The Mystery Behind the Manson Murders
By PAUL KRASSNER
August 10, 2009
Charles Manson was never a hippie. His real family included con
artists, pimps, drug dealers, thieves, muggers, rapists and
murderers. He had known only power relationships in an army of
control junkies. Manson was America's Frankenstein monster, a logical
product of the prison system--racist, paranoid, violent--even if
hippie astrologers thought that his fate had been predetermined
because he was a triple Scorpio.
In the course of my research, I met Preston Guillory, a former deputy
sheriff at the Malibu Sheriff's Department, which aided the Los
Angeles Sheriff's Department in the original raid of the Spahn Ranch.
Guillory had participated in that raid, and I interviewed him at an
apartment in San Francisco. He stated:
"We had been briefed for a few weeks prior to the actual raiding of
Spahn Ranch. We had a sheaf of memos on Manson, that they had
automatic weapons at the ranch, that citizens had complained about
hearing machine-guns fired at night, that firemen from the local fire
station had been accosted by armed members of Manson's band and told
to get out of the area, all sorts of complaints like this.
"We had been advised to put anything relating to Manson on a memo
submitted to the station, because they were supposedly gathering
information for the raid we were going to make. Deputies at the
station of course started asking, 'Why aren't we going to make the
raid sooner?' I mean, Manson's a parole violator, machine-guns have
been heard, we know there's narcotics and we know there's booze. He's
living at the Spahn Ranch with a bunch of minor girls in complete
violation of his parole.
"Deputies at the station quite frankly became very annoyed that no
action was being taken about Manson. My contention is this--the
reason Manson was left on the street was because our department
thought that he was going to attack the Black Panthers. We were
getting intelligence briefings that Manson was anti-black and he had
supposedly killed a Black Panther, the body of which could not be
found, and the department thought that he was going to launch an
attack on the Black Panthers.
"Manson was a very ready tool, apparently, because he did have some
racial hatred and he wanted to vent it. But they hadn't anticipated
him attacking someone other than the Panthers, which he did. Manson
changed his score. Changed the program at the last moment and
attacked the Tates and then went over to the LaBiancas and killed
them. And here was the Sheriff's Department suddenly wondering,
'Jesus Christ, what are we gonna do about this? We can't cover this
up. Well, maybe we can.'
"I bet those memos are no longer in existence. The memos about what
Manson was doing. Citizens' complaints. All those things I'm sure
have disappeared by now. It shows the police were conscious of the
fact that he had these weapons in violation of his parole. You've got
at least involvement here on the part of Manson's parole officer, on
the part of the Sheriff's Department, probably the sheriff himself,
and whoever gave him his orders. Manson should have been [imprisoned]
long before the killings, because he was on parole, period. He was
living at the Spahn Ranch with an outlaw motorcycle gang. I feel
that, to say the least, the sheriff of Los Angeles County is an
accessory to murder.
"The raid was a week after the Sharon Tate thing, and the
intelligence information was coming in for about three weeks prior to
the raid. They just didn't want any arrests made. It was obvious they
wanted the intelligence information we were gathering for some other
reason. Three days after they were arrested, 72 hours later, they
were all released--lack of evidence--after this mammoth raid. This
raid involved two helicopters, 102 deputies and about 25 radio cars,
and all the charges were dropped against everyone.
"It appeared to me that the raid was more or less staged as an
afterthought. It was like a scenario that we were going through.
There was some kind of a grand plan that we were participating in,
but I never had the feeling the raid was necessary or that it
required so many personnel. Now, if you were a police official and
you were planning a raid on the Spahn Ranch, utilizing 102 deputies
and helicopters and all that, one would think that with all the
information coming out a month prior to the raid, wouldn't you have
them under fairly close surveillance? If you did have them under
fairly close surveillance, wouldn't you see them leave the Spahn
Ranch to go over and kill seven people and then come back?
"So the hypothesis I put forward is, either we didn't have them under
surveillance for grand-theft-auto because it was a big farce, or else
they were under surveillance by somebody much higher than the
Sheriff's Department, and they did go through this scenario of
killing at the Tate house and then come back, and then we went
through the motions to do our raid. Either they were under
surveillance at the time, which means somebody must have seen them go
to the Tate house and commit the killings, or else they weren't under
"You have to remember that Charlie was on federal parole all this
time from '67 to '69. Do you realize all the shit he was getting away
with while he was on parole? Now here's the kicker. Before the Tate
killings, he had been arrested at Malibu twice for statutory rape.
Never got [imprisoned for parole violation]. During the Tate killings
and the Spahn Ranch raid, Manson's parole officer was on vacation, so
he had no knowledge of Manson being incarcerated, so naturally Manson
was released, but why wasn't a parole hold put on him?
"It's like Manson had God on his side when all these things are going
down, or else somebody was watching every move he made, somebody was
controlling from behind the scenes. Somebody saw that no parole hold
was placed. Manson liked to ball young girls, so he just did his
thing and he was released and they didn't put any hold on him. But
somebody very high up was controlling everything that was going on
and was seeing to it that we didn't bust Manson.
"Prior to the Spahn Ranch raid, there was a memo--it was verbal, I
would have loved to Xerox some things but there wasn't anything to
Xerox--that we weren't to arrest Manson or any of his followers prior
to the raid. It was intimated to us that we were going to make a raid
on the Spahn ranch, but the captain came out briefly and said, 'No
action is to be taken on anybody at the Spahn ranch. I want memos
submitted directly to me with a cover sheet so nobody else can read them.'
"So deputies were submitting memos on information about the Spahn
Ranch that other deputies weren't even allowed to see. We were to
submit intelligence information but not to make any arrests. Manson
was in a free fire zone, so to speak. He was living a divine
existence. We couldn't touch him…."
And so it was that the presence of racism had morphed the Sheriff's
Department into collaborators in a mass murder. But who was the
higher-up that gave them the order to leave Manson alone? I was
certainly prepared to believe that's what occurred. I had been
gathering piece after piece of a mind-boggling jigsaw puzzle, trying
to make them all fit snugly into one big cohesive picture, but
without having any model to pattern it after.
I concluded that the brainwashed Manson family actually served as a
hit squad for a drug ring run by mobsters he had met in prison. But,
he wrote to me, "I've always ran poker games and whores and crime.
I'm a crook. You make the reality in court and the press. I just ride
and play the cards that were pushed on me to play. Mass killer, it's
a job, what can I say."
The above is excerpted from my 1993 autobiography, Confessions of a
Raving, Unconfined Nut: Misadventures in the Counterculture. Simon &
Schuster has since reverted all rights back to me, and an expanded
edition will soon be published online by New World Digital.
Paul Krassner edited Pot Stories For Soul, available at paulkrassner.com.