Tip Launches Search For Body of Missing Manson Trial Lawyer
Sunday, March 21st, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Mar. 21 — Sheriff’s deputies from three counties will start digging Monday on the Barker Ranch in Death Valley for the body of missing attorney Ronald Hughes.
The ranch was the last home of Charles Manson’s “hippie” family before their arrest for the Tate-LaBianca murders. Hughes, 33, was defense attorney for Leslie Van Houten, one of three girl defendants in the Manson trial.
He disappeared last November in the Sespe Hot Springs area of the Los Padres National Forest in Ventura County.
The region is about 80 miles from the ranch, but deputies revealed Saturday that they received an anonymous tip — so detailed as to be credible — that Hughes’ body is buried on the ranch.
The tip was received by Los Angeles deputies.
The tipster was quoted by officers as saying, “Attorney Ronald Hughes is buried in the Death Valley area on the Barker Ranch near buildings outside the fence at the rear of the ranch.”
Los Angeles deputies contacted officers from Ventura County, where the search had been centered and Ventura deputies notified law enforcement officers in Inyo County.
Officers from all three counties are scheduled to join in the search on Monday.
Coincidental to the tip, an ex-convict, Robert Lee Lively, who was in the Sespe Hot Springs area at the time of Hughes’ disappearance, was arrested in Galveston and extradited to California this week.
The body of a companion of Lively, Charles W. Guerin, was found in a shallow grave in the region after Hughes’ disappearance. Lively and Guerin are both escapees from Soledad prison.
When the search begins Monday, the trial of Manson and his three female defendants — Miss Van Houten, Susan Atkins, and Patricia Krenwinkel— will be beginning its 41st week with Manson’s attorney continuing to plead for his client’s life.
The same jury that eight weeks ago found all four defendants guilty of first-degree murder will now decide whether they should spend the rest of their lives in prison or die in the gas chamber.
Manson’s attorney, Irving Kanarek, is expected to conclude his final argument Monday and will be followed by the three remaining defense attorneys.
Kanarek has claimed Manson had no knowledge of the crime and is innocent.
The three other defense attorneys are expected to argue that their clients have been mentally affected by the constant use of LSD while members of the Manson family.
By MARY NEISWENDER