but how much do I believe? (I'm not gonna reset the photos, they look purty where they are and you can just deal with it)XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Did Charles Manson's murder gang strike in Britain?
Joel Pugh had checked into the Talgarth Hotel, West London, five weeks before.
He was a genial young man who kept himself to himself.
He could often be heard playing his guitar through his door, which he never locked.
Yet in the weeks leading up to that day, December 2, 1969, he had seemed increasingly withdrawn.
Faces of evil: Charles Manson aged 74 (left) and as a 34-year-old in 1969 (right)
When the maid found his ground-floor room locked that Tuesday morning, Falk took it upon himself to enter with a pass-key.
‘It only opened about one foot,’ he later told police. ‘There seemed to be a weight behind it. I felt what seemed like an arm.’
A police constable was sent to the hotel in Hammersmith just after 6pm.
Inside the room he discovered Joel’s body lying on the floor, the walls covered in blood. Naked except for a sheet, his throat had been slit twice and his wrists slashed.
A week later, an inquest heard how notes containing bizarre mirror writing were found near his body, together with a hash pipe, leading a psychiatrist from nearby St Bernard’s Hospital to speculate Joel was suffering from depression.
As far as the coroner was concerned this was nothing more than a tragic suicide. Case closed.
Now, 40 years on, the Mail has uncovered evidence suggesting Joel did not die by his own hand but was murdered at the orders of cult leader Charles Manson.
The notorious serial killer and five members of his so-called ‘Family’ are serving life terms for the 1969 murders of nine people, including the pregnant Sharon Tate, wife of film director Roman Polanski.
Now 74, Manson is imprisoned in a California jail — and a picture of him released this week shows his chilling gaze remains, as does a swastika carved crudely into his forehead.
Manson link: Sandra Good and Joel Pugh, who was found dead in 1969
Manson has hinted he was responsible for many more deaths — including a dozen people who may have known too much about his grisly crimes.
Retired LA police sergeant Paul Whiteley, who investigated the Manson-ordered slaying of musician Gary Hinman in 1969, says: ‘I’m almost certain Joel Pugh was murdered in England by a Manson Family member called Bruce Davis.
‘We know he was in London at the same time and we heard from an informant that The Family had struck in Britain, but we were never able to get Scotland Yard interested in the case. I spoke to them and they just wouldn’t listen.
‘We were, frankly, amazed the police in England had decided it was a suicide and refused even to consider foul play.
‘The crime scene was so similar to the one found in Sharon Tate’s house. I still think, even to this day, that Davis got away with murder on Manson’s behalf.’
Despite having been in prison since his arrest in 1969, Manson and his nightmarish crimes still exert a powerful psychological grip on America, where rumours he may have been responsible for dozens of other killings are taken seriously.
Last May, police excavated plots at Barker Ranch in Death Valley, Manson’s last hideout, looking for the remains of further victims, although none were found.
So how did a respectable boy like Joel Pugh find himself at the mercy of Manson’s cult? Tragically, his association with The Family came about through an infatuation he developed with a young blonde called Sandra Good.
After graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1962, Joel served two years in the U.S. Army. After leaving the military, he moved to San Francisco, California. It was here, while working as a lab technician, that Joel, 24, met Sandra, a stockbroker’s daughter.
Author Gerard Jones, who was then dating Sandra’s older sister, Ginny, remembers meeting the couple at the home of the girls’ father.
‘Joel was frail and sweet,’ says Gerard, now 66. ‘I remember thinking of him as a pleasant fellow and thought how lucky Sandra was to have met such a nice guy.’
Famous death: Sharon Tate, married to Roman Polanski, was killed by Manson
Sandra, who was four years younger than Joel, was a troubled young woman who, like so many of her generation, was searching for a purpose. Early in 1968, that purpose arrived when a friend offered to fly her to L.A. to meet a guitar-playing hippy known variously as The Wizard, The Soul, Jesus Christ — or, more simply, Charlie Manson.
Paroled from jail in March 1967, after several convictions for armed robbery and car theft, Manson had moved to San Francisco where the Summer Of Love was about to explode.
With dreams of becoming a famous musician like his idols, The Beatles, he set about creating a harem of willing young women whom he controlled through a combination of psychobabble and LSD.
The following April, Sandra joined what was later dubbed ‘The Family’ and became one of Manson’s most devoted followers. Her on-off boyfriend was less enamoured. Joel’s brother, Daniel Pugh tells me: ‘Sandra really wanted Joel to get to know Manson, but Joel didn’t want to. He thought Manson was a complete creep. He couldn’t accept Sandra’s association with him.’
The Family started out as a supposedly idealist commune rejecting conventional values such as materialism and monogamy in favour of ‘free love’. For a short time in 1968, their members even included Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, who was entranced by Manson’s charisma.
Gerard Jones says: ‘I’d hear what Sandra was up to from Ginny. Like how she was seeing Joel, or was off in the desert, or staying at one of The Beach Boys’ houses.
Behind bars: Manson in the 80s
‘Before all the murders, everything we heard about what Sandra was doing with Manson was very positive. It was like: “Wow, she’s doing cool things and staying with pop stars.”’
But troubled times were ahead. Daniel Pugh recalls: ‘Joel’s relationship with Sandy [as Sandra was also known] became very on-and-off.
‘Joel got it into his head he needed to fulfil himself. He was fascinated with zoology — so our dad bankrolled a trip for him to Brazil in 1968 and then another, the year after, to North Africa.’
During his second expedition, Joel experienced a bout of depression. After befriending a California tourist called Harriet Smith, he journeyed with her to Spain and then on to London. He checked into the Talgarth Hotel, on what’s now the A4, on October 27.
Daniel heard nothing from his brother during his stay in London but later pieced together his final weeks when he visited London in September 1971.
‘Harriet said Joel spent most of the time in his room and that she couldn’t get him to go out to see the sights of London,’ he says. ‘It was only later we learned that one of the Manson Family was staying just outside London at the same time.’
While Joel had been on his travels, life in The Family had taken a highly sinister turn. Frustrated at his failure to break into the music business, Manson had taken to listening repeatedly to The Beatles’ 1968 double-LP, known as The White Album. Tracks such as Blackbird, Piggies and especially Helter Skelter convinced Manson the band were sending him messages warning of an impending race war.
Convinced The Family would be the only white survivors of the looming apocalypse, an increasingly unstable Manson proclaimed himself the Messiah and ordered his followers to leave L.A. for the bleak canyons of Death Valley where they would sit out the imminent battle.
Inconveniently, the war had not begun by the summer of 1969, prompting him to order his disciples to kick-start it by committing the most brutal murders in American history.
On August 8, Manson followers Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Charles Watson broke into a house in Beverly Hills and murdered Sharon Tate, socialite Abigail Folger, hairdresser Jay Sebring, Polish writer Wojciech Frykowski and 18-year-old Steven Parent.
The following night, Watson, Krenwinkel and fellow Manson devotee Leslie Van Houten stabbed to death the racehorse owner Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary at their L.A. home. In both cases, the attackers sought to blame the slayings on members of the Black Panthers — the Black Power organisation — by writing racially charged slogans on the walls using the victims’ blood.
The idea was to so outrage the white community that they would take up arms and thus start a race war.
While the world recoiled at the sheer savagery of the murders — Frykowski, for example, was stabbed 51 times — several other people loosely connected with The Family started to meet grisly, unexpected deaths in the following months.
On the evening of November 5, 1969, police were called to a house in L.A. where they found the body of John Philip Haught, a member of The Family, lying on a mattress with a bullet hole in his right temple and a revolver nearby.
Also in the room were four other Family members — including one Bruce Davis, a drifter from Alabama, who had become Manson’s fixer and right-hand man. They all claimed John had died while playing Russian roulette. Bizarrely, the officers believed the story, despite the fact the gun was fully loaded and had been wiped of prints.
Mad man: Manson pulls a face during his California trial in 1969
Then on November 16, the body of an unnamed teenage girl — who was widely thought to have been a former Family member but never formally identified — was found in a ditch with 157 stab wounds.
Just five days later, the stabbed bodies of 15-year-old James Sharp and Doreen Gaul, 19, were found in an L.A. alleyway. Doreen had once been a girlfriend of Bruce Davis, whose whereabouts at the time of the deaths remains unknown.
It is easy to see how Joel’s death fits in with the pattern of these killings. Many of these victims were once close to The Family — but were now drifting away from its clutches. Manson wreaked his bloody revenge on them and their newfound friends.
Joel’s relationship with Sandra had broken down and he had left his association with The Family behind him. This meant that he too was now, in Manson’s eyes, an enemy — and a traitor of The Family’s twisted cause.
Local district attorney Frank Fowles was concerned about the activities of The Family. He contacted Interpol to discover what Manson’s right-hand man, Davis had been up to. He learned that Davis had made a connection in the UK some months back with another controversial group, the Scientology religion.
Records showed Davis had been staying at a Scientology retreat in Felbridge, Surrey, before returning to the U.S. on April 25, 1969.
A letter sent to Fowles by Scotland Yard read: ‘It has been established that Davis is recorded as embarking at London airport for the United States of America on April 25, 1969, while holding United States passport 612 2568.
'At this time he gave his address as Dormer Cottage, Felbridge, Surrey. This address is owned by the Scientology movement and houses the religion’s followers.’
The letter continued: ‘The local police understand that he has visited our country more recently than April
1969. However, this is not borne out by our official records.’
Although Davis’ movements are hazy, researchers say he returned to England for more Scientology training on November 23, staying here for two months.
Curt Gentry, co-author of Helter Skelter, an account of the Manson murders and trial, says: ‘The one person who travelled more than anyone in The Family was Davis, who kept all the members’ stolen credit cards and phoney IDs.
'Joel Pugh’s death has always struck me as more than a suicide since Davis was in the UK at around the same time.
‘Davis was a fanatical follower of Manson and the kind of person who would be sent to do this.’
The coroner’s report of Joel’s death has long since been lost, so details of his last days are confined largely to two local newspaper reports of his inquest.
Under the headline: ‘Death notes in mirror’, the Fulham Chronicle of December 12 reports how a concerned Falk entered Joel’s room: ‘Entering with a pass-key, Mr Falk found he could only open the door a few inches and there was blood on the walls. He called the police who found Mr Pugh on the floor with a razor blade about two feet from him.
‘Also in the room the police found a pipe containing cannabis resin and several notes. But the notes were not suicide notes. Many were written in mirror writing and could only be read by holding them in front of a mirror.
‘A psychiatrist who saw the notes said that little could be evaluated from them except that they were suggestive of depression.’
Vincent Bugliosi, the L.A. County assistant district attorney who prosecuted Manson, remains troubled at how the Metropolitan Police didn’t investigate the death fully. He says: ‘While the case resembled a suicide, it looked, and still looks, like murder to me. Nobody thought the drawings or writings were important enough to take down.
‘Nobody thought it important to establish a time of death and, even though Pugh’s room was on the ground floor and thus could have been entered by a window, nobody bothered checking for prints. It’s now unlikely the mystery will ever be solved.’
Davis, 66, is now an inmate at the California Men’s Colony prison, 200 miles north of Los Angeles, where he’s serving two life sentences for murder.
The first is for the slaying of Gary Hinman, a musician and small-time drug dealer who was tortured for two days by Davis and other Family members who wanted his money.
The second is for the murder of ranch-hand Donald ‘Shorty’ Shea, who Manson believed was a police informer.
Davis has never spoken publicly about Joel’s death, but then there’s little incentive for him to do so since the sheer horror of his crimes means he’s unlikely ever to be released. Last September he was refused parole for the 25th time.
When I wrote to him, he replied to say he did not conduct media interviews, instead enclosing a pamphlet detailing how he became a Christian in 1974. Interestingly, the tract reveals how, like Joel, he travelled to North Africa, Spain and England sometime in 1969.
And Joel’s ex-girlfriend Sandra Good, who turned 65 last month, is also silent. After Manson was incarcerated, he set up a bizarre environmental group called Air, Trees, Water, Animals (ATWA). Sandra supports this movement — and ATWA’s website denies Joel was murdered.
It says: ‘Joel Pugh is described as a “former Manson Family member”. He never met Manson or any of the other so-called Family members. After Pugh’s death, his parents journeyed to London to satisfy themselves with the official verdict of suicide.
‘After checking all the medical records and the files at Scotland Yard they were satisfied the death was, indeed, a suicide.’
Although she had no part in any Manson murders, Sandra has repeatedly said she respects those who committed them and showed her solidarity with The Family’s new environmental ‘cause’ in 1975 when she was jailed for ten years for conspiracy to send threatening letters to businessmen she accused of polluting the environment.
As revealed by author Curt Gentry, soon after Manson’s arrest a letter by an unknown Family member was discovered in a flat Sandra rented that contained the line: ‘I would not want what happened to Joel to happen to me.’
Joel’s family may never know what really happened to the good-natured, quirky boy who set off for adventures in distant lands in 1969, never to return. Until Davis finally comes clean, their agony will continue.