11 Lies About Charles Manson

When the so-called "LIE album" (top of page) was released few realized that the intent of its cover was to refute the image of Charles Manson put forth by the December 19, 1969 Life magazine cover that it parodied.

That issue of Life contained a lengthy article which established many of the misrepresentations of the events of the summer of 1969 that persist to this day: The people at Spahn Ranch were referred to as "hippies" and "the love and terror cult." Manson was described as the "cult leader." The word "family" was first used to describe Manson and his friends.
It would take 25 years to respond to all the lies that have been told about Charles Manson. These falsehoods range from the seemingly trivial (e.g. that Manson is 5' 2" tall) to the major (e.g. that Manson "masterminded" the Tate/LaBianca killings). Many of these lies were introduced as evidence at Manson's murder trials. Many more that were not admissible in court (since they lacked enough substance to qualify as evidence) were put forth as either real or implied truth in Vincent Bugliosi's megabest-selling Helter Skelter, a book that has unfortunately come to be accepted as one of the sources for information on the so-called "Manson Case".

1. LIE - Charles Manson is a murderer. 
The assumption that Charles Manson is some kind of murderer has been so widely and blindly accepted that many people regard is as a fundamental truth. Manson's picture graces the covers of numerous books on mass murder. Media interviewers assume that he is a killer. (Geraldo to CM: "You're a mass-murdering dog.") Yet Manson has never killed anyone. The prosecution never claimed that he killed any of the persons for whose murders he was convicted (He was never present at the Tate residence; he left the LaBianca residence before anyone was killed; he was not present when either Gary Hinman or Shorty Shea was killed.). And aside from some wholly unsubstantiated rumors (e.g. that he shot someone in the head with a .45 in Death Valley) there is no evidence that he ever killed anyone in a murder that he wasn't charged with.

2. LIE - Charles Manson was obsessed with the Beatles. 
This lie was presented by D.A. Bugliosi as part of his construction of the elaborate and false "helter skelter" motive. With this lie we are asked to believe that a 30-year-old long term prison convict would be susceptable to the teenybopper-oriented media hype of "Beatlemania". Not very likely. Of course, Manson heard the Beatles' music, and the group was a part of his world as much as it was a part of everyone's world in the late 1960's. But to say that he was obsessed with the Beatles is simply not true. The best evidence of this is Manson's own music. Of all of that music that is available, either through unauthorized professional releases or underground circulation, none of it sounds like anything recorded by the Fab Four (except possibly Rocky Raccoon, but that is really the Beatles copying the same mountain/country musical style that did influence Manson). If Manson was obsessed with and idolized the Beatles, wouldn't he have emulated their musical style?

3. LIE - Charles Manson wanted to be a rock and roll star.
 In American society celebrity and attention have become so important to so many people that anyone who excels in certain fields (especially the fields of music, motion pictures, television, sports) can achieve a position of status and adoration that was formally reserved for great statesmen, military heroes, and members of royal families. In America today, recognition, in any form, is taken as greatness. Because this "cult of celebrity" is so much a part of the contemporary American psyche it is plausible to many people that fame and approval are desired by everyone.
Thus is Manson supposedly affected by the influences and yearnings of American society. But Manson is not a part of that society, and nothing in his history demonstrates that he ever had a desire to be well known. To the contrary, all of his behavior indicates a desire to get away from society and live in the total obscurity of the desert.

4. LIE - Prior to December, 1969 there was a group of individuals known as "The Manson Family". 
The people at Spahn Ranch never referred to themselves by any collective name. (There was a musical group at the ranch called "The Family Jams".) The term "Manson Family" was coined by the news media, adopted by the prosecution, and has been used since as a convenient way to catagorize a group that in fact never existed in any organized form.

5. LIE - Charles Manson was the undisputed "leader" of that group. 
Since there was no group, there was no leader.

6. LIE - Manson and his associates abused drugs. 
While the people at Spahn Ranch did use substances such as marijauna, LSD, mescaline, peyote, and psilocybin, there was no widespread use of any drugs such as cocaine, amphetemines, or any of the spectrum of drugs commonly known as "downers". This fact is well documented by the statements of even such pro-prosecution people as Paul Watkins. Manson was known to run people off who abused drugs. Tex Watson and Susan Atkins have both stated in their books that their use of speed was hidden from the other people at the ranch. No substantial amount of any kind of drug was ever seized during any of the numerous police raids on Manson and his associates.

7. LIE - Charles Manson is 5' 2" tall. 
This petty and pointless lie has been told by D.A. Bugliosi from the time of the publication of Helter Skelter to as recently as his December 8, 1995 appearance on the Discovery Channel's program Rivals. Bugliosi spent over nine months in a courtroom in close proximity to Manson, so he must know that this claim is not true. The only reason there can be for him repeatedly saying it is that the height 5' 2" is so abnormally short for a white American male that it adds yet another freakishly unique aspect to the Manson caricature. In fact, Manson is at least 5' 6". This is born out by the height indicated on the California Department of Corrections record card reprinted on page 118 of The Manson File. It is also born out by the personal experience of St. Geo, who has observed Manson during over 100 visits at California State Prison - Corcoran. The photo in Helter Skelter which purports to show Manson as being 5' 2" is clearly incorrect and probably faked. This can be shown by continuing the height scale to Manson's left down to 0'. If Manson was 5' 2" tall, as the scale indicates, the scale should reach 0' where his feet meet the floor. It doesn't. It goes below his feet, out of the photograph, and off the page.

8. LIE- The motive for the Tate/LaBianca killings was to ignite "Helter Skelter". 
This is an important lie since it supposedly points the finger of guilt at Charles Manson and demonstrates that he had a personal motive for the Tate/LaBianca murders to take place. Motive is important, for while a prosecutor is not required to show motive they usually do because: a. it is usually pretty obvious, and b. motive is strong circumstantial evidence of a person's guilt. (Actually, it is more than that. It is an absolute requirement, one of the three things a person always has when they commit a crime. The other two are means and opportunity.) But conversly, lack of motive is strong circumstantial evidence of a person's innocence. Bugliosi, immediately assumed Manson's guilt and then arranged all the "evidence" to suit that premise. No other version of the crime or interpretation of any of the evidence was even considered. Unfortunately, the D.A. had trouble finding any motive tying Manson to the crimes. A large part of Helter Skelter, over 60 pages, is devoted to overcoming this troublesome flaw in the "Manson is guilty" scenario. And the only motive Bugliosi could come up with was the literally unbelievable 'helter skelter' motive. Briefly, this motive is as follows: Manson and his "family" were white racists who hoped to provoke a race war by committing atrocity murders against whites which would be blamed on blacks. The ensuing outrage over these murders would cause whites to retaliate, thus beginning the war ("Helter Skelter"). While this war was raging Manson and "the family" would be waiting it out in a bottomless pit in Death Valley. (The "bottomless pit", as presented by Bugliosi, is just one aspect of the 'helter skelter' motive which, if truly believed by Manson et. al., would have rendered them psychotic and probably incompetent to stand trial.) The blacks would win the war but not know how to run the world, so they would have to hand the power over to the only white people left on earth: Charles Manson and his "family". Literally fantastic.
The real motive was to get a brother, Bobby Beausoleil, out of jail by committing "copycat" murders that would convince the authorities that Beausoleil could not be guilty of the murder (of Gary Hinman) for which he had been arrested on August 6, 1969. This motive is much more realistic and has much more circumstantial support than the DA's fantastic 'helter skelter' motive. It's the real motive. There's only one thing wrong with it from the prosecutorial point of view: It is not a personal motive for Charles Manson.

9. Lie - The book Manson In His Own Words is Manson's book. 
"Is there any way to stop (that) book? That thing has been a curse. It's destroyed us all, (and) ATWA for over ten years. That should be enough." - Charles Manson. The most obvious evidence that the book is not really Manson's is that the words presented in the book are so unlike the diction of Charles Manson, spoken or written, that not even such notable Mansonphobes as D. A. Bugliosi and Ed Sanders believe that the words are his. This is not surprising, since the circumstances of the interviews that Emmons conducted for the book did not permit him to use a tape recorder (except rarely) or even to take notes. As a result of these limitations (and because of other motives Emmons may have had) much of what is presented as Manson's words (and presumably his thoughts) are really the words, thoughts, values, and perceptions of Nuel Emmons, not of Charles Manson. And many of the incidents described in the book never even occurred.

10. Lie - Manson's father may have been black. 
Bugliosi offers this allegation in his book as a possible and convenient explanation of Manson's alleged hatred of black people (Shades of Hitler's Jewish grandmother!). It is a ridiculous contention. In the first place, Manson is totally lacking any of the physical Negroid features that one would expect to observe in a mulatto. In the second place, Bugliosi bases this allegation on the questionable premise (itself based on old and probably inaccurate records) that the "colored cook Colonel Scott" was Manson's father. But even if the mysterious Colonel Scott was Manson's father, it is unlikely that he (Scott) was "colored". To see this, one would only have to examine the newspaper articles from the Ashland, Kentucky Daily Independent that covered the murder of Colonel Scott's brother, Darwin Orell Scott, in May of 1969. The photograph of Darwin Scott (the brother of Manson's supposed father) that accompanies the articles is clearly of a white man.

11. Lie - Manson and his associates may have been responsible for as many as 35 murders. 
The basis for this lie is a single statement made during an LAPD interview with Juan Flynn on August 18, 1970. "(Manson) admitted -- he boasted -- of thirty-five lives taken in a period of two days." That's it for the "evidence" of additional murders beyond the nine for which convictions were obtained. Bugliosi spends over ten pages of Helter Skelter listing murders he hints that Manson or his associates may have committed, but there is no real evidence to support any of these contentions unless you believe the premise "Well, these murders happened around the same time and Manson and his friends were homicidal maniacs, so they must have done them." Here we will address three of Bugliosi's examples: 

1. Darwin Orell Scott; Ashland, Kentucky; May 27, 1969 - Darwin Scott was found hacked to death in his modest apartment on May 27, 1969. Apparently Manson's motive for this murder was that Scott was the brother of his alleged father, "Colonel Scott". Despite the claims of several Ashland residents that Manson was in the area around the time of the death, even Bugliosi admits that Manson was probably in California on the day of the murder. Newspaper articles about the crime say that Scott was known to have large sums of money in his apartment and that local police believed money was the motive for the slaying. Scott, who had a record for breaking and entering and forgery, may have been involved in the area's illicit liquor trade. Police found 86 fifths and 28 pints of whiskey in his apartment.
2. Joel Dean Pugh; London, England; December 1, 1969 - Joel Pugh was found in a London hotel with his throat and wrists slashed. Pugh is usually described as the husband of Sandra Good. In fact they were never married. Although Pugh is also described as a "former Manson Family member" in Helter Skelter, he never met Manson or any of the other so-called Family members. After Joel Pugh's death his parents journeyed to London to satisfy themselves with the official verdict of suicide. After checking all the medical records (Pugh's father was a doctor at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota) and the files at Scotland Yard they were satisfied that the death was, indeed, a suicide.
3. Marina Habe; Los Angeles, California; December 30, 1969 - This one is easy. There is simply no evidence whatsoever to connect anyone from Spahn Ranch with the murder of Miss Habe. But she was killed in Los Angeles, so Bugliosi included her as a possible victim of the "Manson Family".

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