The first generation of baby boomers created 70 million teenagers in the 1960’s, encouraging the genesis of a youth culture that directly influenced the art, poetry, music, media, fashion, politics, and judicial decisions of that decade. It was a liberating culture that changed social attitudes regarding sex, gender, women’s rights, war, organized religion, race, recreational drug use, family relationships, and the role of an individual in society. It was an era that– due in part to the sheer numbers of its youth– valued the “yin-associated” qualities of beauty, love, artistic expression, peace, compassion, intuition, spiritual fulfillment, and the celebration of life in the field of time. The reaction to the openness of this era still affects the politics and Kulturkampf of the United States in 2017.
As Swiss Psychiatrist and Philosopher Carl Jung emphasized over and over again throughout his works, we live in a world of opposites. Therefore, if there’s love, peace, acceptance, and creativity in the Zeitgeist, you’re sure to find its shadow side of hate, resentment, destruction, and the profane. Had Dr. Jung been alive at the time of the Manson killings, he surely would have found it significant that the two most creative and beloved musical groups of the Love Generation 1960’s– the Beatles and the Beach Boys– both had a connection to the most brutal and horrific murders of that era.
On the morning of August 9th, 1969, Sharon Tate’s housekeeper discovered the mutilated bodies of Voyteck Frykowski and his girlfriend Abigail Folger on the front lawn of Tate’s rented residence at 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon. Inside the house she found the bloody remains of the pregnant Sharon and her former boyfriend, Jay Sebring. When the police arrived they found another victim, identified later that day as Steven Parent. Parent had been shot four times in the face and chest in the driver’s seat of his car.
The next evening, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were murdered in a similarly brutal fashion at their home in the Los Feliz district of Los Angeles, at 3301 Waverly Drive.
While there’s no doubt that the Manson Family was responsible for the Tate-LaBianca murders, the actual motive for the killings remains a matter of debate.
In his prosecution of the case, Vincent Bugliosi came up with the “Helter Skelter” motive, namely that Charlie had ordered his followers to kill in order to bring about a race war that would end with Manson and his Family as the leaders of a new society. It’s true that Manson talked about “Helter Skelter”, and his interpretation of the lyrics from the Beatles 1968 “White Album” makes for interesting reading and is significant within the context of the time. However, it’s highly doubtful that Manson’s wish for “Helter Skelter” was his actual motive for the killings. More plausible is that Manson ordered the killings as part of a “copycat” crime to help exonerate another Family member, Bobby Beausoleil, who had been arrested on August 5, 1969 on suspicion of murdering Gary Hinman.
Bobby Beausoleil was a 21 year-old musician who was well-liked by Charlie and hung out with the Family. Gary Hinman was a Ph.D. candidate at UCLA, part-time drug dealer, and leftist. Hinman sold Beausoleil some mescaline that turned out to be strychnine, not knowing that Beausoleil had intended on re-selling the drugs at the Spahn Ranch to a biker gang called the “Straight Satans”. When the gang discovered that the drugs were no good, they demanded that Beausoleil return their money. On July 25, 1969, Manson Family friend and “second in command” Bruce Davis drove Beausoleil, Mary Brunner, and Susan Atkins to Hinman’s house in Topanga Canyon, dropped them off, and left. Beausoleil demanded his money back from Hinman so he could pay the biker gang. (By the way, contrary to revisionist history and the wishes of ambitious prosecutors, Charles Manson was not physically present at Hinman’s house when Hinman was killed). When Hinman refused to give Beausoleil any money and threatened to call the police to press charges against Beausoleil for assault, an argument ensued and he was stabbed twice in the heart.
[Apparently, Bruce Davis returned to Hinman’s house sometime during the next 48 hours and was present when Hinman was killed. Accounts of Davis’ exact role at the scene have varied, but he (along with Beausoleil) was convicted for the murder of Gary Hinman (as well as Donald “Shorty” Shea) in 1972. In January of 2017, the California Board of Parole recommended that Bruce Davis be paroled. This decision was blocked by Gov. Jerry Brown the following June, so Davis remains in prison.]
After Hinman was killed, Beausoleil instructed Susan Atkins to write “Political Piggy” on the wall with Hinman’s blood to make it appear that the murder was committed by one of Hinman’s left-wing associates.
Bobby Beausoleil was one of Charles Manson’s few friends, probably his closest male friend at that time, as well as his “activity partner” when away from the Ranch. Manson valued his friendship with Beausoleil. It should also be noted that Bobby Beausoleil was Leslie Van Houten’s boyfriend.
A few days after Beausoleil was arrested for Hinman’s murder, Steve Parent, Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Voyteck Frykowski, Abigail Folger, and Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were brutally murdered. The word “Pig” was painted in blood on a wall in Sharon Tate’s house. The phrase “Healter Skelter” [sic] was written in blood on the LaBianca’s refrigerator, along with the phrase “Death to Pigs”, written in blood on the LaBianca’s living room wall.
Manson thought that the police would easily connect the blood writing at the Hinman crime scene with the similar M.O. at the Tate and LaBianca murders, conclude that the real Hinman killer was still on the loose, and release Beausoleil from jail. However, the police never made the connection.
It wasn’t until November of 1969 that Susan Atkins, in jail for auto theft, bragged to a fellow inmate that she had been involved in the Sharon Tate murders. Atkins also named Charles Manson, Patricia Krenwinkel, Linda Kasabian, and Charles “Tex” Watson as accomplices, and confessed to investigators that Manson Family members were also responsible for the LaBianca killings. She named Leslie Van Houten as a participant.
Were Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, Leslie Van Houten and Linda Kasabian aware of the real reason behind Charlie’s order of the Tate-La Bianca murders? Probably not. Susan Atkins stated to the Grand Jury that the motive for the Tate murders was to scare Terry Melcher. She probably believed that. (See below.)
No discussion of the Manson Murders would be complete without at least a mention of Terry Melcher. This photo was taken as the visibly shaken, 27 year-old Melcher made his way to testify before the Grand Jury on December 9, 1969.
Record producer Terry Melcher, who was the son of actress Doris Day, was introduced to Charles Manson in 1968 by Beach Boy Dennis Wilson. Wilson had met Manson sometime earlier, through a mere twist of fate. The Beach Boy was driving through Malibu when he picked up two female hitchhikers, then dropped them off at their destination. However, shortly thereafter, Wilson noticed the same two girls, again hitchhiking. This time he brought them over to his house at 14400 Sunset Boulevard. The girls happened to be Manson Family members, and that’s how Dennis Wilson met Charles Manson.
Charlie was a songwriter and musician, and at first Melcher had considered giving Charlie an opportunity to sing and record his own music. However, after Melcher discovered that Charlie was a bit, well… you know, he changed his mind, and Manson became furious. Charlie must have been devastated beyond belief, since the rejection was another crushing blow to his fragile ego, already filled with insecurity and feelings of worthlessness. Melcher’s rejection reinforced Charlie’s worst beliefs about himself.
Above: “The Garbage Dump Song”, sung by Charles Manson
Charlie had been to 10050 Cielo Drive when Melcher lived there. Melcher and his girlfriend, Candice Bergen, had been renting the house from a man named Rudi Altobelli, but the couple left the house and had moved to Malibu. The majority opinion remains that at the time of the Tate Murders, Manson was aware that Melcher no longer lived in the house. What Manson apparently did not know was that when Melcher and Bergen moved out, Mr. Altobelli rented the house to a married couple by the names of Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate.
Susan Atkins testified before the Grand Jury that the Family chose the house at 10050 Cielo Drive in order “to instill fear into Terry Melcher because Terry had given us his word on a few things and never came through with them.” I believe that Susan Atkins believed this. Sadie Mae was a chatterbox, to put it mildly, but her statements were usually blunt and truthful, as if boasting. In fact, the inability of Susan Atkins to keep things to herself eventually led to the convictions of Manson, Tex Watson, the Girls, and even Bobby Beausileil for the Hinman murder, at which Atkins was also present.
However, the choice of the house, as well as the intention to scare Melcher, does not take away from the fact that the primary motive was to commit a copycat crime to free Beausileil. Manson likely thought that by selecting the Melcher house, he would be able to “kill two birds with one stone”, as it were.
The Family succeeded in scaring Melcher, who hired a bodyguard and sought psychiatric counseling to deal with his anxiety. He came close to suffering a nervous breakdown, and the ordeal had a devastating impact on his career. He died of melanoma in 2004.
A few hours after this “Abbey Road” photograph was taken in London, Sharon Tate was having a quiet lunch with actresses Joanna Pettet and Barbara Lewis at her 10050 Cielo Drive home. She would be murdered later that evening.
Above, police remove Sharon Tate’s body from her house.
“What can I say to the damn Beatles? Just get in touch, man. This is their trial. It’s hard to see through the negative, but just tell them to call. Give them our number.” — Manson follower Catherine “Gypsy” Share, 1970
“Death comes out the blown sand, but it falls here or there– nay, who knows where it falls? That is the wild death. We call it the death that cannot see. It goes out blindly and strikes and kills, but not knows whom it kills or why”. — Vance Thompson, 1916
“The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” — Ecclesiastes 9:11
Charles Manson died in prison on November 19, 2017.