November 21, 2017

Does the Death of Manson End the Family Mystique?

The news that Charles Manson had died of natural causes (unlike the victims who died due to his orders/influence/crazy) on Sunday has put his infamy back on the front page and dredged up the summer of 1969. 

From this . . . 
I have to admit that while news of Manson's passing isn't wholly surprising (he was 83 and in failing health, after all) there was still a part of me that figured Manson would outlive everyone else involved in this horrible case.  I'm happy to be wrong here.

Manson, whether alive or dead, seems to generate more vitriol and hatred than any other Family member.  Understandable, to a degree, since he was the "face" of the Family and certainly the one who garnered the most press attention, both during and after the trial.  Does that hatred now transfer to the still living killers?  It should. 

Tex Watson should be hated just as much as Manson.  He personally shot Steven Parent to death; he personally shot and stabbed Jay Sebring and Voytek Frykowski to death; he stabbed an already dead or dying Abigail Folger; he personally stabbed to death Leno LaBianca; he at the least held Rosemary LaBianca, and more likely stabbed her.  He admitted to cutting Sharon Tate's face before she was slaughtered; who personally stabbed her to death has been under debate for decades.

. . . to this. 
Bobby Beausoleil personally stabbed Gary Hinman to death, after Gary begged him not to.

Bruce Davis was present when Gary Hinman's ear was sliced off by Manson.  He was also present when Donald "Shorty" Shea was killed, as well as when Family member John Philip Haught committed suicide (or should I say "committed suicide" since Haught was playing Russian Roulette with a fully loaded handgun.) 

Patricia Krenwinkel was present at both the Tate-Polanski residence and the LaBianca residence on both nights of murder.  She personally stabbed Abigail Folger in the residence and, wielding an upraised knife, ran after Abigail when the poor woman made a break for it, out the back door.  She caught Abigail on the lawn and continued to stab her.  She stabbed Leno LaBianca after Watson had killed him and left a carving fork and knife in his body.  She stabbed Rosemary LaBianca and helped to hold the woman down.  She wrote in blood at the LaBianca residence.

Leslie Van Houten was not present for the Tate murders but she was for LaBianca, and she knew full well what was going to happen. She personally stabbed Rosemary LaBianca, possibly administering the death blows. She also aided and abetted in the murder of Leno LaBianca and, with Watson and Krenwinkel, ate the LaBiancas' food, showered in their bathroom and played with their dogs after butchering the couple.  

With old Charlie's death, that's two Manson Family killers who have died where they belong - - in prison.  (If you're not sure, the other is Susan Atkins -  she who told Sharon Tate "Bitch, I have no mercy for you," and who actually tasted Sharon's blood, who died in 2009.  Nope, I didn't cry for Susan then and I'm not now.) 

Manson's death ends an era in a way that the deaths (and eventual deaths) of his followers (convicted or not) has not and will not.  While California taxpayers should be rejoicing that they no longer have to support Manson's sorry ass, they do still have to contend with Watson, Krenwinkel, Beausoleil and Davis.  Van Houten has once again been granted parole by the Parole Board; it's a wait and see game, once again, with Jerry Brown.  But that's another story.

Does the story of "Helter Skelter" die with Manson?  Will interest in the crimes and the remaining Family fade away?  I think not.  The brutality the laughing killers used on their victims, as well as the celebrity factor (Sharon Tate being an actress and the wife of Roman Polanski; Jay Sebring being a hair stylist to the stars; Abigail Folger being heiress to the Folger Coffee empire) and the sad/gory fact that Sharon Tate was heavily pregnant at the time she was killed will keep the murders in the forefront of true crime.  It may be harder to comprehend today, where such violence isn't as shocking, sadly, but the Tate-LaBianca murders truly were the crimes of the century.  Before August 9, 1969, even in Los Angeles, people did leave their doors unlocked. Inviting strangers, or friends of friends of friends, into your home wasn't crazy.  After that weekend in Los Angeles, things changed.

What do you think?  Does the story of "Helter Skelter" die with Manson?  Will the case finally gather dust on the crime books?

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