So I’ve been a little busy. Car rides and baseball and Helter Skelter. Repeat. That is really all I have been doing–well, that and eating. After Spring Training over the weekend and then a hop, skip, and a jump to San Diego for my brother’s tournament, I was thinking only in baseball jargon. In between driving and cheering on the Indians, I had my nose buried in Vince Bugliosi’s documentation of the Manson Murders. Heck, I want to abandon trying to write this post right now to snuggle up with it again.
Helter Skelter marks the beginning of my research for a book I want to write about a serial killer (or maybe a few, I don’t know yet). Charles Manson is one of the most famous criminals in American history, and I find his life quite fascinating. Reading about the Family and his power over them…the only way I can describe it is crazy. I keep having to remind myself that all this is true. Vince Bugliosi did a fabulous job chronicling the case.
In reading the book in various public places this week, it has sparked a few conversations, mostly with people my parents’ ages–people who were around and living in LA at the time. Today I got my hair cut, and my hairdresser (one of my favorite people in the whole world) told me about a few close encounters. She raised horses growing up (and even got to do stunts with them for movies!), and one of her horses mated with another man’s horse. They had to register the baby with the breeder, and in this processes, ended up at Spahn Ranch. Her mother told her to stay in car because a bunch of hippie girls were hiding around in the bushes. “Hippie” had not quite become a term yet at the time, though, so she had described them more as hobo-looking. Turns out, the breeder was one Mr. Shorty Shea, one of Manson’s victims. Shea had been killed and chopped up into pieces and buried in various places on the ranch. Needless to say, they could not get the horse registered.
Could you even imagine?
It makes me wonder about Garretson, the caretaker of the Tate residence. He could have easily been the sixth victim, had they checked the guesthouse. And the fact that he did not hear the screams or the gunshots has my mind racing.
The number of other close encounters has me reeling as well. My dad has been filling me in on incidents where the intended victim was saved by a green light or a flat tire. A family friend told me she grew up just minutes from the LaBianca residence. I could not even imagine what it would be like to have had the Family pull a Creepy Crawler mission on my house. In case you do not know, a Creepy Crawler is when some Family members dress in all black and break into houses to crawl around and move various objects around slightly, just enough for the owner to notice in the morning.
It is so interesting to read the confessions and interviews with Manson and the Family. They feel zero guilt or remorse. Hell, they liked what they did. “Crazy Sadie” giggled when talking about the Tate murders. I cannot even imagine what it felt like to be working on the case or to be a member of the jury. It sends shivers up my spine.
Quite a few people have told me that after reading the book, they could not sleep at night. I have not gotten to that point yet, which almost makes me nervous. Shouldn’t I be more afraid than this? Probably. Maybe I have not gotten to the worst of it yet–I have a feeling it is about to take a step in a bad direction. I am a mixture of anxious, excited, and a bit afraid.
I am gathering a lot of interesting information to use in my own story. Point of view, methods, emotions, and so on. I found a couple of really fabulous passages about crime scenes and Manson’s back story. Bugliosi does such a great job with the details and the story and the proper way to solve a crime and convict the guilty party. I would have loved to sit down with him and ask him about a million questions about the case and Manson himself. I am so weirdly fascinated by him. And serial killers in general.
On a side note from that: dear all boys who friendzoned, ended relationships with me, and avoid me in general, you dodged a bullet!
I am getting to set the scene of my Pulitzer Prize winner (I can dream, right?), and it is wild. True crime + my obsession with crimes shows = a bestseller? Let’s hope!
If you know anything about Manson not mentioned in the book or have thoughts about his crimes and the Family I would love to hear about it. Any input or advice on writing a story like this or other book recommendations are also appreciated. Compiling an arsenal of information, basically.
I’m crazy, I know.