Wednesday, January 17, 2007

When Gypsy Met Nellie PART TWO















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 California types in a suburb of Dallas. Out of place? You bet! With a bag in hand, Don was using a hidden camera to get Gypsy on tape. I could not believe my eyes! Some twenty minutes late and they walked right up to the front row, just three feet in front of Catherine and put the bag on the floor. The congregation was standing and singing, Catherine was playing her violin with the small rag tag band.

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?”

“Yes.”

“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 California.” After the service, Catherine, Pastor Joe, his wife and a woman named Janna Hughes went into the pastor’s office. I was not invited! In fact, I was told by Mr. Rittenhouse that I was to stay out! Both Don and Rittenhouse were questioned as to the intentions of KCBS. Remember when I told you that Rittenhouse would prove untrustworthy in the future? This was it.

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 Texas. The story I had been given from Tommy was like this: Patrick was given a new identification, he was in a prison in New Mexico. He had turned against some other murderers and in exchange he was being moved to Texas. It was big! It involved two or three killings. That was all I was told. I asked Paul if he knew why Catherine’s husband was in prison. He did not know.

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!”

“Yes.”

“But I had to do it to ‘save’ the interview.”

“Right!”

“You sacrificed me and my opportunity to interview Catherine!”

“No, Bill, it’s worse than that. I am sending you back to Los Angeles. You will not be allowed to be there ‘if’ she grants and interview!”
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, Los Angeles, promised not to air two specific parts. One, the tape of her driving into the parking lot in her white T-Bird, as she stared at the plain white news van. The second piece was the one where she was playing her violin in the Easter church service, taped with the hidden camera. Rittenhouse violated both stipulations by Catherine.

When the segment was broadcast in 1993, both shots were used. During a visit to KCBS, following the Texas turncoat actions by Mr. Rittenhouse, I was aloud to view some of that interview footage.

“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 Hawthorne. Gypsy said that she did not know what they were going to do in Hawthorne.

“Just get my license, and drive.”

You will see that was untrue when you read the chapter about the Hawthorne shoot-out. I regret that I was not able to obtain a copy of that raw footage that Rittenhouse showed me. I suspect that Mr. Rittenhouse now has it for his personal library, since people I know at KCBS now know nothing about the footage.

It was while we were still in Dallas, after the Sunday morning fiasco, that Mr. Doug Rittenhouse told me about his most dastardly deed. He had a friend in law enforcement back in California who obtained, illegally, private information on people by running their license plates. I had given some information that I had obtained concerning the Manson members previously to Mr. Rittenhouse, and he had stopped at a public telephone to track down the subject. A questionable activity, but one that most “any” full-time news person might use to get a location of a person in the news. Law breaking? Yes. But everyone just looks the other way and no one cares.

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 California, I was stunned that he had done it in Texas.

“Look at this, I called California and had my friend pull her address off her Texas license plate. If she does not give us an interview, we will stake out her house and get hidden video on her. We are not going back empty handed.”

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 California, I wrote a letter to Catherine. I tried to relate my innermost feelings about what I had been a party to, not that I believed she cared. I just felt that I owed her an explanation as a fellow Christian and she could do with it what she wanted.

July 14, 1993

Dear Catherine,

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 Los Angeles to consider doing a feature on the children of the Manson Family, I was most skeptical. That is because I have worked with Geraldo, Maury Povich, Now It Can Be Told, 48 Hours, 20/20, Hard Copy, A Currant Affair, and local stations or print media in California, Texas, Indiana, New York, Canada, Sweden, Paris, and Germany.

I met Mr. Doug Rittenhouse at the Huntington Beach pier, and over a lunch he shared his vision for a fine feature concerning "Whatever happened to all of those kids during the Family days?" He informed me that he had checked me out and that the opinion in the media was that if the people could be found that I was the only one who could do it. My reputation was solid, except for me being taken in by Julia, and believing that he might have been the flesh of a family member. I believe that he is not. I am puzzled by his involvement and his inane ability to do good research.

The feature was to be centered around the children. I first went to Wisconsin, to try and find Mary Brunner and her son Michael Brunner. After just a few hours in the town Mary grew up in, I was told that Michael would be calling my motel room by 5:00 p.m. When he called, he was friendly, informed me that he knew that I was in town, had dealt with his parents (grandparents in reality, but they raised him) and asked me not to talk to them anymore. He thanked me for the way I dealt with his parents, and I told him that I would not call them again. He sent a female named Cami over to check me out. She was a delightful person! Young, Aggressive, Pretty - But of the world. She told me that since I neither drank nor smoked, that she and a friend were going to take me out bar hopping, and that I would be real annoyed by midnight. At 2:00 a.m. the next morning, I had drank a lot of Pepsi, cruised many bars on the main street, and got to know her very well. She agreed to go on camera the next day.

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 Clinton. I took a lot of flack for not revealing the house and phone number of the people who raised Michael. I had given my word. Harvey was very angry about it!

We left Wisconsin to go interview Michael. Arriving late in his state, I stayed up until after midnight being checked out by his friends, Linda and her boyfriend, Ed, who had grown up with Michael in Wisconsin. Doug Rittenhouse cam to my room, and together, we told the two friends of Michael, why it would be all right. "We are legitimate news, not a tabloid show. You can know one thing," said Doug, "you can trust me to give you a fair shot at the real story."

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 Harvey were stupid, and he hammered him about the note he got in the third grade. When we left we knew that the note had no real affect on him, the school administrator's and his parents met, and decided that there was no problem. Michael did not even remember what the note said.

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 Dallas area in the late afternoon, and drove to the church to see where you worshipped. I had a real mixture of emotions. On the one hand, I was very much concerned that God be honored in the way that I would approach you. He was not! We returned to the hotel, and spent some time talking about how to achieve the best chance of you granting an interview.

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 Sheridan by the airport, Dough told me the following, "You will take in the church, a hidden camera on your person, and a microphone." I refused. I talked them into letting me go into the church and see the service in progress. You will recall that the service did not begin on time, nearly twenty minutes late.

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 Texas the previous year…

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 Los Angeles.

Later, I refused to travel with Harvey Levin to Death Valley! I introduced Doug to T.J. and his wife Ansom in the desert, and Doug broke almost all of his promises to them. Doug was extremely angry that I would not give up the address, phone, or even the town of Dianne Lake. When I went to New Hampshire, and found Linda Kasabian friends, and ultimately her brother, I would not give up that information. Doug knows where her brother Wayne is, but no more.

L flew to Northern California, and found a Ruth Ann Moorehouse but it was not the right one. Yet, her birth date is listed on the arrest information I have all the way back to 1969. Figure that one out? I also traveled to the desert to locate Kitty Lutesinger, but she had moved from that building about six months ago.

Doug Rittenhouse knows your personal address. He took your plate down, and had a law enforcement officer in California do an illegal search of DMV records in Texas. Although he gave it to me, I have discarded it! I am sending this through the church address.

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 Calvary Chapel.

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.

Best Regards,

Bill Nelson

California Breeze Productions &

Pen Power Publications

P.O. Box 1585, Costa Mesa, CA 92628

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 Topanga Canyon before the murders, with Bobby and Gypsy surfaced here in California some time ago. I have a pretty good copy and Janna was curious. Nudity, somewhat embarrassing, Gypsy played an attack/rape scene. Janna told me that Catherine did not have a copy of it, and would like to see it. I was also requested to obtain a copy of My Life Charles Manson, by Paul Watkins. Her letter to me:

March 9, 1994

Bill Nelson

P.O. Box 1585

Costa Mesa, CA 92628

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.

Sincerely,

Janna Hughes

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, Canoga Park, CA 91303 Telephone 818-905-4635). John Asnil now has my entire library and he kept his word at allowing me to use any of it for a book that might be written. He indeed has been a man of his word although we have very little in common. We are definitely on the opposite sides of this case, but we have a mutual respect for the other. He was my source for the brokered book. I would have made nothing off it. He has a small catalogue for $4. With credit towards your first purchase.

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 Sacramento in a kind of Christian camp for needy children. Paul was indeed needy, for his mother was housed in Federal Prison for credit card fraud. Paul excelled in his younger years, earning praise for his work in 4-H. I understand that he even raised a prize pig, which ultimately became the property of John Garamendi, first Insurance Commissioner for the State of California. Paul took First Place in the auctioning off of his pride and joy. Paul was not different than any other kid being raised at His Place, or His Farm (I forget which) operated by a former inmate turned religious. Paul became rather main stream and even joined the United States Marine Corp. What a though! Manson family member mother, one of the "Few Good Men" for a son.

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 America. I made friends with a staff member of the Sacramento Bee newspaper and she supplied me with the following stories. It is best told by the writer who published the articles.

Manson Cultist Tries New Life

April 15, 1975

Los Angeles (AP) - A6/1

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 France before coming to this country, served 3½ years in prison, but not in connection with the Manson murders. She was convicted of taking part in an August 21, 1971 holdup of a Hawthorne gun store to get weapons for breaking Manson out of jail.

Miss Share spoke of her ambition to write and sing and to obtain her son from the undisclosed Southern California foster parents with whom he is living.

FBI Seeks Ex-Manson Clan Member

March 1, 1979

Sacramento Bee - B3/1

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 Sacramento to answer to a charge [in which] she [had] made a false statement on an application for a loan from a federally insured bank.

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 Los Angeles bail bond firm following her indictment on the charge she lied on the loan application.
According to FBI, Ms. Como applied for, and was granted, a line of credit by the Carmichael branch of the United California Bank March 11 last year.

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 Los Angeles answering service.

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 Los Angeles police.

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" Como was indicted in absentia by the federal grand jury Wednesday on six counts of mail fraud, interstate transportation of stolen property and fraudulent use of a credit card.

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 Sacramento, Carmichael, Woodland, Redwood City, Roseville, Ceres, and Phoenix, Ore.

According to the indictment, she used the scheme to obtain a diamond necklace from Tiffany & Co. in San Francisco, gold cuff links from Merine Jewelers in New York City, oriental rugs from Chicago, a gold ingot from Atlanta, camping equipment from Colorado, and camera equipment from New York, New Jersey, and Iowa.

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 Como has been missing since February when she was indicted for allegedly making a false statement on a bank loan application.

Como was known as Catherine "Gypsy" Share when she was a member of convicted Charles Manson's cult. She married Kenneth Como during a Folsom Prison ceremony in 1976. Her husband is serving a 20-year sentence for his role in a holdup with other Manson clan members.

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

Sacramento Bee B3/6

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 Como began serving in August at a San Diego prison after she was convicted on federal charges of mail fraud.

If Como had been found guilty of receiving stolen property by a jury, her sentence could have been added on to her federal conviction. The Sacramento district attorney's office also agreed in a plea bargain not to consider a 1973 robbery conviction which could have added another year to Como's sentence.

Como was arrested in September 1978 for driving a stolen 1966 Jaguar. Como's husband, Kenneth, was then serving a 10-year sentence at Folsom Prison for a Southern California robbery intended to get weapons to free convicted killer Charles Manson.

Released from the prison last week, Kenneth Como was ambushed and shot in the arm in La Puente two days later.

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 Sacramento Bee

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 San Francisco bartender; Gallant for rape, robbery, and other crimes. Both are suspected of trying to break out of Folsom.

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 Iowa. Vibbard managed to visit Carrafa five times before guards discovered that she was under age.

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 Manteca using a wig and makeup. He later got a nose job to disguise his appearance, authorities said.

In 1980, police in Lexington, KY arrested him with 53 $100 bills, a .38 caliber snub-nosed revolver and a hand-made stamp with seal of the state of Iowa, which police believed he planned to use to forge birth certificates.

In early 1981, while being held in the Contra Costa County jail on a burglary charge, Carrafa hacked his way out with two other inmates. He was arrested 3,000 miles away in Hannibal, NY by the FBI, and returned to Contra Costa County, where he tried yet another escape using a rope fashioned from a bed sheet.

But the most dramatic escape was effected by Gallant, a robber and rapist who escaped from Atascadero State Hospital at gunpoint. Gallant and another escapee took four guards hostage, taunting them and stabbing one in the back, penetrating a lung.

Gallant and his partner broke into a farmhouse in Avila Beach, San Luis Obispo County, and took the occupants hostage.

Later, a man who identified himself as Gallant called Petaluma police and reportedly said he and his partner were at a Petaluma supermarket getting ready to steal a car. He told authorities, "You police better get off your backs or you might find the hostage we have lying on the highway somewhere".

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 Ohio driving a car stolen from Oregon.

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 Como, a reputed member of the Manson family, and Bobby Davis, who was convicted of killing four highway patrolmen in a Los Angeles shootout. The three men used contraband hacksaw blades to cut through the bars of their maximum-security cells, but their attempt was foiled when a guard noticed tiny sheet (metal) shavings outside one cell.

Carrafa, who grew up in Connecticut in a family of 10 children, told authorities that he came to California in 1966. Despite spending most of his adult life behind bars, he told authorities he had managed to attend Sacramento City College for a year.

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." - Sacramento Bee.

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.

Sincerely,

Janna Hughes

P.O. Box 165958

Irving, TX 75016

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.)

VIA FACSIMILE

Mr. William Nelson

Re: Catherine Share

Janna Hughes

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 U.S. Mail.

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 America, I have the right to express my personal opinion.

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.

Professionally factual,

Mr. Nelson


To be Continued.....

3 comments:

Deb said...

Thank you Col. for reproducing Nellie's book. It is very interesting but I have a couple of questions.

1. Did Nelson self-publish these books? This might explain the constant misspellings and bad grammar.

2. When it mentions "Later, I refused to travel with Harvey Levin to Death Valley!" what the hell does Harvey Levin have to do at all with Gypsy and Texas? Does this mean he did work with Harvey Levin? I am assuming so as didn't you put on a program he was in on Hard Copy?

To be perfectly honest, in my opinion, he was a complete asshole to confront (whatever he writes otherwise) Gypsy in her place of worship on Easter Sunday. I mean any Sunday would be bad but Easter Sunday only one of two of the most important days according to the Christian faith. I feel better for saying that.

Thanks again Colonel! You rock!

jempud said...

Now had time to read this - thanks as always, Col.

I agree with Deb - Bill Nelson certainly does seem ethically challenged.

I see Gypsy was playing the violin in her church - I wonder if she has ever made any recordings?

Jem

ColScott said...

1- yes
2- Harvey Levin produced the feature that Nellie worked on