Witness Describes ‘Change’ in Manson
Saturday, October 17th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 17 – Charles Manson was “like an animal in a cage…wild” only two weeks after the Tate-LaBianca murders, a witness testified Friday.
Record and movie producer Gregg Jakobson, the 64th prosecution witness in the cultist’s Los Angeles Superior Court murder trial, said that Manson had “changed” since he first met him in the spring of 1968.
“He became more agitated and radical,” the handsome, mustachioed Jakobson said. “I can compare it to a bobcat in a cage, he was like an animal in a cage — he was wild. The electricity was pouring out of him — his hair was on end.”
Jakobson, who said he met Manson in early 1968 and last spoke to him two weeks after the Aug., 9-10 massacres, claimed the defendant’s entire philosophy slowly changed during that time.
“He said at first he didn’t need material possessions, then later — about the spring of 1969 – he changed. It was a complete contradiction. Even his life style changed.
“At one time he had nothing. Then he started amassing things — firearms, cars, money.”
Manson amassed the possessions, the 30-year-old Hollywood music producer said, because “Helter Skelter was coming and he needed them to survive in the desert.”
Prosecution attorneys have claimed ever since Manson and his three girl followers — Patricia Krenwinkel, Leslie Van Houten and Susan Atkins — were arrested for the seven murders that the motive for the grisly crimes was to incite a while-black race war. Jakobson was the first witness in the three months of testimony to paint a clear picture of the prosecution’s motive.
“Manson believed that the black man was going to rise up and take the place of the white man in society. There would be very few whites left — and those left would end up living in the desert. He called the while-black confrontation ‘Helter Skelter’ and he believed it was imminent.
“It would begin,” the articulate witness said calmly, “by the ripping up of some while families in their homes by the blacks. He was pretty adamant about it and said they would really be cut up — dismembered, etc.
“The blacks would win the war — it was their turn to win — and during the black-white war he was going to the desert with his people.”
Manson, who along with the three girl defendants is listening to the trial proceedings via loudspeakers in separate holding cells, believed there was a “bottomless pit” in Death Valley and he intended to live there during Helter Skelter, the witness said. After winning the “war,” Manson believed that the blacks would not be able to handle the reins of power and would eventually come to him for help.
Although Manson told him he was both Jesus Christ and the Devil, Jakobson said, he also believed the Beatles singing group were “prophets.”
“Through their songs, Manson said, they were the leaders of the movement and he was following their advice,” the witness said.
Manson also saw the Beatles referred to in the Bible in Revelations IX as “the four angels who were released to kill one-third of mankind — those were the people who would die in Helter Skelter.”
The chief prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Vincent T. Bugliosi, introduced both the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter” album and the Bible into evidence — the 264th prosecution exhibit thus far.
Manson’s plans for the desert, Jakobson testified, needed financing, so he planned to have his girl followers work in topless bars. But, most important, the witness said flatly, was that the money would be used for “a very expensive rope — to go to the bottomless pit.”
“He said he’d need thousands of feet of rope — a truck load of rope — to get to the bottomless pit during Helter Skelter,” Jakobson said.
Despite Manson’s philosophy of Helter Skelter, the witness said, he was “impressed” with Manson’s musical talents and tried to get his employer, Terry Melcher, the movie and record producing son of actress Doris Day, to back Manson. Melcher, who lived from 1986 to early 1969 in the Benedict Canyon home where actress Sharon Tate and four others were killed, finally auditioned Manson but was not interested in putting the hippie guitarist on record.
Manson, the witness said was apparently irritated and tried to get Melcher’s telephone number. In June or July of 1969 Manson telephoned Jakobson.
“He asked if Terry had a green spyglass — telescope — on the porch of his beachhouse, and I said ‘yes’. He said ‘He doesn’t now,’ but didn’t elaborate. It was enough to prove he knew where Terry lived,” Jakobson said.
Although Manson didn’t direct his followers to Melcher’s home at the beach, the prosecution contends he directed them to Melcher’s former home — then occupied by the pregnant actress.
Earlier, Jakobson said, his friend contended there was no such thing as right or wrong and therefore “it wasn’t wrong to kill.”
“And he didn’t believe in death. He said he had died a long time ago — had experienced death many times, and that it was beautiful and only a physical change of the body.”
Time and pain, Manson also contended, were only a concept of man. Time, the hippie leader said, was an invention of man, and pain existed only in the brain.
“But Charlie loved animals,” Jakobson said. “He got upset with me when I ran over a spider accidentally. He prided himself on his ability to communicate with animals.”
Under cross-examination by chief defense counsel Paul Fitzgerald, Jakobson almost turned into a defense witness as he admitted he was a “close friend” of the hippie leader and “was convinced he felt very strongly about young girls who were hitting the streets, going to San Francisco and being mistreated.”
“He said he was attempting to save the children of the cities. He wanted to take them away to the desert with him.”
Manson’s “overriding tenet” was telling the truth, Jakobson said. The witness admitted he “certainly recognized the parallel” between the Beatles’ songs and violence, He said he “took Manson seriously — both his music and his philosophy.”
As far as the “bottomless pit,” Jakobson said, he “believed Manson would make a good try at getting there.”
But as far as the whiteblack race war was concerned, he added:
“Charlie firmly believed the race war would happen, but I have no way of knowing whether he wanted it to happen. I, personally, didn’t believe it would.”
The trial, which will enter its 19th week Monday, is expected to resume with additional cross-examination of Jakobson followed by the testimony of Melcher.
By MARY NEISWENDER