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Obituaries


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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #450 on: November 23, 2017, 04:32:42 pm »


from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times....

CALIFORNIA RETROSPECTIVE

Remembering Manson's victims

3:00AM PST — Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The victims of the Manson family’s rampage in Benedict Canyon on August 9, 1969: Voytek Frykowski, left, Sharon Tate, Steven Parent, Jay Sebring and Abigail Folger. The next night, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were slain in their Los Feliz home. — Photographs: Associated Press.
The victims of the Manson family’s rampage in Benedict Canyon on August 9, 1969: Voytek Frykowski, left, Sharon Tate, Steven Parent, Jay Sebring
and Abigail Folger. The next night, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were slain in their Los Feliz home. — Photographs: Associated Press.


IN THE NEARLY FIVE DECADES since the notorious murders stunned Los Angeles, there has been endless fascination and revulsion surrounding Charles Manson and his cult “family”.

Manson did not fade quietly during his decades behind bars but continued to make headlines with interviews, bad conduct in prison and, more recently, health issues.

Manson's victims have sometimes gotten lost in the shadows of the mass killer's attention.

Here's who they were:


Benedict Canyon murders

August 9, 1969: The nighttime quiet of Benedict Canyon is broken by screams and gunshots. Police find a chilling scene: On the lawn lies a man's body, stabbed, bludgeoned and shot. Nearby is the body of a woman. “PIG” is written in blood on the front door. Inside are the bodies of Sharon Tate, the pregnant actress who rents the house with husband Roman Polanski, and hairstylist Jay Sebring. A fifth body is found outside.

The victims:

Sharon Tate, 26: An actress best known for her role in “Valley of the Dolls”, she was married to film director Polanski. She pleaded with the killers to spare the life of her unborn child, due in two weeks.

Jay Sebring, 35: A Hollywood hairdresser and former boyfriend of Tate's. Among his clients was David Geffen, head of Geffen Records, which recently released a Guns N' Roses album with a song written by Manson.

Voytek Frykowski, 32: A friend of Polanski's, he came from a wealthy Polish family and was staying with Polanski and Tate.

Abigail Folger, 25: The heir to the Folgers coffee fortune, she was romantically involved with Frykowski.

Steven Parent, 18: Visiting the resident of a guest house on the estate, he was just leaving as the murderers arrived and became their first victim.


Los Feliz murders

August 10, 1969: At a Los Feliz house the next night, another nauseating murder scene. Leno and Rosemary LaBianca have been stabbed. “DEATH TO PIGS” is scrawled in blood; on the refrigerator is the misspelled title of a Beatles song: “HEALTER SKELTER”. The writings eventually help police link the slayings.

The victims:

Leno LaBianca, 44, and Rosemary LaBianca, 38: Owners of a chain of L.A. grocery stores. Their house was chosen by Manson, who tied them up, then left the killing to others.


Other murders

July 31, 1969: Musician Gary Hinman is found stabbed to death in his Old Topanga Road home. The phrase “POLITICAL PIGGY” is scrawled in blood on his wall. Manson follower Bobby Beausoleil is arrested driving Hinman's Volkswagen bus.

Gary Hinman, 34: A musician who befriended the Manson group. Family members tortured him for two days at his Topanga home before killing him in a dispute over money.

August 25, 1969: Donald “Shorty” Shea, a horse wrangler at the Spahn Movie Ranch near Chatsworth, is slain. It's believed Manson's followers killed him for fear he was a police informant.

Donald “Shorty” Shea, 35: An aspiring actor and a ranch hand. His dismembered body was found eight years later.


The aftermath

October 1969: Raids on the remote Barker Ranch near Death Valley link some of the killings to a band of young, hippie-looking petty criminals.

Manson, a fledgling songwriter who knew Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson, had been to the Benedict Canyon house when the group's producer lived there.

June 15, 1970 — January 25, 1971: After their arrests in 1969, Manson, Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel are tried for murder. All are found guilty and sentenced to death.

October 1971: Charles “Tex” Watson, tried separately, is found guilty and sentenced to death.

February 18, 1972: The death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment when the state Supreme Court abolished the death penalty. Now the convicts are eligible for parole hearings.


The killers: Where are they now?

Patricia Krenwinkel was a secretary when she met Manson at a party. She quit her job the next day and joined Manson's family.

She was found guilty of seven counts of murder in the killings, including stabbing the LaBiancas to death and writing “DEATH TO PIGS” on the wall in the victims' blood.

Krenwinkel, along with Susan Atkins and Leslie Van Houten, later condemned Manson and urged young people not to think of him as a hero.

After Atkins' death, Krenwinkel, now 69, became California's longest-serving female inmate. According to state prison officials, Krenwinkel is a model inmate involved in rehabilitative programs at the prison.

She is being housed at the California Institution for Women in Corona. Late last year, state parole officials postponed a decision on setting Krenwinkel free after her attorney made new claims that she had been abused by Manson or another person. The inquiry into the allegations took nearly six months. On June 22, parole commissioners again denied parole for Krenwinkel.

Leslie Van Houten: A jury found that the former homecoming princess was guilty of holding down Rosemary LaBianca in her Los Feliz home while an accomplice stabbed her. She was convicted of murder and conspiracy in 1978 at her third trial for the crimes, just months after she'd been released on bail after a hung jury verdict.

Van Houten said she was introduced to Manson by a boyfriend and came to view him as Jesus Christ, believing in his bizarre plan to commit murders and spark a race war.

She is serving her life sentence at the California Institution for Women in Corona, prison officials say, and has been disciplinary-free her entire sentence.

Van Houten, 68, told a parole board in 2002 that she was “deeply ashamed” of her role in the killings. “I take very seriously not just the murders but what made me make myself available to someone like Manson.”

A state review board recommended parole for her in April, but Governor Jerry Brown reversed that decision. She had previously been denied parole 19 times.

In September, the board again recommended parole.

Charles “Tex” Watson, Manson's self-described right-hand man was sentenced to death for his part in the killings but was later given life in prison after the death penalty was overturned.

In prison, Watson married, divorced, fathered four children and became an ordained minister.

Watson, 71, is housed at the Mule Creek Prison in Ione, California, about 40 miles outside Sacramento, where he works as a janitor and attends Bible studies and services in the prison chapel, according to the ministry's website. He has been denied parole 17 times. His most recent parole hearing was held on October 27, when a panel once again found him unsuitable for release from prison for at least five more years.

Susan Atkins, a former topless dancer who became one of Manson's closest disciples, died in prison in 2009 at age 61.

Atkins, called the “scariest of the Manson girls” by a former prosecutor, confessed to killing actress Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of director Roman Polanski, who was stabbed 16 times as she pleaded with the killers to spare her unborn son, and then hanged.

At Atkins' sentencing, at which was condemned to death, she taunted the court, saying, “You'd best lock your doors,” and “watch your own kids.”

Her sentence was later converted to life in prison.

In prison, Atkins embraced Christianity and apologized for her role in the crimes, and prison staff advocated unsuccessfully for her release in 2005.

She was denied parole 13 times.

Bruce Davis, 75, was convicted in 1972 for taking part in the killings of Gary Hinman, an aspiring musician, and Donald “Shorty” Shea, a stuntman and a ranch hand at the Chatsworth ranch where Manson and his followers lived.

Both murders occurred before the Tate-LaBianca killings, in which Davis did not participate.

Hinman's body was found in his home, with the words “POLITICAL PIGGY” drawn on the wall with his blood.

In January 2016, Goveror Jerry Brown rejected his parole, the third time a governor has done so, saying that Davis remains a danger to public safety. In his decision, Brown said that the “horror of the murders committed by the Manson family in 1969 and the fear they instilled in the public will never be forgotten.”

Davis has been denied parole 30 times.


The final word

“People are saying that this should be some kind of relief, but oddly enough it really isn't. While Charlie may be gone, it's the ones that are still alive that perpetrate everything, and it was up to their imaginations for what brutal things were going to be done. In an odd way, I see them as much more dangerous individuals.”

— Debra Tate, the sister of Sharon Tate, in an interview with ABC News


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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #451 on: November 23, 2017, 04:50:19 pm »


from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times....

EDITORIAL: Let the Manson obsession die

The infamous cult leader became a pop culture fixture.
It is long past time for the world to move on.


By the LOS ANGELES TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD  | 4:00AM PST - Tuesday, November 21, 2017

CHARLES MANSON's bizarre plan to ignite a race war was unknown to Los Angeles in August 1969, as were his pathetic collection of young, rapt followers, his bizarre misinterpretation of Beatles lyrics, and Manson himself. What L.A. knew at the time was that seven people had been brutally murdered in two homes, apparently by invasion-style killers who left little clue as to motive. Crime was up nationwide, the turbulent 1960s were nearing their finale and the world seemed to have lost its mind. The city was terrified.

The closest modern comparison may be disco-era New York, eight years later, when a killer who called himself Son of Sam stalked the streets with a .44 caliber revolver, shot 13 people and wrote mocking notes to police.

David Berkowitz did his own killing (although he has claimed that cultists or demons were partly to blame) and Manson did none of his, instead sending his hangers-on to do his grisly work.

In both cases, though, the killers instigated urban panic, gained media notoriety before being caught and, afterward, cemented their presence in the public mind and popular culture, assisted by endless news stories, books, documentaries and dramas.

Manson and Berkowitz were rank amateurs by the murderous standards set by more recent killers, who acted in single spasms of violence — without cultish followings and with motives varying from marital spite (as in the Sutherland Springs, Texas, and Rancho Tehama, California, shootings) to religio-political (as in the 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attack) to the still-unknown (as with the Las Vegas mass shooting in October). But in the near future the names of those killers will be recalled only sporadically, perhaps with the help of a quick Google query and a check of Wikipedia. The Son of Sam nickname may linger in New Yorkers' memory, but the name David Berkowitiz is fading.

But we will remember Manson.

Why is that? After the murders and the trial, Manson did nothing but sit in prison — as befits someone who misused his odd power over others by directing them to commit multiple murders. He forfeited his freedom and died an inmate.

But the rest of us have kept him alive. While some media organizations (although not this newspaper) have made a point not to repeat the names of suspected mass killers in the belief that doing so gives them unwarranted fame, there is no such decorum with Manson. He is a fixture in the popular imagination, a point underscored in the film Natural Born Killers, itself a send-up of the intimate link between mass murder (or serial killings or spree killings or one of the other carefully categorized distinctions) and pop culture. “Yeah, it's pretty hard to beat the king,” admits Woody Harrelson's clearly envious Mickey Knox in the 1994 movie. Guns N' Roses recorded a middling song Manson wrote. Pop act Marilyn Manson named himself partially after the killer.

It's hard to argue that Manson's notoriety did him any good. Although he was sentenced to death, he was spared after a court ruling striking down California's death penalty statute. But he never got parole, despite repeated pleas for release.

Neither did any of his followers. Susan Atkins died in prison. Patricia Krenwinkel remains locked up, as does Charles “Tex” Watson. A parole board ruled in favor of Leslie Van Houten earlier this year, but it remains to be seen whether Governor Jerry Brown will reject the decision, as he did a year ago.

The place of the Manson killings in the public mind may help ensure that none of the surviving murderers is ever paroled, leaving this nagging thought: If these killings had not resonated as they did, and were just seven scattered murders, would the five have been released long ago? Is parole actually granted or withheld based on the crimes themselves and on evidence of remorse and rehabilitation, as it should be, or instead based on the publicity that can be marshaled for or against the inmates?

It is very much a live question, as California re-envigorates its parole system in response to last year's Proposition 57. For Manson himself, though, there never was much of a question at all. He was such a troublemaker in prison that he was almost certainly never going to be released. He's been effectively dead to the world for more than 40 years, except to the extent that we insisted on keeping him alive in print, on television, in pop music and film. It would be nice if now, finally, we would just let him die.


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