Sunday, September 22, 2013

Book Report - "Charles Manson Behind Bars: The Crazy Antics and Amazing Revelations of America's Icon of Evil" by Willie 'Boxcar' Mendez

Grump Writes:

First, let me say this is a VERY good book.  It is hard to put down, and I found myself using a highlighter on parts of the book... something I never do.

Guillermo (known as “Willie”) E. Mendez was in the cell next to Manson, in Corcoran, for a year or so. He gives no information on why he went to prison in the first place, other than he used to be a member of the La Neustria Familia, serving a 68 year sentence.  While incarcerated at Mule Creek, where Tex is, he nearly stabbed his pedophile cellmate to death.  He was sent to Corcoran shortly after.

Similar, yet it differs from “Taming the Beast”, as it is written from the inmate level. 
I was amazed at hearing the amount of respect the prisoners have for the guards.  After nearly killing his cellmate, a guard smiled at Willie and said “good job.”

The day Willie arrived; he had no idea that the person next to him was Charlie, and referred to him as “the old guy”, and “an elderly prisoner.”  After Willie cleaned his cell (he is a clean freak), Charlie introduced himself.  Willie was shocked when Charlie did not have a nickname.  Everyone in prison has a nickname, even if it is “Dude.” Charlie gave him some coffee and Sugar. Willie thanked him. Manson replied, "No need to say thank you, that's what a brother is supposed to do".  This started a friendship that turned to love.  Not in a homosexual way or anything, Willie just "started to love the old dude."  There was one time when Willie was drunk on home-made “Pruno,” and he said to Charlie, “I sure would like a blow job from an old guy without any teeth.” 

Some items worth mentioning.  I will end with the TLB murders. Remember, these are from the words of Willie, not me:

-         Had Charlie been arrested and tried today for his crimes, he would almost certainly be charged using the RICO or Organized Crime laws.

-         Charlie bragged that he was responsible for “Guns ‘n Roses.”  At Vacaville, a guard named Sgt Rose was Axl’s father.  He gave the music and lyrics that Charlie wrote to his son, who made millions of dollars from it.

-         Charlie became interested in ecology when he first visited Mexico.  After being given the warning about not drinking the water, this greatly worried him.  How could people abuse the land so the water becomes so filthy?  Even animals are cleaner than humans.

-         Charlie rarely left his cell, and never cleaned it.  He once stayed in his cell for 3 months, and then only agreed to go out in the yard if Willie would guard his cell.  He was concerned that items would be stolen from his cell.

-         Charlie has some kind of relationship with Sirhan Sirhan. Willie would be used to pass messages and food stuffs between them.

-         This being said, Charlie was truly worried about being poisoned. When Sirhan or others would send him chips and stuff, he would not eat them, he gave them to Willie.

-         Charlie was able to get the guards to pull tricks on Willie. Such as cutting his showers short or shorting him food.  Willie would be in the shower all soaped up, and the guard would shut the water off, telling him, “times up!”  Then he would get his bagged lunch and all that was in it was an apple!

-         Charlie started calling him “Boxcar” after “Boxcar Willie”. 

-         Willie asked Charlie if he was gay, he replied, “Yes.”

-         Charlie got along with all the guards; with exception of one they called “Strawberry.”  He used to purposely put stuff like soap powder on the floor in front of Charlie’s cell.  As we know, Charlie is not too fond on breathing chemicals.

-         Animals – Animals never caused a holocaust, never went to war over an insult, and never killed anything it didn’t intend to eat.

-         Is Charlie crazy?  Yes and no.  The author spends a whole chapter on this.  Some funny stories.  One that sticks out was about Charlie’s lack of taking showers.  He preferred just washing up in his sink.  One time he decided to shower.  When he returned, he was still in his clothes, soaking wet, with a dry towel and an unused bar of soap.  Crazy like a fox.

-         The author did not notice any issues with blacks or Hispanics.  Charlie was just as good to an African American as he was to anyone else.  He gave generously to everyone.

-         The book has a whole chapter on McNeal Island.  Charlie talks about being introduced to hypnotism, Scientology, and Native American culture.  He once had a Native American cellmate named “Iron Teeth.”  Interesting chapter.

-         There is an entire chapter about Charlie’s mail.  I was surprised to learn that he received credit card applications, and applications for home equity loans.  Charlie never wastes anything.  If there is anything in his mail that he can use in his art projects, he does not throw it away.

-         Interesting chapters on Charlie’s art, his time at Vacaville and San Quentin.

-         The Origins of the Manson Family – entire chapter about this.  The only Family members mentioned by name are Linda Kasabian, Squeaky, Tex and Bobby.  There were gay men in his group that helped support the group as they were used as gay hookers.

-         Hinman murder – “I think the girls went to steal, but somehow things got out of hand.”

-         He claims he knew nothing about the Tate murders until the next day.  He thinks it was a robbery gone bad. “I think the girls were there to get food and cash. They were pretty deep into drugs at the time. I tried to get them to cool it with the hard stuff.”

-         LaBianca -  "I went with the group the next night. We were looking for food and cash. That’s all we ever took.  We just wanted the rich people to share what they had.  I have no idea why the girls killed those two. I never told anyone to do anything. I got blamed because they were younger than me.”

-         NOTICE NO MENTION OF TEX?  JUST “THE GIRLS”

Willie was transferred to Pleasant Valley State Correctional Center. He misses his late-night conversations with the “old-man,” and considers himself the last member of the Manson Family.
I repeat, this is a GOOD BOOK.  It contains lot of Manson’s thoughts on Religion, Satanism, the legal system as well as Charlie’s youth. Some things are mentioned about his childhood that I have never seen before. 

17 comments:

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Excellent job Grump!
Great stuff!

Well done, in every regard.
Thanks!

sbuch113 said...

Thanks man.......

matt prokes said...

is this a new book?
sounds very interesting....

GrumpFromPahrump said...

Yes Matt. It was released in June. I found it by accident on Amazon.

sunset77 said...

This looks like an interesting book, I found a part of it posted on Google Books. It brought back some memories of the time I spent in prison.

I've been unable to find any info on Guillermo "Boxcar Willie" Mendez. I'm guessing someone locked in the Corcoran PHU with Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan, and Juan Corona was guilty of something. For instance, Wikipedia says Juan Corona is in there for 25 counts of first degree murder.

Anyway, thanx for the post, it looks like a good book.

DebS said...

I got this book, too. I'm still reading it. Probably because of my skeptical nature I looked up Guillermo Mendez at the California Inmate Locator.
http://inmatelocator.cdcr.ca.gov/

There is a Guillermo Mendez in the prison system but it says he was admitted to the system in 2000. He is at the Kern Valley facility.
Willie says in the book that he had been in prison for 21 years. Something doesn't add up.

The co-author of the book is Mark Hewitt. The book was obviously written by someone with an education. The vocabulary, phrasing and sentence structure isn't what you'd expect from some gang banger whose friends called him Wino.

Mark Hewitt claims to have been writing Manson for the last ten years. While the book is very entertaining and likable, I am left wondering whose story this really is.

katie8753 said...

Thanks Mr. Grump. Good job as always!

“I think the girls were there to get food and cash. They were pretty deep into drugs at the time. I tried to get them to cool it with the hard stuff.”

It is interesting that he only mentions the girls. Why would they be there to get food? And how do you go from "food and cash" to a "stabbing frenzy"?

That Charlie! LOL.

CarolMR said...

Thanks for the review, Grump.

sunset77 said...

@ Deb S:

I have Hewitt's book open in Google books in one tab, and CA inmate locater open in another. That is probably the same guy. Kern Valley lists Guillermo Enrique Mendez's inmate number as P96079. In the book he says his number is P96079. He says he is 6'0", 230 lbs, and doesn't have to fear much from the other inmates because of his size.

It took me about 5 minutes, but I remembered my inmate number from about 20 years ago. I know from experience that inmates are supposed to memorize their inmate number. I dug out my "E card", that's a card they gave me in prison that looks like a drivers license with some info. It verified my number and lists my height at 6'0" and weight 230 lbs. I was only "average" size amongst inmates.

It says he "entered the system" in 2000, however, he may have been extradited from another state or country. It's also possible the records could be in error. I've seen police reports online listing names like "Leslie Sankston" and "Sadie Mae Glutz".

What I can't understand is why there is no info about his crimes online. I'm guessing to be locked in the same building with Manson, he must have been involved in at least one murder. There would have been a trial, murder victims, police reports, newspaper stories etc. I can't find any of that.

DebS said...

@Sunset

Thanks! I think your right it probably is the same guy. I did not have the book in hand last night when I commented. I reread bits of it this morning and he says that he was 4 years old in 1969. That age is about right.

I suppose he could have served one 8+/- year prison stint, gotten out for a short time and then reoffended. CA has a 3 strikes law and if his crimes equaled 3 strikes he would be put away for a much longer time.

I didn't have any luck finding articles about his crime either.

The book is very entertaining and likeable, as I said, but it's hard to believe the words are Willie's.

sunset77 said...

A writer may have helped "polish" Menndez's words, but based on my personal experiences in jails and prisons, the substance of what he says is "spot on" for a prison inmate.

Mendez describes homemade prison wine, he calls it "Pruno", I've heard it called that, but the jail I was in where some was actually made, they called it "jungle juice". I drank a cup, I was surprised at how strong it was, I'd guess twice as strong as beer.

Mendez uses the word "cellie" to describe his cell mate. That word is very common inside the prisons I was in, but I've never heard it used outside of prison.

Mendez describes an attack on a "cellie", the weapon he describes sounds like a "razor blade toothbrush", I seen many of those. Mendez says he knew there would be retaliation from the guards but he says "I didn't care if they cut me up in little pieces and put each piece on the electric chair". That is a 100% pure prison inmate talking.

Also, Mendez mentions meeting one of the onion field killers. When I was a projectionist at a drive-in, a new movie I ran in 1979 was called "The Onion Field". It's based on the true story of a couple of somewhat bungling criminals. Their actions resulted in what Wikipedia says was "...a police training video was made using his experience as an example of what NOT to do when stopping and approaching a vehicle." I remember it being a decent movie, I haven't seen it since 1979, I have it open in another tab right now, link is HERE.

Kimchi said...

Hey Grump... you give it a thumbs up...

I give it a big thumbs DOWN....

I saw this back in July/August and watched the interview of the author/co-author:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcrr9lua-SE

Don't know why, but it turned me off, I did not buy it...

As far as the prison stuff goes, I've learned more from Michael/BPT on his website...but, its just my opinion...he goes over the exact same stuff....

GrumpFromPahrump said...


I understand Kimchi! That's what I like about this board. We can disagree but still treat each other with respect.

"What's so funny about Peace, Love, and Understanding?"
Elvis Costello

christopher butche said...

The Onion Field trial. Well worth a look in for all those interested in Manson as Kanarek was a defense attorney.
As is to be expected with Kanarek the prosecutor attacked him in court as did his own client.
Looky see here
http://law.jrank.org/pages/3107/Onion-Field-Murder-Trials-1963-69-Exit-Kanarek.html

Rusty Shackleford said...

I just read it. Pretty good!

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Rusty!

Welcome to the blog!

Leanne Judd said...

It all sounds pretty true. I use to talk to "Irish" and he told me a lot of the same stuff. Here's someothing Irish said, "Charlie got a new set of teeth, he popped the front tooth out of the set to make them look more natural."