Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I am going to take a Peees......

(our title comes from Juan Flynn's purported comments after his "Last Supper")

In preparation for the next TLB Book Review I've been rereading 5 to Die and there's a section in it where we learn about Juan Flynn's "Last Supper" at Barker Ranch as Charlie, Tex, Clem and Bruce prepare to send him to NOW. Obviously Flynn was a major source for the book, because it appears to have been written before the trial.

Which gets me to thinking... how did some people know it was best to jump ship and bail on Charlie while others didn't and are still paying the price? If Katie had run to the DA say on September 20th 1969, she'd be married with three grown kids by now. If Leslie had called up the cops with her dad on October 1, 1969, she'd be walking around today. They didn't. Hell , Susan was already out of jail free, she just had to keep spouting the same bullshit she had been. She didn't.

Yet, Watkins knew he had to suck up to the DA, even as he was heading back to the Ranch to bang the girls. Poston may have seemed a simpleton, but he signed on to the Helter Skelter motive in a millisecond. Danny DeCarlo was a hardcore toughass biker but quick as shit through a goose he decided to sell everyone out for a walk. And Kasabian of course goes without saying.

If you read a lot of true crime like I do, the basic lesson if you are involved in a conspiracy to commit a crime is to be the first person to cut a deal- you can end up going home with no charges.

But my thought of the day is- is it simple self-preservation or something more? How were some people astute enough to say whatever BUG wanted them to say and others were not?

I muse.


agnostic monk said...

Col, this is such a good question, one I've contemplated often. I'm not sure I buy into this whole "loyalty" thing with respect to the family. Squeaky and Sandra Good would like us to believe that what was going on at Spahn was some pristine social and spiritual experiment. They pepper their descriptions of the scene with references to "honor, trust, integrity". They downplay the sex, drugs, and crime and play up the idea of loyalty, bonding, and love. They speak as though those who turned their backs on Charlie and the family murdered Christ himself and violated some deep spiritual law.

Maybe different members of the group all had somewhat different perceptions of the Spahn experience. Maybe those who opted to save themselves felt they were finally seeing through the bullshit in the clear light of day and came to view the group as a ragtag bunch of drugged-out, partying misfit thugs instead of a legitimate "family" that cared about each other.

Maybe those who stayed loyal, especially those who were on trial, really did believe that their reality was the only "real" reality, and that the ethics and codes of conduct of the outside world were meaningless. Maybe they really did believe Charlie was some kind of God-Man and that he would take care of everything. How else to explain the defiant smiles on the girls faces being led in and out of court? They were in some seriously deep shit, but they acted like at any moment Jesus was sure to reach down, rescue them and punish the establishment.

I'm guessing the witnesses for the prosecution came to view the family as a hollow, dangerous joke not worth sacrificing oneself for. Photos of a bloody Sharon Tate being dropped into witnesses laps during cross-examination could only help to reinforce that view (Nice move, Mr. Kanarek).

Then again, your question assumes that all the witnesses lied on the stand. Whether they did, or - if they did lie - to what extent they did, is still a big question mark.

ColScott said...


Not all witnesses lied on the stand first of all.

Every single Family member who testified lied to some extent.

You name them and I'll tell you the lies.

agnostic monk said...

Ok, what were Barbara Hoyt's lies, exactly?

What were Linda Kasabians's lies, exactly?

What were Catherine Share's lies (during the penalty phase), exactly?

Anonymous said...

yes, good question about why some people managed to jump ship and others didn't. it wasn't necessarily their time involved, maybe something about their personal history and psychology.

but what were the lies?

Peter Moran said...

But Brooks Poston raised the whole Helter Skelter, race war, Beatles, Piggies, Book of Revelations philosophy as well as Manson's method of programming through suggestion on October 3, 1969. And Brooks may be a "Hayseed" but he sure was observant and has one hell of a memory.

"Approximately a month ago [September 1968] Charles Manson and several of his group came back up ... he came up with 8 people and they were all sporting knives then and saying how bad it was getting in the city and that Helter Skelter - that's what he calls the Negro revolt, he says the Negros are going to revolt and kill all the white man, except the ones that are hiding in the desert - and he said that it was getting worse and worse and that he wanted to hide in the desert."

Brooks attributes statements to Charlie that are corroborated by a number of people not just by Watkins and Crockett. The whole guns as phallic symbols and shooting small animals is almost verbatim what Clem says in the Hendrickson movie, the knife throwing is also talked about by Al Springer. Manson "suggesting" Brooks take a big machete and cut the sheriff's throat a la Gary Hinman.

Bugliosi used the Helter Skelter motive because Charlie provided it on a plate with watercress around it. Whether Charlie actually believed in Helter Skelter is immaterial. Bugliousi argued he did because it was easy to convey to the jury. In fact, it was probably more complicated. I think Charlie used Helter Skelter to convince the others to kill primarily because he wanted to keep the family together. Both Paul Watkins in his book and Clem at his 1981 parole hearing discuss the fact that the inner circle was beginning to splinter despite new recruits.

"BOARD MEMBER TONG: I think you indicated that at the time of the killing, correct me if I’m incorrect, that Manson said to mutilate the body and that you surmised that it was a means of bringing the group more under his control, because the group was beginning to shift away from him; is that correct?"

This is the primary motive. Charlie didn't care so much about a world Armageddon, he was interested in retaining power over his immediate circle. A conman doesn't need to believe his own con in order to get others to believe it. If Bugliosi decided as a prosecution strategy - and rightly it would seem - that it would be easier to convince a jury that Charlie was a fanatic that believed in Helter Skelter, it may be disingenuous, but he didn't have to make anything up. Charlie provided him with everything he needed. It's a perfect example of someone being "hoisted on their own petard."