2 Manson Girls Seized in Murder
Monday, November 13th, 1972
STOCKTON, Calif., Nov. 13 – Two of Charles Manson’s “girls” and three companions faced murder charges in Stockton today in the killing of a young woman found buried in a basement there.
Police tentatively identified the victim as Lauren Chavelle Willett, 19, wife of an ex-marine, James Willett, 26, whose body was unearthed last Wednesday in Sonoma County, a hundred miles northwest.
The young woman, dead for about a day, had been shot in the forehead. The two men and three women living in the house were arrested.
Booked for investigation of murder were Lynette Alice (Squeaky) Fromme, 24, Nancy Laura Pitman, 24, Priscilla K. Cooper, 21; Michael Lee Monfort, 24, and James T. Craig, 33.
All three women had scarred crosses on their foreheads, the mark of followers of Charles Manson, but only Miss Fromme and Miss Pitman were identified as “family” members.
The two were among those who knelt for weeks on a street corner outside the Los Angeles Hall of Justice during the trial of Manson and three of his “girls” in the seven Tate-LaBianca slayings.
Police went to the Stockton house on a tip that Willett’s station wagon was parked outside. Officers found three shotguns, two pistols and the fresh grave in the basement.
Monfort had been arrested Oct. 3 on charges of robbing a Stockton liquor store. He identified himself as Willett and was being sought on charges of failure to appear in court.
Willett’s body was found by a hiker near Guerneville in Sonoma County. One of the victim’s hands was protruding from the ground. He was still wearing his military uniform, and investigators said Willett apparently had been dead about three months.
Sonoma County Dist. Atty. John Hawkes said Willett’s death was definitely a homicide but the cause of death was not disclosed.
Hawkes said he planned to issue warrants in Willett’s death against “some or all” of the five.
A Stockton detective described the five as transients.
“These people travel — Los Angeles, Guerneville, Sonoma County, San Francisco, Stockton,” he said. “They have no address.”
The meanderings are reminiscent of the Manson “family” wanderings up and down California when San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district was the home of the “flower children.”
Manson and his clan lived in a bus, traveling the state before settling at the Spahn Movie Ranch in Chatsworth in 1968.
It was from Spain Ranch that “family” members set out on two nights in August, 1969, and killed seven persons.
Miss Fromme was a witness in the lengthy trial, which led to the conviction of Manson, Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel. They each were sentenced to death.
By JOHN KENDALL