Mr. Poirot said:
"A good "what if" would be if Charlie escaped capture in the DV raid. If everyone had gotten busted EXCEPT Charlie, then he would have held out a long time eating rattlesnake and crickets. Would the police have gone after him? Without Charlie the whole helter skelter saga doesn't exist. Charlie could have become a lone hermit in Death Valley living under the radar for years after the rest of the killers were convicted. Only Geraldo could ever have found him".
I have to say Poirot, that's a pretty good "what if"... and a very large one. That's a tough, multi-faceted, and complex hypothetical. It raises several key questions. One could launch an entire blog, based solely on that "turn of events"... and it's implications. I must be crazy for touching this... but, I'll give it a shot...
Big Question #1)
Would the police have gone after Manson?
I think we have to back-up, and ask ourselves why Bugliosi was so determined to bring Charlie down (in the first place). Which is another great question on it's own... but, I digress...
Anywho... Bugliosi based his entire case around prosecuting Manson... AND... Bug even took a chance of blowing his case against the other defendants in-so-doing.
I mean, let's face it... if Bugliosi didn't prosecute Manson... his job against the other defendants would have been markedly easier... and more importantly, more assured. Bottom line... Bugliosi in essence, "went out of his way" to get Charlie... which actually begs the question WHY?
Irregardless of the WHY... the fact that Bugliosi was so "hot" to bring Manson down... I'd answer YES to the police question.
I think it's likely (assuming Bugliosi was still prosecutor)... the police would have gone looking for Manson. Heck... Bugliosi even had Harold True brought-in, and arrested!
I think it's pretty safe to assume, Bugliosi would have persuaded the police to go after Manson. Bugliosi certainly stopped at nothing else... and as I said... made his job as a prosecutor much harder… going after Manson in the first place.
My final vote on your "hypothetical question" regarding the police, is this:
Assuming Bugliosi was still prosecuting the case... the police would have gone after Manson. Bugliosi would have pushed for it. History shows, that Bugliosi spared nothing in his pursuit of Manson, and based on that track record, I cast my vote.
Big Question #2)
Would they have found Manson?
My personal guess... (and I can only guess like anyone else)... is that, they definitely would have found Manson. I base that opinion on Manson's track record.
Firstly... Manson was caught at every crime he ever committed. LOL The guy really was not that successful as a criminal, if you really look at it. It's true Manson "got-off easy" many times... had nine lives in some regards... and had a great deal of luck after being caught (again, many times)... but, he was usually caught.
Secondly (and more importantly)... at the end of the day... I think Manson would've had a hard time staying completely isolated on the outside. I think (on the outside) he liked being around people... and, also needed people out of necessity. Manson needed people to exploit. He really wasn't a truly self-sufficient guy on the outside. He literally exploited others to survive. He had no free meal ticket, like in prison.
Manson would have come out of hiding to rob a gas station... raid a dumpster... steal a car... or some other stupid petty crime, and they would have picked him up for sure.
That's my GUESS(ES) on the outcome of that complex, yet interesting "hypothetical" of yours, Poirot.