Manson Web Extra: MIND CONTROL


JUAN FLYNN, Spahn ranch hand. Sixty-five years old, he is retired after a career as a miner and heavy-equipment operator. The mind is the laziest organ in the body. The young people who killed for Charlie were not intelligent or strong enough to think for themselves. They did not want to take responsibility for their actions. They wanted someone else to make their decisions for them, and that’s what Charlie would do. Charlie offered to set them free.

MICHAEL McGANN, Los Angeles Police Department homicide detective. Seventy-three years old, he is retired. Manson had complete control of these people. The kids who committed these murders came from pretty good middle-class families, hard-working parents. They just got into the wrong sphere with Manson, and he converted them into monsters. It shows you what can happen. Manson is a powerful person. He can sway certain people. Then he gets them involved in dope and takes them over sexually. He could really control their lives. You have to be able to exert total control to have them commit crimes like these.

VINCENT BUGLIOSI, deputy district attorney. He is 74 and the author of several books, including Helter Skelter (cowritten with Curt Gentry), the definitive account of the case. Tex Watson was kind of bright but very weak emotionally. He comes from Texas, near the hometown of Second World War hero Audie Murphy. When they first found out back there that Tex was wanted for these murders, the general consensus was that this was a case of mistaken identity. It was inconceivable that he could have been involved in these murders. They knew him as the all-American boy. He had an A average in high school—football, basketball, and track star. For several years he held the Texas high school low hurdle track record. Clean-cut kid.

CATHERINE SHARE, member of the Family. Sixty-six years old, she is a writer. Charlie started taking the kids on what he called “creepy crawls.” You snuck into someone’s house and moved things around. He was actually getting them used to committing burglaries. There were lots of creepy crawls before the Tate murders. I never went. First of all, I was the oldest girl, and I had a weight problem. When I say I was overweight, it was maybe 20 pounds. But to them that was fat. Most of the girls were very anorexic or bulimic—or both. Charlie wanted little, agile girls. So he didn’t think I was capable. But even if I had been, I didn’t want to go—I was too fearful. Charlie tried to get me to stop being scared, but he couldn’t. He could never completely break my will. So he pushed me aside. I was always thinking too much, and Charlie didn’t want you to think. He wanted you to act.

BARBARA HOYT, member of the Family. Fifty-seven years old, she is a registered nurse. Toward the end they were cutting their hair in strange patterns. They cut it really short, leaving one strand or little loop of hair long, so it looked ridiculous. Everyone once had long hair. By cutting their hair it was another act of giving up your ego. It was a little ego death, the death of the individual. They were preparing to go into the wilderness because Helter Skelter was coming, and they were going on creepy crawls to heighten their awareness. I didn’t do them. I didn’t want to go. I remember Sadie [Susan Atkins] remarking to someone that I had done a lot of things for the Family, but I had not had sex with a girl, and I had not gone on a creepy crawl, and I should get my hair cut—that I needed my hair cut. Somebody said, “She doesn’t want her hair cut.” And Sadie said, “All the more reason to do it.” I remember thinking I didn’t want to get my hair cut, and I didn’t want to go on a creepy crawl. I was becoming more and more discontented.