen to be a friend indeed.
After conferences with Cohen and various Times editors, it was decided Cohen and Torgerson would write a story and a book, both under Schiller’s name. In return, New American would have exclusive rights to the book and the Times would publish the confession simultaneously with the foreign press.
All this was to be top secret, of course. But Schiller got careless. Not only did he awkwardly appear in the Times city room to see his freshly printed byline, he invited people like our Life corresondent over to his house the week before while Cohen was in the next room hacking away.
What possible justification could the Times editors have had in running the confessions? Where were their heads? Can an individual’s right to a fair trial, free of damaging pretrial publicity, be so relative? Can it be compromised so easily by the fictitious right of the public to be entertained?
The Times would argue that Susan Atkins’ testimony to the County Grand Jury, later made public, had essentially the same impact as her confession. If so, why did the Times print both? Besides, there surely are many readers who trust in the Times who rightfully suspect the Grand Jury, realizing it consists mainly of retired old men and white, upper-middle-class housewives hand-picked by the District Attorney.
If Miss Atkins’ confession does not constitute damaging pretrial publicity, what does? What does the phrase mean?
Clearly Charles Manson already stands as the villain of our time, the symbol of animalism and evil. Lee Harvey Oswald? Sirhan Sirhan? Adolph Eichman? Misguided souls, sure, but as far as we know they never took LSD or fucked more than one woman at a time.
Manson is already so hated by the public that all attempts so far to exploit his reputation have failed miserably. Of the 2,000 albums of his music that were pressed, less than 300 have sold.
A skin flick based weakly on popular assumptions about Manson and his family, Love in the Commune, closed after two days in San Francisco, only mustered two old men on a Saturday night in Los Angeles. Normally, one wouldn’t expect skin flick buffs to be that discriminating, although certainly the few scenes in the film of a Manson-type balling a headless chicken probably had little mass prurient appeal.
Even Cohen and Torgerson’s book is reportedly in financial trouble, although profits to the Times-Mirror Syndicate from sales to other American papers have already been counted.
Are there 12 people in the country, let alone Los Angeles, who can honestly say they have no opinions about Charles Manson? Mention of his name in polite conversation provokes, not words or heated argument, but noises, guttural sound effects, gasps, shrieks, violent physical gestures of repulsion. He is more than a villain, he is a leper.
Shortly after Manson’s arrest, the musicians’ local in Los Angeles wrote the Times and said flatly that he had checked his union’s records and that Manson definitely was not a musician. So there’d be no confusion, he added that most musicians were good clean fellows who believe in hard work and the American way of life.
But all this is really beside the point. Even if the Times could somehow prove that its confession did Manson absolutely no harm, what right did they have to take the risk? The moral decision must be made before, not after, the fact if a man’s right to an impartial trial is to be taken seriously.
On the other hand, the most blatant – if less damaging – assault on the concept of pretrial impartiality comes not from the Establishment or the Far Right, but the Far Left, the Weathermen faction of the SDS.
According to an item from the Liberation News Service, the Weathermen have made Manson a revolutionary hero on the assumption that he is guilty. Praising him for having offed some “rich honky pigs,” they offer us a prize example of bumper sticker mentality:
“Manson Power – The Year Of The Fork!”
The underground press in general has assumed kind of a paranoid-schizo attitude toward Manson, undoubtedly hypersensitive to the relentless gloating of the cops who, after a five-year search, finally found a longhaired devil you could love to hate.
Starting in mid-January, the Los Angeles Free Press banner headlined Manson stories for three weeks in a row: “Manson Can Go Free!” “M.D. On Manson’s Sex Life!” “Manson Interview! Exclusive Exclusive!”
The interview, by the way, ran for two more weeks, consisted mainly of attorney/author Michael Hannon talking to himself. Later, the Free Press began a weekly column by Manson written from jail.
About the same time, a rival underground paper, Tuesday’s Child, ran Manson’s picture across the entire front page with the headline “MAN OF THE YEAR: CHARLES MANSON.” In case you missed the point, in their next issue they covered the front page with a cartoon of Manson on the cross. The plaque nailed above his head read simply “HIPPIE.”
When the Manson record was released, both papers agreed to run free ads for it, but the chain of Free Press bookstores, owned by Free Press publisher Art Kunkin, refused to sell it, arguing it was an attempt to make profit of tragedy.
Of course, not all the stories in the Free Press and Tuesday’s Child were pro-Manson. Some were very lukewarm, others were simply anti-cop. The question that seemed to split underground editorial minds more than any other was simply: Is Manson a hippie or isn’t he?
It’s hard to imagine a better setting for Manson’s vision of the Apocalypse, his black revolution, than Los Angeles, a city so large and cumbersome it defies the common senses, defies the absurd. For thousands of amateur prophets it provides a virtual Easter egg hunt of spooky truths.
Its climate and latitude are identical to Jerusalem. It easily leads the country in our race toward ecological doom. It has no sense of the past; the San Andreas Fault separates it from the rest of the continent by a million years.
If Manson’s racial views seem incredibly naive, which they are (after preaching against the Black Panthers for two years, he recently asked who Huey Newton was), they are similar to views held by hundreds of thousands of others in that city and that city’s Mayor. Citizens there last year returned to office Mayor Sam Yorty whose administration was riddled with conflicts of interest and bribery convictions, rather than elect a thoughtful, soft-spoken, middle-of-the-road ex-cop who happened to be black. Full-page newspaper ads, sponsored by a police organization, pictured the man as a wild African savage and asked voters, “Will Your Home be Safe with Bradley as Mayor?”
The question to ask, therefore, maybe not now but five or ten years from now, is this: Who would the voters prefer, Bradley or Manson? Would Your Home be Safe with Manson as Mayor?
“I am just a mirror,” Manson says over and over. “Anything you see in me is you.” He says it so often it becomes an evasive action. I’m rubber and you’re glue. But there’s a truth there nonetheless.
The society may be disgusted and horrified by Charles Manson, but it is the society’s perverted system of penal “rehabilitation,” its lusts for vengeance and cruelty, that created him.
The Spahn Movie Ranch may seem a miserable place for kids to live, with its filthy, broken-down shacks and stagnant streams filled daily with shoveled horse shit. life there may seem degenerate, a dozen or more people eating garbage, sleeping, balling and raising babies in a 20-foot trailer.
But for more than two years most of those kids have preferred that way of life – life with Charlie – than living in the homes of their parents.
The press likes to put the Manson family in quotation marks – “family.” But it’s a real family, with real feelings of devotion, loyalty and disappointment. For Manson and all the others it’s the only family they’ve ever had.
One is tempted to say that Manson spent 22 of his 35 years in prison, that he is more a product of the penal system than the Haight-Ashbury.
But it cannot be dismissed that easily. Charles Manson raises some very serious questions about our culture, whether he is entirely part of it or not.
For actually we are not yet a culture at all, but a sort of pre-culture, a gathering of disenchanted seekers, an ovum unfertilized. There is no new morality, as Time and Life would have us believe, but a growing awareness that the old morality has not been practiced for some time.
The right to smoke dope, to pursue different goals, to be free of social and economic oppression, the right to live in peace and equity with our brothers – this is Founding Fathers stuff.
In the meantime we must suffer the void, waiting for the subversives in power to die, waiting for the old, dead, amoral culture to be buried. For many, particularly the younger among us, the wait, the weight, is extremely frustrating, even unbearable. Life becomes absurd beyond enjoyment. Real doubts grow daily whether any of the tools we have to change power work anymore. There are no answers and the questions lose their flavor.
Into this void, this seemingly endless river of shit, on top of it, if you will, rode Charlie Manson in the fall of 1967, full of charm and truth and gentle goodness, like Robert Mitchum’s psychopathic preacher in Night of the Hunter with LOVE and HATE inscribed on opposing hands. (A friend of Manson’s said recently, “You almost could see the devil and angel in him fighting it out, and I guess the devil finally won.”)
This smiling, dancing music man offered a refreshing short cut, a genuine and revolutionary new morality that redefines or rather eliminates the historic boundaries between life and death.
Behind Manson’s attitude toward death is the ancient mystical belief that we are all part of one body – an integral tenet of Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity as expressed by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians: “For as the body is one and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ.”
But Manson adds a new twist; he wants us to take the idea literally, temporarily. He believes that he – and all human beings – are God and the Devil at the same time, that all human beings are part of each other, that human life has no individual value. If you kill a human being, you’re just killing part of yourself; it has no meaning. “Death is psychosomatic,” says Manson.
Thus the foundation of all historic moral concepts is neatly discarded. Manson’s is a morality. “If God is One, what is bad?” he asks. Manson represents a frightening new phenomenon, the acid-ripped street fighter, erasing the barrier between the two outlaw cultures – the head and the hood – described by Tom Wolfe in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test:
“The Angels were too freaking real. Outlaws? They were outlaws by choice, from the word go, all the way out in Edge City. Further! The hip world, the vast majority of acid heads, were still playing the eternal charade of the middle class intellectuals – Behold my wings! Freedom! Flight! – but you don’t actually expect me to jump off that cliff, do you?”
Perhaps it was inevitable for someone like Manson to come along who would jump off that cliff; that a number of lost children seem willing to believe him is indeed a disturbing sign of the times.
“Little children,” wrote St. John in a prophetic letter, “it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrists shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know it is the last time.”
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.
Porfiry opens a brown manila folder, holds it like a hymnal and starts to read.
“The start of the incident of Death Valley occurred on September 19th, 1969, when the National Park Rangers of the Death Valley Monument became aware that persons unknown had set fire to a Michigan Loader.” This is a great big tractor. “Tire tracks from this area were of the type used on a Toyota four-wheel drive. Near the cabin they found a ’69 Ford automobile, license plate SDZ976.”
Porfiry explains: This had been rented from Hertz by one of the girls who is loose now, Nancy Pittman, and she did it on a stolen credit card, a Mobile Oil credit card that had been taken in a burglary on September 7th. On September 7th Nancy Pittman was here in Los Angeles, and we also know that on that date Leslie Van Houghton bought a knife with the same stolen credit card. This evidence has not come out but the defense knows all about it.
Porfiry reads: “On September 22nd, Park Ranger Richard Powell entered the Hall Canyon area while investigating the arson case and made contact with a red Toyota four-wheel drive and four female and one male subjects. The conversation of these subjects disclosed very little. The Toyota was using California commercial license plates so and so, registered to Gail Beausoleil, wife of Robert Beausoleil, who’s presently held on a charge of murder in Los Angeles County. This is going back to September 19th, September 22nd.”
Porfiry explains: This was Hinman’s Toyota, and they found it up there.
Porfiry reads: “On September 24th the officers returned to Hall Canyon. The vehicles and the subjects were gone. The miners in the area stated that the subjects pulled out about four hours after Ranger Powell left. On September 29th C.H.P. Officer James Purcell accompanied Ranger Powell to check out two dwellings. At one location, Barker Ranch, they discovered two females about 19 years of age. They were uncommunicative, but did state that the person who lived there had gone to town and would be back later.
“Purcell and Powell contacted two men driving a truck loaded with automotive supplies. They advised the officers that members of a hippie-type group owned the supplies they were transporting, and that they were afraid for their lives if they failed to cooperate with this hippie group. They related to the officers that they used drugs, had sex orgies and attempted to recreate the days of Rommel and the desert corps by driving across the country night and day in numerous dune buggies. The leader of the cult, who called himself Jesus Christ, was attempting to set up a large group of hippies in the area.
“After leaving the Barker ranch the officers located a group of seven females, between the ages of 18 and 20, all nude or partially so, hiding in the brush in one of the small draws off the main road to the rear of the ranch. Going further up the same draw, they encountered one male individual and saw a second run from the area. In this camp was a red Toyota with a certain license number. The license plate noted earlier was no longer on this vehicle. With the Toyota was a dune buggy with a certain number. Ten to 29 checks disclosed that the Toyota was a Los Angeles Police Department stolen.
“On approximately September 29th officers contacted the Sergeant of the Lone Pine Regiment Post and advised him of the circumstances. They found a lot of stolen cars up there. The officers converged on the Barker ranch, arrested five female subjects, located and arrested five female subjects on the dugout. All prisoners were escorted to the ranch and transported to Independence. A .22-caliber pistol was found in the camp.
“Prior to the officers entering this area it was established that this same group was arrested in Chatsworth by Los Angeles Sheriff’s Dept. on August 16th 1969, and had been armed with submachine guns. In an earlier conversation with the miners in the area it was disclosed that these people had talked of having machine guns.
“Armed with this knowledge, officers requested permission to carry high-powered rifles. No shots were fired. All but two or three of the female suspects were armed with belt type knives. No attempt was made on their part to use these weapons. Total arrests: 10 females, three males.”
Porfiry shuts the folder: And then they also arrested Charlie Manson up there hiding in a little kitchen cabinet.
The 17-year-old females stepped from the brush and surrendered to the officers. These two girls said that they were in fear of their lives and trying to escape from the hippie group. Both stated that Charles Manson, who was not in custody as of that time, would kill or seriously injure them if he caught them trying to leave. These two girls – Katie Luke Singer and Jardin – supplied the link to the sheriffs that Sadie Glutz – Susan Atkins – was involved in the Hinman murder. They recovered the cars, contacted the parents of subject Luke Singer. He was advised that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office was seeking this subject as a material witness to the murder that occurred earlier this year in the Topanga Canyon area. Contact was made with homicide detective Gunther Whitely, who left Los Angeles same morning on route to Independence for questioning. Interrogation of the subject Luke Singer by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s office disclosed that three of the female prisoners held at the Inyo County Jail were involved in Los Angeles Sheriff’s office Topanga Canyon murder. All three were returned to the Los Angeles County jail by Los Angeles Sheriff’s office. One of these girls, by the way, was Patricia Krenwinkel, but she was the wrong girl, see, she used the name Mary Smith or Mary Reeves and Luke Singer talked with Mary, but it was this Mary Brunner.
On October 9, 1969, Officer Purcell and National Park service ranger re-entered Death Valley, made contact with additional witnesses, who advised them that a rental truck loaded with supplies had become stuck and abandoned on the road to Barker ranch. Officer Purcell made contact with Sgt. Haley at Lone Pine and attempted to locate and arrest the ring leader Charles Manson, who was still at large. Additional male suspects were there also. Successful contact was made at the ranch, and the following were taken into custody: Charles Manson, Kenneth Brown, David Hammock, Lawrence Bailey, Bruce Davis. Now Bruce Davis is still involved as a material witness in the Hinman murder; he could clear the whole damn thing up if he wanted to talk to us, but he doesn’t want to talk to us. Also arrested in the area was Beth Tracey, well there’s no Beth Tracey, she was using a girl’s credit card that was stolen in a burglary. Diane Bluestein, Sherry Andrews, Patty Sue Jardin, Sue Martel, all these girls were up there. This was October 12th. On October 13th investigating officers received word from Los Angeles Sheriff’s office that Kathleen Luke Singer, earlier arrested as a runaway, returned to Los Angeles as a material to a murder, had additional information regarding stolen vehicles and related crimes that she would be willing to discuss with the investigating officer. Then they found additional stolen vehicles that were hidden up there in like cave areas.
There’s an interesting sidelight to this investigation in Inyo County. The C.H.P. recovered in Death Valley a vehicle traced to a Philip Tenerelli. This guy had been listed as a missing person by the Culver City Police Dept. Bishop Police Department had reported a suicide October 2nd, 1969. The first thing they know is the guy’s name is John Doe. Bishop is right up by Death Valley.
When they found Tenerelli’s car down this cliff, they went back and rechecked the identity of the fingerprints, and they found the suicide of October 2nd was this fella Tenerelli that was listed missing in Culver City. Inyo County is not so sure that the suicide was not a murder.
Because we have a case here in Venice of a guy who calls himself Christopher Jesus or Zero. He’s one of the people arrested with Manson in Death Valley. He’s one of the people that Manson confided in.
One day his girlfriend, Linda Baldwin, who’s also the girlfriend of every other guy in the group, reports to the Venice Police Dept. that Christopher Zero killed himself, that he was playing Russian Roulette right in front of her eyes, and the gun went off and killed him. It’s very difficult to disprove this, but we’re not so sure this wasn’t a murder to keep him quiet.
But in this trial, we’re not going to introduce any evidence about Tenerelli or Christopher Zero or the missing body of Shorty Shay, a ranch hand who used to be a stunt man in Hollywood. He was trying to get old man Spahn to order these people off the ranch. After the August 16th raid, when they got out of jail, they came back to Spahn Ranch. And Shorty Shay has never been seen again since that time. Several of the girls say he was cut up in eight or nine pieces and buried on the ranch someplace, but they don’t know how it happened.
As a result of this arrest up there, and as a result of this one girl, Luke Singer, talking, they arrest Susan Atkins and put her in the county jail here. Once in the county jail, Susan gets up a relationship with this girl, call her Ronnie Howard. She used the name Nadell, but she was booked under Ronnie Howard. And Susan Atkins, to use the vernacular, cops out to Ronnie Howard on how Sharon Tate was killed. Then Susan tells it to another girl, Virginia Graham.
The two girls get together and tell the police about it, and the police come out and interview the two girls separately. And they learn from the girls things that have never been told to anybody before, like the fact that a knife was left at the Tate residence.
She said in her statement to one of the girls, “God damn, I think I even left my knife in there. If the police ever trace that knife to me, I’ll be dead.”
The next thing that happens is the newspapers, which have been following the case as close as could be, see a great deal of activity occurring. They find out a police officer went to Barker ranch, and they find out another officer went to Inyo County, and they find out that police officers went out to Spahn’s ranch to take pictures. We don’t have everybody in custody, because after Patricia Krenwinkel was questioned by the sheriff’s office in October, she was released and sent back to Alabama. During the arrest of all these people, Watson gets away. I’m talking about the arrest at Barker ranch. We didn’t even know anything about Linda Kasabian, her name was never mentioned prior to Susan Atkins.
To bring it to a conclusion, the press are going to release the story. The police ask them to hold off for a certain amount of time while they try to get the suspects into custody. When they come over to us, they didn’t even have a good fingerprint on Krenwinkel. They had a fingerprint on Watson. They didn’t have the gun at that time.
Now we’ve got the gun that killed Steve Parent and shot Frykowski and Sebring. This gun was identified not only by the bullet, the gun was used to beat Frykowski on the head. The butt had been broken and the handle was in three pieces. We recovered those three pieces, and they fit perfectly on the gun. This gun has been traced to one that Manson bought, and it’s a unique-type gun. It’s a long barrel, .22 caliber, Wyatt Earp-type gun. Several witnesses said this was Manson’s private gun.
Now, he didn’t kill anybody at Tate’s, but when you have a conspiracy to commit a crime, and any of the members of the conspiracy do anything else, everyone is responsible for all of the actions of the other. This is the principle we’re using against Manson, that he ordered these people killed. Whether he ordered one or five doesn’t matter. The fact that they killed five was all within the contemplation of conspiracy.
At first we were thinking of the theory that he had revenge against Terry Melcher, because Melcher put him down. He had Melcher out to the Spahnranch a couple of times to see if Melcher could sell his music and Melcher thought it was nothing. So he resented that. He came to see Melcher at the house several times, and he learned the layout of the house.
But then evidence developed that he knew that Melcher moved out during the summer and he was trying to find where Melcher lived. He asked Dennis Wilson several times. I don’t think Wilson told him. But I don’t think on the night of the killings he thought Melcher still lived there. He just thought that rich people lived there, part of the Establishment, and he had this plan of setting in progress this revolution – blacks against whites.
And he left the sign PIG on the door. Also he had in mind covering up for Beausoleil, who was in custody now. They wanted to commit a murder similar to the Hinman murder to throw the police off the track of Beausoleil as the killer of Hinman.
But unfortunately, although Malibu is not that far from Benedict Canyon, one is in the county sheriff’s territory and one is in the city police territory and they didn’t associate the two, even though POLITICAL PIGGIES was written at Hinman’s and there were visious stab wounds and pistol whipping on Hinman.
The Tate killings seemed so senseless, because even though money was taken from one of the victims, money was not taken from all the victims. The house wasn’t ransacked. Not that they had valuable belongings there, but they could have taken fur coats and things. On Hinman they took his two cars. The motives appeared different, so they assumed it was different people who committed it, and they didn’t connect the word PIG with POLITICAL PIGGIES as being the same group.
The reports that we have from the witnesses show that there were other people that knew about these killings, but they just kept quiet. I don’t know why other than the fact that they thought “Oh hell, there are friends of mine involved – and I don’t want to say anything.”
This Manson, I’m not going to say that he’s got hypnotic powers, but he’s got some kind of a strength because he’s able to get this girl from Alabama to come out here, and she could have stayed in Alabama another six months, just like Watson did in Texas.