Manson Admitted Murders, Former Ranch Hand Says
Tuesday, September 29th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 29 – A former ranch hand claimed yesterday that Charles Manson admitted to him that he was responsible for the Tate-LaBianca murders.
The testimony came from 25-year-old Juan Flynn, who said he thought Manson was “boasting” when he spoke of the murders.
Flynn claimed Manson made the admission about two days after the killings. Flynn used to work at the Spahn Ranch in Chatsworth, the stronghold of Manson’s “family” at the time of the mass slayings last year.
The conversation, Flynn said, took place in the kitchen of the ranch.
“…He grabbed me by the hair…he put a knife on my throat and he said ‘You don’t you know I’m the one who’s doing all these killings?'” Flynn recalled Manson saying.
“He put the knife down and he said, ‘Why don’t you kill me?’ and I said, ‘I don’t want to do that.'”
The startling testimony prompted defense attorneys to call for a session at the bench of Trial Judge Charles H. Older to discuss the alleged admission.
Earlier Flynn had stated that Manson had told him he was going to “kill a whole bunch of…pigs.”
Fitzgerald also questioned Flynn closely about the book, “5 to Die,” written by English newsman Ivor Davis and American journalist Jerry LeBlanc.
Flynn was mentioned in the book and a photo of him astride a horse also was included.
The book, which was published in paperback form before the trial started last June, is mainly about Manson and the family.
Flynn admitted he had talked about the case with reporters, but denied he was paid anything for
statements made to Davis and LeBlanc.
In fact, he claimed he has never been paid any money for things which he has told the news media.
The witness, a bushy haired man wearing striped trousers, a blue shirt and a dungaree jacket, said he finally left the Spahn Ranch in the early part of this year because he got tired of talking to reporters.
Cross examination of Flynn will continue today.
The prosecution has contended Manson ordered the murders and told his followers to make them appear as if they had been committed by blacks & to start a civil war between the Negroes and the whiles.
Flynn said he first met Manson in 1968 when the cult chief brought some of his followers to live at the ranch. The ranch was wiped out in the week end brush fires.
The witness claimed Manson many times spoke of the black-white war saying the hippie chief “related it to helter-skelter.”
That word was written in blood at the home of market owner LaBianca and his wife.
When asked the meaning of the term, Flynn said Manson told him:
“This was the change, the turn of the Karma. Black people were to overcome white people…there was a revolution in order to balance what the white people had done to the black people.”
Flynn also claimed Manson’s definition of “pig” was white “establishment.”
He said Manson told him the “pigs” live in “tombstones,” meaning houses. Flynn, whose rambling testimony was punctuated by several “you know’s,” did not appear to faze the long-haired bearded Manson or his three female co defendants. They frequently smiled, especially when Flynn said he worked as a “manure shoveler” at the ranch.
Flynn also claimed Manson shot at him and a girl with whom he was walking, but he later admitted the cultist may have been firing at a pile of garbage nearby.
Judge Older, after a bench conference with attorneys, instructed the seven-man, five-woman jury to disregard that portion of the testimony.
The witness also identified a rope and a .22 caliber Longhorn revolver allegedly used in the slayings as items he had seen in Manson’s possession.
Flynn said the conversation occurred about two days after he saw Manson, the three female codefendants. Charles (Tex) Watson, Linda Kasabian and Clem Tufts drive away in a car.
The prosecution alleges the same group drove to the home of Leno LaBianca and his wife, two of the victims, and killed them on Aug. 10. I960.
Watson 24, was recently returned from Texas and his trial will be separate.
Mrs. Kasabian testified early in the trial and was freed in exchange for turning state’s evidence. Tufts, also known as Steve Grogan, was never indicted.
Right before the group left the ranch, Flynn said, 22-year-old codefendant Susan Atkins went to the car and shouted behind her. “We’re going to get those…pigs.”
Turning back to the conversation, Flynn said after Manson offered him the knife and he declined to “kill” the cult chief, then Manson offered him the “family’s” girls.
The witness said he declined the offer.
Defense attorneys for Manson and his three codefendants were bent on destroying Flynn’s damaging testimony.
They tried to get Flynn to admit that since he was a part-time actor, he volunteered to testify to gain “fame” for himself.
The tall, lanky Flynn finally bristled:
“I brought my testimony here because it’s the truth…”
Paul J. Fitzgerald, attorney for 22-year-old codendant Patricia Krenwinkel, did got Flynn To admit he was on location in Utah filming a movie the month before the murders.
Flynn said he did not return to the Spahn Ranch until the very last part of July 1969.
He also admitted he did not call authorities after Manson told him about the killings because he thought the man was playing a “game.”
Flynn added he later became “scared” of Manson, but admitted he moved with the family to Inyo County following the killings.
He said he stayed with the group about a week, then went back to Spahn Ranch.
By SANDI METTETAL