Goodbye Helter Skelter


From the The Fear and Loathing Online Fanzine, published July, 2017:

So much has been written and broadcast about Charles Manson and his alleged "family" but few have bothered to look beyond the sensationalism to question whether the generally accepted "facts" actually hold much water in the real world. Manson was declared guilty by the media long before the final verdict and no-one wanted to ruin the big story. But so many of the "deatils" which are readily accepted are either misleading, unsubstantiated or just plain false. The main point of contention is the extent of Manson's actual complicity in the crimes. The prosecution had to convince everyone that he was the evil mastermind behind the killings, intent on his bizarre plan to rule the world. On the other hand, all those involved originally offered the alternate motive that the murders were committed as copycats killings in an attempt to save their friend, Bobby Beausoleil, from jail. (Most have since refuted this version in attempts to gain parole.) This version is still strongly supported by the facts, but accepting this would have made Manson's role much less integral to the plot, something that the prosecution and media were already unwilling to accept. The trial itself denied Manson his Statutory Right to conduct his own defence and the Prosecution also gave Linda Kasabian a pardon in exchange for her supporting evidence, despite her own involvement in the crimes. At the end of the day, the trial was staged like a Hollywood production. What this book sets out to do is separate the facts from the myths. Built around hours of conversations with Manson himself (both with the author and from the extensive Sandra Good archives) it presents a well-reasoned examination of the events as opposed to the screenplay-version that is usually related. Stimson doesn't try to deny or excuse what happened and he doesn't try to excuse Manson for his more outlandish views or actions, but at the root of the book is the intention to tell the story as accurately as possible and to present the likeliest scenario for what really happened. It doesn't try to make out that Manson was entirely innocent and, indeed, he has never denied his knowledge and involvement in the crimes. But it does try to ascertain what really took place and what was, basically, made-up by individuals who had a vested interest in creating the "monster" that Manson represents to most people. As such, this is probably the most well-balanced book you'll ever read about the case and in an era where more and more people are beginning to realize that what the media reports isn't necessarily the truth, perhaps this is as good a time as any to make your own reassessment.

From the Manson Family Blog, published March 23, 2015:

Monday, March 23, 2015

Goodbye Helter Skelter: Chapters Seventeen through Nineteen (The End)

Patty's book report on Goodbye Helter Skelter is coming to a close. She hopes that you have enjoyed it. Though Patty certainly does not agree with everything that George has written, she appreciates the opportunity to have read it, thought about it, and discussed it with the author. Thank you, George, for your openness to enriching this experience.

Chapter Seventeen: "Aftermath."

The point of this chapter is to discuss what has happened to each convicted "Family member" since the trial: how their attitudes toward Charlie have changed and how Charlie is said to harbor no ill will towards any of them. Of Charlie, Stimson demonstrates that he has no desire nor illusions of being paroled. Charlie feels that we on the outside are the crooks who lie and cheat all the time. Also, he wants to be with "all the people that I came in with." Of a new trial, he does not want one for himself, but rather in order to uphold the sixth amendment for the good of the people. ,P. Tex fought extradition to California long enough to have a trial separate from the others. Charlie says that he's a momma's boy, but kept his word, and did what he was supposed to do. Susan became a born again Christian in 1974 and lambasted Guns N Roses for recording Look at your Game Girl. Charlie says "I'm glad that she's got whatever she can get." Pat (Yellow) says that she was manipulated by Charlie while under the influence of drugs and that nothing was ever done at the ranch without Charlie's express permission. Charlie says that she has lied multiple times on TV but that he will not judge her. Leslie ("mean" Green) was granted bail for six months between 1977 and 1978. She said that Charlie became progressively more physically and verbally abusive of her during her time at Spahn, and even told her that she would die if she left him. She resents his dishonesty for not assuming his part of the blame for what happened. Charlie says that "I love her no matter what... She's not wrong in what she's saying...we can't look down at her like she's wrong because we can't see what she's looking at."

Bruce recounts a time in 1973 when he sat next to Charlie on a bus ride to Los Angeles. He remembers that "he was just carrying on as if nothing had happened." Bruce remembers thinking that "something's terribly wrong here." Bruce was denied parole twice at the time of this book's printing because, as Governor Jerry Brown wrote, "It is clear that he continues to withhold information about these events." Bobby Beausoleil has never overtly denounced Charlie, but says that "there is no love lost" between them. He claims that he was never a "member" of the "Family" and has always supported the idea that the later murders were a reaction to the Hinman murder. Charlie says of Bobby and Bruce that he always tried to help them, that he took care of them by paying their bills and their rent. He says that Bobby always wanted to be Charlie, that Charlie was always trying to save his ass. Bobby has never responded to any of Charlie's letters. Steve Grogan is the only killer to have been released, presumably because he gave up the location of Shea's body, because he was only 16 at the time of the crimes, and because he developed increased empathy for his victim after having been stabbed in prison by Nuestra Familia. He says that at 16, he was easily manipulated. Charlie says that he pulled Steve out of the trash can, and never told him what he could or could not do.

The chapter wraps up with Charlie's observations about why everyone turned against him: because they were made to believe that if they did not, then they would never get released from prison. They have had to justify in their own minds why they believe that Charlie was to blame. They do not want to speak with Charlie because they are afraid of what they are thinking about themselves. Charlie says his only crime is that he did "mean" things to people who misused his friends: if you misuse his friends, then you misuse Charlie. He does not feel that he ever made a mistake because in his world, if you make a mistake, then you're gone. He says he fell down only when he was standing upon the words of others.

Chapter Eighteen: "Charles Manson."

Stimson offers up some analysis about who Charlie truly is. He begins with who he is not: he is not impressed by Scientology, the Process Church, or other organized religions. He is not a satanist. He does believe in the concept of God, however: "God is everywhere. God is nobody...he's all of us." Christ, he says, was a prophet: but does Charlie see himself as a prophet as well? "I was a servant to God... whatever God is. It's just a word." Does he believe that God and the devil are the same thing? "An intelligent man knows that God and the devil are his own interpretation...I am God, I am the devil within my own existence and my understanding of both."

Then Stimson broaches the topic of whether or not Charlie views Adolf Hitler as a hero? "He was a good man." Apparently Charlie admires the order that Hitler tried to bring to Germany. And it seems that he approves of the Nazi party though not the American white power movement: "The American Nazi party is the worst thing that ever happened to the Nazi party...a bunch of fat, sloppy, fucking assholes." On racism, Stimson concedes that Charlie IS a racist but that he has no hate for any race in particular rather, "I hate all white people. White people are rotten. And black people are just like 'em. Because you've made em just exactly like you...they want to be you...why couldn't they be left to God? In the jungle they were God."

What had the most influence over Charlie, as with most of us, were his early years. Charlie says that he ruined his mothers life, and in exchange she was horribly cruel to him both emotionally and physically. He confirms the familiar story of how Kathleen sold him for a pitcher of beer, how she drank a lot, and how she hustled men for money (though, Stimson insists, she was NOT a prostitute). Nevertheless Charlie says that he respected and liked her, that what she did to him made him strong. His wife Rosalie also influenced his personality in that after Charlie was put into prison for stealing a car, Rosalie went off, slept with his friends, and eventually divorced him. "I believed if you got married to somebody...that we would, uh, till death do us part, and all that...And I held my way. I held my loyalness. And she went off down the road...and I just went crazy... I guess that's what we call 'jealousy'." Stimson claims that these events did not make him hate women but that he retains an old fashioned view on the relationship between men and women: "Male is the creator. Woman receives the creation from man. She's a receptacle, a receiver."At the end of this section, Charlie's grandparents and Uncle Luther are also mentioned.

Next, Stimson talks about prison and people that Charlie met there along the way. Charlie recounts a very long list of the institutions he has been in: Father Gibault's, White's Institute, juvenile hall, Boys' Town (Father Flannigan's); Danville, IL; Plainfield, IN; Salt Lake City, "federal joints," Natural Bridge in Washington DC; Petersburg VA and Lewisburg, PA among others. Because of this, he says he never got to do the normal things people do in life. He was often beaten: "When I would get up from there I would feel like - I would be relieved. I'd feel stronger and better." In prison, he learned from "the old Italians" to not snitch, to fight and to mind your own business. At Terminal Island he saw a man killed in the kitchen, then butchered so that he would fit in the trash cans. "People getting killed around me is no new thing...when you live a life like that, it becomes a natural thing."

Everything, Charlie has learned, runs on favors. It does not matter if you think the favor is right or wrong, you just do it. Prison runs on the enforcement of rules: the inmates follow them as do the guards, many of whom were previously servicemen. "War," Charlie says, "is a word you use when someone is coming to kill has nothing to do with...what you think is right or wrong." Similarly, the idea of brotherhood is very important to Charlie because he has been in institutions all his life, where he was raised in a "collective mind," where your opinions and decisions are not your own. Many of these institutions were run by clergy, who are a brotherhood. Charlie thinks very highly of veterans, a brotherhood who sacrificed their lives for him. He says that decisions that were made at the ranch were not his, they belonged to the group, to the men there. That is what he learned in prison, to make decisions for the good of the brotherhood, not just for himself.

Why he is seen as a leader is puzzling to him. Stimson says that Charlie is a natural leader: he is charismatic, enthusiastic, and confident. He was 10-15 years older than the others at the Ranch, and he took an interest in people and their problems: for instance, many of his friends needed a place to live, so he provided that for them. Charlie continues to claim that he did not tell people WHAT to do, but rather told them what they COULD do. He does not want people to know him, he wants them to know themselves: "what you see in me is you." He is aware that media interviews are not impartial, so he has adapted to that situation. The media will pounce on anything negative or crazy, so that is what he gives them: in fact, he likes to play them. He does not care if he is misinterpreted: "it's got nothing to do with me personally." Stimson feels that the public reaction to his persona, while superficially entertaining, it is unfortunate and a misdirection of Charlies energy and potential: he has so much more to offer the world than a series of performances. When he has said this to Charlie, he has simply responded by saying, "how would you play it?"

Chapter Nineteen: "Afterword."

In the final analysis, Stimson writes that had he severed himself from the trial of his co-defendants, he would have been given a much lighter sentence. However, he stood by his friends. Stimson finds him to be nothing if not consistent in the way he describes the events of the Summer of 69, and therefore credible. He is brilliant in many regards, though deficient in others. He is both ill tempered and negative, but also good humored and full of enthusiasm. "That he has survived this long is a testament to his integrity." Condemnation of him is easy, but it is more interesting and fulfilling to try and understand him as a person. It has made Stimson a better person, he writes. He can be a bad guy, but he can also be a good guy: "As such, I can't consider him to be anything like an icon of evil. Instead, I consider him to be an icon of humanity."


From the Manson Family Blog, published March 12, 2015:

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Goodbye Helter Skelter Chapters Fifteen and Sixteen

While it is no secret that Patty is pro drug theory, Stimson does not entirely agree with her when discussing the Tate LaBianca Murders. We have seen before that he believes that bad synthetic drugs manufactured by Gary were the reason for the Hinman Murder, Tate and LaBianca were a result of favors owed to Charlie and Bobby Beausoleil. The murders were, Stimson says, the killers' own idea about how to show their devotion to Charlie and to get Bobby out of jail. Let's look a little closer, shall we?

Chapter Fifteen: "The Real Motive."

Stimson begins by listing the possible motives for Tate LaBianca and discounting them all in turn. Cielo was not chosen in order to send a message to Terry Melcher, but rather because Tex was familiar with those surroundings. Charlie Manson does not have an uncontrollable blood lust: his songs were not full of death, and he did not choose Death Valley because of its name as Bugliosi has contended. Frykoswki burning the residents of Spahn over drugs was an early line of investigation by the LAPD that went nowhere.

The real motive, Stimson writes, was to get Bobby out of jail. He quotes many of the family members as having said this time and time again: if not at first, then later at parole hearings, in interviews and in their books. Stimson pulls quotes from Tex, Susan, Pat, Leslie, Gypsy and Sandy to illustrate his point. He quotes Charlie as having said that after he cut Hinman's ear he was not willing to commit any more violence, telling the others that "you're all putting me back in the penitentiary." When they asked him how to get Bobby out of jail, he said that he didn't know, but reminded them that they "owed him." He told Tex to "pay (Beausoleil) what you owe me" but says he did not specifically direct him to commit the additional murders.

Stimson says that the copycat motive was obviously not a good idea. The police already had Bobby's fingerprints at the scene and he was arrested in the dead man's car with the murder weapon. Nevertheless, Stimson claims it is the true motive with two other "contributing factors:" the historical context of the time, and the use of speed by Tex and Susan for several days before the murders.The fact that Charlie is very anti speed, Stimson contends, shows that the Family members absolutely did not do everything that Charlie told them to do or not do. Furthermore, since speed causes aggression, homicidal tendencies, paranoia, hallucinations, psychosis and irrationality it makes bad ideas seem like good ones. Stimson quotes Tex as saying of the murders that "it was as though Charlie's instructions were tape recorded in my mind and being played back, step by step, as I needed them," and chalks this up to auditory hallucinations because Charlie supposedly never told Tex what to do that night. Bugliosi discounts the importance of speed in the murders. He ignores most of the drug use at Spahn except for the use of LSD which he says Charlie used to brainwash his followers; this is because the DA did not want drug use mitigating his version of the murders.

Chapter Sixteen: "Charles Manson and the Law."

This is an extremely long chapter and in places gets very technical concerning California law. Patty had a rough time of it so if she misses anything significant she sincerely hopes that George will chime in. The two stated purposes of this chapter are to find interpretations whereby Charlie could be found not guilty of first degree murder and to explore his claim that he was denied his sixth amendment right to defend himself pro per. In order to do this, Stimson asks that we assume that the previous analysis in his book is correct. He begins by listing four essential elements that must be proven to obtain a first degree murder conviction: premeditation, deliberation, intent and malice. In addition, a first degree murder conviction can be obtained if the murder was part of an attempt to commit arson, rape, robbery, mayhem or as a lewd act against a child. Stimson says that in his prior analysis, none of this applies. Even if cutting Gary's ear can be considered mayhem, there is an exception if it was committed in self defense, and Charlie has stated that he did it in order to disarm Gary, who had a gun. Further, Rosemary's stolen wallet is irrelevant to the prosecution's case because "no charges were ever filed." Regarding intent: if we assume as Stimson asks us to that Helter Skelter was not the true motive, then there can be no intent. Tex remembers Pat and Leslie asking, "did he say to kill them?" because they did not receive any instructions from Charlie.

Can Charlie be considered guilty of a conspiracy with respect to Tate La Bianca? Stimson again lays out the essential legal elements: agreement, two or more persons involved, specific intent, unlawful object or means and an overt act. Stimson notes that Charlie specifically said that he wasn't entering into any agreements with the others because he had already committed two illegal acts (Lotsapoppa and Hinman) and did not want to go back to prison. Tex did say that Charlie specifically told him to kill, but this evidence was presented after the Tate LaBianca trial, it is inadmissible without corroboration and was likely fabricated or hallucinated because he had been using speed for days beforehand. In the Hinman Shea trial, Bruce testified that Charlie said that they were going to kill Shorty beforehand, but again it is an uncorrobrated assertion and therefore inadmissible. In that trial, Stimson says that the case against Charlie was as weak at the case against some of the others involved who were never charged.

Manson, Stimson says, had no defense in the Tate La Bianca trial: his defense rested without calling any witnesses or presenting any evidence, while the prosecution took nine months to present their case. Charlie says that he was used by the Bug, who by 1970 had tried 105 felony jury trials and lost only one. When Bugliosi says that "the primary duty of a lawyer engaged in public prosecution is not to convict, but to see that justice is done," the author and Charlie say that he was full of shit. Charlie was legally entitled to a trial within 60 days of arraignment. Even though he stated that he was ready to begin, it took five months until jury selection began.

It was Judge Keene (who was later replaced by Older) who revoked Charlie's right to pro per because of unorthodox requests he made of the court. Later, Bugliosi stated that the DA was willing to let Charlie defend himself but Judge Older again denied it. Furthermore, Older denied Charlie's request to replace his lawyer, Ronald Hughes, with Irving Kanarek because he disliked Kanarek's courtroom style. To let Kanarek represent Charlie, Older said, would be a "miscarriage of justice." However, Older never expressed any concern at all that Hughes had never tried a case before. Moreover, Stephen Kay brushed off this constitutional question as a mere "sticking point" with no elaboration. Countless habeas corpus appeals have been filed since the trial protesting Charlie's imprisonment but all have been given a rubber stamp denial. If Charlie is so obviously guilty, Stimson wonders, then why are they so afraid to let him back into court?

Linda Kasabian, the DA's star witness, was unshakeable and very believable to the jury. Stimson brings Linda's credibility into question because she stole money from Charles Melton on Topanga and from her father in Florida. Additionally, Stimson says that Linda lied to a social worker about leaving California before the murders happened. Sandra Good calls her "experienced:" she was loose, she got high a lot, she liked to creepy crawl. Furthermore, she abandoned her daughter Tanya. Another witness, Danny DeCarlo, is not credible to Stimson because he testified that he was smashed most of the time and because he testified in exchange for not being prosecuted over having Shorty Shea's weapons. Greg Jakobson was an important witness, but Stimson points out that he said "I don't know if he wanted (Helter Skelter)...whether he intended it to happen or wanted it to happen, I don't know." Of Little Paul, Stimson reminds us that Paul said "someone was going to show (black people) how to start Helter Skelter" but could not clarify who that someone was supposed to be.

Of the Jury, Stimson writes that some of their conclusions "were not necessarily logical" because they accepted Linda's uncorroborated evidence, evidence that Charlie was once at Cielo as proof of his involvement, and assumption that Charlie's leadership meant that he ordered the murders. Furthermore he states that they did not follow instructions #2, #36 and #52 which require that the circumstances of the crime must be reconciled two ways and that a more reasonable explanation must not exist than Helter Skelter. Here, Stimson says, the copycat motive is far more reasonable.

The copycat motive was brought up during the penalty phase, but not during the trial itself because Charlie was not allowed to defend himself. Stimson finds it ironic that defendants Colin Ferguson and Ted Kaczinski were given this right whereas Charlie was not. Had he been able to defend himself, Stimson feels that he could have effectively countered and discredited Linda, Paul, Danny and many others who testified against him. Charlie's defense would have been based on his inability to lie and the position that he could not have had maliced aforethought because he lives in the NOW. He would never have gotten others to do what he would not do for himself. And, Stimson says, he was not the leader of the group. He was never in charge at Spahn's Ranch: George was.

Stimson wraps up the chapter with a long quote by Charlie demonstrating how he feels he was bought and sold by the media and by people who were trying to get book deals. He feels that even the gag orders were a set up so that they could be broken to gain more publicity and to put things into the public record. "I believed that I had rights...I didn't know that all that was bought and sold...that's the reason I didn't plead guilty and get diminished capacity. Had I pled guilty, I'd have been out in 18 months."


From the Manson Family Blog, published March 2, 2015:

Monday, March 2, 2015

Goodbye Helter Skelter Chapters Ten though Fourteen

While Stimson says very little about the murders on Cielo, he has much more to say about Waverly because each of the participants' memories of what exactly happened differ greatly.

Chapter Ten: The Murders on Waverly Drive"

According to several of the participants of the events of August 9th and 10th, Charlie, Tex, Pat, Susan, Leslie, Linda and Steve Grogan drove around for a few hours looking for someone to kill: two homes in Pasadena were possible targets, a minister in a church, and a man in a sportscar at a traffic light. When the group arrived at Waverly Drive, Tex says that Charlie went up to the house alone, then came back for Tex. The two of them took Rosemary's wallet, tied up the victims, then returned to the car to get two of the girls. Tex says that Charlie then told him to make sure that the girls did some of the killing this time before he drove off with Susan, Linda and Steve. Susan remembers that Charlie tied the victims up on his own. Leslie doesn't really remember much at all but she does remember Charlie asking her earlier that night at Spahn if she thought she could kill, to which she responded that yes, she could. Susan, Tex and Linda remember that Charlie had a gun which was supposedly buried later that morning in the sands of Venice Beach.

Charlie says that he did not have a gun. He remembers that he first went looking for True, who wasn't home, and just sort of offhandedly stumbled into the La Bianca home. There, he had a brief discussion with Leno who he says was not fearful at all, and was not aware that Rosemary was in the house. He left the house having not robbed or tied up the victims: that it was all on Tex. He did not know anyone was going to be killed that night. He also says of leaving the wallet in Sylmar that, contrary to the prosecution's assertion, he did not know whose wallet it was but only assumed that it was "hot." Furthermore he says he knew that Sylmar was NOT a black neighborhood which becomes significant if he was indeed trying to start a race war.

Later, Linda says it was Manson's idea to kill Saladin Nader in Venice Beach. Susan however remembers that Linda suggested it while the group was still in Sylmar. Linda pointed out the wrong apartment, no one was killed, and then Manson went back to Spahn, leaving the others to hitchhike home. Stimson claims that much of the information from that night comes from Linda whose lack of credibility will be examined in later chapters.

Stimson believes Manson's version of events for several reasons. He believes that Tex is not credible because he gets a lot of the details wrong, like saying the LaBiancas' car and boat were in the driveway when they were not. Also, the supposed hunting expedition earlier in the evening could not have taken place the way some of the participants said it did because there simply was not enough time. And, why would Charlie abort certain attempts because the neighbors might hear them but be okay with killing a man in a sportscar at a busy intersection on a Saturday night? No one can describe the gun that Charlie supposedly had, it was not in any of the trial testimony, and why would they feel the need to get rid of it it they had not used it? Charlie could not have tied up the LaBiancas on his own because Linda Kasabian says that he was only gone long enough for her to smoke 3/4 of a Pall Mall cigarette. Finally, when Linda led them to the wrong apartment in Nader's building, why didn't they just kill whoever answered if they were on a supposed random murder spree? In conclusion, Stimson says that because of these discrepancies, Charlie's explanation of events that night is the only one that makes sense and in it, he committed no crime.

Chapter Eleven: "The Murder of Donald 'Shorty' Shea"

This chapter is almost entirely devoid of any analysis by Stimson. He lets the words of Steve Grogan, Bruce Davis and Charles Manson stand on their own. What these people say is that Shorty was generally disliked by the Family because he was viewed as sloppy or sleazy for drinking too much and chasing the girls. Charlie says it is true that he did not like Shorty's being with a black woman because "I was raised that you don't...cross that racial line." Squeaky and Kitty both overheard Shorty talking badly about the Family to George Spahn. What finally got "five or six guys" upset enough to kill Shorty was the view that he had snitched on them and caused the Spahn Ranch raids of August 15 and August 24. Steve claims that the worst part of the raids were having Family children taken away to be placed in foster homes.

He and Bruce say that killing Shorty was Charlie's idea, that he was there, he put the weapons in their hands and told them to follow Tex's lead. Charlie on the other hand says that it was the group's collective idea and that it got out of hand. According to Steve and Bruce, Shorty was asked to drive the group down the hill to retrieve some car parts. At some point, Tex stabbed him in the eye, and Steve hit him on the head with a pipe wrench. Shorty was then dragged from the car and stabbed by various participants until he was dead. Charlie says he did not mortally wound Shorty himself but sounds as if he feels that the murder was justified based on the fact that Shorty was a snitch, and because snitches get what they get in the prison world that Charlie was accustomed to. All of the participants agree that even though each of them at some point cut or hit Shorty, the bulk of the killing was done by Tex. Later that night it was Steve who came back to bury the body that had been temporarily stashed in some bushes.

What is most interesting to Patty about this chapter is the list of who was there: Steve, Bruce, Tex, Charlie, possibly one of the girls according to Bruce and "another person" according to Steve and Charlie, who is not named and who was never prosecuted for the murder. Who was this person, why was he or she never implicated, and what might be the significance of this? Patty would love to hear Stimson's thoughts on the topic.

Chapter Twelve: "Back to the Desert"

Stimson briefly recounts here how the Family returned to the desert around the first of September: Juanita Wildebush had left with a miner and Paul Crockett had moved into the bunkhouse with Little Paul and Brooks. He reminds us that Bugliosi recounts three aborted murder attempts on the residents of the bunkhouse during midnight creepy crawly raids but discounts them because what difference would it make if the supposed victims heard Charlie coming to kill them or not? It was very remote in the desert, and if Charlie truly had 20 or so brainwashed followers, why wouldn't they just kill them? Stimson also quotes Crockett as saying that he never saw any drug use or "ritualistic activity" in the desert.

Chapters Thirteen and Fourteen: "Introduction to the Motive" and "The Helter Skelter Motive"

Three elements that tie a person to a crime are means, motive, and opportunity: there is no such thing as a motiveless crime. And, while a prosecutor is not bound to introduce evidence of a motive at trial, it is to his distinct advantage to do so because lack of motive is strong circumstantial evidence of innocence. Stimson claims that in the Tate La Bianca trials, Bugliosi had to establish a motive because there was "literally no other evidence tying Manson to the murders."

Stimson contends that Helter Skelter is too fantastic to be believable, but that the public bought it because of the barrage of media fabrications and inaccuracies that began to emerge beginning in December, 1969: hooded victims, sexual mutilations, dune buggies with machine guns mounted on them and Manson being known among the family as "Jesus," for instance. Many police theories were bandied about including bad drug deal, orgy killing, LSD freak out, Mafia hit, robbery, revenge killing and class warfare, but none of them fully fit the circumstances of the crimes.

Bugliosi, Stimson contends, discovered Helter Skelter "in the peripheries of the consciousness of some of the people at Spahn's." Major components of the theory were the music of the Beatles and Revelations 9 in the Bible. Stimson says that the influence of the Beatles on Manson is overestimated because he was older and preferred the music of the previous generation to which he belonged, like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra (to be honest this part made Patty chuckle a little bit). Further, he points out, that of COURSE there were messages in the music of the Beatles, that is what music is, and it is why people listen to it in the first, what?

Then Stimson makes what Patty feels is his strongest point in the entire chapter. If indeed, the Family did honestly believe that they would live in a bottomless pit in miniaturized form for 50 to 100 years before emerging to rule the world, wouldn't that qualify them as being psychotic? And if hey were crazy enough to believe in Helter Skelter, why were they considered sane enough to stand trial?

Stimson goes on to demonstrate how none of the participants save Leslie thought that their crimes were meant to start a race war. Tex says he wasn't clear about what was to be written on the walls, that he "wasn't clear about the whole thing, really." Pat says that she thought they were going to Cielo to commit a robbery. Kasabian says she thought it was to be a simple creepy crawl. Bobby says that he had never heard of Helter Skelter until it was reported in the media. Charlie says he did talk about Helter Skelter, but that to him it just means "confusion:" the direction that society was heading in in 1969. Stimson quotes a December 7th LA Times article entitled "Manson Wanted a Race War, Friends Say" in which each source says that they only heard certain parts of the supposed theory, and that they had to piece it all together on their own later on. Even Bugliosi has said on many occasions that he doesn't believe in Helter Skelter: "It was almost unbelievably bizarre...(I) told (a co-prosecutor) it wouldn't take me two seconds to dump the whole Helter Skelter theory if he could find another motive in the evidence." Stimson's ending analysis is that why wouldn't the convicted killers claim Helter Skelter as their motive, especially when they know it might be to their advantage to do so? Because, he says, it's not true.

In the next installment, Patty will detail for you what Stimson claims the REAL motive was. She hopes you are looking forward to this part of the book as much as she is.


From the Manson Family Blog, published February 23, 2015:

Monday, February 23, 2015

Goodbye Helter Skelter Chapters six through nine

The next two chapters on Bernard Crowe and Gary Hinman begin to flesh out Stimson's contention that Charles Manson is not legally culpable for the murders that took place during the summer of 1969. If Patty understands correctly, rather than Charlie's ordering "his children" to kill, his brothers and sisters killed for love of each other, to preserve their family unit. The distinction here is that each person involved made the decision to be involved of their own free will rather than being told to do something and obeying because of having been brainwashed or what have you.

Chapter six: "The Shooting of Bernard Crowe"

Stimson claims that this incident was one of two main catalysts that led to the murders later that summer, and was a naive effort by Tex Watson alone to raise a little cash. Tex got Rosina Kroner to raise $5,000 for a marijuana deal that ostensibly Bernard Crowe helped her to raise. When the three of them travelled to the dealer's apartment, Tex slipped out the back leaving Rosina with a very angry Crowe, who called Spahn demanding his money back. If he did not get his money, he threatened to come to the ranch and kill everyone there.

While Tex claims that it had previously been agreed that Charlie would handle the aftermath of the theft, Charlie claims that this was never so. Stimson agrees with Charlie's version because he was not "criminally naive" enough to have set the deal up in the first place. On the other hand, Stimson asserts that Tex already had a reputation as a thief because it was his idea that Linda Kasabian should rip off her husband's friend for $5,000 that summer. Stimson quotes Tex from Will You Die for Me? as having said that "I thought a while and came up with an idea" and "it was MY mess." Charlie claims that he told Tex to give the money back, but rather he ran to the hills to hide out with Sadie. Then Charlie was stuck holding the bag and had to do something to protect his family from being up into danger.

When Charlie shot Crowe, he thought he had killed him. He also thought that meant that Tex was inadventently going to cost him his own life and as such, he told Tex that Tex OWED him big time. The very next day, the new reported that a Black Panther had been killed in Griffith Park, and the Family mistakenly thought it was Crowe. This is significant according to Stimson because the Family therefore believed that Charlie had killed for the benefit and survival of the family, which set a standard and demonstrated the extent of Charlie's love for them. From this point on they all became capable of murder.

Furthermore, Stimson says that Tex wrote in his book about how Charlie brought up the Crowe affair on the night of Cielo. This is further significant in showing that Charlie didn't order the murders that night because if Charlie had been involved, there would not have been any debt for Tex to have to pay back.

Chapter Seven: "The Murder of Gary Hinman"

While some of their specific assertions conflict, both Bobby Beausoleil and Charlie have claimed that the murder of Gary Hinman was indeed a drug deal gone bad and not a strong-armed robbery as many have asserted. Bobby's story is that the Straight Satans were having their tenth anniversary party in Venice Beach, and that he wanted to be invited, so he tried to score "something different" to impress them. He claims that Gary was making mescaline from peyote in his basement and that he bought 1,000 tabs for $1,000. The next day, the angry bikers beat Bobby up and demanded their money back, which is why Bobby paid Gary a visit in the days before his murder on July 31, 1969. But since Bobby did not have any of the so-called bad drugs for Gary to test, Gary assumed that Bobby was trying to rip him off.

Bobby also asserts that Charlie did not order him to kill Gary and that he did not make the phonecall to Spahn that the police later discovered from Gary's telephone records. Rather, he claims that the girls, who were unaware of the purpose of the visit in the first place, called Charlie to say that they were in trouble and that Gary had a gun. This is why Charlie had Bruce Davis drive him from Spahn Ranch to Gary's house where he took Gary's gun away and cut his ear with a machete. Prior to Charlie's arrival, Bobby said that Gary had signed over the pink slips to his cars which Bobby was going to give to the bikers in lieu of the $1,000. According to his account, a gentleman's agreement had already been achieved before Charlie showed up and cut Gary, purportedly to protect the girls. Only after Charlie cut Gary did Gary threaten to go to the police, at which point Bobby said he "acted irrationally" and killed Gary.

Susan Atkins tells a different story when she says that the pink slips to Gary's cars were not turned over until two days later. Charlies version differs as well. He says that Bobby asked him what he should do about the bunk drugs and that Charlie told him to forget about it. Bobby however wanted to pay the visit to Gary because it was a matter of principle for him. When Charlie showed up, he cut Gary to show Bobby how to be a man at which point Charlie says the pink slips were turned over and he left. After he left, he claims that Gary said he was going to kill Charlie and so Bobby killed Gary first to protect his friend. Charlie claims that he never told Bobby what to do.

At some point, Gary's gun was fired since a bullet hole was found by police in the kitchen. No one can agree about when it actually went off, however. Stimson claims that although some things still don't make sense, no one says that they went there with the intention of killing Gary. "People don't normally administer first aid to their victims before killing them," he claims. The killing only occurred after Gary went back on his word to not go to the authorities over his slashed ear and therefore was not premeditated as the prosecution would have us believe. Stimson says that Bobby killed Gary to protect Manson. He killed for brother, just as Manson did when he believed he killed Crowe. Stimson is painting an overall picture here in which Charlie is not the father of a group of children who unquestioningly did his bidding: rather, they all had a more equal social and emotional relationship based on mutual love and reciprocity.

Chapters Eight and Nine: "Introduction to the Tate La Bianca Murders" and "The Murders on Cielo Drive

Stimson says very little about the murders on Cielo, save the following: They were not random, nor isolated, but part of a larger series of events that arose out of "illegal drug transactions gone awry, underworld favors owed, and an ill-conceived plan to divert police attention from a previous murderous occurrence." All four participants admit to what they did, but did Charlie really "mastermind" them? Charlie told Stimson that perhaps he did, but "unknowingly." Everyone remembers Charlie telling the girls to do whatever Tex said and to "leave something witchy." Charlie also remembers giving them the old pair of glasses to leave behind in order to cause confusion. While Tex remembers that Charlie specifically told him to kill the occupants of Cielo and in exactly what way, Stimson believes that Tex was either mistaken or outright lying. Future chapters are to elaborate on what Stimson believes the true motive was.

Stimson has a bit more to say about Waverly because each of the participants' memories of what exactly happened differ much as they did in the instance of Gary's Murder. More on that next time.


From the Manson Family Blog, published February 18, 2015:

February 18, 2015

Goodbye Helter Skelter: Chapters three through five Welcome back to Patty's ongoing book report on George Stimson's very thoughtful Goodbye Helter Skelter. Today's installment covers the next ninety pages or so for your reading enjoyment. BTW, have you ordered your copy yet? If not, then get on it!

Chapter three: "On Sources, Methodology and Terminology"
George explains why he does not use Helter Skelter as source material (one sided and self aggrandizing), The Family (entertaining but irrelevant), or Manson in His Own Words (in Emmons' own words). He claims that the Indiana School for Boys' gang rape recorded in Emmons is completely fabricated, and that Charlie himself refers to the entire book as "bullshit." He also discounts Taming the Beast because the quotes attributed to Manson were not tape recorded or written down verbatim, they were paraphrased by the author.

Rather, George relies on taped interviews and conversations, letters, trial transcripts, and the websites of people who were involved like Tex's and Bobby's. He relies on speakers talking about themselves only, and refuses to use anonymous sources.

Here is where things get a little shaky. George is occasionally willing to "present possible motivations" for people when he feels that they are lying. For instance, he claims that when Susan Atkins told her cellmates that she tasted her victims' blood, it is reasonable to assume that she is lying because she was trying to scare them in order to protect herself. While this may seem reasonable, it seems to Patty that then he is venturing into territory where he should not be if he is attempting to be more objective than his predecessors. We shall see how this plays out as the book goes along.

Further complicating the methodology is the fact that since parole boards don't retry cases and must accept as true the courts findings, those hoping to be paroled must admit to guilt and could also therefore not be telling the whole truth. This might not be entirely intentional on the part of the participants. George quotes Pat Krenwinkel here when she said in 1993 that "sometimes I'm not sure who said what and what really happened because there is (sic) so many accounts from everyone."

Before the chapter ends, George vouches for Charles Manson's honesty when he says that he has never known him to lie, but only to be evasive. He claims that in "even Bugliosi has acknowledged Manson's honesty."

At the end of the chapter, Patty was left with an uneasy feeling that she hopes will dissipate some as the book progresses. After all, George has asked us that if we are to read the book, we read the entire thing, hear him out fully. Patty intends to do just that.

Chapter four: "The Mood of the Time"
This chapter is very densely packed with many details, and is nearly impossible to summarize. In fact, George has already summarized what was a very crazy and tumultuous few years into just a few pages which, if you are big on US History, pop culture, movies and/or music you will want to read very carefully for book, movie and album recommendations just as Patty did.

Patty is afraid to try and summarize what George wrote at all because of this passage near the middle of the chapter: "Although most written works...on the Manson case touch briefly on the mood of the time, it is really not enough to vaguely refer to "Flower Power" or the "Summer of Love" to fully explain the spirit of the late 1960's and early 1970's. That spirit cannot be conveyed into a soundbyte, for it was in fact derived from an accumulation of experiences and events that took place and affected people's minds...on a daily basis for years." Any attempt by Patty to boil down George's eloquent chapter into a paragraph or two would be doing just this: creating a soundbyte. Suffice it to say that Patty has received her marching orders to read up on topics that she still knows very little about like Eldridge Cleaver and the Black Panthers, the philosophy of Jerry Rubin, movies like Zabriskie Point and Alice's Restaurant, the "Is God Dead?" Time Magazine cover, the shooting of James Meredith and so on.

Chapter Five: "Spring 1967 to Summer, 1969"
This chapter is a chronology of the events leading up to the murders that is meant to illustrate the group dynamics and bonding between the members of Charlie's brigade. Much of it you are already familiar with but let's hit the highlights, shall we?

Shortly after his release from prison on March 21, 1967 Charlie traveled to the Bay are where he met Mary Brunner. They stayed only a few months before leaving for LA where they met Lynette Fromme in Venice Beach. The three traveled through Northern California through the spring and summer of that year, staying briefly at 636 Cole Street in the Haight Ashbury where they met Susan Atkins. In July, Charlie met Dean Moorheouse while hitchhiking, and the four were invited to stay with him for a time. Charlie was gifted a piano by a friend of Dean's which he sold in order to buy a VW camper van. By September, the four were in LA again, where they met Patricia Krenwinkel in Manhattan Beach. Back in San Francisco, they traded the camper van for a black bus with a stove, sink and water tank on top (what Little Paul likened to the bus' "hat").

In November 1967, Charlie contacted producer Gary Stromberg whom he met through a prison contact (Phil Kaufman), and worked on an ill-fated movie about a black Jesus. He also recorded some music at Universal which was never released. While in LA they stayed at the Spiral Staircase where they met Bobby Beausoleil, Gary Hinman, Diane Lake, Nancy Pittman and Dede Lansbury. There were two abandoned houses they stayed in, Horsheshoe Lane (where Susan was given the nickname Sadie Mae Glutz during a fake ID brainstorming session) and Summit Drive where they met Bruce Davis, Little Paul, and Sandra Good (who had flown down from the Bay area in a private plane with a rich artist friend to sell paintings and go surfing).

Pooh Bear was born at Summit Drive on April 5, 1968 which concreted the group, George Stimson asserts, from a group of loose knit friends into more of a "family." By May, they were forced to move out because of pressure from local law enforcement. Sadie then heard about Spahn Ranch from someone who picked her up while hitchhiking. The group asked George Spahn if they could stay, and he agreed. Here is where the group picked up Steve Grogan (Clem), TJ Walleman and Catherine Share.

Around this time Dennis Wilson invited the group to stay with him after picking up Pat and Ella Jo Bailey while hitchhiking. Here, they met Brooks Poston and Tex Watson, who had picked up Dennis while hitchhiking home from Sunset Boulevard (hitchhiking seems to be a common theme through all of the meetings, doesn't it?). Dean Moorehouse was on the scene again when Mary, Susan and Pat moved north to where the famed Witches of Mendocino incident happened. Manson asked Dennis to bail the girls out but he demurred. Charlie made new Hollywood contacts through Dennis, namely Greg Jakobson and Terry Melcher. When Charlie wasn't given any royalties or writing credits for Cease to Exist (Cease to Resist), Stimson claimed that he soured on Hollywood and actually CHOSE to move out. The family was "glad to get back to the more natural way of living at Spahn's Ranch" to spurn the materialism of Hollywood in favor of their beloved environmentalism.

By July 1968, Paul Watkins was back from Big Sur, and on August 16 the Witches were released from custody in Mendocino. Susan gave birth to her son. Tex moved in to a tent at Spahn but continued to split his time between there and Hollywood where he sold wigs and marijuana. In November, he moved back to LA, failed his civil service exam, and met his fiance, Rosina Kroner. He also began selling LSD and returned to Spahn by March 1969, but continued to come and go as he pleased.

By Late August, 1968, Bobby arrived at the ranch with wife Gail and Leslie Van Houten. By September, Juanita Wildebush also arrived and donated her van and inheritance to the Family. Stimson claims that many, many people came and went, but that Charlie put conditions on none of them. He did have a way of getting rid of "troublemakers" with his "kill me, kill you" routine and by putting loathsome characters on a horse named Major to scare the shit out of them. Charlie claims that Susan caused a lot of trouble but he didn't have the heart to drive her off.

It became impractical for the group to stay at Spahn because of their burgeoning size and increased pressure from the law, so in October 1968 they drove out to the desert to check out Myers Ranch. Stimson claims that they got along just fine with the locals, like Emmett Harder, who thought well of them. When winter came, it got cold and harsh, so everyone but Paul, Brooks and Juanita moved in January 1969 to the house on Gresham Street in Canoga Park. Supposedly they didn't immediately return to Spahn's because Lynette and George Spahn had a fight. A month later however, Stimson says that Spahn invited them back again.

Danny DeCarlo arrived at the ranch in March, 1969. The group began their moneymaking schemes to get back to the desert, including the "Helter Skelter" nightclub in the Longhorn Saloon which the police quickly shut down. The stage was now set, says Stimson, for the "ill conceived underworld mis-dealings that would soon get out of control and escalate into literal matters of life and death."


From the Manson Family Blog, published February 9, 2015:

Monday, February 9, 2015

Goodbye Helter Skelter: Acknowledgements, Author's Note, Chapter One: "Preface" and Chapter Two: "Who Am I?"

Patty is finally going to crank out a synopsis of George Stimson's very interesting book (which RFoster1 mailed to her) for you, the readers, one hunk at a time. Enjoy, but please don't settle for just these Cliff's Notes (or Patty Notes as the case may be). Patty encourages you to think for yourself and to do that you must also read for yourself. Anywhoo, here goes:

Acknowledgements. George's acknowledgements read like a who's who of the Manson world. Patty says Manson here, not TLB, or HTLB, or SHTLB or what have you with good reason. Stimson is firmly on Charlie's side of the fence but please do not call him a follower, because he is not. More on that later. Anyhow, acknowledgements include his personal friends and associates, most of whom he has stayed with at least once and more often many times including Shreck and LaVey, Bougas, Aes Nihil, Emmett Harder, Walleman, Gillies, Bartell, Good, Fromme and of course Manson himself.

Author's Note. George writes that most of his book was already written by 1999. He has since done additional research but didn't change much of what he already had because "What was true in 1999 (and in 1969, for that matter), is still true today."

Chapter One: "Preface: Why Write This Book?" George claims that he intends to present a totally different, new point of view based on his 25+ years of research. He writes quite simply that "The premise of this book is that...Helter Skelter is a fantasy." A secondary premise he concedes might be that Charles Manson has no legal culpability for what happened because he was NOT the mastermind that Bugliosi made him out to be. Charles is not a nice guy, but neither is he "evil incarnate." The killers, he writes, have ceased to be mere criminals, but are now "monsters beyond human comprehension" presumably because "it is now more advantageous to keep Manson...locked up forever as a permanent sign that the authorities are doing their jobs." Finally, he asks of the reader, "If you read this book, please read it all."

Chapter Two: "Who Am I?" This chapter is a short autobiography and chronology of events that made George the Manson expert that he is, today. Though more conservative than many of his peers, he was still a child of the times and admittedly "experienced" in the Jimi Hendrix sense of the word. George was a college senior majoring in German when Squeaky crossed paths with President Ford in 1975. He read Helter Skelter first, like most of us did, but found it largely unbelievable. He began to devour all of the movies and books and videos and newspaper articles he could find on the topic, and amassed quite a body of material. Sanders, he writes, was even less believable to him than Helter Skelter. Conversely, Shreck's first Manson File of 1988 made a lasting impression on him in terms of credibility and reasonableness. It was Shreck that ensured a letter that George wrote to Charles Manson made it up to the top of the pile. When Charlie wrote George back for the first time, he referred to him as Saint George, in case you were wondering where that nickname came from. About this same time, he helped to film the movie Charles Manson Superstar and can actually be seen in some of that footage.

In 1990, George was introduced to Sandy Good, who was looking for high quality videotapes which George was in possession of. At the time, Sandy was still on probation and living in Bridgport, VT. George visited her there and stayed for three days in the fall of 1990. Towards the end of 1991, Sandy finished her probation and moved to Hanford, CA. George also moved to California from Ohio by the end of that year and began writing to Lynette Fromme who was in the federal prison in Marianna, FL.

It was also in 1991 that George first began meeting with Charlie at Corcoran. Of their meetings, George says that he was personally transformed. Though their relationship was limited to the visiting room there, they met over 200 times in 10 years. George claims that he knew Charlie better than anyone aside from Sandy in those years. As a result, he became sensationalized in the media as a brainwashed follower, a white supremacist, a satanist, an arsonist, and a murderer. He was and is none of these things. He was insulted and threatened by strangers on the internet and in mailings to his home. His house was watched and filmed. He was interrogated by the Secret Service. He was even impersonated. This, he says, gave him a true appreciation for what Charles Manson and his associates had experienced for the past 30 years.

This last bit really gets to Patty because even writing for this little tiny blog, she has experienced a lot of these same things from total strangers. It is definitely transforming. Patty is developing sympathy for George already after just the first two chapters, and can't wait to read what he has to say next. Tune in next time, won't you? Or better yet, get yourself a copy and we will all discuss in the comments. Until then...

Posted by Panamint Patty at 12:01 AM


From Manson Direct, published October 22, 2014:

Important new book from author George Stimson

Goodbye Helter Skelter, available now (and also on, is written in an easy-to-read style and is highly informative and convincing. George Stimson gives the reader an inside view of life within the "Manson Family" during the late '60s, and a carefully sourced and well-documented examination of the murders and trials that have so fascinated the public for the past 45 years.
Mr. Stimson includes new quotes and insights from Lynette Fromme and Sandra Good, and his analysis and rebuttal of District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi's tactics and theories is fresh and compelling.

"The same story that's been told since the arrests of Manson and his co-defendants continues to be told today.
That basic tale is unchanged: An ex-con named Charles Manson took a group of disaffected young middle-class people and twisted their values, minds, and lives in order to fulfill his own homicidal needs. [...]
But what if that wasn't what happened? What if the popular perception of Charles Manson and his "Family" is incorrect? What if Charles Manson did not "mastermind" the Tate-LaBianca murders in order to achieve Helter Skelter?
The premise of this book is that the motive that Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi presented at the trial (and ever since in his best-selling book and in countless media appearances) - Helter Skelter - is a fantasy. And a further premise of this book is that it is possible that Charles Manson had - and has - no legal culpability for the Tate-LaBianca murders (or, for that matter, for any other murders for which he was convicted).
And that is the reason to write this book: because it is new.[...] This book is different. In this book you will find new material, new information, and - most importantly - new thinking."

- Goodbye Helter Skelter, page 15


From A.T.W.A. Revolution (A.T.W.A.R.), published August 12, 2014:

This is one of the few books, in close to four hundred, on Charles that is motivated by Justice and Truth, and stands as a document to the illegality of [the conviction and incarceration of Charles Manson].
It is all in [the] premise -- below:

Love Of Brother

That basic tale is unchanged: An ex-con named Charles Manson took a group of disaffected young middle-class people and twisted their values, minds, and lives in order to fulfill his own homicidal needs. Using sex, drugs, music, and a kind of hypnosis, he deluded them to such an extent that they enthusiastically committed murder at his command in the furtherance of his mad and racist Helter Skelter dream of world conquest. Everybody knows what happened.

But what if that was not what happened? What if the popular perception of Charles Manson and his Family is incorrect? What if Charles Manson did not mastermind the Tate-LaBianca murders in order to achieve Helter Skelter?

The premise of this book is that the motive that Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi presented at the trial (and ever sense in his best-selling book and in countless media appearances), Helter Skelter, is a fantasy. And a further premise of this book is that it is possible that Charles Manson had, and has, no legal culpability for the Tate-LaBianca murders (or, for that matter, for any other murders for which he was convicted).
-- George Stimson

The shooting of Bernard Crowe set a standard. Charles Manson and the people in his circle believed that he had committed murder for the benefit, for the survival, of the group. Crowe had been shot because he was threatening to mount an assault on Spahn’s Ranch. Manson would not allow this to happen and had, so everyone believed, committed the ultimate crime of murder in order to protect his friends and his brother Charles Watson. Manson had taken the challenge and the risk and had gone into underworld combat to save the people at Spahn Ranch. He had demonstrated the extent of his commitment and his love for them.
-- George Stimson

You just cannot come up and take Shorty away because you do not like the way Shorty lives. You got to have earned Shorty. When you have earned the right to take Shorty, you reach over and take [his] hat off and put it on his foot and lay him down and cover him up with dirt if you want to. Because you have earned that. Because you walk with God. And when you walk with God, you can run with the devil.
-- Charles Manson


From the Manson Family Blog, published July 10, 2014:

Let me begin by saying I enjoyed the book immensely. I looked forward to its release because George Stimson has had decades-long access to Manson and especially to Sandy Good (and her collection of audio files) not to mention Lynnette Fromme. I knew going in that the slant would be towards Manson's innocence, but I believe that Stimson does consider him innocent. Stimson took great care to cite his sources. He interjects his opinions, but he develops those opinions incrementally and (almost) convincingly. I did not agree with him on a number of things but I won't focus on those. You'll have to read it for yourself. Despite disagreeing on a number of major points, I do though give it a thumbs-up. It is a must TLB read.

The book begins by running through well thought out chronologies of the mood in the USA during the 60's given the Vietnam War's division in American idiology, the largest such division since the civil war. It also takes the reader through an excellent chronology of the Manson Family from 1967 - 1969. Most of this we are already familiar with. Stimson artfully colors it with first hand accounts from Manson and various members from a variety of sources, not the least of which are Stimson's and Sandra Good's collection of taped telephone conversations. These are fascinating perspectives that we haven't been privy to until now.


The first motive bone thrown to us is on page 104. During a phone conversation with Stimson Manson says, discussing the "Magical Mystery Tour" vibe at Spahn Ranch. "It was a game up until where Tex brought reality into play, with money. We wasn't dealing in no money. We wasn't even bothering with it. It was a drag." The first episode covered is the shooting of Bernard Crowe. The Family, contrary to most stories had been planning on leaving Spahn for quite some time, not as a spur of the moment decision sparked by the events of August 9th & 10th. In an attempt to help the Family accumulate provisions for the stay at Barker Ranch, Tex comes up with an idea "that would eventually not only lead to the shooting of Bernard Crowe and intensify pressure on Charles Manson and everyone else to get out of the city, but would also create a lethal debt and an underworld favor owed".

Tex commits the theft of Crowe's money. Crowe calls the ranch and threatens to burn it, rape the girls and kill everyone. Manson's overriding concern is not the threats but the girl (Rosina) being held captive by Crowe as a result of Tex's ill-conceived plan. Manson asks for help but is turned down by Bobby B, Bruce, and the now hiding Tex. TJ Walleman is the only one with any military training agrees to help. But, TJ freezes in Crowe's apartment. Manson offers his own life by passing the gun to Crowe. Crowe informs Manson that he'll kill everyone instead and passes the gun back. Manson shoots. News reports the next day of a slain Black Panther are confused by Manson with the Crowe shooting, as Manson believes Crowe is dead. Stimson says regarding this mistaken conclusion: "Although this conclusion was a mistake, it's consequences would greatly affect many of the people at Spahn's Ranch in the following weeks. The belief that Charles Manson had killed a Black Panther is one of the most important and yet most overlooked occurances in that summer in terms of understanding the murders that followed it." The need to get out of LA and away from the Panthers was now paramount. More importantly, in the eyes of the Family, Manson had killed to protect them - and showed how far he'd go to do so.


According to Stimson Gary Hinman was "a small time drug dealer who manufactured and sold hallucinogens." Beausoleil, in an attempt to impress the Straight Satans sets up a deal of 1000 hits of mescaline for $1000. The Straight Satans's visit Bobby shortly after and rough him up claiming the mesc was bad.

So, Beausoleil goes to Old Topanga Canyon road with Mary & Sadie along for the ride to get his money for the bikers. Hinman thinks Beausoleil's attempt to get the money back is a scam. Things don't go well and Manson shows up to "show that boy how to stand up towards his own problem." He arrives and cuts Hinman with the sword to distract him from the gun he's holding, flips it to Beausoleil and leaves.

The inheritance motive was nothing more than the prosecution creating a motive for Manson to order the robbery that results in murder. "But when Charles Manson left the house on Old Topanga Canyon Road there was no thought of killing Gary Hinman. Hinman had assured Manson that he had no beef over his cut face. Those who stayed behind after Manson left fed Hinman and administered first aid to his wound. (People who intend to murder someone usually do not administer first aid to their victim before killing them.) The killing only occured after Hinman went back on his word not to go to the authorities over his slashed ear."


Manson assembles them and sends them off no differently than he had many times before - to do a garbage run. The knives are for cutting the bad parts off of the fruit. The changes of clothes are to be changed into while they stop at a laundromat to clean the dumpster-soiled clothes.

(Yes, you would be correct in assuming I doubt this part).


Manson only is away from the car for 3 or 4 minutes. He looks inside the True house and determines that Harold is not there. He walks into the LaBianca house and has a cordial conversation with Leno (who is not alarmed or frightened) about Manson's not knowing anyone lived there. Leno replies something about having just moved back.

The reason the 3-4 minute timeline is correct? Linda Kasabian says that they were gone long enough to smoke 3/4 of a Pall Mall cigarette. This of course is not long enough for Manson to have done all the things that were attributed to him at trial.

(The 'ever truthful' Kasabian cigarette timer is infallible. Following along, children?)


Stimson believes (as most of us do) that the Helter Skelter motive is fantasy. What Stimson attempts to do in his book is to convince the reader that the REAL motive is the copycat or "get brother (Bobby) out of jail" motive: To begin with, it must be conceded that the copycat plan was not a good idea. If the purpose of the killings subsequent to Gary Hinman's was to make the police think that the people responsible for Hinman's death were still at large it is unclear why a series of copycat crimes would necessarily make them think that Bobby Beausoleil was not involved in the murder. They already had a very good case against him. His fingerprints had been found at Hinman's residence and he had been arrested in the dead man's car with the murder weapon still inside the vehicle. If similar killings were committed, why would the police think that Beausoleil was innocent? Wouldn't they likelier think that he must have had accomplices in the Hinman murder who were still at large (which in fact was the case)?

But, despite this fundamental flaw the ill-conceived and executed copycat motive was the main reason for the Tate-LaBianca murders. According to Stimson's theory Tex Watson and Susan Atkins were fueled by their secret stash of methamphetamine. The "get brother out of jail" motive was hatched by the girls and Tex Watson. Manson was not a part of it, nor did he order it.


"[See], I thought [that I had killed Bernard Crowe]. And I got all with Tex and I said, 'You caused me to kill somebody, man. You owe me. Susie, you owe me. I fought three guys for you that wanted to rape you. I kept you out of it, man. You owe me, you owe me and you owe me. You got me fighting all over this town for you, man, 'cause you won't stand up for yourself. I'm not the policeman, man. Go to the cops and get them to do your fighting.'

"Every time it's someone's turn to die, come and get Charlie, put him on the line, let him die. Put me out front and let me face it. Let me face everything that no one wants to understand or no one wants to look at. Let me take the gun and go off into hell with it.

"So I said, 'You owe me, mister, and when it comes time to pay this circle, this covenant, this family, this ranch, you'll pay your debt to all these people that feed you, and serve the same God that you serve...'

"Here's my sin. I told Tex, 'Come here. You owe me one.'

"So then I come back to Watson and I say, 'You pay [Beausoleil] what you owe me.'

"He said, 'How do I pay it?'

"I said, '[I] don't know I'm not your father. Do what you're told. Pay your debt, or get off my road.'

"So he pays what he has to pay. And he does what he has to do. I didn't direct him to do anything. I told him to be a man, stand up for himself. I didn't tell him what he should do or how he should do whatever he had to do...

"I never directed traffic on no street corner about anything. Man, I haven't got time for that."

Admittedly, I couldn't wait to get to "The Real Motive" chapter, especially since I was teased by the part in the Crowe chapter involving Tex's idea that "would also create a lethal debt and an underworld favor owed". The "get brother out of jail" motive was a let down for me. BUT I give Stimson kudos for developing a thoughtful argument.


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