Efforts Fail To Find Tate Trial Lawyer
Wednesday, December 9th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 9 – Sheriff’s deputies say they’ll decide today whether to resume a search in the wilderness for a Sharon Tate murder trial defense attorney, Ronald Hughes.
“Everything is speculation, but if Mr. Hughes is in this area, we wouldn’t expect to find him alive,” said Sgt. Braden McKinley of the Ventura County Sheriff’s office.
McKinley’s comments came Tuesday after a 25-man search team beat down bushes and weeds, turned rocks and peered into caves and canyons looking for Hughes.
“We have, found nothing,” they reported upon their return.
Hughes, 35, portly, blonde-bearded attorney representing Leslie Van Houten in the Tate trial, was last seen Nov. 28 in the rugged Sespe Hot Springs area of Los Padres National Forest 130 miles north of Los Angeles.
Torrential rains that day turned the Sespe creek into a rushing river and sent mud sliding down hills. Hughes was encountered by campers as he plodded down a muddy road. He said he was heading for the car he came which was mired deep in mud about a mile away.
The car was located during an early search for Hughes. His trial transcripts and legal papers were inside, but no trace of the attorney has been found.
In storms of previous years, hikers and campers have been trapped by the raging Sespe Creek, and some bodies have never been recovered.
The chaotic, 25-week-old trial of Charles Manson and his three women co-defendants has been further complicated by Hughes’ disappearance. The judge has ordered a recess until Dec. 15 to give a new lawyer a chance to catch up on the 18,000 page trial transcript and take over Miss Van Houten’s defense.