January 26, 2016
The History Channel aired a little docudrama about the Tate-LaBianca murders back in 2009, to mark the fortieth "anniversary" of the deaths, and they were kind enough to replay it this past weekend. I think I may have seen it when it originally aired but if so, it either didn't make enough of an impression on me to warrant comment or I didn't fully watch. In any event, I watched yesterday and what I saw made me angry.
The docudrama was told as Linda Kasabian saw it, with dramatic reenactments interspersed with interviews of Kasabian who was supposedly hidden with a bad wig, sunglasses (in some shots) and sketchy lighting. I have to say that if this was how to keep her hidden I sure wouldn't want to go into witness protection with the History Channel covering my back. I could pick Kasabian out in the dead of night, with one eye shut, in a swamp covered in mud on a foggy day. Sheesh.
Anyhow, this was promoted back in 2009 as the first time she spoke publicly in forty years about what happened - - or in other words, since she testified at the trial that put Charles Manson and his merry band of murderers in prison. If you aren't up on your Manson facts, Kasabian was given immunity in order to testify as she did not actually kill anyone that night and prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi stressed that she was just a little hippie girl that wasn't cut from the same cloth as Manson and his followers.
What struck me right away (besides the bad wig) was that when recounting meeting "the Family" and Manson for the first time, Kasabian looked wistful, as if she were remembering a loved one who had passed on or recollecting a fun, joyous time in her life. I have no doubt that she bought lock, stock and barrel into the commune style living and the free love-share everything philosophy that the Family espoused. To each his own. I do think that the reenactment of Spahn Ranch was much cleaner than the reality likely was and the actors cast were much more attractive and prettier than their real life counterparts would have been.
I found it unsettling that Kasabian recalls her first meeting with Tex Watson in such dreamy, awe-inspired tones, as if she was a lovesick teen. Watson's sex appeal was off the charts, per Linda, and the attraction so instant that the two were having sex within hours of her arrival at the Ranch. Tex Watson, in case you need a refresher, was Manson's main hit man on the nights of August 9 and 10, 1969 and personally stabbed to death a pregnant woman. Yep, you can see why he would be so attractive. So here I'm thinking that not only is Linda's judgment on where to live a bit sketchy but also who she finds attractive.
So her story about the murder nights is essentially the same as what she told Bugliosi with the notable exception that she is now claiming that she climbed into Steven Parent's car after the oh-so-sexy Tex Watson shot him four times in order to take the wallet from the dead teenager's body. Hmmmmm. She didn't kill him but her hands aren't exactly as clean as Bugliosi would like us to believe. Unless of course she is lying. More on that.
Linda continues to maintain that she was sent around the back of the house to look for open doors or windows and returned to Tex and lied, despite the nursery window being open and without a screen and then remained outside while Watson, Krenwinkle and Atkins went inside to do away with Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger and Voytek Frykowski. She claims she remained outside, giving Atkins her knife when Susan ran outside asking for it and then telling her to listen for sounds, and came face to face with Frykowski when he stumbled outside after being attacked, desperate for a means of escape. She sobbed and cried about how she looked into his eyes . . . and then did nothing, watching him stumble off before Watson (again) caught up him and slaughtered him on the lawn. That Watson, he sure is a catch.
She claims she wanted the killings to stop but she did nothing to stop them. Did she run screaming from the property? Nope. Did she jump in the killers' car, to which she had the keys, and peel the hell out of there? Nope. She waited in or by the car and when the trio returned, exuberant over their fresh kills, she collected the bloody knives and clothing and tossed them out the window.
Let's break this down.
She said she thought the group was going on another "creepy crawlie," wherein they would dress in black, break into homes and rearrange furnishings in order to freak the occupants out when they awoke. So why would the group need rope, a gun and knives? Why would Watson need to cut the phone lines at Cielo?
I can buy that she was in a state of shock during and after the murders. Her daughter was back at the Ranch and even if she had taken off from the Cielo property, if Watson, et. al. had gotten to a phone before she could get back to reclaim her daughter, who knows what could have happened. She couldn't very well show up at the Ranch without her cohorts.
She certainly knew the next night when she was instructed to put on black clothing and grab a knife what was going down. She didn't enter the LaBianca home or property but claims that she thwarted another planned attack on an actor she had met. She, Atkins and Grogan were instructed by Manson to drive to Venice Beach, gain entry to this man's apartment and kill him. Linda claims that she intentionally knocked on the wrong door so that said man wouldn't be killed. Okay, but what about the poor person who opened the wrong door? How did she know they wouldn't kill him or her?
Linda sees her chance for escape - - too late to save Sharon Tate, her unborn child, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, Voytek Frykowski, Steven Parent, Rosemary LaBianca or Leno LaBianca - - when she is asked to visit Bobby Beausoleil in jail in L.A. She says she is unable to get to her daughter so leaves without her. Okay, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. But does she drive directly to the LAPD and tell them she can solve the Tate-LaBianca homicides? Nope. She goes to New Mexico and into hiding.
What mother does this? She says that she "knew" the Family wouldn't harm her daughter but she also told Bugliosi that Manson had said that at some point in the future they may have to kill children as well. Knowing absolutely that the Family had butchered a pregnant woman, I certainly wouldn't be betting my child's life on anything they had to say.
A few more things come to mind as well. Linda was supposedly brought along on the two nights of murder because she was the only member of the Family with a valid driver's license. However, Linda did not drive on either night. So what difference did having the license make? So why was she brought along? She had only been with the Family for a month. Some have speculated that Manson chose those Family members that were most expendable to him to send on his murderous mission but I don't think so. Patricia Krenwinkel was said to be Manson's female equivalent - - utterly devout. Leslie Van Houten and Susan Atkins were also reported to be fully in with the Family and its beliefs, including murder. Only Tex Watson was said to be independent in any way but he followed Manson's orders like a good soldier. It doesn't wash for me suggesting that any of these people were expendable. I think Manson sent those followers he knew were the most antisocial, the angriest, the most fucked up who would slaughter strangers for shits and giggles. So what does that say about Linda Kasabian?
She claims she didn't hurt anyone. She says that Tex ordered her to stay outside . . . but why? They didn't know how many people were inside. Does it make sense that Tex would enter the house with just two women to commit those murders? (Granted, they were armed with a gun, bayonet and knives.) Did they truly need a look out (a job which Linda failed at pretty miserably) or was Tex making sure that his little sweetie wouldn't go down for murder?
Linda Kasabian, in my mind, proved herself to be a shitty mother. She joined the Family, where her daughter was promptly taken away from her. Manson believed that parents ruined their own children and therefore shouldn't be allowed to raise them. Linda should have run right then but she stayed and handed her daughter over to be grouped with the other children, in a separate building, taken care of by other Family members. When she fled after the Tate-LaBianca murders without her daughter, she didn't get herself to the nearest law enforcement officer or building; she fled to freaking New Mexico. Where she hid without her daughter, who she would get back only after the raid at Spahn and all the children were taken into protective services. Still at that time, Linda said nothing. Only after Susan Atkins began spilling the beans while in jail and an arrest warrant was issued for Kasabian did Linda start talking.
Had Linda come forward immediately, the murder of Donald "Shorty" Shea wouldn't have happened. It's also possible the deaths of John Philip Haught (known as "Zero" within the Family and who was found dead from playing Russian roulette with a fully loaded pistol), and Joel Pugh (husband of Family member Sandra Goode) could have been prevented.
I'm not sure I buy Bugliosi's suggestion that Linda was just a little hippie girl. She had committed criminal activities prior to joining up with Manson and happily stole $5,000 from her husband's friend after Tex Watson suggested it to her on the day they met. She clearly had no problem with the theft, as she had no problem doing the "creepy crawlies" with the Family. She admitted in 2009 that she searched a dead teenager's body for a wallet. How do we know she didn't do more than that?
January 24, 2016
|Barbara Stager, convicted husband killer and evil bitch|
Murder between strangers is despicable enough but imagine the fear and pain of having someone you love and trust betray you in the worst way by taking your life and doing so for nothing more than financial gain.
As looking into Larry's eyes while she killed him probably gave her an unsettled feeling (but no remorse) she changed her M.O. when dispatching Russ. She claimed that her husband was sleeping with a loaded handgun under his pillow and while trying to remove it while Russ slept, she accidentally shot him in the head. The story is as ridiculous now as it was back in 1988 - - not only that someone as well versed in guns as Russ Stager would sleep with a loaded handgun under his pillow (discounted by his family and former wife) but that out of everything in that bedroom, including Russ' entire body, that he was "accidentally" shot directly in the back of the head. In other words, executed. The trajectory of the bullet also indicated that he was shot from above and behind, in direct contradiction to Barbara's story of the bullet coming from underneath him.
She was convicted and sentenced to death by a North Carolina jury. The right sentence in my opinion if you support the death penalty. However, the death sentence was overturned and commuted to life in prison. I have no doubt that it was only because Barbara is a woman. If she had been a man that executed his wife for financial gain, the death sentence would have been upheld.
Her attorneys stressed that Barbara was a churchgoing woman, who had so much to still offer the world from her religious knowledge and support to her crafts. They also stressed what a loving daughter and sister she was and that she was needed to continue being the loving mother of her two sons. The last statement makes me irate.
Barbara proved herself to be anything but a loving and supportive mother when she obliterated her sons' father. TWICE. She killed their biological father, Larry Ford, without a thought or care as to how much emotional damage she would do to them. She then married Russ Stager, who lovingly adopted Larry's sons and took them as his own. He loved them, they loved him. And Barbara cruelly killed Russ as she had Larry; again, with no consideration as to what this might do to her sons.
She has already lucked out in that her death sentence was overturned. She was given mercy and life when she gave Larry and Russ neither.
|Larry Ford's final resting place|
January 17, 2016
I hate to say that I'm a Tate-LaBianca or Helter Skelter junkie but I've read Vincent Bugliosi's book many times, as well as various other books and articles on the case. Eventually I became a fan of Sharon Tate's - - her sister Debra's book (Sharon Tate: Recollection) is a gorgeous collection of photos and remembrances.
When I heard that Ed Sanders, author of The Family, was releasing a new book, and on Sharon Tate, I was excited and decided that I most definitely needed to read the book. That excitement quickly fizzled out when I read excerpts through The Daily Mail.
Among other things claimed, Sanders writes in Sharon Tate: A Life that Sharon participated in threesomes with her husband, Roman Polanski; that she participated in orgies with other famous Hollywood folk that was captured on video; that Polanski showed these videos to his friends; that Sharon was initiated into witchcraft in 1965 following filming of Eye of the Devil and pictures of her inside a consecrated magic circle were taken. There are also quite a few allegations that in an effort to hold on to Polanski, Sharon got caught up his drug-fueled and sexual decadence, that Polanski wanted Sharon to have an abortion and when she refused, he refused to have sex with her and began an affair with her friend Michelle Phillips, and that during that last summer of her life, Polanski was dismissive of Sharon, calling her a "dumb hag."
I'll start with the Polanski allegations first. I think it's fairly well known that Polanski had no desire for children; I believe he admitted that himself in his autobiography. It's also well known that he was less than faithful to Sharon during their courtship and marriage and despite what may have been said immediately following the murders, Sharon was well aware and it was a source of unhappiness for her. She was considering leaving Polanski and the marriage after her baby was born (sadly, she did not get that chance.)
As far as the drugs go, Sharon was no saint. She had experimented with drugs before meeting Roman so I'm not sure it's fair to claim that he got her into that lifestyle. He told the LAPD (and may have mentioned in his book) that the first time he dropped acid, he had done so with Sharon and it was her fifteenth or sixteenth trip. She also appeared to be a recreational marijuana smoker before she met the director so I'll take the drug related stories with a relatively small grain of salt, at least.
After the murders, when the LAPD was searching the residence on Cielo for evidence, they found a tape of Sharon and Roman having sex. If there were other videotapes on the property, as Sanders alleges, don't you think the LAPD would have booked them into evidence? It's not like anyone would have had time to search the property and get rid of them - - the home was locked down once the bodies were discovered. If the tapes existed, the other parties on the film would have a possible motive for murder. Because of this, I don't think these videos ever existed . . . just another rumor out of many in this case.
The allegation that Sharon was participating in orgies goes against what everyone has said about her since 1969. She was said to be sweet, almost naïve, and a homebody at heart who only wanted a home, husband and baby. If Sharon did indeed participate in these acts, where were these people in 1969 or 1970?
The witchcraft initiation rumor - -and it's just that, a rumor - - has been around for years. There is no proof or substance to it. Again, if there were indeed pictures of Sharon being initiated, where are they? Surely in this age of eBay and internet, they would have surfaced by now.
Sanders also got the facts glaringly wrong. He claims that Terry Melcher was the owner of the house at 10050 Cielo Drive but the owner was actually Rudy Altobelli. Melcher was the tenant at the house prior to the Polanskis moving in. It may not seem that large of a mistake but it certainly makes you call Sanders' other so-called facts into question.
Perhaps most amazingly is that Sanders claims that Manson was paid $25,000 by a Satanic group to off Sharon because of something relative to the Robert Kennedy assassination she overheard. This is so ridiculous it's almost not worthy of comment. But let's address it anyhow, for argument's sake. $25,000 was a large bit of money in 1969 (and would equate to over $650,000 today.) If Manson had collected that sum, where was it? Did he have some secret bank account that Bugliosi never found? And if Manson was paid to knock off Sharon Tate, why would he send a vagabond band of killers to her home, with others present, and with such unwieldy weapons as a bayonet and 40 plus feet of rope? Why would they commit such overkill? Why butcher Rosemary and Leno LaBianca the next night? None of it makes sense. Never mind that Sharon supposedly knew something about the RFK assassination that was kill worthy. If she knew something, don't you think she would have told Roman Polanski? And wouldn't he have mentioned it to the LAPD when they were attempting to find a motive?
Despite how good The Family was, Sanders failed miserably on this one. Who was his source, Manson? I think Sanders was trying to find the most salacious and juicy gossip in order to sell his book. Shame on him - - just another person who has no difficulty in murdering Sharon's memory.
The Daily Mail article - - big grain of salt, folks - - can be found here.
January 14, 2016
This was certainly a long time coming, wasn't it? Obviously LA County wanted all its ducks in order before moving on this case.
You may recall (or you may not) that last January (yep, almost a year ago) Medina fatally stabbed his roommate with a sword (don't we all have them lying around?) after a dispute at their home. At the time it was reported that Joshua Sutter was stabbed once after arguing with Medina and Medina called the paramedics immediately after stabbing Sutter. It sounded at the time as if this may have been self-defense or even involuntary manslaughter.
My, how things change. Medina was arrested today and is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday. It's being reported that prosecutors will ask for bail to be set at a cool million, which seems to assure that he will still in jail throughout the trial unless he has a connection or connections in the industry that is/are willing to pony up some bank for him.
It's also being reported now that Medina stabbed Sutter "multiple times," which creates a bit of a problem with the self-defense theory in my book. Unless Sutter was under the influence of something like LSD, one poke with a sword would likely end an altercation so . . .
The argument also allegedly began over Medina's girlfriend, resulting in Sutter forcing his way into Medina's bedroom where the fatal altercation occurred.
If Medina is convicted, he could face up to 26 years in prison, which indicates prosecutors are looking at voluntary manslaughter versus involuntarily manslaughter or second degree murder.