• Al Springer LAPD Interview, November 12, 1969

Al Springer LAPD Interview, November 12, 1969

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Nov. 12 – On Wednesday, November 12, 1969 an officer from the Venice Police Department placed a phone call to the Parker Center and asked if homicide detectives wanted to talk to Alan Springer.

Springer, a member of the Straight Satans motorcycle club, had information about a guy named Charlie and the Tate-LaBianca murder. Sgts Frank Patchett and Manuel “Chick” Gutierrez brought Springer to Parker Center, sat him down in an interrogation cubicle and hit record.

Springer proceeds to tell detectives, which eventually grows to include Tate detective Sgt Mike McGann, about one-percenters, his visits to Spahn Ranch and his interactions with the Manson family, breaking this case open.

Al Springer

Al Springer, 26 years-old at the time of this interview, was a member of the Straight Satans motorcycle club. Springer, who was originally from Alam, Michigan, lived in Torrance, California with his wife and kids.

Springer had first met Charles Manson a few days after the Tate-LaBianca murders, when he went to Spahn Ranch to talk his fellow club brother, Danny DeCarlo, into leaving. According to Springer, Manson attempted to impress him by bragging about the murders, saying, “we knocked off five of them, just the other night”

Deputy District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi didn’t end up using Springer as a trial witness. However, Springer did testify before the Los Angeles County Grand Jury that eventually indicted Charles Manson for the murder of Gary Hinman.

Although he was entitled to a share, Springer never collected his portion of the $25,000 reward put up by actors Peter Sellers, Warren Beatty and Yul Brynner.

Al Springer worked as a millwright for Lease Finance Corp. Co-Generation Plant in Yuba City, California. He passed away at the age of 56, at Rideout Memorial Hospital on Sunday, May 21, 2000.

He was survived by his wife, 6 sons, and 9 grandchildren.

Sgt. Frank Patchett

Sergeant Frank J. Patchett, 38 years-old at the time of this interview, had been with the Los Angeles Police Department for 12 years. He had studied Psychology and Sociology at L.A. State College.

Patchett spent 4 years as a communications officer in the Navy, specializing in Cryptography.

Patchett became a member of the Los Angeles Police Department in August of 1957, where he attended Polygraph school. Before working on the LaBianca murders, Frank had previously been assigned to the Robert Kennedy assassination case.

Sgt. Manuel “Chick” Gutierrez

Sergeant Manuel “Chick” Gutierrez, 43 years-old at the time of this interview, had been with the Los Angeles Police Department for 16 years. He had previously spent 3 years studying Police Science at Cal State.

Chick became a weapons expert in the USMC, serving in Iwo Jima and Korea. His military career earned him a Silver Star, 2 Purple Hearts, 2 Presidential Citations and 6 Battle Stars.

Gutierrez became a member of the Los Angeles Police Department in May of 1953. Before working on the LaBianca murders, Chick had previously been assigned to the Robert Kennedy assassination case.

Chick suffered a heart attack and passed away in his home on the morning of Saturday, December 9, 1972. The 46-year-old officer was survived by his wife, 3 sons and 3 daughters.

Sgt. Michael McGann

Sergeant Michael J. McGann, 33 years-old at the time of this interview, had been with the Los Angeles Police Department for 10 years. He had spent 2 years in college studying Police Administration, and was a 1st Lieutenant in the 185th Armored Squadron.

McGann became a member of the Los Angeles Police Department in May of 1959. In August of 1969, McGann was assigned to case number 69-059-593, the Tate murders.

McGann had previously been assigned to the Robert Kennedy assassination case, personally investigating the activities of Sirhan Sirhan at the Pasadena and San Gabriel gun clubs. As well as Sirhan’s alleged attendance at Peace and Freedom Party meetings.

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57 Responses to Al Springer LAPD Interview, November 12, 1969

  1. Silentseason says:

    Glad to hear that more rare and unique audio will be available. Much looking forward to hearing it.

  2. johnnyseattle says:

    i have been waiting for this particular interview for a long time.
    this is exactly why this website is unique in bringing forth and sharing these audio interviews.
    thank you again Cielo Drive.

  3. johnnyseattle says:

    Hey CD,
    This is going to be a wonderful opportunity to hear what the police were hearing at the time without any Vincent Bugliosi interpretation. Again, thank you very much for putting forth this material.

    To properly set the stage, do you have the names/pic/bios of the interviewing police officers or Al Springer?

  4. johnnyseattle says:

    perfect. thanks.

  5. Poirot says:

    The girls, the clap and the crabs and Decarlo drunk as a sonuvabitch with his colors hanging over his head to keep the flies off. Charlie the homicidal maniac bragging about five murders. Things had gotten out of hand at the ranch. At Devils Canyon the girls were all naked around the fire eating raw corn off the cobb and eating cheese out the wrappers. They didn;t eat meat.

    Springer was flipped out!

  6. Silentseason says:

    Just listened to part I. Fascinating to actually hear the beginnings of peices of the net of evidence that would eventually ensnare the murderers. Reading about them in books is much different than actually hearing them. Springer seemed to be on the mark about Manson and his acolytes, right down to interpreting them as complete idiots. Also I note that Manson was a braggart and talker well before Atkins and her jailhouse confessions. He helped to trap himself as much as Sadie did by running his mouth.

    Thanks for posting Cielo. Again the sound quality is quite good.

    • Rob says:

      I agree there. This is one reason because the information Al Springer gives away some information that somewhat helps their case at the time and it is somewhat unraveling the puzzle which interests me.

  7. johnnyseattle says:

    it’s early on, but it will be interesting to see what the motive for Al Springer was given that he never collected his share of the reward money. he was a ‘one percenter’ so it isn’t like he was ‘johnny law’ or a ‘boyscout.’ yet, by his voice and tone he seems offended at what charlie manson and his crew were doing. of course, he could be posturing for the police at this point but if that is true what was his endgame?

    is their any chance that al springer was working for another law enforcement agency?

    again, fascinating material. can’t wait to hear more. thank you again Cielo Drive.

    • Julie says:

      Al Springer was motivated by the fact that it was the right thing to do. he left before collecting the reward $$ because he did not feel like he should collect on other peoples pain. He was a good man, who ended up in a bad situation. I may be a bit biased, as he was my Uncle. I am his youngest sisters daughter.

  8. cielodrive.com says:

    I’m right there with you Silent, it’s amazing to hear these recordings. Especially this particular interview since it was covered in Helter Skelter and we are all pretty familiar with it. Johnny, I believe Springer didn’t collect the reward because LAPD couldn’t locate him. But who knows.

    Also, I just want to mention that when asked what the group was called, Springer answers, “The Family.” So often we’ve heard Charlie credit the media with inventing the title, “The Family.” Yet, here we have an example of it weeks before anyone in the media even knew who these people were. I have another tape with one of the girls and she also calls the group “The Family.”

    • Julie says:

      Thank you for posting this interview, I have not hear my Uncle Al’s voice in 30 years. I thought I’d never hear it again.

      • Britishrider says:

        Do you know what happened to your Uncle’s motorcycle that was seized in the August 16, 1969 Spahn Ranch raid?

  9. johnnyseattles says:

    That is a good point on ‘the family.’

    That’s could be true CD about the LAPD being unable to locate Springer, but I recall in the Helter Skelter book Al Springer is asked if he knew of the reward and doesn’t he reply that he could sure use the money? Or maybe that is Danny DeCarlo.

    In terms of splitting the $25k, wasn’t it made public who could make a claim for it? And Springer seems like a bright enough fellow to have been able to follow the story and understand how he needed to go about making a claim.

    Maybe he just had second thoughts for a ‘one percenter’ to be seen working to get reward money from the law wouldn’t look good with his peers.

    I sure am glad he was willing to step forward and tell what he knew. You can hear some disgust in his voice as he describes the whole Manson scene and how they underage kids were kept hidden up in the bushes. He mentions a young man who was hanging around with Charlie. Any word on who that was?

    Again, great great stuff.

  10. johnnyseattles says:

    Damn, my grammar is poor. “That’s” and “they” …. lmao
    Must be the excitement of the next installment of:

    Cielo Drive Theater -Starring Al Springer as the Clean Biker offended by the goings on at Spahn Ranch; Sargent ‘Frank’ as the Lead Interrogator; and ‘Chick’ Guiterez as the cop who needs to talk to the Skipper.

  11. Silentseason says:

    Worth noting for part II: 1) I wonder why the Straight Satans were so keen to get DeCarlo out of Spahn and back to them? He was really a spineless loser, hardly biker material. 2) You can almost hear the level of interest spike in the detectives right after Springer mentioned the writing on the refrigerator. 3) The atmosphere at Spahn is almost unreal, based on Springer’s descriptions of the almost total disregard for any sort of order, law, or sanitation/health issues (other than Manson’s); it was literally a cesspool of society’s trash.

    • Rob says:

      I think they were trying to get away from Spahn was due in part to the issues of Manson spewing race war psycho babble and the conditions out there. They had Manson before and Danny was starting to miss meetings and be a liability to the club where he was starting to be inactive and Al was trying to get Danny to get away from those people because he knew they were problematic. He had another member watch after Danny that night and the next day they both got arrested in the August 16, 1969 Spahn Ranch Raid.

  12. Johnnyseattle says:

    That’s a great point. Given the atmosphere out at Spahn was so beyond the pale one wonders how it was allowed to continue as long as it did. After all, you got the general public coming out to ride horses, etc. Surely some of those Ozzie and Harriet families would have picked up the phone to call the cops. Even with the underage girls hiding out up in the bushes, the others were running around buck naked. Almost like it was being allowed to continue.

    In regards to DeCarlo, the only thing you can figure is that it was that loyalty to a brother that was behind Springer and the Club bringing him back.

    The sound quality of these 43 year old interviews continues to amaze me.

    Cielo Drive Theater is a real treat.

    • Rob says:

      Yes you got this right. Al probably feared Danny would end up being totally converted to something that was so ridiculous. Manson failed to get the Straight Satan’s to be his soldiers/bodyguards in his race war that he was hoping to happen.

  13. pvm777 says:

    I must commend you on the quality of material you offer here and thank you for the “Drama-free” comments section. Great work! The sound is amazing for it to be 40+ yrs old!

  14. johnnyseattle says:

    Thank you again for this installment. The clarity of the sound is amazing.

    What is telling is that for all the talk about being a ‘one percenter’ that -at least as it is in regards to Al Springer those Manson ‘freaks’ were beyond the pale. Al cites his father’s role in law enforcement as ‘rubbing off’ on him so this may explain why he is talking so freely to these cops. He sure likes to distinguish himself from his fellow bikers with constant references to how clean he keeps himself, etc. He is like a ready made CI (confidential informant.)
    I do like how he is breaking it down but not sure how his fellow ‘one percenters’ would feel about it.

  15. Silentseason says:

    Johnny, Based on part III I think Springer’s endgame was to clear DeCarlo of any connection with the murders. Springer is a real character, and something of a true rebel against any conventions. He was a biker, but he had neat personal habits and considered the Straight Satans “phonies”. I think the desire to clear Danny and his hatred for the Family and their flippant attitude towards violence was what brought him in to the authorities. Also when he let out that his father was an officer and I can see why he felt the need to clue the police in on this group. Springer is something of an unsung hero of all the witnesses, certainly he had more guts than either DeCarlo or Melcher.

    • Rob says:

      It is a good thing too . He knew they were no good and that Manson was spewing false prophecies that never were going to happen. Danny eventually became disillusioned due in part of members engaging in bragging rights in the murder of Donald Shea but also due to them giving him the cold shoulder and it was smart he bailed on them.

  16. Laurel says:

    WOW! The Manson Family were really creeps! This tape is in such good condition, it sounds like it was a conversation that just happened yesterday. It is so clear. Some of what the detective says is funny, like when he asks Al (I think in tape 1) if Charlie runs around in his birthday suit too. That is repulsive to think about how dirty those women & men were up there. I think these people that worship Manson nowadays (that girl named Star, for example) fantasize about going back in time, and living with these people out at Spahn’s. I don’t think these idiots understand how uncomfortable it was. It was dirty, hot, there were insects all over the place, horse manure, junk cars everywhere, rusty nails to step on, plus a variety of veneral diseases. There was no clean bed to sleep in, no crisp sheets, nor tampons, or even basic hygiene products. You want to shave your legs & muff? Forget about it. He didn’t allow the women to shave, or pluck their eyebrows. Manson wouldn’t even let the girls where their glasses if they needed to. Eating corn & cheese? The diet was garbage, literally. Plus, if you missed your family, they wouldn’t let you leave. If you had a kid, tough luck. They would hold the kid hostage, and never let you even pick your kid up. How romantic!

  17. Laurel says:

    I meant “wear their glasses” not “where their glasses.” 🙂

  18. Johnnyseattle says:

    I concur.

    I also really think it is not beyond the pale that Al Springer was also a confidential informant for some agency.

    One question that I raised and bothers me is that given the public nature of the horse riding operations at Spahn and if even a third of what Al Springer says is true -and I do believe him- how is it that none of the general population that was out to ride the horses didn’t at least make a call into the local cops to complain/inquire/drop a dime?

  19. cielodrive.com says:

    My understanding is that a lot of actual ranch work was done during the daytime. If Tex wasn’t working on a car, he was working on a car. A number of the guys seemed to work on the ranch. The girls seemed to do a lot of work as well. I know Ruby Pearl had a lot of nice things to say about them.

    Its my understanding the most of the craziness didn’t start until after sundown, or was away from main ranch and road.

  20. Johnnyseattle says:

    CD, how in the heck are you able to get such great sound off these 43 year old interviews?

    Ruby Pearl seemed like a stand up lady. Just hearing her name you can picture what she looked like without ever seeing a photograph.

    In regards to the ‘going ons’ being away from the main ranch/road that would help keep the weird activities on the downlow. However, you got people riding around the property on rental horses and it’s hard to fathom that if any of that stuff was going on -even if it was away from the main ranch- how regular folks didn’t see some of the weirdness. In the Alissa Statman book -and I am going off of memory- doesn’t she detail a story of the father PJ trailing some bikers back to Spahn Ranch one morning and from his vantage point being able to see some of the same activities that Al Springer outlines in his interview?

  21. pvm777 says:

    Is there a tape of DeCarlo also? If so, are you going to post it up here?

  22. cielodrive.com says:

    DeCarlo was interviewed on tape. I don’t have it though. As far as the sound quality on these, I deserve no credit. Although I’ve done a little bit of sound editing to them, the recordings were very good to start with. I was just reviewing some of my other tapes and some are borderline unlistenable. But don’t get me wrong, there’s still a lot of great stuff left.

  23. Silentseason says:

    For part IV it becomes more evident that outside issues were also in play. With the death of his child and the revelation that his officer father was incarcerated recently Springer was probably still in some sort of grieving process, and maybe coming down to Parker was a way to relieve some of the angst. I still think getting DeCarlo off the hook was the primary motivation, but not the only. He still seems a little ambiguous about collecting any of the reward money even though. After listening to this segment twice, I am still confused about the man in the blue Camaro and his importance. Will this be better expounded on in part V?

  24. johnnyseattle says:

    I’ll be honest, for someone who just lost a kid he is holding up amazingly well and one can imagine that this may be a way to ‘escape’ what he was going through. And to have your father incarcerated would just compound the angst.

    If anyone can explain the significance of the Blue Camaro, I am all ears. I guess it means something I just haven’t puzzled it out yet.

    I know that DeCarlo doesn’t want to talk about things circa 2012, but I wonder what he would think if he listened to Al Springer.

    The quality of these tapes really does place you in the interview room. Kudos to Cielo Drive.

  25. cielodrive.com says:

    I think Al believes there’s some significance to the blue Camaro. When in actuality, it likely has nothing to do with any of the crimes. By crimes, I mean the murders. It’s hard to follow, and I’ve had these recordings for awhile and listened many times. I think this guy may have something to do with stolen dune buggy parts. I think Al is just reaching for information to give them. His problem is he hardly knows these people. That and the majority of things he knows about them, is all hearsay.

    • Rob says:

      Yes true because what Al heard was from Danny and Danny heard things from Steven Grogan and other members who were engaging in bragging rights and what information Danny revealed to Al was pretty scrambled and I wouldn’t be surprised if what Steven Grogan said was scrambled since he was mentally ill and was spewing information out of his mouth in a scrambled way.

  26. LENNON says:

    cielo…this is a treat getting to hear these tapes……Thx

    Surprised by how he describes Shorty , comparing him to Clem , lots of new information here.

    This guy’s got looser lips than Sadie…… definitely not a 1%er

  27. pvm777 says:

    I also noticed this alot: “He sure likes to distinguish himself from his fellow bikers with constant references to how clean he keeps himself, etc.” He seemed to be acting all elitist through out the whole session is what it sounded like. Also, I find it odd when he refers to someone like Shorty as to one of the actual “family” members. Quite a bit of of “grasping at straws” trying to help the officers if you notice…..

    • Fred Bloggs says:

      “Also, I find it odd when he refers to someone like Shorty as to one of the actual “family” members. Quite a bit of of “grasping at straws” trying to help the officers if you notice….. ”

      On the contrary, the fact that he didn’t know the ins , outs and certain details only goes to more powerfully corroborate his words & findings. Because we have all the hindsight, we can say all kinds of things but you have to put your mind at what was known in early November’69 to see the significance of Al Springer.
      This is one of the most remarkable nuggets of the entire case.

  28. Daibhidh says:

    Ed Saunders, of the Rock Group ‘The Fugs’ , wrote in his book- “The Family” that a group of Mansons friends came by, before the raid in a blue Camaro to warn Charlie. Charlie blew them off ( which he shouldn’t have, because according to Saunders ( or Sanders ) one of the occupants of the car was the daughter of a cop who knew the score.

  29. steampunkgeorge says:

    I can’t beleive that you guys scored these tapes. The Springer tapes are the Holy Grail of all things Tate/Labianca. This is pure second-hand info from a first hand witness a mere three months away from the incident. Beautiful, Cielodrive.com,…beautiful.. OJ’s tape wasn’t this good. One question: Where did you come across these tapes? Awesome pics on this site as well. Nice job, Cielodrive.com!!

    CieloDrive.com….keepin’ it real!

  30. christopher says:

    Tremendous effort, can’t thank you enough. Feels like the future now for those of us interested in the Family. Why purchase a book of occasional quotes as secondary source material when your audio archives provide a thorough primary source. I congratulate you and appreciate your dedication and hard work.

  31. Louisville girl says:

    Loving the audio archives!. I just now stumbled up on Cielodrive.com and am glad I have. Keep up the great work, the site is awesome!!

  32. Gina says:

    It should also be noted that Alan Springer was arrested by feds when he tried to sale cocaine to undercover federal agent in the 1980’s.

  33. Gina says:

    Funny, Johnny.

  34. Gina says:

    As to the term “the Family”, by this time, Charlie was in jail and the media was already reporting on it. Just because Springer referred to them as “the family” during this interview, doesn’t mean that’s what he would have referred to them as at the time of the murders.

  35. Gina says:

    He ended up getting busted in 1982 at an airport motel after he tried to sale cocaine to an undercover. Guess he didn’t give up his old ways.

  36. Kevin Desilets says:

    Al was a good friend way back then and he thought Charlie was a nut. He told Me just that !
    He just wanted Danny outta there. We usta hang at Cal’s chopper Shop over on Century Blvd and flower street just behind D&F Hydro’s in Inglewood. Al kind of dropped outta sight after that, I saw him about a year later on 99th street in Inglewood. It was good to see Me but he seemed kind of worried that being around him would cause me trouble. rushed off and I never saw him again. Always wonder where he was ! this site informed me ! Great guy, good friend and Harley Davidson with Springer front end YaHooooooooooo AL !!! Miss ya Bud !

  37. Gena says:

    Listening to this I wonder why tape 1 begins with the interview already going? I don’t trust that.

    I have to say this person has ruined my image of bikers.

  38. ROGER HOSHIN says:

    I met Al while working as an apprentice millwright for detroit local 1102 in 1979 in Pontiac, Mich. He was my journeyman for about 3 weeks, and until he told me his life story after a week or so, I would have never have guessed it. He asked me if I have ever read the book ‘Helter Skelter’, and because I had the paperback at home, I was able to discover it was no B.S.

    I was a ‘green’ kid from a small town trying to learn a trade, and he was no different than any other journeymen I met. He had a buddy millwright he ‘carpooled’ with on some kind of 3 wheel chopper which he would pull a 1/4 mile wheelie on in rush hour traffic. — anyhow, he had told me that his testimony wasn’t used because he was in some kind of trouble in California for kicking somebody’s ***, and in my opinion is maybe why is didn’t collect $$$.

  39. CAW says:

    No criticism intended, but why was Al at the police department in the first place? Did he go there voluntarily to report his suspicions, or was he being questioned about a minor crime, thus enabling the police to make the “Straight Satans” connection and summon the homicide investigation team?

  40. Ryan says:

    Julie it would be awesome to talk about your uncle, if you have any history of his life? He seemed like an awesome guy

  41. rlb says:

    Excellent resource here, thank you.

    I do respectful ask for one correction. Al Springer was from Alma Michigan, near Mancelona in Antrim County. Not Alam Michigan, Alam doesn’t exist.

    This can be collaborate, Mr. Springer was known in the community and certainly by the Antrim County PB at the time.

  42. Lee says:

    Well, well, well….Look at that. Al Springer didn’t even know Bobby Beausoleil at all, yet Bobby claims he was invited to some Staright Satan party, and these men gave him a bunch of money that he turned over to Gary for drugs. Danny DeCarlo didn’t have a damn cent and was turning in cans for beer money too. I can’t stand the way everyone has twisted this Manson thing and made it seem as if the prosecutor made it all up and that it was everyone else’s fault. Also, Bobby convincing the gullible that he murdered Gary over a drug deal shows his true colors. This interview was very telling. Al Springer sounded like he was deeply disturbed by these people!!

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