Chris... my good friend from Wales (and our newest author), has completed another comprehensive thread for us.
This guy is serious! Thanks Chris!
A Review of Spahn Ranch Raid Documents
*Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Complaint Report from 6.00am 16 August 1969.
*State of California Affidavit in Support of and County of Los Angeles Petition for Search Warrant, 13 August 1969. No 2029
“Charles Manson and some of his group just showed up at the Spahn Ranch and started living in the movie sets. Most of the buildings were false fronts, but they made them into rooms. I thought they were just a bunch of hippies, but we started getting reports that members of the Straight Satans, a motorcycle gang from Venice, were going to the ranch on weekends and partying. The word was that they were trading drugs for sex with the women there. Some of the women were runaway juveniles who provided Manson with cash and credit cards stolen from their homes. We also had reports that members of the group were shooting a machine gun. The Manson people were also stealing and building dune buggies and driving them onto adjoining properties, creating a nuisance. A couple of nights before the raid, we hiked into the ranch and found a stolen, brand-new 1969 Ford and a stolen Volkswagen. That was the main basis for our search warrant—to recover these vehicles and try to identify who stole them.”
BILL GLEASON, Los Angeles County deputy sheriff assigned to probe auto thefts, recalling the raid on the 40th Anniversary of the Tate-La Bianca murders.
“It seemed like every cop in LA was there.” Manson
This piece revisits two documents. The first is the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Complaint Report from 6.00am 16 August 1969, a document generated after the completion of the large police raid on Spahn Ranch. The other is the police affidavit in support of a petition for the search warrant that enabled the raid to take place.
When these documents were created Manson was not yet ‘The Most Dangerous Man Alive’ or a ‘hippy cult leader’. There was no ‘Family’ or ‘thrill kill cult’. At that point in time, there was no media distortion. Both of these documents feature heavily in most published accounts of the Family.
The petition gives an insight into the increasing criminality of the Family’s reputation. It reveals an armed group, boastful and threatening, who are engaged in auto theft. Manson is singled out as the focus of the group as it briefly makes mention of intimidation, theft, rape and murder. It is significant that his designation is first in the list of arrestees as S1.
The Complaint Report offers, at a critical point in the history of the Family, an impressive roll-call of members and associates. Right at the moment when the Family had killed, but before the significance of Lutesinger’s discussions with the Sheriff’s Office were realized, the raid was not only written up, but was also filmed and photographed. The document also preserves the appearance of several figures whom would prove most helpful to the state prosecutors in their testimony against the Family: Juan Flynn, Danny DeCarlo, Barbara Hoyt and Katherine Lutesinger.
The raid is often viewed as a missed opportunity or failure, owing to the misuse of the warrant, its having been presented three days after the date it was valid on. However, it did succeed in encouraging the majority of the Family, to leave the county. The arrest of Lutesinger, would be missed by those investigating the death of Gary Hinman, and she would be released with the others to leave for Death Valley.
Today, with computerized records, it seems perplexing that the Family could continue to function with so many of the group already known to, and wanted by, various branches of authorities.
Good - recently freed earlier that week on a charge of fraud. Manson - on federal parole, who had recently been questioned regarding separate assault, rape and murder investigations, and in addition was already on three years parole for his 28 July 1967 conviction for interfering with a police officer who was trying to seize Manson’s 14 year old runaway companion. Atkins - who was placed on probation after her 22 June 1968 drug possession (then and at the raid giving the same alias), and after her 30 September 1966 conviction for possessing a concealed weapon, she was also given parole for receiving and concealing stolen property before being extradited back to California to face federal charges of interstate transportation of stolen vehicles. DeCarlo was awaiting the appeal of his 1967 conviction and sentencing to five years for importing 11kg of marijuana across the USA-Mexican border in 1966, as well as an assault charge for his and Manson’s attack on DeCarlo’s wife, and the illegal registration of a fire-arm.
The 28 July mini raid could have netted Plumlee an AWOL Marine, and Beausoleil who was probably still wearing the clothes he had murdered Hinman in the previous day.
One week on from the Tate-La Bianca murders the Sheriff’s Department were to capture nearly all of those involved (with the exceptions of Watson, who was with Dianne Lake at a ranch near Olancha, making incriminating statements to Lake regarding his role in the murders, in between her arrest for nude sunbathing. Linda Kasabian, who on August 12, was sent by Manson to find out what was happening regarding the court hearings of Brunner and Good, and to visit Beausoleil, but instead had headed straight to New Mexico). Manson, Atkins, Krenwinkel and Van Houten were captured during the raid.
Bruce Davis avoided the raid as he was delivering vehicle parts to the ranch near Olancha, not returning until after the arrests. Brunner would remain in custody until late September on a forgery charge.
Of the 26 people arrested, several were unsurprisingly enough, ranch hands employed by Spahn: John Swartz, Larry Craven, Juan Flynn and David Hannum.
Two were members of the Straight Satan’s motorcycle club: Danny DeCarlo and Robert Rinehard.
The 20 remaining are mostly familiar names amongst Family members and Manson’s criminal associates. Many gave aliases when arrested, oddly enough Nancy Pitman, who frequently went by the name Brenda McCann since her mid-teens, was arrested under her own name.
Those who gave their address as being Spahn Ranch included: S1 Charles Manson, S3 John Swartz, S5 Leslie Sue Owens [Van Houten], S7 Larry Craven [Spahn Ranch hand], S8 Barbara Cryer [Hoyt], S10 Mary Ann Scott [Krenwinkel], S11 Ruth Ann Smith [Moorehouse], S12 Shirley Amanda McCoy [Cottage], S13 Lynn Alice Fromme, S14 John Flynn [Spahn Ranch hand Juan Flynn], S16 Grant Mollan [Grogan], S18 Julia Roberts, S19 Sadie Mae Glutz [Atkins], S20 Ruth Ann Heuvelhurst [Cooper], S23 Larry Jones (aka Little Larry) [Bailey], S24 Catherine Anne James (aka Cathy) [Share], S25 Catherine Lynn Drake (aka Katy) [Lutesinger].
Those who gave addresses for elsewhere included: S2 Richard Smith [DeCarlo] [Straight Satan member], S4 Sandra Collins Pugh [Good], S6 Nancy Pitman, S9 Carol Mathews [Schram], S15 Robert Rinehard [Straight Satan member], S17 David Hannum [Spahn Ranch hand], S21 Patricia Anne Burke [Gillies], S22 Vern Edward Thompson [Plumlee], S26 Herbert Townsend.
I can find no mention of S18 Julia Roberts, a white female aged around 18 at the time of arrest, as tall as Manson (5’7”), 120lbs, brown hair, blue eyes. S26 Herbert Townshend, a white male aged 17, is mentioned in Gorightly’s A Who’s Who of the Manson Family as ‘arrested in the Span Ranch raid’, and Sanders’ The Family simply mentions him as ‘out of the back door and off the porch of the saloon leaped one Herb Townsend’. Unlike the other 25 arrestees listed on the complaint form, his address, physical details, aliases, identifying features (scars and/or tattoos) are not listed.
All were charged with Grand Theft Auto, in addition Manson who had a number of other people’s credit cards on him when arrested was also charged with burglary. DeCarlo was also charged with Assault with a Deadly Weapon as he was in the process of reaching for a loaded gun when the police were attempting to arrest him.
Those children present were taken into care: Zozezose Zadfrack Glutz ( Susan Atkin’s baby son), Michael Shawn (Mary Brunner’s baby son), Dennis DeCarlo (Danny DeCarlo’s son) and the abandoned Tanya Kasabian (Linda Kasabian’s baby daughter). In addition a twelve year old boy named John Friedman was also detained. His parents apparently lived at the site before the arrival of the Family and his father was an artist.
The weapons collected are simply described as “a large number of dangerous weapons”.
Not arrested that morning was ranch hand Donald Shea. Perhaps it was this omission and his antagonism towards Manson and the Family that provided the generally accepted motive that his murder was carried out in retribution for his apparent informing to George Spahn and to the authorities regarding the Family’s criminal activities (not to mention marrying a black woman).
Much later Grogan did comment at his parole hearings that the Family lost its children and most of its possessions because of the raid, and that much of the resentment was directed toward Shea.
However, the affidavit in support of a petition for a search warrant, dated 13 August 1969, reveals that Manson and the Family were generating enough interest from the authorities without Shea’s assistance. Although Manson continues to blame the authorities for harassing the group at Spahn Ranch, it can be seen in the affidavit that Manson’s boastful behavior to police officers regarding the arming of the group, the openness with which he informs police officers that they are being viewed through rifle sights, and the losing of ammunition from his vehicle on public highways, goes some way to convincing the authorities that they needed to act.
The Grand Theft Auto charges could have been avoided had the Family been more discreet, but as the affidavit demonstrates, the group made little effort to hide stolen cars and parts, and were confident enough to threaten those officials who found themselves around the group, and in one instance to sell stolen parts back to the garage they were previously stolen from that was co-run by a police officer.
Around 17 July (the week before the Hinman murder) two homicide detectives visited the ranch as part of their investigation into the recent murder of 16 year old Mark Walts. An apparent frequent visitor to the ranch, whose brother accused Manson of being involved in his shooting.
The week of the Hinman killing one of the detectives received from patrol officers three loaded ammunition clips for a .30 caliber carbine that had been found on the highway, apparently after falling from a passing dune buggy. It was noted Manson had contacted the police to claim ownership.
On 24 July firemen on routine fire patrol observed at the ranch a flat-bed truck loaded with car parts and VW engines covered over with sleeping bags.
Within this same period two police officers in a patrol car at Spahn Ranch had a conversation with Manson during which he boasted about the quantity of weapons available at the ranch and how at that moment rifles were trained on the officers and that this was standard procedure whenever the police approached the ranch.
On 28 July LAPD ran checks on the Spahn Ranch vehicles and two were noted as being stolen. A patrol car at the ranch requested assistance at 1.10am, with other patrol cars continuing to arrive as late as 3.15am. Probably Manson using the alias Summers, was identified as a possible member of the Straight Satans, who took the opportunity to mention an anticipated attack by the Black Panthers as an explanation as to why several of the occupants of the ranch were armed. Officer George Garp in his Field Investigation Report would include the following quotes attributed to Manson “…we got into a hassle with a couple of those black motherfuckers and we put one of them in hospital”. An offer was also extended to the deputy to join forces with his group and defeat a common enemy in the form of the Black Panthers, “…join up with us; those guys are out to kill you just like they are out to kill us…if we join together we could solve this problem”.
Summers helped to round-up the others in order to determine who the stolen vehicles belonged to. It was later discovered the group were using a field telephones as an early warning system. Those rounded-up included Charles Summers [Manson], Swartz, Craven, Jason Lee Daniels [Beausoleil], Robert John Nelson, Fromme, Moorehouse, Jacqueline Loe Knoll, George Harry Knoll [Straight Satan aka 86 George], Arnold Edward Vitasek [Plumlee], Jack Paul Macmillan [Davis]. The sole arrest was Swartz for using stolen plates on his vehicle. Other finds included three loaded rifles.
One of the stolen vehicles present belonged to Hinman, although murdered on the 27 July his body would not be discovered until 31 July, Beausoleil would be arrested in Hinman’s Fiat on 6 August. One of the police officers knew Hinman, and also that he was friendly with the group at the ranch, and therefore saw nothing suspicious with Hinman’s vehicle being parked there.
Only one day after Hinman’s murder and in one single location Beausoleil, Manson and Davis, and the victim’s vehicle all came under scrutiny of the police. On 6 August Beausoleil when arrested had Hinman’s blood on his clothing and boots, as well as on the murder weapon, so in all probability during this ‘mini raid’ Beausoleil was wearing the same clothing he would later be arrested in and may well have had the murder weapon about his person.
On 30 July after hearing gunshots close by to the ranch another fireman approached the buildings, passing by two males and two females sat in a parked car shooting. Once at the ranch he fell into conversation with a male named ‘Jack’ and observed several rifles inside one building. ‘Jack’ was aware of the shooting being carried out by ‘some of our people’. The fireman asked if they were firing on the ranch and its occupants but was told ‘No, we have a guard at each road in with a rifle and a telephone so if anyone comes in, we’ll know they’re coming’. The fireman in question Mel Walker, also makes mention of seeing a somewhat hidden “raunchy looking hippie vehicle” parked up the canyon from the ranch.
(This day is also significant as Beausoleil’s girlfriend and soon to be mother of his child, Katherine Lutesinger left the ranch and began to unwittingly put an end to the Family at liberty. Having left the ranch in the company of the owner of land adjacent to the ranch, and been taken to the police, before being returned to her parents’ home, would see the police begin to visit her at home, with regards to the Family’s activities.)
On 9 August a VW was spotted by police a short distance from the ranch and was determined to have been reported stolen on 15 July.
On 10 August whilst preparing the affidavit the officer William Gleason who would oversee the 16 August raid read through Manson’s recent arrest package, which included a 4 June charge for rape that occurred at the ranch. During his interview Manson mentioned that he was on Federal Parole for Grand Theft Auto and that he had served time in more than one prison.
A stolen dune buggy belonged to a company ran by Phil and Dale Butler. Phil was at that time an LA police officer. When interviewed Dale stated that Manson always paid for his purchases in cash in $100 bills up to the amount of $2,300, and that it was normal for Manson to carry large sums of cash. Recently Dale had purchased a dune buggy from a friend of Manson that was discovered to be made up from parts stolen from Dale’s storage yard.
Dale was also contacted by LA County Firemen, who had noted VW dune buggies and parts located close to Spahn Ranch which they believed to belong to him. Also mentioned by Dale and noted in other official memos are threats received by the firemen from ‘male subjects’ in the area.
Mention is made of an informer identified as “B.C.” who claimed to be paid large sums of money to work on Manson’s dune buggies at the ranch.
(On that same day Officer Gleason also visited Lutesinger and was informed of Manson’s regular death threats against those with him at the ranch. In addition Lutesinger asked him about the recent Tate killings.)
All of those arrested were taken to the Malibu Sheriff’s sub-station, then the following day the women were taken to Sybil Brand, and the men to LA County Jail. They would be released without charge on Monday 18 July.
“From jail, most of us fled as quickly as possible to Death Valley. The desert was our only hope.” Atkins
ATKINS - Child of Satan Child of God
BUGLIOSI - Helter Skelter
GORIGHTLY - The Shadow over Santa Susana, and A Who’s Who of the Manson Family.
SANDERS - The Family
A nod as always to LSB3.com