Girl With Accent Answers — After Hinman Killed
Thursday, January 8th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 8 – The parade swung down Santa Monica’s palm-lined Ocean Avenue that Sunday, July 27. I watched eagerly for my boys — the Bag Pipers of the Nicherin Shoshu, the American Buddhist movement in which I am a leader known as Chikubucho.
They came down the street but there was a gap. One man was missing and his absence was strange. And, as the weeks went by, it would become stranger.
His name was Gary Hinman. As it turned out, he was missing from the parade ranks because he was dead. His death — murder — was barely noted at the time. After all, he was an ex-hippie, an ex-drug-taker, a piano teacher, a musician, a student, a nobody.
But it would be through the apprehension of his alleged killers that the police would eventually find the accused murderers of Sharon Tate and (at least) six others.
My friend and I worried about Gary that Sunday and for several days later. He lived, we knew, in an isolated house in an isolated part of Topanga Canyon. Several of us telephoned him during that period.
One such call, made the night of the parade, Sunday, July 27, was answered by a girl’s voice with a heavy English accent. She told the caller that Gary had been called back to Colorado, where he came from originally, because his parents had been in an automobile accident.
The call satisfied our group, but only temporarily. By the following Thursday, our worry had increased. And three young men — Mike Erwin, Glen Giardinelli and John Nicks — were asked to drive up to Hinman’s house and look around.
Even before they were near the house, they knew something was wrong. There was an unbelievable smell. There were millions of black flies streaming into an open window, their buzzing audible for yards.
The three never went into the house. They called the sheriff. The police found the body bloated beyond recognition. Eventually the coroner established the time of death.
Late Friday night, July 25, or early Saturday morning, July 26.
If that was true — who was the girl with the English accent who answered the phone Sunday? Hinman was dead, on the floor in the living room.
There were, surprisingly, very few clues around the house. But the evidence pointed strongly to the fact that Hinman had been the victim of robbers, who had tortured him — to find his money? — before they ultimately killed him. Three people, probably, the police said. A man and two women.
One clue was a negative one. Hinman’s two cars were missing. One was a Volkswagen bus. The other was a Fiat which would be easy to spot — it had a larger-than-normal engine which stuck out the front end of the car.
On Aug. 7, the Fiat was spotted near San Luis Obispo. The police closed in. The driver was named Robert Beausoleil. He had blood stains on his trousers. In the tire well of the car was a knife, with dried blood on the blade.
Beausoleil — whose good looks and effectiveness with girls had earned him the nickname “Cupid” — was arrested. Through him, they arrested a girl named Susan Denise Atkins alias Sadie Glutz, who often affected an English accent. But her arrest came later.
(Note: The first trial of Robert Beausoleil ended in a hung jury. He is scheduled to be tried again in Los Angeles on Feb. 16. Susan Atkins is scheduled to go on trial in February in connection with the same case.)
The Hinman case attracted very little attention at first. Our group, because we knew and loved Hinman, grabbed at every detail we could find. We were particularly curious about the writing, in blood, of the words “politically piggy” on the wall over Hinman’s head.
The term “pig” or “piggy” is used by the hippies against the establishment, the police, the conservatives. Hinman was none of these things. It didn’t make sense.
Two days after Beausoleil’s arrest, the news of the Tate massacre reached a shocked world. And, the next day, the seemingly unconnected killing of another couple. But what shocked our group into action was the fact that the word “Pig” was on the front door of Sharon Tate’s home, and the words “Death To Pigs” in the LaBianca house. Written in blood:
This was the connection.
The murder of Gary Hinman, an obscure musician, was almost as obscure as the man himself. Only the fact that it was the first murder with a possible connection to the Charles Manson “family” makes it important.
Hinman had told me about his relationship with some hippies. He was a good-hearted man and frequently picked up hitchhikers and also often let people stay with him in his home.
Hinman came from a well-to-do background in Colorado. But there had been drugs and other problems, and he was in a bad way when I met him at a Buddhist Shakubuku on Blix Street in North Hollywood a year and a half ago.
I am a Shikubucho in the Nicherin Shoshu, the American Buddhist group. I didn’t approve of the institution called the Shakubuku, but it was effective. It was a system of recruiting new members by having a meeting and then sending old members out into the street to persuade newcomers to attend. Members go into restaurants, knock on doors, even try to pitch drivers who are stopped for a red light.
One of these reluctant recruits, that night in North Hollywood, was Gary Hinman. He was 32 at the time. He was shy but had a warm smile and seemed to be intrigued with our teachings.
He asked to speak to me privately after the meeting. He wanted more information about True Buddhism. I explained that it was a long and hard personal path that could eventually eliminate one’s hate and hostility.
I explained that if he were really interested he would be like a garden hose that had been unused for months, When it is turned on, it first only sediment, dirt and spiders would come out — but at last there would be clear, clean water.
He told one he used marijuana. I said that was his problem. We advocate no moral ethic, I explained, but thousands of members quit when they discover that even a minor upgrading of their own level of consciousness negates the need for such substitutes.
He did join. And he did quit drugs. And we became very close friends. He advanced through our group until he became what we call a “honcho” or younger leader. He trimmed his beard neatly. He sought out and obtained more piano pupils in the upper-middle-class sections of the San Fernando Valley.
He told me he was happier than he had ever been, that his life had purpose. He told me that he felt he was a catalyst, that he would have an effect on people’s lives.
And, of course, he did — although not in the way he expected.
The police theorize that he had known Charles Manson and several members of his “family” (notably Robert Beausoleil and Susan Atkins) and had, in fact, let them stay with him frequently.
They had come to hate him. They hated him, first, because he had adjusted to the establishment. They hated him for his Buddhist philosophy. And they hated him because they thought he had money.
He didn’t. He had laid out most of his cash with us to go on Tozon —a pilgrimage to Japan to see the Dai Gohonzon, the object of worship for True Buddhists. All he had with him when he was attacked was three dollars.
But his killers thought he was lying. They tortured him for perhaps a day and a half. And then they killed him.
Through his death, the police were led to the Manson “family,” now accused of the Tate and LaBianca massacres.
Robert Beausoleil was arrested driving a car stolen from Hinman. He eventually implicated Susan Atkins. And Susan Atkins confided to a cellmate the details of the Tate and LaBianca murders.
By DALLAS CRABSTREET
EDITORS NOTE: The author of this article, who uses the pseudonym Dallas Crabstreet, is a respected and respectable member of the Los Angeles community. His decision to remain anonymous is due to the fear of reprisals by still-at-large members of the Charles Manson “family.”