• Police Had, Freed Manson ‘Family’

Police Had, Freed Manson ‘Family’

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 23 – Police arrested Charles Manson and 26 members of his “family” a week after the Tate murders on auto theft charges but released them 72 hours later, it was disclosed yesterday.

Deputy Sheriff William C. Gleason testified at the trial that a posse had swooped down on the Spahn Ranch on Aug. 16, 1969, and took into custody 7 men and 20 young women, including the defendants.

At the time, authorities did not link the hippie cult in any way with the seven Tate-LaBianca slayings, and it was not until November that Manson and four others were indicted on those charges.

Gleason said deputies also had taken into custody at the Spahn Ranch five children aged 10 months to 10 years.

There were so many persons charged that it was impossible to connect individuals with the dozens of thefts, he said, and the district attorney’s office did not follow through on the case.

David Hannum, a self-styled “cowboy” at the ranch, testified that Manson once had threatened him after he had killed a rattlesnake there.

“He asked me how I would like it if he chopped my head off,” Hannum said. “He told me he would rather kill people than animals.”

Another witness, Ruby Pearl, the ranch stable manager, said that by the summer of 1969 almost all the “family” members were wearing buck knives with 6-inch blades.

Mrs. Pearl also identified a long-barreled pistol the state contends was used in three of the slayings at the Tate home as one she had seen at the ranch.

Superior Court Judge Charles H. Older rejected a defense motion that Deputy Dist. Atty. Vincent Bugliosi be cited for contempt for allegedly threatening prospective witness Sandra Good on a street corner Friday. Miss Good claimed Bugliosi had said he would send her to the gas chamber. Bugliosi denied the accusation and said his confrontation with the young woman had been mild under the circumstances.

Court sources said Miss Good had gone to Honolulu with a prospective state witness, Barbara Hoyt, and that Miss Hoyt almost had died of a dose of LSD while she was there.

Older said he did not have sufficient factual evidence to lead him to inquire into the matter.

Sheriff’s Deputy Samuel Olmstead testified that he had gone to the Spahn Ranch about two weeks before the slayings and found Manson standing at an intersection acting as a lookout for Black Panthers. Manson told him and other officers that he believed the Panthers were about to raid the ranch because they had beaten up a Panther for making overtures to a white girl among the “family.”

Olmstead said, he and other officers had driven with Manson to the ranch. When they arrived, the hippie leader suddenly darted into a building and alerted his followers to scatter.

Manson emerged a short time later and told Olmstead that while he respected the law he could kill the deputy at any time.

Olmstead said Manson had told him that his followers were in the hills with guns trained on him.

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4 Responses to Police Had, Freed Manson ‘Family’

  1. Mckinney says:

    I wonder how long it would have taken to solve the case if Atkins had kept her mouth shut?

  2. Fred Bloggs says:

    Well, Atkins didn’t start blabbing until Nov ’69. But Manson was on the LaBianca detective’s suspect list on October 15th, ’69. Brooks Poston had been interviewed by Sheriff Don Ward, where he and Paul Crockett spoke about Helter Skelter on October 3rd ’69. The walls were closing in on Manson before Atkins began to blab. It was a matter of various LE agencies getting together and pooling information. That, in a way, is what happened. All their leads had run out so the LaBianca detectives started looking in directions that seemed outlandish back in August. And unlike Jess Buckles, who rejected the info that LASO brought to him about the Family 2 days after the Cielo killings, that could have solved the case,, they looked into it and hit paydirt.

    • Kim says:

      Thanks for this post. It’s been a while since I read the book. Are there other ones you have read that give a lot of illumination on how things developed?

  3. Mckinney says:

    Thanks Fred. I used to be much more familiar with the timeline than I am now. I do recall that investigators found fingerprints at the Tate residence that were later matched to Watson and Krenwinkel and I believe they also took Atkins’ palm print (and maybe a footprint?). I believe the Watson print was matched to one taken earlier during his arrest in Venice for the belladonna incident.
    I don’t recall how the Krenwinkel print was matched – possibly only after she was arrested?

    I also seem to recall there was some confusion within the family about Watson’s full name.

    If Atkins had not talked I suppose investigators would still have unraveled the case but it could taken another 6 months or more with implications that are unknowable in hindsight.

    I wish I had access to my old copy of Helter Skelter!

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