• Manson Plot to Escape Thwarted?

Manson Plot to Escape Thwarted?

VACAVILLE, Nov. 2 — Mass slayer Charles Manson was lodged in a maximum security cell Monday after state prison guards discovered a hacksaw blade and other contraband that may link him to an escape attempt, authorities said.

One of the items discovered was a catalog that shows how to order hot-air balloons.

Manson, 47, mastermind of the 1969 Tate-LaBianca killings, was placed in special “administrative segregation due to contraband found in his cell,” said Don Custard, spokesman for the California Medical Facility in Vacaville.

The medium-security prison houses some 2,750 inmates about 50 miles east of San Francisco.

Custard said a prison investigations team was probing the possibility that Manson and three other inmates were plotting to escape when they were discovered by a guard Friday night in the prison chapel.

“You can’t use at this point in time the term escape attempt because we have not charged anybody,” Custard said. “We’ve got Manson in administrative segregation due to contraband found in his cell.

“We are still conducting the investigation. I hope to hear by tomorrow (Tuesday) whether escape charges will be filed,” he added.

Custard said a guard spotted the door to the chapel ajar Friday night but couldn’t open it because it had been tied with electrical cord.

Manson, who cleans up the chapel, came to the door when the guard called out, Custard said. Three other inmates were with him.

Later, guards searching an office in the chapel found that screws in the attic trapdoor had been loosened. A search of the attic turned up a tape recorder, a tobacco pipe, a vial containing an unidentified white liquid, two pieces of metal, one of them sharpened; a pair of tin snips and pieces of sandpaper.

Guards looking through Manson’s cell found a hacksaw blade and what was believed to be marijuana and LSD, Custard said. Guards found nothing in the three other inmates’ cells.

“He hasn’t been a problem inmate,” said Custard. “Manson was put on in mainline (general prison population) in June and has had only two minor infractions,” neither escape related, Custard said.

On Saturday, guards searched another chapel office and found four small bags of marijuana, a metal tube filled with a flammable liquid, 100 feet of nylon rope, a catalog that showed how to order hot-air balloons and keys that Custard said did not open any security doors.

Manson is serving multiple life sentences for masterminding the 1969 slayings of actress Sharon Tate and six other people. Other members of Manson’s “family” convicted in connection with the crime are serving terms in various California prisons.

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