The Charlie Conspiracy

Nearly twenty years after the Manson Murders, a string of satanic killings brought fear of the Family back to L.A. In this 1988 feature, Michael Bendrix explores Charles Manson’s place in what seemed to be an expanding web of terror

But things went awry. In May 1983 there was a falling out between Evans and Radin over the issue of participation in Cotton Club. Evans apparently suddenly found himself in a minority position in his own project and tried to buy Radin out. But Radin resisted.

On the night of Friday the 13th, Radin got into a limousine with Jacobs outside the Regency Hotel in Hollywood. They were supposed to have dinner at La Scala, but they never made it, and sometime that night Radin disappeared.

Actor Demond Wilson, who played Redd Foxx’s son in the TV series Sanford and Son and whose careeer Radin had managed from time to time, acted as Radin’s armed bodygaurd on this particular night—Radin had wanted somebody to stay with him that night because he had received several recent anonymous threats. Radin’s regular bodyguards were in New York, and it was Wilson’s job to trail the limo with his boss and Jacobs, but Wilson could not keep up in heavy traffic.

What actually happened that night can only be surmised. In The Ultimate Evil, Terry claims that while Jacobs’ lawyer never allowed her to be questioned by police, she told Tadin’s personal secretary at the time that she and Radin had quarreled on the way to the restaurant, and when they stopped for a red light on Sunset Boulevard, she got out. Later in the same conversation, according to Terry, she changed her story and insisted is was not she but Radin who had left the car.

Radin was taken to Copco Canyon, where he fought with his kidnappers, or perhaps was permitted to make a run for it, and was then gunned down. He was found on his back, his body badly decomposed, his hand still holding onto a shrub branch. According to Terry, the police’s main suspect in the Radin murder is Manson II. It was he, they believe, who drove the limo that night.

And who is Manson II? Terry, who has seen his picture, describes him as five-foot-ten, 180 pounds, with dirty blond or brown hair, sometimes with a mustache. He was born in November 1948, has a high-school education, spends time with weights to keep himself in shape and works as a bodyguard, often for celebrities. He lives in Hollywood and uses a store in West Hollywood for a mail drop.

According to Terry, Manson II has been involved with satanism since he joined the Process, probably in 1968, and he once tried to commission an artist to paint pictures of human sacrifices on the walls of a nightclub. (The artist declined the offer.) He has an arrest record and is a top suspect not only in the Radin case but in an organized-crime disappearance/murder that took place in Washington, D.C., in 1977. Terry also says he has evidence that puts Manson II in one of the Son of Sam shootings, also in 1977.

We arrived in Copco Canyon, and Maury found the spot where Radin’s body was discovered. It was here, two months after police had found the body, that Maury made his own amazing discovery—a King James Bible, missed by police because it was so far under the shrubbery.

The Bible was significant for several reasons. First, it confirmed what Terry had been told by informants—to look for a satanic sign at the murder site. But it also suggested something about the police’s main suspect, Manson II, and confirmed Terry’s own suspicions about Manson II’s satanic connections. “It was deliberately folded open,” Terry wrote in his book about finding the Bible, “bent at the spine so that its left-hand pages were beneath those on the right. To ensure that it remained open to the intended passage, the front cover and the first few hundred pages had been torn off.”

The intended passage was Isaiah, Chapter 22, which reads, in part, “toss thee like a ball into a country and there thou shalt die … And behold, joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh and drinking wine; let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die.”

Terry believes that this particular passage was deliberately left as proof that the people who did the killing were satanists—ironic because Radin himself had dabbled in satanism.

The most frightened part of what Terry is suggesting, of course, is that most of the satanic groups that were actively involved in crime in the ‘70s are still in place and still active. Furthermore, he says, they have become increasingly involved in child pornography and cocaine distribution. He insists that police are aware of the organizations and often swap information with him, but they are slow to pick up on the vast threat posed by satanists.

“If you’ve got an organization that can boast David Berkowitz and Charlie Manson among their members,” Maury told me when we left Copco Canyon, “then you’ve got a fairly dangerous organization. And there’s no indication they’re stopping.”

In fact, he added, David Berkowitz—whose information Terry insists has turned out to be extremely accurate—has told him that the headquarters of the many disparate satanic organizations involved in crime is in Venice, California, and that the most active of all these groups includes approximately 50 people, some of whom are locally well-known art gallery owners.

A few days later, Maury and I talked about Marina. I even introduced him to the detective who had worked on the case the longest, the one who believes Marina’s murderer was the biker named Spanky. Maury thought the evidence against Spanky tenuous at best and was skeptical of the way the police had handled the investigation.

In an unsolved murder, the police are often made to be the scapegoats by the victim’s family: In a curious way, that’s somehow more reassuring than the thought that all the available expertise and technology still couldn’t solve the crime. What kind of criminal could carry out so perfect a crime? Maury’s doubts about the police’s handling of Marina’s case coincided with everything my stepmother felt, though my father was less convinced. In any event, he had little desire to awaken his old nightmares.

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