This is all COPYRIGHTED 1997 Bill Nelson's Ghost.
We pick up with Nelson babbling about Gypsy again....
Amazing! I could not believe it! There was her name as big as life! Catherine Shannahan, but no string to her home location. There was one for Paul Shannahan, with a string, but that was all. The name she gave Dick Fandrich, Tommy Thompson and now the church, Catherine Shannahan! Tommy had told me that she was in the Federal Witness Protection Program. That was the name she was not supposed to give out, I was told. Few congregational members knew who she really was.
As I was bending over, looking at the wall map, a woman came near me. I rose up and our eyes met. It was Catherine “Gypsy” Share! She was as beautiful as I believed. She was indeed a lot heavier than her younger, Manson Family days.
“Good morning, I am Catherine, and your name is?”
“My name is Bill.” She started to walk past me to go to the ladies room, when I turned to say, almost shaking in my shoes, “Catherine, I am Bill Nelson.”
“Bill, you told me that you would not do this, that you would not come to where I live and bother me.”
“Catherine, I just wanted to come and worship with you. I tried to talk to you before. I called Joe a couple of times before this morning.” At that moment, a nice young man walked up. It was her son, Paul Shannahan. He was in the United States Marines.
Catherine said, “Bill, this is my son, Paul.” Paul allowed me to sit with him and his friend. It was in the second to last row. I began sweating profusely! No one else seemed to be hot, but I was. I asked to be excused, since I was feeling quite ill! I told them that I needed to use the rest room. I would be diagnosed with two medical conditions causing this over the next two years.
I immediately went to the restroom, then out the front doors, around the church and to the news van. Rittenhouse was in the front seat on the driver’s side. Don was smothering in the back, very hot from the black curtains! I told Rittenhouse that I believed we would indeed get the interview.
“You two just stay outside, and I am going back inside the church to worship with Catherine. She said hi to me, it will be OK!”
“No *** ***! We came here to get a *** interview, and by God we are going to get a *** interview!” Well, I did not back up after that outburst. No. I got right back in his face.
“Listen, Rittenhouse, you asked me to get the interview and I will. We will do it my way. Why else did you bring me along? You have to respect my position on this.”
“*** your position, Nelson! *** *** We are going inside and that is final! Get your *** back inside that church, we are coming in!”
I went inside ahead of the two men. Picture this! Less than fifty people in a small room where everyone knows the other. All except for me! But I was with Paul Shannahan and I seemed to fit in, so that was OK.
Now, in the middle of a song, down the isle come these two
Share looked back at me! She looked down at the bag! She looked at me again, with eyes that could have killed! I was glad she had an instrument in her hand, not a weapon. She excused herself and right to the pastor’s wife, Deborah Oakley, who was listed on the church bulletin as “co-pastor.” Deborah went out of view, then appeared at the door next to my little row of four men.
“Could I see you a moment?”
“Sure.” Tension, sweat, the action of the moment! Catherine was in the hall, just a little ways from the singing congregation.
“Are those men with you?” Catherine demanded.
“Yes they are.”
“Are they with the media?”
“Is there a camera in that bag on the floor?” Gypsy glared at me with the darkest of eyes.
“I am not sure, why don’t you call them out here and ask them?”
Deborah did just that! The two men came out, were told that they could not go back to the front row and were asked to sit with me in the presence of Paul, son of Catherine. Immediately, a few rather large, intimidating “men of faith,” shall we say, positioned themselves in the back row. The intent was obvious! They were inclined to “lay hands” on any one of us three desperate media bums if it became necessary. Oh yes! Medical condition, full alert! I hoped that Pastor Joe would be a short winded preacher that Easter Sunday morning.
Finally, the little congregation was dismissed. Young girls just in the row before me turned out to be friends with Paul. They were truly Southern Belles in the best sense of the word. They were hospitable, that is until they learned who I was and what I had done. Glares. Looks. You can imagine. Then, a lady approached me and inquired of me, “What is your name? Where did you come from? I think I have seen you before!” She persisted. Then some other people began to say that they had seen me…somewhere. Yes. I had done a lot of television and had been on the radio as well and in a couple of newspapers. Deborah, the pastor’s wife, spoke up.
“Oh, he is a friend of ours from
During that time waiting for the private conference to end, Paul and his male friend talked with me. Paul told me that “it did not matter what his mother had done in the past, she is changed now.” We chatted, they were cordial and we even spoke about Patrick Shannahan, who was not in the church. I believed him to still be in custody in a Federal Prison in
Later, Patrick Shannahan, himself, called me to inquire why one of us news people were probing into his life.
The meeting ended, and I walked out to the van with Mr. Rittenhouse and Don.
“Bill, I had to do something in there. You see, I had to play ‘good cop, bad cop.’" I pondered that one and declared to Rittenhouse,
“Let me guess, I came out the bad guy!”
“But I had to do it to ‘save’ the interview.”
“You sacrificed me and my opportunity to interview Catherine!”
“No, Bill, it’s worse than that. I am sending you back to
That night was rather unpleasant for me. I was told to keep my flight, Rittenhouse and Don would ask KCBS if they could stay for another day. Then, during several conversations with Catherine Share or Janna Hughes, it was decided that I would be required to sign a pledge for Catherine before there would be an interview. A pledge! What nonsense, I thought! Well, whatever it takes, just as long as KCBS gets their story, right?
I did not believe then, nor do I believe now, that it was at all necessary to ruin my name in order for Mr. Rittenhouse to obtain the interview. KCBS was not well served. When I was presented with the pledge, which was faxed to me at the hotel, I demanded that Catherine Share sign it, too. I did not consider it binding if it were not signed by both of us. Since she was wanting it, I figured, like any other “legal” document, it should be signed off by both parties. I never received my copy with her signature, although I requested one several times from Mr. Rittenhouse.
In exchange for the on-camera interview with Gypsy, Doug Rittenhouse, producer for KCBS,
When the segment was broadcast in 1993, both shots were used. During a visit to KCBS, following the
“You know, Bill, it was necessary for me to do that “bad cop” thing. Nothing personal, it’s just the business, you know?” No! I did not know. I was surprised at some of the conversation by Catherine during the raw footage scenes. Gypsy stated that she had never been part of any violence. I was curious about that, because I had interviewed some of the police officers who shot it out with Share and others in
“Just get my license, and drive.”
You will see that was untrue when you read the chapter about the
It was while we were still in
It became more difficult and dangerous for a law enforcement person to do it after the murder of Rebecca Shaffer by Robert Bardow. He had obtained her address through a simple DMV record and the California Legislature had acted to shore up that area loophole following his conviction (Incidentally, Rebecca was a very close friend of Lisa Statman, whom I have written about regarding the Tate property in this book). An officer could indeed lose his badge for violating a person’s civil rights. Although I knew that Rittenhouse had done it back in
“Look at this, I called
Well now, that made me mad. Here Catherine was supposed to be in the Federal Witness Protection Program and a KCBS producer just pulled her license, obtained her address and was going to use it! When I returned to
July 14, 1993
For some time now, I have felt that I should write to you. Not to excuse myself, not to ask you to understand why I did what I did on my Easter Sunday morning, but to communicate with you, regardless of the outcome. My hope is, that it is the Spirit of God moving me to write, and that I have waited long enough to ensure, as much as is humanly possible, that it is not my flesh moving me.
When I was approached by KCBS in
I met Mr. Doug Rittenhouse at the
The feature was to be centered around the children. I first went to
I felt the shoot went pretty well; that we got a good story on the early life of Michael. As an adopted child, I knew that we had the possibility of making a great social statement on the challenge between environment and heredity. Although the television personality was proving to be a real jerk, the story still had a good chance to maintain value. You are fortunate that you did not meet Harvey Levin, an attorney by trade, investigative reporter for KCBS with more insecurities than
We met Michael the next morning, and I felt the opportunity was great. He was kind, loving, bright, handsome, and articulate. I really liked him. At times, the questions from
We taped him for about 40 minutes. As we left the state, I felt good about his answers and his desire to tell his story, without being labeled the crazed son of Charlie. We arrived in the
I suggested that we call Joe, the pastor, and see if you would consent with certain guidelines to accommodate you. That explains why I called him twice before Sunday.
Doug, the producer, and the cameraman both did not like that idea. I was informed that we did not come all this way to not get a story. Period! I must tell you that I was hired as an employee, so they could keep me under their control. Actually, I was more of an independent contractor, because I received none of the benefits that full employees received.
After more than three hours of talk, in the bar-restaurant at the fancy
I tried to stay away from people until it started. That is why Joe came and checked me out in the front of the church. I knew that he knew who I was. Actually, I stayed in the restroom for about five minutes to be low keyed. I have pastored small churches; I know how the people look forward to new people attending. It means help, support, and tithes! Your church was typical in that regard.
You saw me in the hall, as I was bending down and viewing your photo on the board. I noticed that you gave your married last name on the board and that all other's shown had string leading to the area of the community they live in. All except you and Paul.
When you met me, I liked you! I have always wanted to meet you! I love your character! You were kind to have introduced me to Paul and I was sincere when I told you that I always wanted to come and worship with you.
When you went into the restroom, I went out the front door, around to the white van in the rear parking lot. I told Doug that I wanted them to remain in the van, that I would go in and worship during the service, and that we would see if you would grant an interview after church. Doug looked at me, while in the driver's seat, and said firmly "XXX XXX We are coming in!" I told him that I really thought that it would be the wrong thing to do, he again responded that "No way, We are coming in!"
When he and the cameraman came to the front of the church, they went into the restroom. I said again, "You hired me for my expertise and input to the story." He responded, "We did not come down here for ice cream…we're going to get the XXX story!" I knew that once they entered that small group of worshippers, who knew everyone else in the room that it would be all over! I saw your reaction to the two men, your angry look at me, when you saw the camera bag. It was like I had turned into Judas, all on Easter Sunday morning. The rest of the story you know.
When you left the sanctuary before the service ended, I wanted to respect your decision. That is why I did not follow you. The meeting that took place in the pastor's office was without me, because I felt that all of the damage had been done. During the meeting, I told no one that I was an author, there with the press. One woman told me that she thought she knew me. She may have seen me on television, since I did a lot of it in
After the meeting, Doug told me while walking to the van, that "I had to do something in there. You are not well liked around here! So, I had to play good cop, bad cop." I said, "Let me guess, I am the bad cop, right?" We really had words that afternoon. Doug called KCBS the next day, and they authorized another day to tape the interview. Since I still had my ticket and he did not want me near you, to continue the bad cop routine…I was returned to
Later, I refused to travel with Harvey Levin to
L flew to Northern
Doug Rittenhouse knows your personal address. He took your plate down, and had a law enforcement officer in
I understand that when you granted the interview, that it would be dealing with the children of the family. I also understood, that in exchange for the interview, that he would not use the tape in the driveway, with you getting out of the T-bird. Or, that he especially would not use the tape, from the hidden camera, of you standing and singing in the church. Well, he used both!
I know that he promised to send you a copy of the tape (VHS) when it aired. He did not send one to Michael, Linda, Ed, Cami, or T.J. I sent them a copy at my own expense. If you have not received one, I will forward one to you of the promos on KCBS and the shows they aired.
Doug Rittenhouse played the card that hit my hot button. Adoption, and he was a believer from the Vineyard. He knew that I attended
I apologize for the problems that you have been caused. I am sorry for the way it occurred. I regret that having met you in the hall, that I could not approach you in a better manner for a possible interview. I did not show up there with a tabloid show, I felt this would be different. It wasn't!
Since our telephone conversation, I have been deeply troubled by your silence on the Shorty Shea murder. I had hoped, since your conversation (to Christianity) that I might be able to be talked about. I guess I will have to give that to God, and I will have to trust Him to help you in the way I held the press to you. If I had done it for money, I could have received a lot from a tabloid show! My pay, for doing this piece, without credit on the screen, having my input considered, or becoming a bad cop, was under $2,000 and expenses.
Through out this Manson research, video documentaries that I produced, the book that I wrote, meeting with Susan Atkins, writing Pat and Leslie and even Manson himself, I have always kept my word. I have friends in the Tate family, LaBianca family, law enforcement, and counter culture. I have always kept my word… until I took the news crew to see you. For that I ask your forgiveness.
My hope is that you will be secure in your life. That you will know that you need not fear me. That you have received a copy of my signature to not reveal your location in the future. I do have one request. Please forward to me a copy of that paper, with your signature on it too. I believe that is reasonable.
Good bye my friend, my hope is that through this, we could be writing friends. But if not, then we shall go out separate ways in the love and strength of God. Actually we are very much a like in temperament. And, when I spent 9 1/2 hours on two occasions with Susan Atkins, I felt the same way. There is so much insight into this case, now 24 ears later. Our knowledge would have made a great union in the confidence and care of Christ.
Pen Power Publications
Janna Hughes and I exchanged some letters following a visit to my extensive files on the case. I allowed her to visit them and to even view some footage I had. Ramrodder, the soft porn flick done in
March 9, 1994
Dear Bill Nelson,
Please forward a bill in the amount of $15 for the audiotape of Catherine's music that you gave me. I will be glad to forward a check to you. The book loaned me is enclosed.
With regard to the other items, the Paul Watkins book you wanted $70 for I obtained at the public library. Catherine was curious about seeing RAMRODDER, however, she can't afford any money right now.
Thank you for the use of your book.
Janna was correct about one thing; the library had the book, but not for legal duplication or full time use. My offer was for a purchased copy of a very hard to find book that is out of print and offered by ASNIL (The Manson Archives, A.N. Productions 7210 Jordan Ave. B-41,
Stubborn like a mule, I continued to try to do something with Catherine Share. She told me through her pastor, Janna and personally on the telephone during our one extended conversation, that she "Did not feel it was in God's timing to come out now. I believe that when it is time, he will tell me, Bill, but this is not the time". I thought that was a clever cop out, kind of like when a Christian says to you let me pray about it, usually setting the issue aside rather than dealing with it. (Now, I am not against prayer, but it is a neat way to not deal with something. I mean, who can argue with God?) Catherine even told me on the telephone, "I am getting a different message than you are". Wow!
At the same time that Catherine was declaring this is not the time to come out, she was working on a book manuscript and any possibility of a movie deal! That's right! A book, a movie? But not the right time? I was confused. I had learned that her son Paul was raised in the Northern California area of
Following Catherine's release from prison in the later eighties, she got involved in a real smooth operation. It was one of the most elaborate criminal credit card fraud schemes in
Manson Cultist Tries New Life
April 15, 1975
Former Charles Manson "family" member Catherine Share, seeking a new life, says she calls herself by a new name now and is getting medical attention to erase the Manson "X" from her forehead.
Miss Share, known in the "family" as Gypsy, held a news conference Monday to announce, "I don’t intend to let the public's obsession with what they have been told put me in a bag I don’t belong in. I look to a positive, constructive future".
Share said her new is Jessica - she won't reveal her new last name for the sake of privacy - and she is getting medical help to remove the "X" etched into her forehead five years ago as a sign of allegiance to Manson.
Miss Share, an orphan in
Miss Share spoke of her ambition to write and sing and to obtain her son from the undisclosed
FBI Seeks Ex-Manson Clan Member
March 1, 1979
Former Manson clan member Catherine Louise Como, 37, was the object of a search by federal authorities Wednesday after a bench warrant was issued for her arrest on a charge of bail jumping.
Ms. Como, known as Catherine "Gypsy" Share when she was a member of the cult of convicted murderer Charles Manson, was indicted by the U.S. Grand Jury Wednesday. She failed to appear February 20 in the federal court in
U.S. District Court Judge Sherrill Halbert ordered the issuance of the bench warrant at the request of the U.S. Attorney's office and set bail at $20,000.
Ms. Como was free on a $10,000 surety bond posted by a
According to FBI, Ms. Como applied for, and was granted, a line of credit by the
The FBI said she filled out the loan application, stating her husband Kenneth, was employed by Hughes Marketing, a subsidiary of Summa Corp., at a salary of $55,000 a year.
The ruse was uncovered when it was confirmed that a telephone number Ms. Como listed to verify her husband's employment was that of a
Kenneth Como has been confined to Folsom Prison since his conviction for a 1971 robbery of a sporting goods store in which he and other Manson clan members shot it out with
He and Ms. Como, who also served prison time for her part in the attempted looting, were married in a Folsom Prison wedding three years ago.
Former Manson Follower Indicted
On US Charges In Mail Fraud Probe
August 16, 1979
By Steve Gibson
Bee Staff Writer
Former Manson family follower Catherine "Gypsy"
Authorities said she is believed to have organized a scheme in which she bilked merchants out of more than $200,000. One official said she's believed to be the brains behind an operation in which the merchandise was purchased through phony credit card orders placed over the telephone and subsequently delivered to offices set up in
According to the indictment, she used the scheme to obtain a diamond necklace from Tiffany & Co. in
As part of the scheme, she "used numerous fictitious names and the names of non-existent business entities to establish mailing addresses in at least eight separate locations for the purpose of receiving the fraudulently obtained merchandise," the indictment says.
Then she "Hired a receptionist to occupy each office…for the purpose of receiving and signing for the items of fraudulently obtained merchandise."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Malcom Segal said
When she failed to show up in U.S. District Court in February, she was free on $10,000 bail following her indictment on a charge of lying on the bank loan application.
Ex-Follower of Manson Gets 3 Years
October 20, 1981
Former Manson family follower Catherine Louise Como, 39, was sentenced by a Sacramento Superior Court judge to three years in prison Monday after she pleaded guilty to charges of receiving stolen property.
The sentence by Judge Ronald Tochterman is to run concurrently with a five-year sentence
Released from the prison last week, Kenneth Como was ambushed and shot in the arm in
According to court documents, Catherine Como is believed to have been the "key outside" person involved in smuggling an automatic pistol into Folsom Prison in March 1977. The pistol was discovered in the possession of Kenneth Como's prisoner friends.
During her involvement with the cult headed by Manson, Catherine Como was known as Catherine "Gypsy" Share.
She was a witness for the defense in the trial of Manson and other family members on charges that they were responsible for the Tate LaBianca murders in the late 1960's.
(Author's note: That last statement is untrue. Share was loyal to Charlie throughout the trial, keep vigil outside the courthouse with Sandra Good, Squeaky, Cathy Gillies, and Kitty.)
Fugitives Have Long History As Escape Artists
Wednesday, May 12, 1993
Edition Metro Final
Section: Main News
Byline source: Stephen Magagnini, Nancy Vogel and Ramon Coronado, Bee Staff
Victor Frank Carrafa -- who escaped from a sheriff's deputy during an eye doctor's appointment at a midtown clinic Tuesday -- and his accomplice Gerald Joseph Gallant Jr. are both escape artists extraordinaire.
They apparently met at Folsom Prison in the mid - 1970's, where both were serving life sentences: Carrafa for the brutal 1966 beating and shotgun murder of a
Both are believed to belong to the Aryan Brotherhood white supremacist prison gang. Gallant, deemed criminally insane, is believed by law enforcement authorities to be an assassin for the Aryan Brotherhood. And both are violent career criminals with links to the Symbionese Liberation Army and the Charles Manson family, two of the most notorious terrorist groups of the late 1960's and 1970's.
The 50-year-old Carrafa's record includes at least six escape attempts -- two of them successful -- dating back to 1960. He recently described himself to authorities as an unemployed auto mechanic.
"Old Vic -- he's good at that," said his former attorney, Michael Satris, when informed on Tuesday's brazen escape.
In 1970, Carrafa escaped from the east block of San Quentin, but was caught on prison grounds. He was moved to Folsom, where he was suspected of trying to tunnel his way out by burrowing under the prison library.
While in Folsom, Carrafa shared a cell with Symbionese Liberation Army founder Joseph Remiro. It was also in Folsom that Carrafa, a self-proclaimed "tough guy" received a letter from Joan Vibbard, a 15-year-old runaway from a foster home in
Despite the foreboding gray surroundings, the prison romance bloomed and the pair sought to be married, only to be denied when prison officials suspected Vibbard of smuggling a handgun and some marijuana to Folsom.
When Carrafa was paroled in 1978, Vibbard became his second wife and they had two children. Officials believed Vibbard to be an associate of Manson family member Catherine "Gypsy" Share, whose husband, Kenneth Como, was a cellmate of Carrafa and Remiro. The unsavory connection led to news accounts speculating about Manson family-SLA plans to stage a huge prison break from Folsom.
In 1979, months after his release, Carrafa was charged with bank robbery in
In 1980, police in
In early 1981, while being held in the
But the most dramatic escape was effected by Gallant, a robber and rapist who escaped from
Gallant and his partner broke into a farmhouse in
Later, a man who identified himself as Gallant called
Moments later, police received a phone call from a market where two men were reportedly breaking into a car. Five police cars converged on the parking lot but the suspects escaped on foot.
Gallant and his partner were captured a month later in
In December 1974, when Gallant was 35 years old and serving two life terms for rape, robbery, and other charges, he and two other prisoners tried to escape from Folsom Prison.
His accomplices were
Carrafa, who grew up in
By 1987, he and Vibbard had separated, and he was living in Crockett. William Glass, who represented Carrafa off and on since 1979, said his and the law enforcement's view of Carrafa differed. "I like the man -- he was liked by everyone in our office and everyone that he ever came in contact with." -
Gypsy does indeed have a most colorful past and any journalist worthy of their profession would be interested in her story. Gathering information through my research, I tried again to talk to her. What I received instead was a letter from an attorney representing Ms. Janna Hughes. About a month after receiving one from Ms. Hughes directly:
September 28, 1993
Dear Bill Nelson,
I am writing because you seem to have some continuing interest in Catherine Share's story.
Presently, I am exploring all possibilities available to me to best present the Catherine Share story both in print and visual mediums. Of course, I welcome any insights or opportunities that you might have in these areas. Please bear in mind however, that I hold the sole and exclusive option to acquire the rights to Ms. Share's story. Any involvement with Ms. Share's story must come through, and e done strictly with my consent. I hope you can be of service. However, in any event, you must respect my rights in this matter.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation.
Cc: Charles W. Pauly & Walker
(Author's note: Please keep in mind that during this entire time, Catherine was maintaining to me that "It is not the time," as instructed by God.)
Mr. William Nelson
Re: Catherine Share
Dear Mr. Nelson,
You have previously been advised that Ms. Janna Hughes holds certain rights to the life story of Catherine Share. Ms. Hughes; rights are exclusive to her and she will act to protect those rights as appropriate. Recently, while engaged in activities to market some of the rights she holds, it has been reported to Ms. Hughes that you have tried to convince people not to do business with her.
Such actions by you must stop immediately. Ms. Hughes will hold you responsible for deliberate actions that interfere with her prospective and existing contractual relationships.
I trust there will be no further need for me to contact you concerning these matters.
Very truly yours,
Charles W. Pauly
Well, you can imagine my response to this threatening letter from an attorney who signed off as "very truly yours" can't you? Come on, I was not going to be liable for the inability of one Ms. Janna to market her so-called story. What rights? Share is almost as public a figure as Charles Manson himself is. Look at her criminal history! Look at her notoriety. I penned my response to Mr. Attorney of record.
Dear Mr. Pauly, March 25, 1994
Please be advised that I received your correspondence, but it was not via facsimile as stated, rather by
I have taken no actions to stop the marketing of any product by Ms. Hughes. I did respond to a best selling author, who is using me for assistance on a new book, when I was asked a direct question: "Do you know a woman by the name of Janna Hughes?" He asked my opinion, and based on my experience with her, I told him that I had no reason to believe she was a person of her word.
Ms. Hughes was given access to my files, and news clippings, with no compensation to me. She asked me to supply her with certain clippings that she had never seen. I gave them to her. I gave her a copy of some music, to help "stimulate" Catherine in remembering things from the Manson family days. I was not compensated. Ms. Hughes, in my experience, has failed to do the things that she promised. In
No one is more interested in seeing a published manuscript of Catherine Share than me. As an expert on the case, an author, and contributor to many television and radio shows, I am most interested in reading the story. I want to see how she will handle the murder cover up she was involved in, that I discussed with her by phone, the Hawthorne shoot-out, the Hamburger caper, the credit card fraud, etc.
Rest assured that you need not contact me regarding "Such actions must stop immediately" again. Ms. Hughes' ability or inability to market her investment is not depending on me. It is dependent on her being a person of her word, and in my case, she has not been that.
As a Manson Family expert, who lives with threats, I am not impressed with the tone of your letter. I do hope you will advise your client to be rather factual in her representations.
To be Continued.....