Leader Played Part Of Evil Pied Piper
Monday, December 8th, 1969
DEATH VALLEY, Dec. 8 – It was almost nightfall, the dusk making even more eerie the crags and cactus of Goler Wash in Death Valley when a handsome young highway patrolman shoved open the kitchen door of the old mining cabin and stood there, pistol in hand.
There was a single candle burning in the room. It was a few moments before James Purcell could make out a dozen hippies seated around a planked table starting on an evening meal of sugared rice puffs, caramel popcorn and candy bars.
Purcell ordered them outside, hands in the air, where other officers arrested them. Then he began looking around the three-room Barker ranch for more suspects in what he thought was a car-theft ring.
He went into the bathroom and beamed a flashlight around until his attention was caught by what seemed to be a dirty mop hanging out of a tiny cupboard beneath the washstand basin.
Purcell opened the door and found in a closet 36 by 18 by 20 inches a tiny man with his knees buckled up against his chest. A beard that covered his entire face and a shoulder-length mane of dark hair had given him away.
It was the end of the road for “the Manson family.”
The man in the cupboard was Charles Miller Manson, 35.
Manson had played the part of an evil Pied Piper for almost two years, leading a changing band of restless young men — and particularly young women —from San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury to a handsome Pacific pad to an abandoned western movie location and finally to Goler Wash.
In the end, some had turned against the man they called “Jesus” and their accusations were not of car theft but of mass, sadistic murders.
Three of them this week stood accused of the slayings of actress Sharon Tate and four other persons at her Benedict Canyon mansion plus the killing the next day — to “keep up our nerve” — of a wealthy grocery chain owner and his wife.
The list of accused and the list of murders is expected to lengthen in the next few days, leading to another of the sensational trials that are becoming a Los Angeles hallmark.
This, then is the story of Charles Manson and his “family.”
He was born Nov. 11, 1934, in Cincinnati to a 16-year-old unmarried girl who went to prison shortly afterwards along with her brother, convicted of robbing men she hustled in riverfront bars.
Charles was fostered off on unwilling relatives until his mother took him again at age eight and he lived with her and a succession of men until he was put in a school for boys when he was 13. From that time on it was an unrelenting series of reformatories, jails and prisons during which time Manson became an accomplished car thief.
He also had learned to play the guitar and sing in a pleasant tenor. He had studied mysticism in prison and although he had only a seventh grade education his I.Q. was exceptionally high and he had developed a mastery at influencing people, particularly girls.
In 1967 he came out of Terminal Island Prison in San Pedro, Calif., and discovered an entirely new world — the world of the hippies.
By April, 1968, Haight Ashbury was becoming a drag and Manson led a following of about 15 people, mostly girls, in a green and white school bus he had bought and converted into living quarters down the Pacific coast highway to Los Angeles. A baby was born in the bus on the trip.
In Los Angeles, he struck up a friendship with a musician named Gary Hinman. Hinman was killed a year later and one of Manson’s female followers is charged with his murder.
Manson began moving in a circle in which he met Dennie Wilson, leader of the Beach Boys, and Wilson permitted Manson and his “family” to live for a time in his opulent home on Sunset Boulevard in the Pacific palisades until they had a disagreement over payment for songs Manson had composed for the Beach Boys.
In some still unexplained manner, Manson blamed Terry Melcher, son of screen star Doris Day, for failure of his songwriting career. Manson several times visited young Melcher when he was living at the Benedict Canyon home where the Tate murders occurred.
Manson and his followers moved on, this time to an isolated area in the Santa Susana mountains near Chatsworth on the fringes of Los Angeles, a place known as the Spahn Ranch. In the 1920’s it had been the setting for the William S. Hart western movies.
It was while the “family” was staying at the Spahn Ranch that the Tate murders occurred.
A girl now in custody told police that Manson directed his followers to go to the home previously occupied by Melcher and eradicate the “pigs,” not knowing that Miss Tate had since rented the estate. Five of the hippies are said to have carried out the slayings — one man and four girls, all dressed in black.
The murders of supermarket chain owner Leno LaBianca and his wife followed the next day on Aug. 10.
A few weeks later the Manson group boarded the green and white bus and drove to Goler Wash where Manson got permission from the owner of the Barker ranch, Mrs. Arlene Barker, to stay for a few days. They remained for more than a month.
One of the “family” at that time was 19-year-old Paul Watkins who testified last week at the preliminary hearing in Independence, Calif., where Manson was ordered held on charges of receiving stolen automobiles pending action by Los Angeles authorities in the Tate case.
After the court hearing, Watkins talked about how Manson operated.
“He was always saying that ours was a democratic setup and that everyone had an equal voice but that he was the receptical who was receiving instructions from God,” Watkins said.
“No one moved unless Charlie knew about it. You woke up in the morning at the ranch and you didn’t know whether you should get out of bed or go outdoors or anything until he told you what to do. He would tell us stories and there would be key words he would implant. He was always talking about love and we all were caught. The girls particularly — and they still are.”
Watkins refused to say whether he had any suspicion of the Tate slayings or anything beyond car theft.
One of the “family” who has remained faithful is Sandy Good Pugh, 26, a girl from a middle-class family who left home and joined the Manson group.
Mrs. Pugh was at the Independence hearing with a 4-month-old baby in her arms. Mrs. Pugh, who is “separated” from the father of her baby, is indignant about the things that have been said about Manson.
“He’s just a very nice guy,” she says.