The "Chicken Coop Kids"
I've read every book on the Manson case that I could get my hands on, except the new book by Robert Hendrickson that I plan to buy shortly...
But the one that has touched me the most, is a very rare, out of print book titled "The Devils Drop Out". It was an autobiography written in 1976 by Onjya Sipe, (not her true name) a former Family member (post-murder) and mother of the 12 month old baby in the newspaper article. She wrote this after she became a Christian, and Bill Nelson even touted it. I wish it would get republished.
It hit so close to home for me.
The year was 1970. The young lady was from La Puente, (my home town, 27 miles east of LA, next city over from El Monte) she was my sister's age, 18-19 in 1970, was married very young, had a new born baby named Sheymiah. They were heavily into the drug scene, mainly earning a living selling drugs all over the West Coast from Laguna Beach to Seattle, mostly pot and LSD. Welfare checks subsidized their income.
She met the family through a very good friend of hers by the name of "Jenny". Onjya, her husband and baby had been living with her mother in La Puente, and they wanted to "split the scene", so Jenny arranged for them to be picked up at midnight one night and taken to live at a Family crash pad rented by TJ and Bo, in Duarte (next to Monrovia).
Clem, Gypsy, Lynn, Mary, Brenda, Sandra, TJ, Bo, you name them, they all lived there. This was during the time the trial was going on. It was not a happy place. It was not "peace and love". These people were violent, dirty, everyone slept with everyone, the first thing that happened when she got there, was Clem pulled her top off and groped her, and yes, she was the one that described "TJ eating out of a dirty diaper". Clem didn't like her, said she had "bad vibes".
The Family carried on the philosophy that biological parents should "not raise their children". They had to remain "unprogrammed. Everytime the baby cried, Brenda would "reflect" the screaming and crying at that poor baby.
The Family (mainly Gypsy) preached that "Helter Skelter was coming fast" and that everyone was going to move to the desert. Onjya did not want to stay, but her husband (who by this time, was into the groove) insisted they remain with the group. One day Gypsy announced that everyone was to split up because the "heat was coming down", so it was arranged that Onjya and her husband (minus the baby) would be driven to Lone Pine to wait it out for the revolution and to "lose their ego" then everyone would reunite and be together in the desert.
So Bo and Mary were chosen to drive Onjya, her husband, the baby and the 4 Rice kids to Lone Pine. They found an old cave in the hills there and that was to be their home. They lived in the cave for a short time, panhandling, begging, whatever they could to survive, living mostly on rice.
A few weeks later, TJ, a very pregnant Gypsy, Mary and Jennie drove up to check on them - told them it was coming down soon and they would all be together again. They were taking the Rice kids back with them and talked her into letting them have her baby too. Gypsy even had her sign a paper giving the "Family" consent to take her baby...(can you imagine?)
Days turned into weeks, weeks into months and they didn't hear from the Family. Onyja was so heartbroken and missed her baby so much, she decided to hitch-hike down to Joshua Tree to try and find Jennie. When she got there, Jennie was no-where to be found...seems the Family wanted to kill her. Jennie had told a mother of a young girl where she could find her, with the Family of course. Without finding Jennie, she returned to Lone Pine and her husband and the cave.
Months later, her brother and a friend drove up to the cave - told her the police had found Sheymiah, they found her with the four Rice kids, in an underground chicken coop in Lancaster, CA. Sandra Goode identified the children, but said the 12 month old had been "given" to the family about a year ago.
(I wish Joann would come by this blog, I just want her to know how much I appreciate this story, so very very sad but with a wonderful ending.)
Click Below For Supportive Newspaper Article: