How many people have been killed by the Manson Family? Nobody knows for sure. Maybe not even Charlie, since a number of murders have taken place since he was locked up.
Manson, as the decades have passed, is still a powerful symbol of many things to many people – only one of the reasons he should never be paroled.
We’ve had a look at a number of deaths that are linked to the Manson Family. For most of them, no one has ever been charged with a crime. The same is true of perhaps the most horrible case of all – a triple homicide often attributed to the Mendocino Witches.
Who were they, you ask?
The core group included Mary Brunner, Patricia Krenwinkel, Susan Atkins, and Ella Jo Bailey.
Mary Brunner, as you may remember from earlier posts, was a member of the Manson Family from the beginning. She was the first of Charlie’s “lost girls” and the mother of his son, Valentine Michael Manson.
Mary Theresa Brunner, born December 17, 1943 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, did not participate in the Tate-LaBianca murders, as she was already in jail on a charge of credit card fraud. She did, however, take part in the murder of Gary Hinman, and was later granted immunity in return for testifying against an accomplice, Bobby Beausoleil.
When she was cross-examined by Beausoleil, however, Mary Brunner recanted her prior statements, saying they had been “coerced” by the prosecutors. She then denied that Bobby Bo had killed Hinman.
Beausoleil was convicted anyway. And then, in retaliation for her attempt to back out of the deal she’d made, Brunner was arraigned for Hinman’s murder and held without bail. She was also facing the possibility that the evidence she herself had given as a witness under that immunity agreement would now be used to convict her. However, Brunner’s lawyer was successful in having the charges dismissed. The courts ruled that she had been of sufficient assistance to the prosecution under their deal that it could not be thrown out.
One wonders what those judges thought of their decision later.
In 1971, perhaps? When Brunner was shot and captured while she and Catherine Share and other Manson associates (male) were robbing a gun shop?
That robbery was part of a scheme to free Manson, following his murder convictions, but we’ll get to that next time when we look at the collateral damage the Family has done. For now, all you really need to know is that Brunner was shot and caught, and sent to the California Institution for Women, where she was locked up in the secure unit with three other Manson followers who were convicted during the Tate-LaBianca trial.
One of them was Susan Atkins.
Susan Denise Atkins, aka Sadie May Glutz, could also be called “Chatty Cathy.” It was her loose lips while in jail on other charges that led to the big break in the Tate-LaBianca murders. Atkins took credit then for stabbing Sharon Tate and her unborn child to death (an act with which she might have had some prior experience). Later, she testified that she simply held Tate down while Tex Watson stabbed her. The physical evidence seems to confirm this, since Susan’s buck knife, supposedly used in the crime, did not have any traces of blood on it, nor was the blade big enough to have made the major wounds on Tate’s body.
Even so, Atkins was given a death sentence for her part in the Tate-LaBianca killings. That was later commuted to a life sentence, however, and that is how it turned out. She spent one week less than 40 years in prison, and then died of a brain tumor in 2009, having been denied parole 18 times.
Atkins in later years. She was one of only two among those convicted who ever expressed remorse for the murders, after her conversion to the Born Again movement in 1974. She claimed to have seen a vision of Jesus Christ in her cell, although early on, she told prosecutors that she believed Charlie Manson was Jesus.
Then again, Atkins started out as a topless dancer and sometime ‘vampire’ in Anton La Vey’s Satanic extravaganzas. Some confusion on the topic of Christlike qualities is perhaps to be expected.
Atkins on her death bed. Her husband, James Whitehouse (yes, she was allowed to marry in prison – twice – and to have conjugal visits) reported in one article that her last word was “Amen.” In another, he states that he wasn’t present when she died, but in a motel room across the street from the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla.
Another member of the female foursome at the California Institution for Women was Patricia Krenwinkel.
Patricia Krenwinkel, born December 3, 1947 in Los Angeles, was also known as “Big Patty,” “Yellow,” “Marnie Reeves,” “Marnie Montgomery,” “Patricia Montgomery,” “Mary Ann Scott,” and “Cathran Smith,” but was most commonly called “Katie” by the Manson Family. It was Krenwinkel who introduced Manson to Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys, after Wilson picked up Krenwinkel and Ella Jo Bailey while the pair were hitchhiking in L.A. The end result was the Family moving in on Wilson, and living in his mansion for the next six months.
Originally from Los Angeles, Krenwinkel is said to have considered becoming a nun, and even attended a Jesuit-run school, Spring Hill College, in Mobile, Alabama for one semester. That’s where she was located and taken into custody after Atkins spilled the beans on the Tate-LaBiancea killings. In fact, Krenwinkel is touted as the Most Famous Arrest Ever Made in that city, with this mural posted on the wall in the Mobile Police Museum:
You can check it out for yourself here: http://seemobilealabama.blogspot.com/2009/07/dauphin-street-police-museum.html
Krenwinkel says she met Manson in Manhattan Beach and quickly became another one of “Charlie’s girls.” For the next 18 months, she toured the West Coast in Charlie’s converted black school bus, and spent time in both Ukiah and Mendocino along the way. Reportedly, she made an effort to ‘mother’ many of the band’s brood of children. Then came those bloody nights on Cielo Drive and in the LaBianca home.
Like Atkins, Krenwinkel was sentenced to death, and then had that sentence commuted to life in prison, where she’s been ever since.
Here’s a video of Krenwinkel describing her life journey. One should bear in mind, of course, that Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten are now the longest-serving female prisoners in the California system, and both are still hoping for parole.
Then again, she might completely sincere about every word. I’d like to think so, although my own experience in law enforcement leaves me with serious doubts.
The fourth of the Mendocino witches wasn’t ever locked up in the California Women’s Institution. That’s Ella Jo Bailey.
A mug shot from long ago showing Ella Jo Bailey, who was also known as Ella Jo Sinder and Ella Beth Sinder. Can’t help but notice that on a police file, her aka’s would read “Sinder, Ella” – in which case, who were the ugly step sisters in the story? And where did the glass slipper end up? We can guess the identity of the prince.
Apparently, Ella was living in a San Francisco commune on Lyon Street along with Susan Atkins when they first met Charlie Manson. Both of them immediately joined his group and took to traveling around on the converted school bus.
There isn’t much information about what Ella got up to in those days, other than the arrest report from the night she was picked up along with the other ‘Witches.’
It seems that Ella had a line in the sand that didn’t exist for the other girls. Or maybe she simply figured things out a lot sooner. By the time of the Tate and LaBianca killings, she was long gone.
Why? Well, Ella has told other people that she felt Gary Hinman’s murder was all her fault. Not because she was involved in the killing – she defied Manson, refusing to go along with the group that did the deed: Mary Brunner, Susan Atkins, and Bobby BoSoleil.
No, Ella felt guilty because it was her that told Charlie she thought Hinman had some money. Why she thought so, no one has ever explained, because Hinman certainly wasn’t living the life of Riley. It was described as possibly being some sort of inheritance, and Charlie needed cash to buy dune buggies for his Helter Skelter scheme. In the end, instead of the rumored twenty grand, the killers came away with Gary’s two rattle-trap vehicles and the whopping sum of $27 in cash.
When Ella Jo heard about Hinman’s death the very next day, she took off. Along with Shorty Shea’s disappearance, the murder made it clear that the days of Family Flower Power were over, and she wanted none of it. One report has her leaving the Spahn Ranch with Bill Vance that day, but that is probably not true. Bill Vance left, all right, but with Little Patty (Madeline Joan Cottage), and moved to Missouri.
Following Bobby Bo’s conviction, she never looked back. Reportedly, she later married and has two daughters and a son (and probably some grandchildren by now).
Well, there’s only one more ‘Witch’ to consider. That’s Suzanne Scott.
As noted in the last post, Stephanie Rowe can’t be Jane Doe 59, as she has been relocated since then. She is alive and well, and no longer part of the Family. She also does not want her connections with the Family aired, and hired a lawyer when she was contacted (not by me). Maybe she just wants to put it all behind her, the same way Ella Jo Bailey has. Or maybe there are still some outstanding issues to consider. Such as how these women earned the title of “Mendocino Witches” and just who might have paid the ultimate price for crossing their paths.
Here’s one newspaper article on the subject:
A set of court papers related to the original case (83 pages in all) is available here:
But many of the pages are hard to read, so I have transcribed one arrest report, which says the whole thing began this way:
“Shortly after midnight on on June 21, 1968, the resident Deputy Sheriff in Booneville, California, received a report from Mrs. Ruby Rosenthal, of Booneville, requesting a sheriff’s officer be sent to her home. Mrs. Rosenthal said she believed someone had given her son Allen, age 17, some LSD.
“A sheriff’s deputy was sent to the Rosenthal residence and observed Allen to be “shaking, nervous and complaining of seeing things, hallucinations…(including that) his legs looked like snakes, and that he saw flashes when he closed his eyes.” Allen advised the sheriff’s officer’s that he had received a blue tablet “about the size of a baby aspirin” from a girl at a “hippie house.”
“The sheriff’s deputies then went to the residence described by Allen Rosenthal and arrested all the occupants. The residence at this time was occupied by five females, three males, and an infant. Among the females was the defendant, Mary Theresa Brunner, and the infant was her son, Michael Manson, aka Michael Smith.
“According to Deputy R.E. Yelm, an unknown person or persons in the house “admitted giving the pill (LSD) to the victim and other parties…but stated that they didn’t have anymore.” A search was made of the house and surrounding buildings. An officer found “in a woodshed next to the house, a small can, approximately 2 inches tall and one inch around, with the pills in the bottom and what appears to be marijuana seeds in a plastic sack…(Also), in another plastic bag, (were) found more pills, small, bluish in color.” The occupants of the house were transported to the Mendocino County Jail.
“At a later time, it was confirmed that the seeds found were indeed marijuana, and that the blue capsules found among the other pills were LSD.”
Another juvenile, Ronnie Wallace, was also apparently given LSD but no charges were filed on his behalf.
As a result of all this hoopla, the following people were arrested:
Robert Michael Bomse, Peter Jason Kornbluth, Mary Theresa Brunner, Sadie Mae Glutz (Susan Atkins), Suzanne Scott (Stephanie Rowe), Cathran Patricia Smith (Patricia Krenwinkle), Ella Beth Sinder (Ella Jo Bailey), and Clarke E. Nagle (a juvenile).
The five women we’ve discussed already. I could find no information on the three men, either the adults or the juvenile, nor could I find photos of any of them. Possibly they were local and short term associates of the Family, which was actively using drugs and sex to recruit new members. These names might also be aliases, like those so often used by the women.
That was in June. On October 14th, 1968, the bodies of two women were discovered about six miles south of Ukiah.
Clyda Dulaney was 24 years old, and 8 months’ pregnant when she was murdered. She was the common law wife of a California Highway Patrol officer (Don Dulaney), and in the midst of a messy divorce and custody fight with the father of her three sons.
According to news reports, and a statement by Clyda Dulaney’s oldest son (Johnny Ussery), this is was happened.
Johnny woke up and realized that it was later than usual, judging by the sunlight coming in his window. His mother had not gotten him or his brothers up for breakfast.
Seven years old at the time, Johnny ran outside. He and his brothers and his mother lived in one of two trailers located behind Mrs. Warren’s antique shop, so he headed for the other trailer, where Mrs. Warren lived. He found his mother dead on the wet ground outside and when he entered the other trailer, he found his great grandmother’s body. Both women had been badly beaten about the face and strangled with long leather boot laces.
You can find a description of these events here:
Little Johnny Ussery proceeded to rouse his younger brothers Lane, 5, and Brett, 4. He got them dressed and for some reason, each of them grabbed his piggy bank off the top of the refrigerator. The three boys then ran to a neighbor’s home, where Johnny informed Mr. and Mrs. Torell of the bodies he’d found.
Johnny Ussery, more than 45 years later, says he doesn’t remember much of what happened after his grisly discovery. Understandable, since he was probably in shock at that point, and too young to understand much of it.
Now, at first, law enforcement wasn’t looking at the Manson Family.
As noted in the article shown above, the sheriff’s office was looking for three white men in a 1958 white Plymouth station wagon with paper plates, which was seen driving away from Warren’s Antique Shop on Hwy. 101. This shop was owned and operated by Nancy Warren, and the three men were seen leaving the shop at about 8 a.m. on the day the bodies were discovered in or near two trailers behind the shop. The car headed south on Hwy 101, but soon developed a flat tire, giving the witness a chance for another look.
Later that day a Hopland waitress reported seeing the same three men getting out of a station wagon, make and model unknown. She said one of them told the other two, “We will get away with this one the same as we did in Oregon.”
The descriptions given:
Person of Interest #1: Male with bright red hair of average length (meaning pretty short in 1967), 5-9 to 5-10 inches tall, slightly built, early 20’s.
Person of Interest #2: Male with light brown long hair, medium build, early 20’s.
Person of Interest #3: Male with dark hair and two or three days’ growth of beard, six feet tall, huskily built.
However, none of the three were identified to the public, or arrested.
Clyda’s former husband was given a hard look as well, since he was known to be abusive, and had done time for assault. By coincidence, apparently, he later did time in Vacaville while Charles Manson was locked up there. According to his son Johnny, the elder Ussery was part of a group of men who walked by Manson while he was sweeping the floor (his job, at the time). Ussery called out to him, asking Manson who had done “that thing in Ukiah.” Reportedly, even though he couldn’t have known which member of the group had shouted at him, Manson turned around and looked Ussery in the eye before answering, “You’ll never know, will ya?”
At any rate, Ussery was quickly eliminated as a suspect when several witnesses verified the fact that he’d been seen in Medford, Oregon, at the time of the murders.
The next logical suspect was the father of Clyda’s unborn daughter – Don Dulaney. Four times out of five, when a woman is murdered, it’s by a man in her life – usually a husband or boyfriend. This was the next theory pursued by the detective in charge of the case, Earl Friend.
According the investigator currently assigned to Ukiah’s cold cases, Earl Friend thought Don Dulaney might have hired someone to do the killings. He was, after all, twice Clyda’s age at 49, and several years older than her father.
Clyda might have looked mighty sweet to an aging cop, especially if she appealed to his Sir Galahad side. She needed protection from an abusive ex, a ‘real man’ to look after her three boys, and a steady income. On his side, well – I’ve seen a mid-life crisis take exactly that sort of turn with some cops.
On the day the bodies were found, however, Dulaney was in Sacramento for a special CHP training course. Dulaney told the Sheriff’s office that he’d dropped his wife and stepsons off at Nancy’s Antique Shop at 9:30 the previous night (a Sunday) and intended to continue on to Sacramento. But he’d forgotten his uniform, so he returned to his Ukiah apartment, picked up the uniform and then drove into Sacramento via Highway 20 east. He signed in at the Academy there at 1:45 a.m. Which wasn’t good enough, since the coroner could not pinpoint the time of death, and said it could have happened anytime between 10 p.m. and midnight.
For his part, Dulaney appeared to be truly distraught about all this, and he had been actively searching for a larger house, so that there would be room for him, Clyda, her three sons, their unborn baby girl, and a teenage daughter of his from an earlier marriage. On the other hand, an instant family of seven is a lot more grief, responsibility and expense than taking care of a single teenager.
On still another hand, a couple of years after this, he married someone else, a woman 19 years his junior with three little girls. So stepkids seem unlikely to have been that big of a problem for Dulaney.
In any case, the motive didn’t seem to be money. A small cash box had been rifled in Nancy Warren’s trailer, but a small glass jar containing $300 was left in plain sight on a counter, and unmolested. Mrs. Warren’s purse was emptied on the floor, but no jewelry was missing nor anything else of much value.
What’s more, blood recovered from beneath Nancy Warren’s fingernails was the wrong type to be Don Dulaney’s. DNA might have provided an answer, but that technology wasn’t well developed as a forensic tool back then, and by the time the evidence was analyzed for it, any DNA present had long since deteriorated. No financial evidence of payment to a hitman has ever been mentioned either.
Well, if Clyda’s ex and Clyda’s new man had neither one done it, then who?
The Sheriff’s office interviewed 35 suspects, including a trio of roaming purse-snatchers – the three men in the white station wagon, perhaps? Sheriff Bartolomie later said he thought the three transients could have murdered the two women, but without any evidence, he couldn’t hold them, and they soon departed his jurisdiction.
What did catch the eye of one investigator was the method of murder. Both women were fully clothed when found, and neither had been sexually assaulted. They had, however, been badly beaten about the face before being strangled with brand new hightop leather boot laces. One party says that two turns of each ‘thong’ had been pulled tight around the victim’s neck before the laces were knotted in back. Another reports an unlikely total of 36 laces being used on each woman. More likely, the laces were 36″ long.
In fact, the laces were 36.5 inches long, and therefore not a standard length sold in stores. Other than that, however, there wasn’t much to go on. Any shoe prints had been washed away by the rain. No useful fingerprints were found. There was no stolen property to be tracked down.
So the case went nowhere. But a year on down the road, the news was full of reports on the Tate-LaBianca murders in L.A., where victims were also beaten and tied up and some of them partially strangled. And one of them was 8 months’ pregnant. Just like Clyda.
Lo and behold, there was also proof of the Manson Family’s continued presence in the Mendocino area during the fall of 1968. And a witness had reported seeing another vehicle leaving the area of the antique shop on that cold rainy morning in October – a beat-up old blue pickup truck with five “hippy types” in it.
And not just the Family. Manson himself was there.
Among other things, it took months for the Witches to wend their way through the court system, and Manson’s son by Mary Brunner, Valentine Michael Manson, had been placed in foster care. Susan Atkins was given probation for her part, but promptly violated the terms and spent 90 days in the Mendocino County jail. And Manson was arrested too. So all of that took until at least September 19th to clear up. If anyone stayed on for another three or four weeks, they could have still been in the area when the triple homicide took place (I’m counting that 8-months-along fetus as a victim – she was certainly viable at that point).
The non-standard boot laces also fit into that scenario, since the Family was friends with a leather maker in the San Jose area by the name of Victor Wild, and Wild was known to have made Manson’s leathers.
But why would the Family decide to kill a cop’s wife? And would Susan Atkins even be able to take part when she herself was very pregnant? I’m not sure of the exact date, but she gave birth to a baby boy she named Zezozecee Zadfrack sometime in October of 1968 and then spent time recovering at the Fountain Of The World, a nearby religious retreat. So Sexie Sadie, at least, was still in Mendocino County.
Well, another little story is told by some. Without any documentation that I’ve seen, this one says that the CHiP involved in all this pulled over a car load of Manson Family women on Highway 101 at some point for driving under the influence (of acid, apparently). There was a small child in the car (Valentine Michael Manson, aka “Pooh Bear,” one presumes). The women were arrested and the child was taken into foster care.
Supposedly, the Witches got the name of the arresting officer, but the story says that name was Warren, which is definitely wrong. It also claims that his wife’s name was Nancy, and that Clyda was really the name of the grandma. And then, of course, the two women closest to him, his pregnant wife and her grandmother, were killed (no mention is made of this Officer “Warren’s” teenage daughter).
This version of events says the officer was suspected in the killings, but there was not enough evidence to convict him. The Manson Family is supposed to have killed the CHiP’s pregnant wife in retaliation for his taking Charlie’s baby away to foster care.
Trouble is, there’s no record of any official contact between the Manson Family and Don Dulaney. And all of the names are mixed up. Of course, if there was an incident and the participants were all high on acid, their perceptions and memories of the event might also be highly confused. And conflated with the mass arrest that did take place, involving the Sheriff’s office, in which case Manson’s kid was removed from his mother.
So did they do it?
I don’t know. As Sheriff Bartolomie once remarked, the murders fell into the “senseless” category, and that has always been the Manson Family trademark, but no one who does know is saying a word about it.
Collateral Damage: What else has the Family been blamed for? Some pretty weird stuff!