Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Body in The Basement (Other Murders/Unsolved #2)

While taking a look at these killings, the weird thing is how often NO ONE BOTHERED to pursue anyone. Wouldn't happen today, so why did it then?

From the bestelling novel (lots of fiction) HELTER SKELTER:

"With three exceptions, these are all the known murders which have been proven, or are suspected to be, linked to the Manson Family. Are there more? I've discussed this with officers from LAPD and LASO, and we tend to think that there probably are, because these people liked to kill. But there is no hard evidence.

"As for those three other murders, two of them occurred as late as 1972.

"On November 8, 1972, a hiker near the Russian River resort community of Guerneville, in Northern California, saw a hand protruding from the ground. When police exhumed the body, it was found to be that of a young man wearing the dark-blue tunic of a Marine dress uniform. He had been shotgunned and decapitated.

The victim was subsequently identified as James T. Willett, twenty-six, a former Marine from Los Angeles County. This information appeared on radio and TV newscasts on Friday, November 10. {Page 26 Cal.3d 800}

On Saturday, November 11, Stockton, California, police spotted Willett's station wagon parked in front of a house at 720 West Flora Street. When refused entry to the house, they broke in, arresting two men and two women and confiscating a number of pistols and shotguns.

"Both women had Manson Family X's on their foreheads. They were Priscilla Cooper, twenty-one, and Nancy Pitman, aka Brenda McCann, twenty. A few minutes after police entered the residence, a third female called, asking to be picked up and given a ride to the house. The police obliged, and also arrested Lynette Fromme, aka Squeaky, twenty-four, ex-officio leader of the Family in Manson's absence.

"The two men were Michael Monfort, twenty-four, and James Craig, thirty-three, both state prison escapees wanted for a number of armed robberies in various parts of California. Both had the letters 'AB' tattooed on their left breasts. According to a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections, the initials stood for the Aryan Brotherhood, described as 'a cult of white prison inmates, dedicated largely to racism but also involved in hoodlum activities, including murder contracts ....'

"While in the house, the police noticed freshly turned earth in the basement. After obtaining a search warrant, they began digging, and early the following morning exhumed the body of Lauren Willett, nineteen. She had been shot once in the head, her death occurring either late Friday night or early Saturday morning, not long after the identity of her slain husband was revealed on the news broadcasts.

"Questioned by the police, Priscilla Cooper claimed that Lauren Willett had killed herself 'playing Russian roulette.'

"Although, like Zero, Mrs. Willett was not able to contradict this story, the Stockton police were far more skeptical than had been LASO. The three women and two men were charged with her murder.

"They were scheduled to go on trial in May 1973. On April 2, however, four of the five surprised the Court by entering guilty pleas. Michael Monfort, who pleaded guilty to the murder of Lauren Willett, was sentenced to seven years to life in state prison. Superior Court Judge James Darrah also ordered consecutive terms of up to five years and two years for James Craig, who had pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to murder and to possessing an illegal weapon, {Page 26 Cal.3d 801} i.e., a sawed-off shotgun. Both girls also pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact, and both Priscilla Cooper and Nancy Pitman, aka Brenda, who Manson once indicated to me was his chief candidate for Family assassin, were sent to state prison for up to five years.

"* * *

"Monfort, and an accomplice, William Goucher, twenty-three, subsequently pleaded guilty to second degree murder in the death of James Willett, and were sent to state prison for five years to life. Craig, who pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to the murder, was given another prison term of up to five years.

"The motive for the two murders is not known. It is known that the Willetts had been associated with the Manson Family for at least a year, and possibly longer. Police surmised that Lauren Willett was killed after learning of the murder of her husband, to keep her from going to the police. As for the murder of James Willett, the official police theory is that Willett himself may have been about to inform about the robberies the group had committed."


agnostic monk said...

Thanks Col, that part of the family history is really interesting but you don't hear a lot about it. Nancy "What's the big deal 5 or 6 people get killed and you all freak out and blame us. Love is being killed everyday" Pitman sure sounds like a sweatheart, no? Isn't she like living in the midwest under an assumed name with 5 kids and a member of the PTA or something?

I've actually been to Guerneville and have wondered where exactly that body was found.

ColScott said...

Back in the Ronson days Nancy was outed- she had a website selling pottery or some shit. People wrote to her- she was in Oregon I think. And she cleverly revealed who she was without doing so if you know what I mean.

Anyway...she took the site down and disappeared again.

ColScott said...

Het name then was Nancy Montfort by the way.

agnostic monk said...

col do you happen to recall if she was still sympathetic to the family cause the way Fromme and Good are? Or has she completely renounced her former ways?

Another interesting one is Cap who is out there living in the world and seemed to remain loyal if distant for a number of years after the trials. She wasn't bothered at all by the murders and wished she had gone along with them.

ColScott said...

Yeah according to Nellie Cappy is out there and into CM.

I could not tell what Nancy thought.

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