Search for Ninth Possible Victim of Hippie Band
Thursday, December 11th, 1969
CHATSWORTH, Calif., Dec. 11 – Sheriffs deputies searched a movie ranch near here Wednesday for a missing stunt man authorities believe may be a victim of the band of hippies accused of the Tate and La Bianca murders.
As three young women charged with murder were arraigned at the Los Angeles Civic Center, deputies began a hunt for a tall, powerful horse wrangler and beer-hall bouncer named Donald (Shorty) O’Shea, 40, missing since August.
The three women, who appeared in court Wednesday were accused of taking part in seven murders, and one of them was charged earlier with killing an eighth man whose death has been attributed to the same band.
O’Shea could be the ninth victim of the group. Police are known to be investigating the possibility the band may have been linked to as many as 12 deaths.
Officers searched the ranch until dark without success. Two sheriff’s deputies were injured when a rock wall collapsed as they probed a well for some sign of the missing man.
In other ramifications to the Tate-La Bianca aftermath;
– Charles Manson, bearded, long-haired leader of the hippie group known as the Manson family, was to be arraigned today on charges of conspiracy and murder.
– Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Evelle J. Younger said he may comment today on a strict no-publicity rule imposed by the judge who arraigned three former members of Manson’s group Wednesday.
– Sheriff’s officers said they would resume a search of the ranch today – apparently acting on information given by one of the witnesses at the Los Angeles County Grand Jury inquiry which indicted the three young women, Manson, and a man and woman now in custody in the East.
Members of Manson’s group claimed that he wielded an almost hypnotic power over them, ordering them to kill Sharon Tate and four others at her estate Aug. 8 then Leno and Rosemary La Bianca in their home the next day.
George C. Spahn, 80, owner of the ranch, said Wednesday that Manson and his group were living at the ranch against his will at the time of the murders.
Last summer, before he disappeared, O’Shea and Manson argued, Spahn said.
Later, Spahn said, O’Shea disappeared. But, he said, he wasn’t reported as missing because he had a way of coming and going. He said Manson and his group had been staying at the ranch, over his protests, claiming their traveling bus was broken down, until, in August, “They all of a sudden cleared out.”
Manson was brought to Los Angeles from Independence, Calif., Tuesday to await arraignment. Police allowed him to use the phone. He called Spahn. “Sounded cheerful and friendly,” Spahn said. “He said, ‘Merry Christmas,’ but someone cut him off in the middle of ‘Christmas.’
Police began to clamp down on release of information about the Tate-La Bianca cases Wednesday after superior Court Judge William B. Keene imposed a strict no-publicity rule on all officials and witnesses in the case.
Judge Keene said any violation of his order would be considered contempt of court.
Dec. 22 was set for pleas from Miss Kasabian and Miss Van Houten and Dec. 16 was set for Miss Atkins.
Miss Van Houten originally was identified as Leslie Sankston, 19, and police said she was from Cedar Falls, Ia., but the woman was identified during arraignment proceedings Wednesday as Leslie Louise Van Houten, 19, of Monrovia, Calif.
No explanation was immediately available for the mixup. Exhaustive checks earlier in Cedar Falls had failed to establish any connection of a Leslie Sankston to the city.
The three, with Charles M. Manson, 35, Charles D. Watson, 24, and Patricia Krenwinkel, 22, were indicted on murder conspiracy charges Monday in the slayings of Miss Tate and four others at her home last Aug. 9, and of Mr. and Mrs. Leno La-Bianca the next night.
By Dial Torgerson