Saturday, December 30, 2006


Bret is the winner of the 2006 Man of The Year award. For that he gets a pat on the head and our thanks.

Bret’s site has evolved into everything Bill Nelson ever dreamed of. Except for the charging money part. And the psycho Christian part. And the fondling twelve year olds part. Okay, it’s just the best site out there.

Bret hasn’t done any primary research yet, that I know of. But once he does, watch out. Can you imagine him asking the hard questions of a Mary Brunner or of the BUG himself? What Bret does is provide a one stop spot for news on the case, and for research on the case. All brilliantly displayed, especially since his last site update.

The Col has gotten to be friendly with him, although we haven’t met. I admire his lack of a point of view either way. His openness with material. His positive attitude. He lacks the hypocrisy of Mark Turner. He doesn’t exhibit the pettiness of Debra Tate. He’s not opening a store selling things he doesn’t own the rights to, like Bo at Cielo Drive. Jesus isn’t making him do it like Dennis Rice. And he’s not a nasty, arrogant puissant like the Col. To be honest, I’m not sure why Bret is doing it. I’m afraid to ask him. I am just thrilled to death that he is.

Bret recently unearthed almost 4 hours of local news footage related to the case. Again I don’t know why or how. He put a few minutes up on his site and I linked to it last week. But he shared it with me and will share it with you when the time is right. Lots of stuff repeats from the old 1970 tape. Bruce’s surrender, perp walks, lawyer talks. But you get much more of the girls on the corner. And you get to see Lotsapoppa speak ! And there’s footage of the Hawthorne trial with lying criminal Gypsy and her close cropped hair. And best of all, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven, the girls, Nancy and Kitty and Sandy working on Charlie’s vest. And Bobby’s vest. The same vest the Col owns and keeps under glass. That was soooo cool.

So we hereby present the OTLB MAN OF THE YEAR Award to Bret. Between us and the readers here and at KTS maybe the truth has a chance.

Thank you Bret!

Hopelessly Devoted To You

Once notorious, now footnotes

The two women who tried to assassinate Ford have come to embody an era's extremism.
By John M. Glionna and Larry Gordon
Times Staff Writers

December 29, 2006

They are joined in a strange sisterhood by a pair of unhinged acts: In the autumn of 1975, 17 days apart, each tried to assassinate President Ford, who died this week at age 93.

Today, Lynette Alice "Squeaky" Fromme and Sara Jane Moore are serving life sentences in federal prisons in Texas and California, respectively. The once headline-grabbing names have become historical footnotes embodying the extremism of a tumultuous era.

Three decades ago, Fromme was a red-haired flower child from Santa Monica, a Charles Manson handmaiden who gouged an X in her forehead in devotion to the mastermind of the Tate-LaBianca murders.

Moore was an accountant, divorced numerous times and a mother of four. Of her attempt on Ford's life, she said, "There comes a point where the only way you can make a statement is to pick up a gun."

Although the two would-be killers' roots are different, their plots were both symptoms of the 1970s, the "goofiest decade of the century for California … in terms of its sheer ominous weirdness," said Kevin Starr, USC history professor and state librarian emeritus.

"Moore's style was middle-class, whereas Squeaky Fromme was a genuine cultist. Moore represented the individual derangement of the period and Squeaky the social derangement," said Starr. The assassination attempts — Fromme's in Sacramento and Moore's in San Francisco — also contributed to "an atmosphere of lawlessness" in Northern California, Starr said, compounded by such 1970s events as the Patty Hearst kidnapping, the slaying of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and the mass suicide of the Jonestown cultists.

Others say the acts symbolized an unraveling of American society in the aftermath of Watergate and the Vietnam War.

"A lot of people were rolling around unmoored, finding a reason to believe there was a political or conspiratorial explanation for their inner upheaval and concluding if they could only act on their impulse, they could save the world," said Todd Gitlin, professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University and a former leader of the Students for a Democratic Society whose books include "The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage."

Fromme, now 58, became the first woman to try to assassinate a U.S. president when on Sept. 5, 1975, she burst through a crowd at the state Capitol, dressed in a nun's robe and with a .45-caliber pistol strapped to her left leg.

She pointed the weapon at Ford from two feet away. Though it was loaded, there was no bullet in the firing chamber. A Secret Service agent disarmed her and slapped her in handcuffs.

At her sentencing, when the judge said he believed she would have killed Ford if she could have, Fromme shouted: "You fool! I'm trying to save your life!" She later threw an apple, hitting the federal prosecutor on the head.

In 1987, after hearing rumors that Manson was dying of cancer, Fromme briefly escaped from prison in Alderson, W.Va., in an attempt to see the former cult leader. Eight years earlier, Moore also briefly escaped from the facility.

Now at Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, Fromme has been eligible for parole since the mid-1980s but has yet to request her freedom.

"Her position has been consistent: She didn't kill anyone and is not sorry. She's not asking for sympathy, mercy or a second chance," said Jess Bravin, author of "Squeaky: The Life and Times of Lynette Alice Fromme."

"She says she didn't intend to kill Ford. She felt she was taking important symbolic acts, calling attention to acts she considered out of line in the world: the continued incarceration of Charles Manson and what she perceived as Ford's hostile policies toward the environment."

Moore, 76, is at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, a low-security facility for women about 30 miles east of San Francisco. Officials there would say only that she is part of the general population, lives in a cell with two or three other people and works prison jobs seven hours a day, five days a week.

Moore could be released Sept. 21 if she applies for parole and the U.S. Parole Commission decides she has a good prison record and is not likely to commit another crime. "If she does apply, we can still say no," said Tom Hutchison, the commission's chief of staff.

She grew up in comfortable circumstances in Charleston, W.Va., where she is remembered as smart but aloof. She became an accountant and later an FBI informant. While living in the Bay Area, she became involved in radical politics and volunteered for a group that oversaw the distribution of $2 million in food, a ransom demanded by the Symbionese Liberation Army after its kidnapping of newspaper heiress Hearst.

Moore fired at Ford on Sept. 22, 1975, as the president was leaving a speaking engagement at the St. Francis Hotel. Her single shot from a .38 revolver missed after Oliver Sipple, a disabled Vietnam War veteran, grabbed her arm and pulled her down. (In the publicity, newspapers identified Sipple as gay, and he later unsuccessfully sued for invasion of privacy.)

Federal public defenders were preparing an insanity defense for Moore, who had received psychiatric treatment several times in the past, but she pleaded guilty over her lawyers' objections. As she was sentenced to life in prison, Moore expressed mixed feelings about her actions.

"Am I sorry I tried?" she said. "Yes and no. Yes, because it accomplished little except to throw away the rest of my life…. And, no, I'm not sorry I tried, because at the time it seemed a correct expression of my anger."

In a jailhouse interview, Moore said she had not been inspired by Fromme, whom she called "insane" and described as "seeking all that attention."

Frank Bell, one of Moore's former federal public defenders, recalled her as "a cipher, a question mark," whose reasoning raised doubts about her sanity. "Her conduct was sort of a shopping list: 'Take my son to school, shoot the president, pick up my son from school,' " said Bell.

Both she and Fromme were united as characters, along with other presidential assailants, in the Stephen Sondheim musical "Assassins," which won a Tony Award in 2004 for best musical revival. In that show, Moore is portrayed as a bumbler who has trouble even finding the gun in her purse and Fromme as a fanatic who sings of her "Charlie."

In the end, neither assassination attempt hurt Ford or changed his policies. In an interview with Bravin, Ford said Fromme's actions that September day probably boosted his public standing.

"He said for better or worse, he wasn't an emotional guy and that he didn't get that excited" about the incidents, Bravin said.

"It was frightening when it happened, but he moved on."

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

President Ford Finally Goes Quietly

Ford survived assassination attempt in San Francisco
- Edward Epstein, Chronicle Washington Bureau

(12-26) 21:26 PST Washington -- But for some quick action, Gerald R. Ford's presidency, and his life, could have ended amid gunshots outside San Francisco's St. Francis Hotel on the afternoon of Sept. 22, 1975.

As Ford emerged from the historic Union Square hotel's Post Street entrance at 3:30 p.m. after addressing a World Affairs Council audience, he paused before getting into his limousine to wave to the crowd across the street.

In a flash, two shots rang out. The first narrowly missed the 38th president of the United States and the second was deflected by a bystander who grabbed at the arm of the shooter, a 45-year-old middle class housewife, dabbler in extremist politics and FBI informant named Sara Jane Moore.

A young San Francisco police patrolman then subdued Moore before she could fire her .38 Smith and Wesson handgun again.

Secret Service agents pushed Ford into his limousine and in seconds had the presidential motorcade racing south toward San Francisco International Airport to get the president out of the city and back to the safety of Washington.

The Secret Service had good reason to feel it best to hustle Ford out of the state. After all, Moore's failed shooting was the second attempt on Ford's life in the state within about two weeks. On Sept. 5, 1975, Charles Manson groupie Lynette "Squeaky'' Fromme had tried to fire at Ford on the state Capitol grounds in Sacramento as he walked from the Senator Hotel across L Street to a meeting with then-Gov. Jerry Brown.

Fromme never got a shot off, even though her gun was loaded with four rounds, before a Secret Service agent wrestled her to the ground.

"Ford was puzzled by these shooting attempts,'' recalled presidential press secretary Ron Nessen, who witnessed both incidents. "But it was the '70s in San Francisco and California and there was lots of anti-Vietnam war activity and lots of anti-government activity.''

The big Bay Area news of the time was the kidnapping of newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst by the radical Symbionese Liberation Army.

Nessen remembers both attacks like yesterday. "The president decided to walk through the Capitol park to meet Gov. Brown. He was on a path and we were parallel to him on the grass. Suddenly there was a flurry of activity. The Secret Service rushed the president into the Capitol and we ran into the Capitol too.

"He went ahead with his meeting with Brown,'' Nessen recalled.

Fromme, armed with a .45 Colt automatic, was tackled before she could remember to rack a round into the handgun's firing chamber.

Within three months, Fromme was convicted of trying to kill Ford, and sentenced to life in prison. She is now in a federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas, and still pledges allegiance to Manson, the mastermind behind Los Angeles' notorious Tate-LaBianca murders of 1969.

For San Francisco Police Capt. Timothy Hettrich, the first law enforcement officer to reach Moore, the attempted shooting outside the St. Francis prompted an instant reaction.

"I grabbed the gun immediately,'' he said, "just two or three seconds after she fired it.''

Moore's gun hand had initially been deflected by another person in the crowd, Marine Vietnam veteran Oliver "Bill'' Sipple, who had come out to see Ford.

"It was a big crowd,'' remembered Hettrich, then a patrolman who is now a captain commanding the San Francisco police narcotics unit. "We were stationed 10 feet apart.

"You get the adrenalin going. I grabbed her, wrestled the gun from her hands. It was pointed at me and other people were jumping on her.''

Hettrich and others took Moore into the St. Francis, and he turned the gun over to the Secret Service.

Nessen recalls that as the shots rang out, he looked for a car in the waiting motorcade that already had its doors open. He jumped into a car with Donald Rumsfeld, who was then Ford's White House chief of staff.

After racing from downtown, the Ford motorcade drove onto the tarmac at the airport, and the presidential party hurried aboard Air Force One. Before it could leave, however, the plane had to wait for First Lady Betty Ford, who had carrying out her own schedule of events on the Peninsula.

Nessen, who now lives in suburban Maryland, said the First Lady had no idea that her husband had been attacked. "She said something like, 'How are you, dear? How did your day go?' ''

"I think it was Rumsfeld who finally told her that someone took a shot at the president. ... We took off and what had happened sunk in. I can tell you that quite a few martinis were consumed on the flight back,'' Nessen added.

Moore decided to plead guilty, avoiding a trial. After a sentencing hearing at which Hettrich was a main witness, she was sentenced to life in prison, just like Fromme. Moore, now 75, is at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin in the East Bay.

For Sipple, his moment of heroism was also his undoing. On Sept. 24, 1975, The Chronicle ran a story saying that one reason the White House had yet to thank Sipple for his potentially lifesaving gesture was that he was a gay man.

It turned out that Sipple's family didn't know he was gay, and the disclosure resulted in him being alienated from his relatives. Sipple sued The Chronicle for damages, but his case was eventually dismissed.

He slid into alcoholism and died in 1989 in his Van Ness Avenue apartment, age 47. Among his prized possessions was the letter of thanks he eventually got from the White House.

Moore and Fromme share another distinction. They both escaped briefly from the women's federal prison in Alderson, W. Va.

Peninsula author Geri Spieler, who has written a yet to be published biography of Moore, has known her since 1976, and doubts Moore will ever be freed from prison.

She said that Moore, who was married five times and who is the mother of four, is still dangerous.

"She has personality disorders. She has no sense of the consequences of her actions.

"She's not totally a violent person unless you don't do what she wants you to do ... She's narcissistic and self-righteous and she will flip the minute you don't do what she wants,'' Spieler said.

In her long interviews with Spieler, Moore never expressed any remorse for shooting at Ford.

"She calls herself a political prisoner. This is Sarah Jane's version of the truth. She never looks back at the pain and suffering she has caused so many people,'' Spieler added.

As for Ford himself, the former president was dismissive of both of his would-be assassins.

"Squeaky Fromme certainly was off her mind. Sarah Jane Moore, the same way,'' he told CNN interviewer Larry King in 2004.

"People said to me, 'Why don't you stay in the White House and not go out to meet the public?' My answer to them was, a president has to be aggressive, has to meet the people, and therefore, I did,'' Ford added.

The White House never announced it, Nessen said, but after the St. Francis incident Ford always wore a thin bulletproof vest in public.

Corner Caroling

Quick, catch this before Bret takes it down…. It’s the Manson girls singing. There’s Brenda/Nancy, last seen selling pottery in 1999 in Oregon after her murder stint. There’s Sandy- has she really renounced Charlie? Blog comments do not count as news. There’s Cappy. Did Nellie really visit her in the desert? And then there’s….? Bret says it is Kitty Lutesinger… but didn’t she testify AGAINST everyone? The photos of her I’ve seen all show a longer face. Though come to think of it, when I met Bobby’s daughter Jene last year… I can see the resemblance. So maybe it is her. Bret intended it as a Christmas special, so enjoy it while you got it. It’s from a new tape of period footage that he unearthed. I bet it is amazing.

Edited- It is Her

Thursday, December 21, 2006

#5 Is Alive

The Official Blog has been changed so that only members can comment. How do you get to be a member? You email me and then presto you are a member. This way, I don't get stuck dealing with cops for three days when the next Poche/Meatwad comes along. If you have good stuff to post then post. If not, hey, there's always a cell next to this titwad.

I mean, what a fool....but coming from Candybiotch's site who should be surprised?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Catherine Share, The Gypsy Liar

The Col is still pissed off at the Gillon- History Channel- Our Generation piece of shit, and especially at giving half the show to fat Gypsy and acting like she was some poor innocent girl corrupted by Manson. I mean, it is hard enough for a genius like myself to follow all this, what chance do we have when History PROFESSORS from Universities spread lies and inaccuracies? Anyway, here is a Chapter from CHILD OF SATAN, CHILD OF GOD. It is copyright 1977 Logos International. I believe that Susan testified that the book is pd because the company never paid her and is defunct. It was at a parole hearing. If anyone actually can prove they own the copyright I will take it down. The title of the Chapter is ESCAPE. Susan is on Death Row for seven murders Gypsy shows up for robbery and shooting at cops. I believe the Spider they talk about is Kenneth Como, whom Gypsy marries later on. The book is by Susan Atkins and A ghost writer. Here is the lovely Gypsy as seen from the point of view of a convicted seven times killer.

The early morning fog was beginning to lift, and patches of blue were spreading across the sky. Dew was still on the grass--mostly crabgrass, actually--but Catherine and I didn't mind. It was going to be a beautiful spring morning and our anticipation overcame any discomfort from the hard ground or the dampness. I plucked at the crabgrass between my knees and occasionally glanced into Catherine's brown eyes. She didn't look thirty. The loss of nearly forty pounds had left her at the well-proportioned, size-nine figure she had displayed during our days at Spahn's Ranch.

She was talking about her new man. "Spider is such a beautiful man, Sadie, so much more together than Charlie ever was."

"Susan," I interrupted. "Please call me Susan, not Sadie."

"I'm sorry," she said, smiling, "but don't be so touchy, woman. We don't have time to be hassling over names right now. There are more important things to be discussed."

Catherine had always been intense, but she was more so then--in 1973. She and Mary, both central figures from the Manson days, had arrived at SSU just a few weeks earlier, sentenced for an armed robbery conducted right after our conviction in the main trial. They had staged the robbery to get guns to try to break Charlie out of jail. Their charges didn't seem to merit SSU treatment, but they, like Pat, Leslie, and me, were considered high security risks.

Catherine, who had also been know as Gypsy, and Mary had been welcome additions to SSU for me. The cool treatment from my two codefendants had never abated, and the newcomers provided me with someone to talk to at last. While we were all civil and formally polite to one another, there had been a definite three-way division for the five of us--Pat and Leslie, Catherine and Mary, and me, pretty much alone. I had begun to drift toward the latter two, just for the sake of companionship.

Catherine was still talking. "I want to know if I can trust you or not to help me and my partner."

It was strange that she should be asking if she could trust me. I hadn't completely made up my mind to trust her and Mary.

Catherine spoke with a warmth that occasionally reached ferocity about "freedom". She in fact intimidated me. "We've got to fight our way into freedom," she was saying again. "It can't be found in prison."

That was obvious, I thought, but her intensity gave it deeper meaning. I was beginning to understand that she was not merely an outlaw. She was a revolutionary.

"It's funny that you should ask me if you can trust me," I said, as she paused. "My name is not the most trustworthy one in this prison, you know." I smiled wryly. "Can you trust me, you say. Hey, I'm not sure I trust myself, or even that I trust you."

I'd never seen a harder look on a woman than the one that covered her face in that instant. It caused me to shudder.

"If you blow my scene, I'll kill you. So don't play any games with me. Either you're with me, or you're against me. Which is it, Susan?"

I tried not to look frightened. I had more than held my own with the old Gypsy. But this was different woman.

"I'm with myself, Catherine," I said softly but firmly. But I'll do what I can to help you get out of here, if that's what you want. I many even decide to go with you, but I'm not committing myself that far at this time. If you trust me and I blow it, I know where I stand. Right?" I paused, and added, "Right!"

There was a long silence. I looked up. The sky was practically all clear, and the slight spring breeze was warming. I pulled on the crabgrass in front of me.

"Okay, girl," Catherine said without looking at me, "this is what I want you to do. I want you to sit up tonight and watch the perimeter man and clock him. I want you to tell me tomorrow morning how many times he drives around the perimeter and how long between the times he passes SSU. All right?"

I was still equivocating. "What on earth for, Catherine?" It sounded dumb, but I was sincere.

The hardness returned to her face. "Look, do you want to ask questions and play games, or do you want out of this hellhole? You just do what I tell you and as you prove yourself to me, I'll tell you more. A good con doesn't ask too many questions, Susan."

She paused, and her face softened slightly. "If you remember nothing else about what I'm into and who I'm with, girl, you remember not to ask questions. Just do what you're told, and you'll be taken care of."

Deep in my stomach was the feeling that comes after you've had the wind knocked out of you. It was that old, old feeling of mine--fear and the beginnings of loneliness. I was cold again. But I refused to show my feelings. I had to stay tough. Catherine had learned things I wanted to know. Besides, she was company, for good or for worse, and If I was going to keep my mind from slipping into the pit that often so beckoned to it, I needed someone to talk to. She claimed she was "a pretty together white witch," with real powers--and maybe she was.

"Say, Cathy," I drawled after nearly a minute of silence, "tell me more about Spider."

I pushed the right button. We alternately sat and reclined on our little lawn for an hour as she spun out a fantastic tale of her "new warrior…Prince Charming…everything a man ought to be…"

He was in one of the major prisons…"the best, the most popular man in the joints…the most respected among the together revolutionists…the general of a new army."

"He actually kidnapped me one day while I was sitting on the corner waiting for Charlie to get out of jail," she said, "and I've never been the same since."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Was this Charlie all over again? She let me read one of his letters, and to my surprise he named me as one who should join them. I perceived he was far ahead of Charlie in his cunning. He was more serious that revolution, about violence, than any of us had ever been. Yet much of his rap had the ring of Charlie to it.

"Let's walk," Cathy said suddenly. "I don't like sitting around where the cops can listen in. Besides, Spider says we've got to stay together physically; it's our best weapon against these pigs."

So up we got from the sun-warmed grass and began to walk the L-shaped yard. I felt lazy, but Catherine took off like a runner, her hair flying behind. She was walking, but at a tremendous clip, her arms pumping like an old-fashioned steam locomotive.

"Hey, Cathy, I thought you said walk! You're nearly running. Wait up!"

"Either catch up or be left behind, Susan," she said sharply.

I jogged enough to catch up. I knew she wasn't talking only about her walk. And the thought of being left behind scared me.

We walked for forty-five minutes, and it wasn't long before the staff was watching every step. Our sergeant had a hound dog's nose for trouble, and he knew something was up. He had worked too many years with men in prison to relax his never-turn-your-back-on-a-con attitude. My legs were feeling like lead so I welcomed his call for us to come in, but I wasn't going to let him know it.

"All right, ladies, inside. It's lunch time." He stood at the door like a sentry as we filed past.

"Baker, when you are going to give up?" I asked, my nastiness flaring fully.

"When all the cons are buried six feet under and never see daylight, woman, so what do you think of that?"

"Nothing, you----male chauvinist, nothing!"

As I stepped inside the door, Catherine spoke quickly to me, "Cool it, Susan, the man is only doing his job."

I expected, and received as soon as we were back in our cells that afternoon, a lecture on how to con the guards and keep them off our backs. Despite my experience, I still was too messed-up to be very prison-wise.

That night, after the final count had been taken and all the goodnights spoken, I sat up in my bed and stared out the window into the night. Four rows of vertical steel bars and four of horizontal covered the window. A screen covered them from the inside. The outside was well-lighted. I could see the perimeter road, beyond the large field area outside our own small yard. First there was our barbed-wire fence and then the high barb-topped fence twenty-five yards beyond. And then…freedom."

I shook my head. "No way," I thought. There was no way, it seemed to me, that Cathy and Mary could get through those bars on our windows, over the SSU fence, across that large space with no trees or bushes, and over that outside fence with its rolls of barbed wire on top, placed there just for us after we had arrived. And besides that, there was the electronic beam along the fence and the spot man in his little tower a quarter-mile away.

There were headlights. That was the perimeter man, making his first round in the car--10:10. We had gone back to wearing watches since the Manson days. How were they going to cut the bars? And what about the fence? "What if I go with them, and we've busted?" I asked myself. "They'll never let me see daylight again." I shuddered inside. How long does it take to creep to go around? "There they are"…the headlights--10:17.

"I wonder if Pat and Leslie will try to go with them?" I shook my head negatively.

So Spider thought I was worth trying to help, huh? I began to fantasize. "Snap out of it, Susan." The thought broke through to my consciousness. "This is no game. This is for real. These people aren't playing. What are you going to do? If you're busted, or get them busted--if you blow it one more time, girl--you can start counting the daisies and prepare to make fertilizer for some oak tree."

There were the headlights again--10:45. "He's sure not consistent," I said into darkness. Suddenly I head noises. "Oh oh, bed check." I pulled the covers over my shoulders and closed my eyes. The watchwoman passed by and returned to her office.

"This is just like old times," I thought, noticing the feeling of fear in my stomach and my rapid breathing. Flashes of creepy-crawling burst into my brain, then dissipated. I wasn't sure if the feeling was good or bad.

There were the headlights again--11:03. "Man, I'm not used to this. I'm sleepy." Headlights--11:15…Headlights--11:20…. And on into the night.

"To heck with this. I'm going to sleep."

"Well, give me the rundown, woman." Catherine was eager as I stood outside her window. It was my turn to be outside with Mary that morning. "Is her consistent in his trips around the joint?"

"Nope. It's anywhere from three and a half minutes at the fastest to twenty minutes between trips. I think the guy on the perimeter must stop and talk with the guy on the spot. You'll have to ask Pat about that. Her room overlooks that scene. I can only see the roads and haystacks."

Catherine pursed her lips. "Okay. That's good enough. Now I want you to draw out a map of SSU for me. I need to send it to Spider so he can tell me which is the best rout to take. I want every phone in the place marked, where the staff's office is and a timetable of when they make their security calls. Here is now I want you to write it."

She held up a plastic glass half full of a pale liquid. "You'll draw it with this. It won't show on the paper till it's heated. Then he'll make it out. We'll just send an innocent little letter."

I didn't do anything for two or three days after that. I was still wrestling with whether I could trust Catherine, although I felt myself drawing closer to her and Mary all the time. Pat and Leslie were still maintaining their Susan freeze, and I needed someone to trust in. Not to trust is not to live, I thought. Crazy idea. I'd misjudged people so many times, but I figured, "One more time." Maybe I'd win the prize this time--a real friend. Sometime later, walking with Mary the endless circle we made in our yard--this time at a far more reasonable pace than Catherine's gallop, although Mary's long, slim legs still kept me moving--I inquired about Gypsy's man. "Mary, do you love Spider, too?"

Her cool, blue eyes peered out of their narrow slits in the morning's bright sun, and her customary from turned into a look that said, "Don't come too close, Susan!"

But she said, "Why do you ask?"

"I asked my question first, Mary."

"It's none of your business, Susan," she said evenly, "but yeah, I love him."

"What about Charlie, Mary?" I asked rather innocently. "Did you get tired of his trip?"

Her fierce look blistered me as she stopped and turned on me. "If you never mention him again to me it will be too soon. I can't stand him and I don't want to talk about the----creep; you understand?"

Her fuse was short. "Yeah, all right, Mary, I hear where you're coming from. So how is Pooh-Bear?"

"His name is Michael, and he's fine. I don't call him Pooh-Bear any more."

"Hey, Mary, there's no need to be defensive with me, I'm not out to hurt you."

She put her hands on her hips, and stared hard into my face again.

"Oh yeah? Is that why you went to the grand jury? Don't talk your trash to me. You're going to have to prove to me you ain't going to hurt any more."

I started to walk away. I was quivering like jello inside, but I still had the capacity for a though exterior. "I'll see you later, Mary. I don't want to be your whipping boy today, all right?"

Mary and Catherine may have been closer to me than Pat and Leslie during those mid-SSU days, but things obviously weren't going to be lovey-dovey.

Summer came and went in 1973, leaving me with a bit more confidence--although it was shaky--a nice tan, and the feeling that I could really regain a good reputation as a together woman in this world. I'd made maps, written out procedures, obtained information no one else in the unit had the guts to seek. Getting into a procedure log when the staff wasn't around, for example, wasn't easy, and more times than not I'd thought I'd surely get busted.

The fog season--one of California's blessings or curses, depending on your point of view--was rolling in, and it was time to make the big move. The needed hacksaw blades and other equipment had arrived, something I discovered while walking in the yard late on a windy afternoon. The wind was unusually cold.

"You'll never believe me when I tell you we won't even need to go over the fence," Cathy told me through chattering teeth.

I looked at her calmly and said, with more confidence in my voice that I'd felt in years, "Try me, Cathy."

She grinned with delight and whispered into my ear, "We have a brand-new set of wire cutters."

"Oh yeah? Should I even ask"

"Sure you can ask but I'm not going to tell you." Her grin widened. "Use your imagination, Susan. Spider has taught you that, hasn't he?" She was referring to my inclusion in a lot of his communications in recent weeks.

I pulled my ski hat down over my shoulder-length hair, envying Cathy's long full hair, which she continually flaunted. "I'm starting to compete with her!" The realization hit me unexpectedly. "I can't get back into that! Stop it!"

I thought about how Mary had got the blades in when she returned from making a court appearance in someone else's case--in her rectum. But no wire cutters, surely! Cathy's only visitor had been Jeanie. I looked at Cathy, and she was laughing. She was dying to tell me as soon as I’d admit I didn't know.

"All right, I give up. I thought you knew. But not wire cutters. That's impossible."

"That's not the only place, you know," she said, giggling. "Will it help you if I explain that the handles unscrew from the cutters and that it’s only about five inches long and two inches wide when apart?"

"You mean to tell me, Cathy, that Jeanie carried those things inside her vagina, and old Baker didn't pick it up on the metal detector."

"That's what I mean to tell you, Susan. Baker is so busy looking for things that he misses everything. That's why I talk nice to him and don't want you yelling and swearing at him. It makes him mad, and we want him to like us and trust us. You get him all riled up and he wants to bust you."

She paused for a moment, then looked at me knowingly. "and furthermore, if it ever comes down to it, don't be afraid to give a little bit more. What's more important-your chastity or your freedom?"

That set Catherine off on another of her lectures. I just wasn't up to it and said so, edging away toward the door. She continued on walking in the cold wind, and talking. The last words I heard before she turned the corner were "It gets cold outside late at night." Everything she did was calculated, and everything seemed to work. But still, I wondered, how had they passed those hidden wire cutters while sitting in a visiting room in front of a staff?

I was curled up on my bed and had the blanket pulled up to my neck, reading one of Karlene's philosophy books. Capitalizing on our ever-increasing freedom to move about SSU during certain hours, Cathy walked into my room quietly. The look on her face startled me. I thought I'd done something wrong. Paranoia still prevailed. But, lightheartedly, I said, "Hi. What's the serious face for?"

Without blinking, she said, "It's decision time, Susan. Are you, or are you not, coming with us?"


"If you decide to go, you know that because of your name, if they see you, they'll shoot to kill. And once you're on the other side of the fence, you're either with us, or you're on your own. You know everything I know about how to get out. You've proven yourself to be valuable. Spider's told you that. So if you decide not to come with us, you can come later, on your own. But you must understand that, once I'm out there, there's not going to be a whole lot of time. I'm going to be busy. I'm going to bring it down fast. I was born a revolutionist. I lived through the underground scene in France during World War II. My parents died in the underground, and I'm not about to stop now. I believe in what I'm fighting for. If you don't, then tell me now, sister, because I'm ready to make my move.

I knew something about Catherine's childhood. It had been full of pain. She was the daughter of a Hungarian musician and a woman of German-Jewish background. They had fled from the Nazis to France, and there had fought in the underground after the fall of that nation. They ultimately committed suicide during the war. Catherine was adopted by an American family when she was eight, only to have her adoptive mother commit suicide after being stricken with cancer. Catherine cared for her blind father, a psychologist, until he remarried, and then she went off on her own, marrying, divorcing, playing in small movie parts until she met Bobby, and through him, Charlie. She was one of the most talented members of the Manson group - an outstanding violinist and a magnificent singer. She was experienced, and she was tough.

"I don't need any albatrosses around my neck, Susan, and I can't carry your load for you. There are people out there who will hide you if you make it. If you don't make it, well, you'll have gone down fighting instead of lying here dead in you head."

I still didn't answer, so she rambled on. "I want you to know that all you have done for us so far has been appreciated. I've taught you as best I can. I thank you for staying up and typing those nights while I was working on getting my bar out. If I'm busted before I make it and you choose not to go, they can't implicate you one bit. You can merely say you didn't know what was going on. But, if you try now, and get busted with me and Mary, you'll never be given another chance by them.

I sat on the bed, and picked at the bedspread. "In all honesty, Cathy, I've really weighed it all. I've considered the chances. I know I can't stay here with them, Pat and Les. They drive me crazy. You know I can't handle their games any more, and the thought of staying in SSU the rest of my life blows my mind."

I stopped. I had to go on. Could I? "But I'm not ready to go with you yet. If I do go, and when I do go, I'm going to have to do it on my own. I can't join you and Mary and Spider. That is too much like the past. I don’t want to be on your trip. I want my own trip. Can you dig it? I'm together enough now, I think, to know I've got to stand alone and make my own decisions. This is my first decision - I'm going to stay behind."

I was exhausted with my spiel. Exhausted and afraid. Was I right?

Catherine spoke. "I hear you, sister. You've come a long way. But, seriously, Spider will be proud of you. He'll be disappointed that you aren't coming out with us, but he'll understand. And your stand, when you make your move, will make a lot of dudes inside want to have a woman like you on their team. Don't worry about finding a man. He'll find you, Susan."

She was very close to being as tender as we once had been toward one another. But she pressed on, "I'll write you through your attorney if I need to contact you for anything. All right?"

I nodded.

"Tonight," he said softly, "I need you to type real loud one more time. Pat is going to turn up her stereo loud for us and we should be all the way through the bar tonight. Mrs. Barnhouse will be on, and she ain't too smart, you know, so I'll tap on the wall when I need for you to stop typing. Mary will be in my room around midnight. Her lock is all ready."

She hesitated. "This is it, sister, time to get it on. Check you later."

With that last word, the together witch left. She knew her business, and I respected her. But the old affection was gone. The only thing I was really attracted to by then was her power to make things happen. She was just like Charlie - and apparently Spider. If she pictured things in her mind, they seemed to happen.

I hammered on the keys till my fingers were sore. I'd been at it for nearly two hours. Suddenly, I felt something in the air. Something was wrong. I stopped typing, and Pat's stereo was suddenly turned way down. Leslie was saying something to Pat as I got up and went to grill my door.

Mrs. Barnhouse was standing in front of Cathy's cell. "Don't move, you! It's all over! You’ve had it!"

Confusion rolled in like a whirlwind. All the lights went on, and staff people filled the corridor. For four hours, a storm raged such as CIW had never seen. Two women had come within a fraction of escaping from the highest security this medium-to-minimum-security prison had to offer. The screen was off its brackets. The last bar needed to clear the window was all but an eighth of an inch through. And in one cell were the two women, a pair of wire cutters, two backpacks with makeshift camping gear. All unheard of.

I sat quietly on my bed. I wondered about all the privileges we were going to lose - the ones we had worked for for two years. We'd just have to start over.

But what about Catherine and Mary? They, too, would just have to start over. I shook my head as I thought about the second plan they had already laid out should the first go awry. Nothing was outside their calculation.

Those Were The Days

I have some more Gypsy bashing but the elves are busy and it is taking a long time transcribing it.

Here's something cool from back when Sandy cared.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

When Leslie Met Larry

She seems so nice. I am sure Mrs. LaBianca thought so, right Savage?

and there's Punch!!!!

Creepy Crawl Version

I love the packaging. I love the Bunny. I love the Bunny with Guns. The Col just ordered four of them for friends, all Creepy Crawl style. How many are you ordering for Christmas for the Manson Family member on your list?

Order here.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

An Open Letter Sent Today

December 3, 2006

Dear Mr. Gillon,

As a professor, author and television host, you have an obligation to history itself to be accurate and truthful. I don’t know whether you know it or not, but in the latest episode of OUR GENERATION, you are guilty not only of propagating outlandish myths, you are guilty of omissions that are reprehensible.

For the first part, you spent half of your silly show repeating the falsehoods about Charles Manson being the devil in the Garden of Eden. Far from it- he was a small, pathetic, loser with no super powers and precious little going for him. You never once mentioned that the actual killings were committed by Charles Tex Watson. You don’t even mention his name in the entire show. Second, you allow the now aged and always silly Vincent Bugliosi to repeat his usual banter, most of which is fabricated. This man, who ran into trouble himself for beating his mistress, repeats the lies that Susan Atkins told about wanting to kill Sinatra and Taylor. This is known bullshit, but you allow it on your show.

Secondly, and far worse (since the standard Manson bullshit is to be expected on your extremely ordinary show) you hold Catherine Share up as some sort of paragon of virtue on the show, some fat, old housewife who escaped Charlie who beat her. Except nothing she says is true. You can go and watch MANSON the documentary and see her talking about how Manson was Jesus to her. She was arrested during the trials while robbing a gun shop- she fired repeatedly at Hawthorne Police officers and served jail time for it. She later became a gun moll for a hardened convict. She later was on the run for organizing a nationwide credit card scam. It is extremely likely that she LED the cleanup after the murder of ranch hand Shorty Shea. Just a few years ago she was in witness protection. This is a CAREER Criminal, as the police would call her. Let me repeat- she has SHOT at cops and been an accessory to murder, according to people who were there. And yet you let her speak her slander (did you know that Clem has been free for 22 years and probably never did anything to her like she says now he did? Did your lawyers even check your show or did they have trouble staying awake?) and lies and expect the audience to know the facts without you presenting them?

You should be ashamed of your episode. Any of your students could have done a better job.



The Official Tate-LaBianca Murders Blog

Saturday, December 02, 2006


What the hell was that?

A half hour special that tells us nothing new?

And of course Punch (BUG) shows up.

I am stunned.

This was heavily promoted and involved Mark Turner so we should have known better.

Give me a minute to collect my thoughts and my lunch.

(Pictured- A topless Catherine Share runs from Charlie to Jesus as Mark Turner films)

Thursday, November 30, 2006


Catherine Share will tell you why she stayed so many years with Charlie.

We wonder if the lying bitch will

1- Admit to shooting at Law Enforcement officers while robbing a store.
2- Admit to being in Witness Protection.
3- Admit to credit card fraud.
4- Admit to being a gangster mean.
5- Admit that Jesus is her co-pilot.
6- Admit that she betrayed the only man who ever gave her guidance.

I'll be watching and blogging. But remember- Mark Turner worked on the show so how good can it be?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Suffer the Little Children

Dennis Rice has self-published a book called FREE INDEED.

No word yet on whether Bill Nelson's ghost proofread it.

No word yet on whether he mentions his young children that he left at the ranch to be sexually abused by Clem and others.

But I bet you dollars to donuts he talks about Jesus and asks for your money.

The Col is gonna send his $10 in and then summarize it here, so you don't have to waste your money.

Charlie's Kids, where are they now----la la la la

The song says it all- click it now.

You can download it HERE.

Or Just Play it and enjoy.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What the Col Says About Bruce Davis

I say what I always said- Guy needs to rot a few more years, grow a sac, stop blaming Charlie and be sorry for what he did. He didn't do shit really for Hinman so that is a raw deal. But he killed Shorty. He's suspected in a dozen other murders. I don't know if ANY of them are real. BUT he did GET OFF on being Charlie's main henchman. Go back to youtube and watch his surrender. He doesn't give a shit about anyone or anything. Guy can walk free in my book the day he owns up to his actions and not one second before. This Jesus site is just a strike against him too IMO. Be a Man Bruce. Dang.

What the fuck is that tub of goo Hoyt doing at the hearing? As much as Davis should rot, he should rot for what he did. He didn't do anything to her fat ass- he probably didn't even tap it. It was established during the Nellie days that her version of the Shorty killing was BULLSHIT. She heard nothing and came forward a few years ago for attention and a book deal. She was the moron known as DESERT SPEAKS who illegally worked with Nellie on a paid field trip to Death Valley. So why in the hell is this childish, huge, idiotic woman testifying at his hearing? I might as well show up and say he killed that Scientology chick because an android told me so in a dream. Sick of these people.

Monday, November 20, 2006

What the Press Says about Davis

Former Manson Family Member Denied Parole

(CBS) LOS ANGELES A former Manson Family member convicted in connection with two 1969 killings was denied parole Monday.

The state parole board decided Bruce Davis should remain behind bars, according to Sandi Gibbons of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. He was denied parole for the next year.

Davis, now 63, was convicted along with others in the stabbing death of musician Gary Hinman in his Topanga Canyon home, and the slaying of Donald "Shorty" Shea.

Shea's remains were later found buried near the Spahn movie ranch in Chatsworth, where Manson and his gang lived.

Davis, who has now been denied parole 24 times, was not involved with Manson and some of his other followers in the 1969 murders of pregnant actress Sharon Tate, grocery store chain owner Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, and four other people.

Manson and most of his co-defendants have repeatedly been denied parole.


Parole denied for Manson follower Bruce Davis

Associated Press

A state prison board denied parole Monday for a follower of cult leader Charles Manson who was convicted in two 1969 slayings.

The unanimous decision by the California Board of Prison Terms was the 24th time parole had been denied for Bruce Davis, who is serving two life terms.

Davis' supporters told the board he was a reformed man who deserved to be freed. Now 63, he earned a doctorate in theology and became a prison minister. He even married in prison and fathered a daughter who turns 13 next week, friends told the parole board.

"He's a changed man, and he deserves an opportunity," said Jeffrey York, who ministers to inmates and has visited Davis in prison for 16 years.

Others said Davis should be paroled because questions surround how deeply he was involved in the murders for which he was convicted.

"He didn't kill anybody," Donald Miller, a paralegal who has known Davis for 15 years, told the board. "Bruce said, 'No.' ... He later did stab a victim superficially - not deep enough to draw blood."

Prosecutors and family members of the Manson Family's victims said there was no question about Davis' guilt and argued he should remain imprisoned.

They recounted in graphic detail his role in the murders of musician Gary Hinman in his Topanga Canyon home and the later slaying of former stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shea. The stuntman lived at the Spahn movie ranch in Chatsworth where Manson had his commune.

Manson Family member Barbara Hoyt, sometimes in tears, recalled how she awoke to Shea's "loud, bloodcurdling scream" as he was killed.

"It was not a gentle murder," Hoyt told the prison board. "There were chop marks and hash marks in his bones."

She testified against Davis and other Manson followers during their trials and was not charged in the Manson Family deaths.

Los Angeles County prosecutor Patrick Sequeira told the board that Davis held a gun to Hinman's head as Manson nearly cut off the musician's ear with a sword. Others later stabbed Hinman to death, but Davis was not present.

Davis was not involved in the cult's most famous slayings on consecutive days in August 1969. Yet he was "one tentacle of a unified monster," testified Sharon Tate's sister, Debra Tate, who lives in the Los Angeles area and is the last surviving member of her immediate family.

On Aug. 9, actress Sharon Tate, the wife of director Roman Polanski who was 8 1/2 months pregnant, was killed along with four others at her Hollywood Hills estate. The next night, grocery store chain owner Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, were killed in their Los Feliz home.

Davis' wife, Beth, said outside the hearing that while her husband was involved in the slayings, he now views Manson as "a very sick and evil person."

Manson and others convicted in the Tate-La Bianca killings have routinely been denied parole. But a Manson follower convicted with Davis in Shea's murder, Steve Grogan, was paroled after leading police to the victim's body.

Davis, imprisoned at California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo, did not attend Monday's hearing. He will be eligible for parole again next year.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Legendary Tape From Channel Two- MORE STILL!

Leslie's Lawyer says She got a raw deal for killing some people. The girls go egghead and march. Then Charlie Marches/ Bobby takes a bus ride and never comes back. Bobby looks badass and gets on another bus.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Legendary Tape From Channel Two- MORE!

More from that tape that Nellie got out of Channel Two when he helped them find Pooh Bear and shit.

We start with Atkins and her breasts, then Charlie talks about the desert, Squeaky talks about Melcher and the Family Jam, then babies and horses.

Friday, November 10, 2006

You Can Go Wrong If You GORIGHTLY

Adam Gorightly wrote this book called THE SHADOW OVER SANTA SUSANA.

There is no original research in the book. It is kind of "Adam retells you everything you already know, his way."

It doesn't have a real publisher. I think it is a print on demand book. The Col is mentioned in the last chapter, from my antics on Go's old message board.

Here's the problem- if we are trying to find the truth about TLB, then we don't need NEW lies.

The BUG story is provable bullshit. We know that.

But that doesn't mean that Manson was a CIA drug/mind control experiment. It is retarded to think that and annoying for true scholars to hear this shit repeated.

GoGo is as full of shit in his own way as BUG. That is why I stood up to him all those years ago.

What a loser book... four years later he finally does an interview.

Here is Go Go spreading the cheese.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bret is the Best

I am sorry that I think Mark Turner is a bad guy. But I do. And there isn't much to say.

I just wanted to make sure all of you know that this guy Bret has now established that his site is better than He has reorganized it and provided amazing shit. And he has done all of this without really establishing what his pointg of view is. So thusly, his site becomes incredibly valuable for research. And unlike Nelson, it is free. No child molestation either.

But don't take my word for it - click now.

There aren't a lot of good sites out there. With one fell swoop of a redesign, this becomes the king.

Congrats Bret.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Col Rants

---ITEM--- Regular Blog Reader HEAVEN has suffered the loss of her mother. Our prayers and good thoughts go out to her and her family.

---ITEM--- Candygramma's stupid, illiterate attack blog is now almost pure comedy- nobody on there knows anything or makes any sense. Our bad thoughts and ill wishes go out to CG and the gang.

---ITEM--- The 1970 documentary MANSON supposedly will play on the internet tonight on a teeny tiny screen. The Col doesn't believe it. but Mark Turner does. I'm trying to sell him a bridge.

---ITEM---Look- something from the internet graveyard!

---ITEM--- This reminds me- I used to have heated email exchanges between me and Jenn Oakley at the Yahoo KTS site. She was a smug, ignorant bitch who liked to ban the Col. The Col liked to ask why the hell she'd want (since she was in the military) her friends going overseas to lose their lives in a stupid pointless war. She'd always attack me in ignorant ways. Well, Jenn, I am still here, making tons of money, having EintDave drive me around and married to a supermodel. You got any friends left or are they all over in Iraq getting blown up for oil?

---ITEM--- I encourage people to blog, and here is one that did. Unfortunately she was full of shit and went away.

---ITEM--- When was the last time this crap website was updated? Is Deb too busy dancing with her father's urn?

Can't stop the happy, boys and girls!

Monday, October 23, 2006

I Hear Sandy Left Charlie

Sandy was not real, she never killed anyone. She was just an uptight rich bitch looking to play hippy and get laid.

It was never real, I feel. Just attention seeking.

Here is an old CURRENT AFFAIR report.

You can go watch an old video I blogged where she says she never screwed Manson. Yet here she had his baby.

See what research in this case is so freakin' hard?

Real easy to cut back and forth and make her look even crazier by cutting to Charlie then.

Her smile just creeped me the fuck out. Sick chick.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

He Blames Charlie So I Wouldn't Let Him Free (Just saying)

Parole debated for Charles Manson follower Bruce Davis

The Associated Press

Charles Manson's followers should never be freed from prison for the string of brutal slayings they committed in 1969, the sister of murdered actress Sharon Tate said outside a California parole hearing.
Bruce Davis, now a 63-year-old prison preacher with a doctorate in religion and philosophy, participated in the Manson family's first murder.
Manson doctored the crime scene in a vain attempt to trigger a race war, a pattern he and his followers repeated in the slayings of the pregnant Tate, grocery store chain owner Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, and four others.
"These people were all declared to be sociopaths. There is no recovery from this kind of mental illness," said Debra Tate, who lives in the Los Angeles area and is the last surviving member of her immediate family. "I'm concerned for the safety of the community."
The horrific nature of the crimes is what keeps them fascinating for the public 37 years later, Tate said Tuesday: "It's very fresh in my mind."
Davis is serving a double life sentence for two first-degree murder convictions and has been denied parole 22 times since he became eligible for release in 1977. A decision on his current appeal is expected next month.
Davis was not involved in the Tate-LaBianca murders. He was convicted with Manson and others in the cult's first murder, that of musician Gary Hinman in his Topanga Canyon home, and in the later slaying of former stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shea, who lived at the Spahn movie ranch in Chatsworth where Manson had his commune.
"They tried to make it look as if a Black Panther did (the Hinman murder) to start a race war," Los Angeles County Assistant Head Deputy District Attorney Patrick Sequeira said outside Tuesday's hearing. "That was the first time that they wrote 'political piggy' on the wall with the paw print of the Black Panthers, to try to blame it on blacks in general."
Beth Davis said the man she married in prison is being unfairly punished for his relationship with Manson when he was a young man addled by drugs.
"He was forced by Manson" to participate in the slayings, she said. "They all got involved, and there's no denying it."
Yet Davis is a changed man who has served a prison sentence far longer than those convicted of similar crimes, several family members and prison counselors told the parole board.
The entire Board of Prison Terms is hearing Davis' parole appeal because the commissioner and deputy commissioner assigned to his case split on their decision after an Aug. 31 hearing. That hearing was held at the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo, where Davis is imprisoned.
He was not present during Tuesday's hearing.
Manson and others convicted in the Tate-La Bianca killings have routinely been denied parole. But a Manson follower convicted with Davis in Shea's murder, Steve Grogan, was paroled after leading police to the victim's body.


I'd like to meet Stephen Kay. I would ask him, in his obsession for the truth and to keep murderers in prison, why he never made sure the BUG went to jail for perjury during a death penalty trial.

I would ask him why he supports Steven Hodel's BULLSHIT Black Dahlia book.

I would ask who did his haircuts for all these years to have that person killed.

Note- Kasabian claims she handed him the bolt cutters. Is he still lying?

The box collecting interlude amuses me by its surreality.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

From the Sunday NY Times

The Judge and the Auteur: Revisiting the Polanski Case


MARINA ZENOVICH’S office here looks as if it should belong to an absent-minded film professor. A cluttered room adjacent to an editing suite on the city’s west side, it is packed with file folders containing hundreds of press clippings and the inevitable stacks of videotape. But a corkboard on the wall betrays a preoccupation that stirs more than academic passions in these parts.

The board is dominated by two photographs. One shows an almost young Roman Polanski, dressed in a dapper suit, hair parted to one side, looking lean, boyish and handsome. The other reveals a man in a black robe, with thinning white hair and a roundish face supported by a stocky frame. The caption under it reads, “Laurence J. Rittenband, Judge.”

“These two men met their match in each other,” said Ms. Zenovich in an interview last month.

Laurence J. Rittenband, who died in 1993, was the California judge who almost 30 years ago presided over the notorious case in which Mr. Polanski pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with a minor. Even after Mr. Polanski fled to France in advance of his sentencing date, the judge vowed to stay on the bench until he returned to the United States.

Instead, Mr. Polanski, now 73 and a French citizen, remained a fugitive, and prospered as a film director, winning an Oscar in 2003 for “The Pianist.” Judge Rittenband, who left the bench in 1989, died at 88 without completing his quest. But he left behind enough professional and personal drama to have joined Mr. Polanski as a central character in Ms. Zenovich’s forthcoming documentary, which promises to shed new light on one of modern Hollywood’s more perplexing episodes.

The new film, unfinished and untitled, is being produced by Jeffrey Levy-Hinte (“Thirteen”) and Lila Yacoub (“The Anniversary Party”), and has Steven Soderbergh as an executive producer. It was recently acquired for distribution in Britain by the BBC, and when it eventually appears here in theaters or on the festival circuit, it will likely renew the debate over whether Mr. Polanski still has a price to pay if he returns to the United States.

Ms. Zenovich, a 43-year-old former actress who once had a small part in “The Player,” said it is impossible to reach conclusions about Mr. Polanski without drawing Judge Rittenband into the equation.

“I’ve never set out to diminish the seriousness of what Polanski did, but it comes down to crime and punishment,” she explained. “How much do you have to pay for the crime? What I’ve always set out to prove is, despite what Polanski did, which was awful, he was treated unfairly by the judge. That’s the bottom line.”

Convinced that even reasonably well informed people do not completely understand the Polanski case, Ms. Zenovich pursued a doggedly reportorial course, undeterred by Mr. Polanski’s refusal to participate. (A spokesperson for Mr. Polanski confirmed that he has no involvement with the documentary.) She conducted on-camera interviews with nearly 100 people, including Samantha Geimer, the girl, now in her 40’s, with whom Mr. Polanski had sex and who has publicly forgiven him. Other interview subjects included figures connected with the director’s film career, among them Mia Farrow, Nastassja Kinski, Robert Evans and Robert Towne.

But considerable attention is reserved for Judge Rittenband, who was something of a legend in his own right, having overseen murder cases involving the so-called Billionaire Boys Club and Sarai Ribicoff, during his time on the California Superior Court. Ms. Zenovich sees both Mr. Polanski and Judge Rittenband as men who rose by force of will from humble roots. Mr. Polanski survived Nazi persecution and lost his mother in the Holocaust. The judge, from a less dire background, was a poor Brooklyn boy who, upon graduating high school at 15, bypassed undergraduate work for New York University Law School; he later attended Harvard, because he was too young to take the New York bar exam, graduating Phi Beta Kappa.

Ms. Zenovich describes the judge as having lived the kind of vibrant personal life easier to associate with Mr. Polanski. “He was never married, and he loved being kind of a swinging bachelor, juggling a couple of girlfriends at once,” she said. “What’s most interesting about him is that he tried to come across as so moralistic, but eventually I found out that this was a man who had a 20-year-old girlfriend when he was 54.”

In a rough edit of the film, Richard Brenneman, who covered the case for The Santa Monica Evening Outlook, recalls drafting an affidavit immediately after Judge Rittenband’s death, in which he documented his conversations with the judge in chambers: “Most specifically, how he asked me what sentence to impose on Polanski, which was illegal.”

In another clip the producer Hawk Koch recounts that his father, the late Howard W. Koch, recalled overhearing Judge Rittenband at the exclusive Hillcrest Country Club, where the judge was a popular member.

“One of the gentlemen at Hillcrest came up to Rittenband,” Mr. Koch tells Ms. Zenovich, “and said, ‘Are you really going to let that little Polish blah-blah-blah off?’ And Rittenband said: ‘Well, he thinks so, but no way. We’re going to put that little blank-blank away for the rest of his life.’ ”But Judge Rittenband certainly has his devotees, including his nephew, Elliot Rittenband.

“He felt an obligation and a duty to do what he felt was best, and he always stuck to it,” Mr. Rittenband tells Ms. Zenovich. Marsh Goldstein, one of the judge’s calendar deputies, recalls to Ms. Zenovich: “He was one of the most intelligent men I’ve run across — literate, well read, with a wonderful vocabulary, a wonderful way of quoting famous writers and philosophers in the course of your calling calendar.”

A key revelation, Ms. Zenovich said, came from the case’s retired prosecutor, Roger Gunson, who suggests in the film that Judge Rittenband acted improperly before Mr. Polanski decided to skip the country in 1978. At first all sides had agreed that the only sentence he should serve would be a 90-day psychiatric evaluation in prison at Chino, Calif. But when Chino authorities, fearing for Mr. Polanski’s safety, released him after 42 days, an infuriated Judge Rittenband called in both sets of lawyers and announced a new plan. He wanted to put Mr. Polanski back in prison for another 48 days or deport him, Mr. Gunson says in an interview with Ms. Zenovich.

Mr. Gunson also says the judge told the assembled lawyers how he wanted them to argue their sides of the case. Recalling that day in chambers, Larry Silver, one of the lawyers present — he still represents Ms. Geimer — tells Ms. Zenovich how he, Mr. Gunson and Mr. Polanski’s lawyer, Douglas Dalton, had afterward sat together in stunned silence. In all their years in the legal profession, Mr. Silver says, none of them had ever seen anything like that.

(Mr. Polanski’s defense submitted an affidavit charging Judge Rittenband with bias, prejudice and unprofessional conduct, and Judge Rittenband ultimately agreed to allow another judge to handle the case.)

Still, Ms. Zenovich said she was determined to create a balanced film, and her preliminary edit includes views from people who appear less concerned with whether Mr. Rittenband botched the case than with Mr. Polanski’s actions.

“This man committed a rape, committed a bunch of other atrocities and got away essentially with nothing,” says Philip Vannatter, a former Los Angeles police officer. “And I don’t think that’s right.”

Even from the unfinished film, it is apparent that Ms. Zenovich — who made an earlier documentary, “Who Is Bernard Tapie?” without the participation of its subject, the French financier and politician — has become intent, like documentary filmmakers before her, on using the form to delve deeper than the written word or television usually allow.

“A sense of truthfulness is like a drug that hooks you and won’t let you go,” said Barbara Kopple, the documentary filmmaker and two-time Academy Award winner, reached by telephone in her New York office, where, with Cecilia Peck, she is completing “Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing.” “Once you’ve seen it it’s hard to go back. I think that’s why the audience for documentaries keeps growing.”

For her part Ms. Zenovich said her feelings toward Mr. Polanski, as well as those of her mostly female crew, have vacillated in the course of their work.

“You love him one day,” she explained. “You hate him the next. I tell some people I’m doing this and they say: ‘That pedophile! That child molester!’ But all my research leads me to believe he’s misunderstood and endlessly fascinating.”