Author Archives: cielodrive.com
Friday, August 24th, 2012
Dallas, Tex., Aug. 24 – We are currently sorting through hours upon hours of audio interviews recorded during the Hinman, Tate, LaBianca and Shea investigations. In the coming months, we will begin posting these historic recordings, all digitally remastered from the originally reel-to-reel tapes. Recorded in 1969 and 1970 by Inyo County Sheriffs, LAPD, LASO and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, the tapes include interviews of Manson family members, associates and witnesses.
Thursday, August 9th, 2012
Wednesday, August 8th, 2012
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 8 – It was November, 1968. Richard Nixon had just won the presidential election, defeating Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace. NBC had just angered football fans across the country, when the network aired Heidi, instead of the last minute of the Oakland Raiders’ epic comeback win over the New York Jets. The Beatles had just released their self-titled double White Album. And in the Los Feliz district of Los Angeles, grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary were in the process of moving.
For the past six years, the LaBianca’s had called 4053 Woking Way home. Woking Way wasn’t so much a street as it was a curve in the road. It winds in between Parva Avenue and Amesbury Road in the hills overlooking Silverlake.
The house at 4053 Woking Way was big – just over 6,000 square feet – and had a fantastic view of downtown and the pacific. It’s living room had vaulted ceilings and a staircase that led up to a Juliet balcony. The French-Normandy styled house was built in 1932 by Walt and Lillian Disney. It was equipped with a screening room where Walt reviewed studio dailies.
Rosemary LaBianca’s JW Robinson credit card with Woking Way address
But for Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, the Woking Way house had become a financial burden. So that November, The LaBianca’s made arrangements to sell the Disney house and buy Leno’s mother’s home.
The house at 3301 Waverly Drive was no stranger to Leno LaBianca. His mother and father had purchased the home in 1940, and Leno and his sisters had grown up there. The white stucco, two bedroom home was modest, especially compared to the Disney house. It was perched high atop a sloping front yard, where, at family get-togethers, Leno’s children, nieces and nephews would lay sideways and roll down the hill, racing each other to the bottom.
But although the Waverly Drive house was filled with memories, the move back was only supposed to be a temporary one. Leno’s long term goal was to move away from the city and build a horse ranch.
Three months later, and 11 miles west of Los Feliz, Sharon Tate Polanski had plans to spend the day with real estate agent Elaine Young. Sharon and her husband Roman Polanski had spent much of their first year of marriage living at 1600 SummitRidge Drive.
1600 SummitRidge Drive
The 2-story Cape Cod styled house at 1600 SummitRidge Drive sat high up on the hill overlooking Benedict Canyon. The Polanski’s were renting it from Sharon’s Valley of the Dolls co-star Patty Duke.
Columbia pictures had hired Bruce Lee to give Sharon martial arts lessons in preparation for her role in The Wrecking Crew. After Sharon introduced Lee to Roman, the martial artist would come by and teach the couple kung fu in the driveway of the SummitRidge house.
Sharon loved the SummitRidge Drive house, so Roman made an offer to buy it. But for whatever reason, Polanski and Patty Duke’s husband Harry Falk, couldn’t agree on a price.
In February of 1969, a newly pregnant Sharon began looking for a more permanent place for the couple to live and raise their child. Roman was scheduled to work on the script of Day of the Dolphin in London. Sharon herself, was booked to star in the Thirteen Chairs. With filming in Italy two months away, Sharon had little time to find a place to call home.
Elaine Young and Sharon looked at properties all over Los Angeles. Sharon finally settling on the secluded home at the end of Cielo Drive. The rustic farm house at 10050 Cielo Drive had been vacant for about a month. It’s previous tenants, Terry Melcher and Candice Bergen, had moved out shortly after New Year’s.
Roman Polanski signed the extended lease on February 12th, the same day opening statements began in the Sirhan Sirhan trial at the Hall of Justice.
Five months later, both the Polanski’s and LaBianca’s moves proved to be most unfortunate, when both of their new homes were invaded by a group dressed in black. Their futures were savagely erased, and forever linked to pure madness, speculation, and slander.
Both the Woking Way and SummitRidge Drive houses still stand today. 4053 Woking Way was recently on the market and sold for $3,700,000 on August 26, 2011. 1600 SummitRidge Drive has undergone some recent improvements and is currently on the market with an asking price of $5,395,000.
Friday, July 27th, 2012
Thursday, July 26th, 2012
Dallas, Tex., Jul. 26 – In the very near future, cielodrive.com will launch our photography archive. We have worked painstakingly, restoring several hundred photographs, one-by-one. And after thousands of hours of work, the restoration project is close to being finished.
From the widely circulated, to the rare and never published or seen. Photographs from the Tate and LaBianca investigations, the August 16th Spahn Ranch raid, mugshots and trial evidence. All restored, in both color and black & white.
Tuesday, June 26th, 2012
LAPD officers find themselves once again waiting on Texas to rule on Watson.
Dallas, Tex., Jun. 25 – In September of 1970, LAPD Sergeants Philip Sartuchi and Manuel “Chick” Gutierrez flew to Dallas to accompany Charles “Tex” Watson back to California so he could face trial for the Tate/LaBianca murders. They had waited for nine frustrating months, as Watson’s Texas attorney Bill Boyd appealed his client’s inevitable extradition all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Boyd’s sole purpose for stalling was to ensure Watson would be tried separately from Charles Manson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten.
“The condition of the judicial system in Texas is nothing short of shameful,” said Los Angeles Deputy Dist. Atty. Vincent Bugliosi in May of 1970. “It’s calculated to frustrate the due administration of justice…shameful isn’t strong enough — it’s disgraceful.”
The delays had infuriated officials in Los Angeles to the point, that in July, County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn threatened to sue the state of Texas for $100,000 in damages.
Bill Boyd died suddenly in August of 2009, having a heart attack while running on his treadmill. Four months later Boyd’s law firm, Boyd/Veigel went into bankruptcy. Several items related to the Watson case were discovered when the firm’s assets were liquidated. Among them were audio recordings made between Watson and Boyd in 1970. Both Watson and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office were contacted.
In September of 1976, Watson had signed a document that waived his attorney-client privilege so copies of the tapes could be sold to Chaplin Ray Hoekstra for $49,000. The recordings became the basis for Watson’s book with Chaplin Ray, Will You Die For Me?
This past March, LAPD sent a letter requesting the tapes to the Department of Justice. Detectives reasoned the recordings could provide information on possible unsolved crimes committed by the Manson family.
Last month a Texas bankruptcy court ordered the tapes be turned over to LAPD. The decision prompted a motion from both Charles “Tex” Watson and his local attorney. Both were denied.
According to Watson’s motion, “the LAPD’s letter to the Trustee…the Chief states: ‘THE LAPD has information that Mr. Watson discussed additional unsolved murders committed by the followers of Charles Manson.’ If this be so, and it is not. the request of the LAPD can be satisfied by listening the Tapes without taking possession of them LAPD.” Watson went on to write that he feared the tapes could end up in the media if LAPD were to take possession of them. And that could lead to further suffering for his victim’s families.
Watson was convicted and sentenced to death in 1971 for the seven Tate/LaBianca murders. His sentence was commuted to life on March 20, 1973 after the Supreme Court briefly outlawed the death penalty.
Watson was never charged or tried for the murder of Spahn Ranch hand Donald “Shorty” Shea.
In 1969, Shea was hired by Frank Retz to run the Manson family off of the Spahn Ranch property. Retz owned the neighboring property and was in negotiations to purchase a portion of Spahn. Retz didn’t like the family on either of the properties and called the police on them on several occasions. Manson placed blame on Donald Shea and was convinced he had been working with the police.
Sometime around August 28, 1969, Watson, along with Manson family members Bruce Davis and Steve Grogan, took a ride with Donald Shea. Shea was driving, with Watson sitting beside him. Watson instructed him to pull over, but Shea refused. Watson stabbed Shea and he finally pulled over. From the backseat, Grogan struck Shea with a pipe wrench. Another car containing Bill Vance, Larry Bailey, and Charles Manson pulled up behind them. The group took Shorty out of the car, brought him down a hill behind Spahn’s Movie Ranch and stabbed him to death.
Watson doesn’t discuss this murder in Will You Die For Me? So it’s likely he didn’t talk about it with Boyd. If that is the case, it’s doubtful these tapes contain any discussions about crimes other than the ones Watson was charged with.
LAPD had planned to fly to Dallas to take possession of the tapes on June 15. However, they canceled their plans when they learned Watson’s attorney William Kelly Puls planned to appeal to another court.
If and when the LAPD do take possession of the recordings, the tapes will be turned over the Scientific Investigation Division who will make digital copies for the Robbery Homicide Detectives to review.
Today, the eight cassette tapes sit waiting within a safe in a Dallas office building near the intersection of highways 635 and 75, locally known as the high five interchange.
Fifteen hundred miles away, at the Parker Center in downtown Los Angeles, officers wait for the tapes, just like the officers 4 decades ago waited for Watson himself.
Saturday, June 9th, 2012
Manson Family member Bruce Davis goes before the Board of Parole Hearings for the 27th time Wednesday
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif., Jun. 8 – On Thursday, Homicide detectives from the LAPD will travel to Texas to take custody of 4o-year-old audio recordings in which Manson family member Charles “Tex” Watson discusses his crimes with his former attorney Bill Boyd.
Another member of Charles Manson’s family will make headlines on Wednesday, when Bruce Davis goes before the California Board of Parole Hearings in San Luis Obispo for the 27th time.
Davis was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders of Gary Hinman and Donald “Shorty” Shea. In prison he became a born-again Christian and helped other imprisoned family members do the same.
At his last hearing in January of 2010 the Board of Parole Hearings recommended Davis for parole. However, then governor Arnold Schwarzenegger rejected the recommendation saying, “I believe his release would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to society at this time.”
Prior to Davis’ 2010 hearing, he had been given 23 consecutive one year denials. In 2006, he received a split decision and was later denied after an En Banc hearing in November of that year.
He received 128s for cross visiting in 1981; excessive noise in 1987; leaving a classroom prior to the closing of the class in 1988; receiving unauthorized prescription glasses in 1988; and lying to staff in 1992.
Davis’ last 115 was received over 3 decades ago. He received a 115 in 1975 for sharpening a spoon and one for conduct in 1980.
Since his incarceration, Bruce has been active in many self-help and spiritual groups within the prison. He has continued his education, receiving a Master’s degree from Borean School of the Bible. In 1998, he received a Doctorate degree in philosophy and religion from Bethany Seminary, graduating summa cum laude.
Although Davis’ prison record is almost spotless, there is opposition to his release, and not just from LASO and the District Attorney’s office. There are a few former Manson family members that have made their opposition known to the board.
Former family member Barbara Hoyt has not only written the board opposing Davis’ release, she testified in person at the November 20, 2006 En Banc hearing. The board has previously received an opposition letter from former family member Ella Jo Bailey. Bailey expressed that Davis had downplayed his role in the family and that he actually held a position of power within the group.
Despite this, Davis’ has plenty of supporters, both in and out of prison. And unlike hearings for the Tate-Labianca killers, there aren’t anyone from the Shea or Hinman families making victim impact speeches to the board.
There is little reason to believe the California Board of Prison Hearings will deny Davis’ parole bid this Wednesday. Which would mean the only thing keeping Davis in prison would be the Governor’s office.
According to an AP report in February, current California Governor Jerry Brown has allowed about 80 percent of decisions by the parole board to free convicted killers. Former Governor Schwarzenegger had allowed only 25 percent while former Governor Gray Davis allowed just 2 percent to walk free.