A Hell of a Hoax… Part 1 of 4

by Pat MacEwen on June 6, 2014


I hate hoaxes!  This one in particular:

Charles Manson Granted Parole
Posted on June 4, 2014 by Aaron Smith in Headlines, World

And I quote:

“Corcoran, California – One of the most famous killers in the American prison system will soon be walking free. On Tuesday Charles Manson, who is now 79 years old, was granted parole by the California Board of Parole and authorized by California Governor Jerry Brown.”

Who’s Manson, you ask?  If you’re under forty, well you might.  It was clear the hell back in 1969 that Manson’s family murdered at least nine people in Los Angeles.  Supposedly, it was all done in the hopes of starting a race war between whites and blacks, and producing a revolution.  If that sounds a little too much like the notions of the militant pair who killed three people in Las Vegas just last week, you’re right.  The Vegas case’s victims included two cops who were just eating lunch.  Another man who thought he could intercept the male half of the dynamic duo wound up getting shot by the distaff half.  Ordinary people, except that two were in uniform and the third man tried to be a hero.

Manson’s bunch, on the other hand, killed famous people.  Some were celebrities beforehand – chiefly Roman Polanski’s wife, Sharon Tate, who was an up-and-coming actress and eight and a half months pregnant with his son at the time.  Another was her friend Abigail Folger, a civil rights activist and heiress to the Folger’s Coffee fortune.

Sharon Tate, days before her death…










“Gibby” Folger, at autopsy…


Others were famous afterward, like Jay Sebring (hairdresser to the rich and famous), and a would-be script writer named Wojciech Frykowski, who came from money and dated Folger.  One was there by accident – Steven Parent, who’d come by to visit his friend, the caretaker of the estate, and ran into the killers as he tried to drive himself home.

The very next night, members of the Manson “family” slaughtered Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.  The husband was a supermarket executive.  The wife co-owned a dress shop.  The crime scenes were a bloody mess.

A crime scene diagram used in court…











The victims had been stabbed over and over again.  Some were also beaten, strangled and/or shot.  Sharon Tate, the pregnant woman, pleaded for her baby’s life.  She even offered herself as a hostage, hoping to live long enough to deliver her child.  It did no good.  She was stabbed a total of 16 times, with five of the wounds considered lethal.  Then human flesh and blood was used to leave “revolutionary” logos at both scenes.  Some were painted on the wall, or on the front door.  One was carved into a corpse.

Found at the home of the LaBiancas….








Carved into Leno LaBianca’s body…









Later, these were explained as part of an attempt to blame the murders on black militants and cue a white backlash, leading to a racial Armageddon Charlie called “Helter Skelter” after the Beatles song. There are other theories, however… chief among them what might be called the Cocaine Conjecture:


The murders set off a full-blown panic in L.A., although it took a while for the L.A. Police Department and the Sheriff’s Office to connect the dots on a slew of crimes and clues, including stolen Volkswagens and a pistol found in the bushes near the LaBianca scene by a 10-year-old paperboy.  When the two agencies did link the cult to all these killings, the hoopla got much worse.  One of the first things the cops found was a handwritten hit list composed by Manson.  On it, he listed celebrities he wanted his minions to kill.  Topping the list?  Frank Sinatra.  The Chairman of the Board.  The plan was to have him seduced by one of the girls and take him out in coitus.

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor – the idea there was to tie the two to each other and boil them alive.  Steve McQueen’s name was on the list, too, but his death, for some reason, was supposed to look like a suicide.

A publicity shot of McQueen.  Presumably, that’s a prop gun, but no guarantees…









McQueen had actually been invited to the shindig at Sharon Tate’s that night by the hairdresser he shared with Tate – Jay Sebring, who would in turn become one of the very first victims.  McQueen didn’t go because he got a better offer from a woman he never named in public.  Afterward, when the crimes were discovered, he thanked his lucky stars.  He also burglar-proofed his place with top-of-the-line equipment, and took to packing a loaded Magnum wherever he went.

Much of Hollywood’s elite did likewise.  That included Robert Vaughn, who’d been invited to the very same soirée by McQueen himself, but apparently already had plans.  It didn’t really matter.  Anyone in the public eye felt vulnerable.

When Manson and his “family” were arrested, things got worse yet.  They became the darlings of certain segments of the media.  Charlie even acquired a fan club where you can still obtain a Manson t-shirt, hoodie or Zippo lighter:





Charlie later converted the X into a
 swastika.  Clearly, he’s been enjoying
 his notoriety.

Other media outlets whipped up public hysteria, based on the bizarre behavior of the defendants and their supporters.  Manson, for example, carved an X into his own forehead to indicate he had crossed himself out of mainstream society.
So did many of his followers.

His co-defendants sported Xs on their foreheads too, but this only convinced the jury Manson was in complete control.

Family members who had not been arrested stood vigil outside the courthouse during the trial, and several of them were involved in subsequent killings.

One of those murders took place in my home town, Stockton, CA.





“Say, what?” I said, startled by that revelation.  I had, after all, gone to high school in Lodi, a small town just north of Stockton.  I’d spent two years at Delta College, in Stockton.  I’d worked at various jobs there, full and part-time, saving up whatever I could to pay for the Bachelor’s Degree I wanted.  I was a busy bee most of the time, but I did pay attention to the news when I could.  Back then, it was normal for college students and almost everyone else to read a daily newspaper.

Why hadn’t I heard about this?

Okay, it happened in 1972, right after I transferred to Cal State Long Beach.  I was busier than ever at that point, getting used to life in the big city.  I was focused on my classes, on making new friends, on finding another job.  I tried not to call home too often, to save on toll charges.

Fine.  But if not then, why not later?  After all, I didn’t stay in L.A. forever.  I came home again, eventually, and I spent nearly all of the ‘90s doing crime scene work for the Stockton Police.  I handled my fair share of death investigations, including plenty of murders, ‘cause Stockton was that kind of town.  And still is.

So I double-checked.  Yep.  There had indeed been a Manson murder in Stockton.

NEXT UP:  The Body in the Basement



2 thoughts on “A Hell of a Hoax… Part 1 of 4

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