Did Charles Manson have a beef with L. Ron Hubbard? Or with Scientology, in general? Did Manson order four people killed in order to send a “message” to Hubbard?
This pic was clearly photo-shopped. So far as I can, tell there is no evidence of Manson ever meeting L. Ron Hubbard in person. Manson did, however, have his own E-meter and used it on various members of his Family.
There’s been a lot of speculation about it, too, from people suggesting that Manson held a grudge against the Church of Scientology simply because the Scientologists overlooked his “genius.” You know, like the music biz did. It can’t be proved, even though it seems certain the Church did erase any records of contacts with Manson, not least because Charlie also had ties to the Process, a Scientology-born splinter group with some odd ideas about Satan.
In looking at the death of Joel Pugh in London, in 1969, we found a number of links between Charles Manson and Scientology, but we found even more between the Church and Bruce Davis, who was Charlie’s favorite hit man. It’s been suggested that Bruce Davis served as an emissary for Manson when he traveled to England, that his purpose in going there was to work out problems between The Process and Scientology. But Davis denied to the BBC reporter Bill Murphy that he ever traveled to Manchester England, in spite of statements from witnesses who saw him there. Murphy himself said he had an acquaintance who had also seen Bruce Davis there, and claimed he was traveling around Manchester with a coven of witches.
Scotland Yard couldn’t be bothered to chase down that lead, so in the end, Davis was only convicted of taking part in the murders of Gary Hinman and Shorty Shea, although he was strongly implicated in another so-called “suicide” – the death of Zero (John Haught), another Family hanger-on.
We’ve seen evidence that Davis was in London at the time of Pugh’s death, and staying at a Scientology house. And in a pamphlet Davis himself produced, when he proclaimed himself a Born Again Christian in 1974, he incidentally reveals that he was also in North Africa, Spain, and Britain in 1969. Just like Joel Pugh. An unlikely string of destinations, I would think. So was Davis following Pugh?
We may never get a full answer on any of this stuff. Davis knows, but he’s still hoping to get parole. The California State Prison Board actually granted it to him last year, but his bid was quashed by the Governor after Jerry Brown got a look at the files on Davis and the cases he was and wasn’t charged in.
Sandra Good probably knows. She was Pugh’s girlfriend, and one-time fiancée. She even gave his name to her son, Ivan, though the baby could not have been Joel’s, and was probably Bobby Beausoleil’s. She denies it, though.
Good, now 65, maintains a website for Manson’s so-called environmental group, called variously “Air, Trees, Water, Animals” (ATWA), or “All The Way Alive.” The website went dormant in 2001, but was relaunched in 2011. You can find it here:
There’s even an official Face Book page:
That was a startling sight for me. Not because of their logo, which is rather pretty:
Or even because of the rather ferocious-looking panda featured on their logo:
I was surprised because this page posts a great many of the very same articles I do, on my page and on Pinterest, in an effort to point out how serious global warming is, and how dangerous rapid climate change is to the entire biosphere. I didn’t expect yet another intersection between my life and Manson’s. I didn’t expect to ever find any common cause with the man, but there it is.
There is also a website called Manson Direct:
This is where you can find autographed pictures of Manson at various ages, with copyright notices posted on each of them. I don’t know how that affects anyone who would want to download and print one for personal use, but I’m not going to reproduce any of them here. The only image without a copyright notice is this one:
Sandra Good also lived in Hanford for a while, close to Corcoran State Prison, where Manson is confined, although she was never allowed to visit him. She has since dropped out of sight again, but still supports both Charlie and his movement — and on ATWA’s website, she denies that Joel ever met Charles Manson or any other Manson Family member. This is probably true. Pugh knew Manson only by his reputation, and by his effect on Sandra Good.
The website also insists that Joel wasn’t murdered. It says his parents went to London after his death and satisfied themselves with the official verdict of suicide. At that time, however, Pugh’s family had no idea that there were any links with Manson, or that their son’s death was suspected of being a homicide by Los Angeles cops, or that at least one Manson Family member had claimed credit for the killing. They didn’t know that Scotland Yard had refused to reopen the case, that it never was investigated as a potential homicide. The Brits never even bothered to contact Joel’s family and ask any questions about his state of mind, or any personal or family history of depression or any other mental illness. So it wasn’t fully investigated as a suicide either.
There’s not a lot of reason to believe Good in any case. She might not have had a hand in the Tate or LaBianca murders, but that was only because she was in jail at the time, having been caught attempting to use some stolen credit cards. She has repeatedly said that she respects the folks who did commit the killings. And she proved her own loyalty to the Family’s environmental ‘cause’ in 1975. That’s when she was convicted on federal charges of sending death threats through the mail to 170 businessmen she accused of polluting the environment (in terms that sound an awful lot like those seen in the Unibomber’s manifesto). She was convicted of conspiracy on March 19, 1976, along with another Manson devotee, Susan Murphy, and Good was sentenced to fifteen years in prison.
After ten years in prison, Good was paroled. This was in December 1985, and rather early since one normally doesn’t get parole on a federal beef until 85% of the sentence has been served. A stipulation of her parole was that she could not return to California. So she moved to Vermont, where she lived quietly under the name Sandra Collins. Well, until 1989, that is. That’s when her environmental activism got her back into the news and her identity was made public. She’d gone after a paper mill concerning the pulp waste they produced. When her parole was finally over, Good moved right back to California, hooked up with George Stimson, another Manson follower, and the two of them started the websites.
Okay, so it’s safe to say we’re not going to get a lot more out of any of these folks about what happened to Joel Pugh.
What about the other three so-called Scientology Murders?
They all happened before the strange affair at the Talgarth Hotel in London. And the victim of the first one still has not been identified – to this day, she is known only as Jane Doe #59 Case File 358UFCA.
Her body was discovered by a hiker (15-year-old Trevor Santochi) on November 16, 1969. It lay in brush about 15 feet down an embankment off Mulholland and Skyline Drives, in Los Angeles, and she was a mess. She had more than 150 stab wounds, especially around the neck, face, and upper body.
The girl had only been dead for a day or so before she was found, and it was a dump job. She’d been killed somewhere else, a spot never located by police. She was white and in her early twenties. She was willowy, at a height of 5’9 ½”, and weighed only 112 pounds. She had tinted cinnamon brown hair and green eyes, and she had a few identifying marks. There was a one and one-quarter inch horizontal scar on her ribs, underneath her right breast. She had a light brown birth mark on her right buttock, the size of a quarter. She also had vaccination scars on her left arm and left thigh. She’d had a lot of dental work done, including 16 silver amalgam dental fillings, but no orthodontics, so she still had the buck teeth Mother Nature provided.
Jane Doe was wearing a blue corduroy jacket, size 9-10, made in Canada. She was also wearing “Landlubber” (hiphugger) style blue jeans made in Boston. She had a tan sweater on, size 32, and she was wearing riding-style boots that might have been made in Spain. The boots weren’t new. They were well-worn and they’d been re-soled at one point. She also had a woven leather belt, about two inches wide, made of one-inch leather strips and a circular brass ring-type buckle. The belt was marked either ‘Thom 38″ or “Tham 38.” She also wore a pair of rings. The one on her right ring finger was made of yellow metal and set with red oval stones. The one on her left middle finger was made of white metal bearing Indian designs and was probably made in Mexico.
There were also a few indications that Jane was a recent arrival. The medical examiner found no evidence of smog in her lungs, suggesting she was new to Los Angeles. He did, however, find tuberculosis. It was a mild case, which she could have thought was no more than a cold. The M.E. also found some coal dust in the girl’s lungs, the kind she could have acquired from living near coal-burning power plants or coal mines.
The big question, for me, was why this body wound up being classed with the others. As far as I can tell, it’s purely because of the violence of the attack, the overkill. That and the fact that Jane Doe had spent a short time out at the Spahn movie ranch while the Manson Family was in residence. There were lots and lots of stab wounds, but not the distinctive damage done in the next two cases, and there was nothing related to Scientology on or with the body. There has never been any evidence that the victim was ever associated with Scientology. There were a couple of witnesses who remembered Jane Doe’s stay at the Spahn Ranch, but no one seemed to know her full true name. One of them described her as being able to do a British accent, saying she was the person at Zero’s (John Haught’s) house in Venice who, in one account, answered the phone and spoke with a plummy English accent on the day that Zero died. Which would mean she was there at the same time as Bruce Davis, and knew him. The suggestion linked to that assertion, of course, is that she knew too much about Zero’s supposed “suicide” and so she had to be silenced. But no one seems to even know whether she was really American, Canadian, or British.
In her Spanish riding boots, she would have been nearly six feet tall, so you would think she’d stand out on that count alone. There was also all that dental work. Was she, perhaps, one of the girls befriended by Dennis Wilson (yes, that Dennis Wilson, of the Beach Boys) when he was hanging around with the Family? We’re told he paid for dental work for more than one of Charlie’s girls, but no one seems to know which ones, or which dentist actually did the work.
Wilson seems to have had a soft spot for girls with bad teeth. Then again, the suggestions keep coming up that methamphetamine was involved in a great many incidents to do with the Manson Family. And crystal meth has a habit of causing “meth mouth” – it literally dissolves your teeth if you keep using the stuff. It can also set off paranoid frenzies of the sort likely to cause 157 stab wounds.
So who was the vic?
The names offered up for Jane Doe 59 by various parties include Sherry Cooper and Stephanie Rowe/Susan Scott/Barbara Jr., Sherry Andrews/Claudia Leigh Smith/Collie, Collie Sinclair/Beth Tracy, Laura Anne Sheppard, and Diane Von Ahn.
The Sherry Cooper ID is based on the statement of Ruby Pearl, the girlfriend George Spahn acquired after his wife left him. Pearl was, among other things, a onetime dog trainer and circus performer.
Ruby, seen here in an ad from earlier days, and as she appeared in later life, was described by Gay Talese in a March, 1970 article for Esquire magazine as a “perky redhead of about thirty with lively blue eyes, a petite figure, and lots of nerve.”
When she was shown the clothing Jane Doe 59 had on when she died, Ruby said she recognized the shirt. It was one she had seen all of the Family girls wearing at some point in time. Ruby apparently told the authorities the last girl she had seen wearing the shirt was Sherry.
Sherry Cooper, however, turned up alive later on, in a video with a man known as Donkey Dan.
This is Danny DeCarlo, also known as Donkey Dan, a sobriquet he was proud of since it referred to the size of his private parts. Danny was also a member of the Straight Satans biker club. and may have been involved in various drug deals alluded to by Manson Family members in connection with Gary Hinman’s murder.
Susan Scott, aka Stephanie Rowe and Barbara Jr., is better known as one of the “Mendocino Witches” – and we’ll talk about that mess of murder and arson in my next post. However, Rowe has been relocated recently, alive and unhappy about being found. She apparently responded to the attempted contact with a lawyer.
So what about Sherry Andrews, aka Claudia Leigh Smith?
Well, Claudia, who was also sometimes called Collie, appears to have been too short, at 5’6″, to be the right girl. In any case, she too is believed to be alive and well. After Manson’s arrest, Claudia married Bill Vance, aka David Lee Hamic (who was involved in the murder of Shorty Shea).
All right, so we’ve struck out with all of those possibilities. What about Collie Sinclair, also called Beth Tracy (at least that’s the name she used when arrested during the raid on the Barker Ranch)?
This is the only decent photo I’ve seen of Collie/Beth. She is clearly a separate person from the other Collie (Sinclair, shown above), but no one seems to know what has become of her. And once again, no buck teeth.
I have not been able to locate a photograph of Laura Anne Sheppard, nor any record of her, post-Charlie.
This, however, is what Diane Von Ahn looked like:
Now, there we have some buck teeth, although no one describes her as tall. Diane Von Ahn was apparently introduced to the Manson Family by Bill Vance, mentioned above, and later lived with Vern Plumlee, another Mansonite.
Vern Plumlee was an AWOL Marine at the time of the Tate-LaBianca murders. He’s told a lot of stories, some contradicting each other, about what he got involved with, including doing Creepy Crawly home invasions – something Mansonites did in order to experience “the tidal wave of the Great Fear” Charlie talked about so much as a pathway to living in the NOW.
Well, if Diane did take up with Plumlee, she isn’t the dead girl. Plumlee is known to have done five years in prison for a robbery/stabbing in Long Beach right after this, and then settled down to work as a welder and raise a family, apparently with Diane. If so, then she can’t be Jane Doe 59 either, in spite of that toothy smile of hers. Nor can we ask her about any other Manson girl with buck teeth, as she has passed away just recently.
So, at this point, we’ve run out of possible Jane Does. The Sheppard girl is beyond my search capability, and has only been named by one party I know of, a guy who was never a part of the Manson Family and offers no particular reason for naming her. After 45 years, it’s ever more unlikely that we will ever find out exactly who she was, let alone who killed her, although her DNA has been run through a number of databases.
Well, what about the other two murders, then?
Doreen Gaul and James Sharp…They’re a two-fer.
Doreen Gaul was all of 19 when she died. The eldest of four children, she had graduated from a parochial high school in Albany, N.Y. in the spring of 1968. Formerly a devout Roman Catholic, she was fascinated by Scientology and came west to learn more about it.
She didn’t last long. Shortly before midnight on November 21, 1969, a man taking a short cut through an alley between Arapahoe St. and Magnolia Ave., south of 11th St. in Los Angeles, stumbled across the bodies of two teenagers. They were both nearly faceless, and so badly damaged, police assumed they had been the victims of shotgun blasts. Both had been stabbed fifty or sixty times, and their right eyes had been cut out. Both had tire marks on their bodies from a motorcycle.
James Sharp, only 15 years old, was still fully clothed and had his ID in his pocket. Gaul, however, had been stripped, and wore nothing more than a string of beads around her neck. The two were linked by the only thing they had in common beyond their murders – Scientology.
This is the “new-era” Scientology symbol. The “S” stands for Scientology. The top triangle represents a set of Scientology factors — knowledge, responsibility and control. Collectively the first three factors make up the KRC triangle. The lower triangle consists of the ARC triangle of affinity, reality and communication. And that, my friends, is just about all I know about Scientology.
At the time, Scientology had four “church” and administrative buildings in Los Angeles, and a number of communal living quarters in old Victorian mansions on side streets in the neighborhoods near MacArthur Park. This was about half a mile from the alley where the bodies were dumped.
James Sharp was living with an older Scientology worker in an old three-story apartment building at 921 S. Bonnie Brae St. A block away, Doreen Gaul was living in 14-room commune called Thetan Manor at 1032 S. Bonnie Brae, but had only been there for four days. Gaul was about to become a Thetan “clear,” which meant she had reached an advanced level of study, the same level Manson claimed he had achieved, while in prison.
Sharp was the son of a well-to-do salesman, and came to California with his father’s permission to study Scientology. His family lived in an upper middle class suburb called Crestwood, southwest of St. Louis. The boy had left high school in June, and his father described him as “very, very intelligent boy.”
Gaul was also described as bright. In the words of her father, “She was a good kid, but an emotional kid. She was always looking for green grass and rainbows.”
The bloom was off the rose where Scientology was concerned, however. Just before her murder, Gaul apparently made a telephone call to her father, asking for an airplane ticket home. Mr. Gaul told New York Times reporters that he’d promised Doreen he would send her a round trip ticket. She replied that she only needed a one way ticket. Her father says she then told him, “I think this stuff is all a bunch of crap.” She was planning to leave the Church of Scientology. She had been offered a job by a friend in New York.
Why, then, did she supposedly leave the commune that Friday night with James Sharp for the purpose of an auditing session, to be conducted by the younger student? What happened between that night and the discovery of the bodies?
No one seems to know where they went or what they did.
The resident agent of Scientology’s American St. Hill Organization at 2723 W. Temple St. was the Rev. Natalie Fisher, who said, “This organization has no facts or information regarding the circumstances of the crime, but we are doing everything in our power to assist law enforcement agencies to see that justice is done.” And in the end, the Church offered a substantial reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer(s) – $30,000.
Still, the Church got touchy when asked for membership lists. It was left to other residents to inform the police that Bruce Davis had spent a lot of time in the very same communal house as Doreen Gaul, and had, in fact, dated Doreen along with several other young women. Witnesses said Davis was extremely angry when he found out that she was seeing a black man at the same time, owing to the prejudice against blacks he shared with Manson.
When questioned later, after acquiring two life sentences, Davis was offered immunity but denied even knowing Doreen, although he did admit to being intimate with nine other girls at the same address. His exact whereabouts at the time of the murders, however, remain unknown. He disappeared from public view right after the death of Zero (John Haught) in Venice on November 5th, and then he’s said to have left the country on or about the 24th of November, 1969, eight days after Jane Doe 59 turned up and three days after Gaul and Sharp were found. Which gave him plenty of time to get to London before Joel Pugh’s death on December 1st.
Quite the busy boy, if he did all five of them in.
But some people think he did much more than that. Some people think Davis was also the Zodiac Killer, of (mostly) San Francisco fame. Partly this is because of Davis’ known taste for meth, and the violence involved in the Zodiac killings, but mostly it’s because of a note found in Doreen Gaul’s room at Thetan Manor.
A sketch of the Zodiac Killer isn’t completely unlike Bruce Davis’ mug-shot, aside from the glasses.
Most of what we know about this Zodiac connections comes from the case files of Lt. Earl Deemer, who was called out to the scene on November 21, 1969 (coincidentally, the night of the full moon), and took part in the search of Doreen Gaul’s quarters. Deemer, a homicide dick, found a typed note among her possessions that was a carbon copy of the original (never found). The note caught his attention because it was all in capital letters, and it rather closely matched the Zodiac letter found in the Cheri Jo Bates case of November 29, 1966.
I couldn’t reproduce the image, but you can find it and take a look for yourself here:
And here is the “confession letter from the Cheri Jo Bates case, the only Southland murder even tentatively assigned to the Zodiac Killer:
It’s typed in all caps, and has the same misspellings as the note in the Doreen Gaul case.
Here’s a somewhat more legible version of the same letter, mailed to a newspaper, the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
And this is the threatening note from October 29, 1966, signed “Z,” and associated with that case.
The connection seems iffy, at best, to most of the folks who’ve examined it. If you’re interested in that aspect, however, you might want to check out a book called “The Zodiac/Manson Connection” by Howard A. Davis, or “Manson Behind the Scenes” by Bill Nelson. Neither one provides much in the way of citations or solid proof of their assertions.
Nelson claims an ex-Family member told the author he “knew” Bruce Davis and Tex Watson were the killers of Gaul and Sharp, but doesn’t name this stalwart “witness.” He never mentions Jane Doe 59 at all, perhaps because Bobby Beausoleil has been pointed out as Davis’ accomplice on that one, and on equally untenable grounds.
Nelson does talk about some interesting aspects of Lt. Deemer’s part in the whole investigation, but the sad truth is, there has never been enough evidence, really, to take these cases anywhere. Absent a genuine confession by Davis, I don’t believe they ever will be resolved. I still have my opinions, though, and Davis seems to have left his stamp on all four Scientology killings as well as Zero’s “suicide.” That would mean he’s good for six, not four, and maybe more.
And we’re still not done with the Manson Family murders…
Next time up: A tragic case of triple homicide, arson, and over-the-top revenge in the case of The Mendocino Witches!