The Girls on the Corner: (L to R) Nancy Pitman, Sandra Good, Kathryn Lutesinger and Cathy Gillies
Now, over forty years on, those following the crimes of the Manson Family are familiar with reading about alleged connections betwen the Family and organised crime, the expansion of their drug dealing enterprise to the Hollywood elite, even CIA involvement in promoting a nationwide backlash against anti-war protestors and the hippie-peace movement by manipulating the Family to present them as the paradigm of hippies as drug crazed murderers to a horrified conservative public (the Family as "useful idiots").
What can be demonstrated is that even before 'Helter-Skelter' had a chance to get fully underway it had already been compromised by a pregnant 17 year old named Kathryn (Kitty) Lutesinger who found it difficult to get along with Manson.
Lutesinger's July/August 1969 interviews with the police would initially prove helpful to LASO detective Gleason, who at the time was involved in building a case against the Family (then residing at Spahn ranch), with regards to auto theft, credit card and other frauds, underage runaways, gun and drug offences. She assisted in Gleason's efforts to gather evidence with regards to the application for a warrant to raid Spahn ranch, ironically causing her own arrest.
She would once again, two months later, voluntarily offer information, this time to Inyo County police, regarding similar activities by the Family after the Barker ranch raids.
More importantly, in interviews with LASO homicide detectives Guenther and Whitely, she would confirm the involvement of Susan Atkins, and one other female, in the murder of Gary Hinman. She also named those she believed responsible for the murder of Donald Shea, and unknowingly help to implicate Atkins in the Tate murders. In addition she mentioned Manson's attempt to encourage closer ties between the Family and the Straight Satan's motorcycle club, including naming Danny DeCarlo, who would go on to give testimony against her boyfriend Beausoleil and Manson in their respective murder trials.
Unfortunately for Lutesinger, by directing police to Susan Atkins she had begun a series of events that would shortly link Beausoleil to the Tate murders by association. Something that would have serious consequences for Beausoleil's second trial, as well as his sentence once convicted.
Lutesinger would go on to implicate several other Family members in crimes as diverse as theft, arson and murder, and then surprisingly would return to the Family during the Tate-La Bianca trial as one of the Girls on the Corner during the long running vigil outside of the LA Hall of Justice, alongside several people she had only a few months before named to the authorities.
Lutesinger was introduced to the Family in 1969 as the latest girlfriend of Family associate Bobby Beausoleil. She had first met Beausoleil at Gregg Jakobson's house on North Beverly Glen. The couple expecting their first child together, had already spent time living with Lutesinger's parents on their Devonshire ranch, and apparently Manson believed that Beausoleil was being lured away from the Family by the seventeen year old.
Lutesinger came to live at Spahn ranch in early summer 1969 (sources vary from late May to early July), apparently because Beausoleil was assisting Jakobson (and Terry Melcher) with working on the soundtrack for a proposed film to be made about the Family. By 30 July 1969 she left suddenly without warning or announcement of her intentions (the same day Beausoleil returned to the scene of the Hinman murder). For the first of two times that year Lutesinger asked a non-Family member to assist her in safely getting away from the group (claiming Manson was threatening to carve her up).
Once away from the property, but before being taken back to her parents, Lutesinger was taken to the police, there beginning a series of interviews with Gleason that would continue until at least 10 August 1969. Lutesinger was apparently concerned for the safety of her mother and sister as Manson had threatened to kill them both if she left the ranch.
Even though she was present at Spahn ranch during the weekend of the Hinman murder, and was aware of it to some extent, it appears the interviews she gave to Gleason were primarily concerned with the Family as an auto theft ring. Although Lutesinger did discuss her fear of Manson and his death threats towards her and other Family members.
By 15 August 1969, Lutesinger was experiencing difficulties with her parents and contacted the Spahn ranch by telephone and asked to be picked up. She was collected and returned to the ranch, only to be arrested the following morning as part of the raid that her information had partially helped to justify.
Beausoleil was arrested for the Hinman murder on 6 August 1969. Lutesinger eventually became aware of his arrest but not of the charge for some time. LASO homicide detectives were aware of his connection with Lutesinger and were keen to interview her as Beausoleil had named females as being present during the murder (Sadie and Mary). Unfortunately inter-departmental communications were lacking and Lutesinger would, along with all those who been arrested with her, be released 48 hours later.
(Some sources state that Beausoleil did not name a 'Sadie and Mary')
Giving evidence at the preliminary hearing to decide whether or not to proceed with a second trial on 12 November 1969 Hinman homicide detective Guenther testified "We were hoping once we found her [Lutesinger] she would be able to give us more information as to Sadie and Mary").
She would then disappear with the Family for the best part of two months, until her arrest on 10 October 1969.
In the meantime, LASO homicide detectives Guenther and Whitely, who were investigating the Hinman murder, had contacted Mary Lutesinger, who in turn confirmed that her daughter was the Kathryn Lutesinger who was in a relationship with the Hinman murder suspect Beausoleil. She also informed them that the couple had lived with her for quite some time, but that her daughter had since disappeared.
They convinced her to approach her local Devonshire Division police and report her as a runaway. An All Points Bulletin was also issued with regards to Lutesinger possibly having information regarding Sadie and Mary.
10 October 1969, shortly after the initial arrests had taken place during the first raid on Barker ranch, police officers were approached by Lutesinger and Stephanie Schram (another summer 1969 addition to the Family and also pregnant) who voluntarily turned themselves in claiming to be in fear for their lives because of threats made by Manson against them. Together they had runaway under cover of darkness only a few hours previously.
12 October 1969, more arrests were made in a second raid on Barker ranch. Even though all those arrested would be taken to Independence, Inyo County, Lutesinger and Schram were kept away from and confined separately from other Family members.
13 October 1969, Inyo County police had informed Devonshire Division that they had the runaway Lutesinger in custody, who in turn informed LASO homicide detectives Guenther and Whitely. They drove to Independence to return with Lutesinger for what would become a four hour interview in which she implicated several Family members for various crimes.
Her knowledge of the Hinman case was her presence at the Spahn ranch during the telephone call Beausoleil and Atkins made, in which they admitted to having "screwed up", and that they had killed Hinman. She also recalled Atkins later conversations regarding having had a fight with a man who had pulled her hair and whom she had stabbed three or four times in the leg.
One of the incidents that prompted the Barker ranch raids was the arson of a Michagan loader belonging to the National Park Service. Lutesinger named Charles Manson, Christopher Jesus (John Philip Haught), Manon Minette (Catherine Share), Diane Bluestein (Dianne Lake) and Rachel Morse (Ruth Ann Moorehouse) as being responsible. She also helped to prove this by revealing a grease gun had been taken from the loader, an item that was later identified when found in possession of the Family.
As to additional vehicle thefts, she named Nancy Pitman as being responsible for a Hertz rental car (hired with a stolen credit card) and later abandoned in the Barker ranch area. She also stated that this was the car used by the arsonists.
As well as who was responsible for the thefts of three of the dune buggies and another vehicle, burglaries, stolen credit cards and various other crimes.
She also spoke of life at the Barker Ranch, how Manson had become wild out in the desert, beating Snake (Dianne Lake), or everybody all of the time. Lutesinger claimed that when she had fallen asleep one evening during one of his fireside raps, he had punched her in the face. Threats also included being hung from a tree and having her tongue cut out. "Now when I start thinking about it I remember how bad it really was. How he just talked about it so much that you just...you know...about snuffing people and torturing them, and all kinds of orgies. You get so you just can't listen to it any more. It really was pretty bad."
Lutesinger was held for several days in Juvenile Hall and then released in to the custody of her parents.
Lutesinger was later informed by Inyo police that they had a Death List found in Manson's possession at the time of his arrest, and her name was the last one on it.
On 15 October 1969, fourteen suspects were arraigned on 20 felony charges including the arson.
On 23 October 1969, Manson, Share, Lake and Moorehouse were held to answer on the arson charge, Haught was not as there was insufficient evidence to hold him, he was released.
On 5 November 1969 Haught was found shot dead in the company of at least Bruce Davis, Sue Bartell, Linda Baldwin and Catherine Gillies (who were there when the police arrived). All four had been arrested (as was Haught) on the second Barker ranch raid on 12 October 1969 and subsequently released.
Manson later wrote that as soon as Family members were released from custody he passed on instructions for the group to clam up and find out where the police were getting their information from. Almost immediately word came back that amongst others it was Lutesinger.
On 12 November 1969 Atkins discovered during her preliminary hearing on the Hinman murder charge that she had been implicated by Lutesinger and not Beausoleil (whom she had suspected). Back in jail she stated that Lutesinger's life was "not worth anything".
Although Lutesinger only named two females as being involved in the Hinman murder three were taken to Los Angeles by the LASO.
Lynette Fromme was one, mistakenly identified as the red-headed Mary, and for the first time she was arrested on a murder charge. The second would occur when she would once more be briefly charged, this time with the murder of Lauren Willet.
The second was Patricia Krenwinkel. The Hinman detectives had reviewed the material on the 16 August 1969 Spahn ranch raid, they brought with them mugshots of the Family including their aliases. Krenwinkle had previously used the alias Mary Scott, and so on the strength of that connection to the 'Sadie and Mary' they were seeking, she was also taken back to LA. She explained to police they were looking for Mary Brunner. After her release she left the state.
The third was Susan Atkins. Some of what Lutesinger told the Hinman detectives was consistent with Beausoleil's statements, that Atkins was involved. Essentially Lutesinger's version of the murder was that Atkins and Beausoleil had, on Manson's instructions, gone to see Hinman to take money from him. A fight had occurred and Hinman had been killed.
The detectives returned to Independence to interview Atkins. She waived her rights, but declined to be recorded. Atkins incriminated herself, she was then transported to San Dimas Sheriff's Station and booked for suspicion of murder. Although charged as a co-conspirator and arraigned for the Himan murder she did not testify against Beausoleil during either of his trials.
Lutesinger was returned to her parents, and was visited by the authorities and was questioned about the Shea murder. She implicated Manson, Grogan, Davis and possibly Watson as being responsible. She also spoke of female Family members helping to cover up the murder.
Guenther and Whitely passed on Lutesinger's comments regarding Atkins stabbing a man in the leg who had pulled her hair to the Tate detectives who then interviewed Lutesinger on 31 Oct 1969.
Just over six weeks after the Barker ranch raids Beausoleil would receive a hung jury verdict at the conclusion of his first trial on 26 November 1969, before being arraigned to stand trial again on 12 December 1969. This trial would begin in February 1970 (the month Lutesinger gave birth to their child), and conclude with his conviction in April 1970. Lutesinger was present when Beausoleil received the death sentence, bursting into tears and finding comfort in the arms of Beausoleil's parents.
Although Beausoleil didn't testify at his first trial he had placed himself, Atkins and Brunner at the scene of the murder. In this version of events Hinman's vehicles were legally bought from an already injured Hinman whom they cared for over that weekend and who was alive when they left his residence.
Brunner would go onto to testify against Beausoleil in his second trial. Arriving to give testimony she was arrested and later jailed for 90 days for violating the terms of her probation on a check forgery charge, as she was without employment and was not maintaining a suitable residence (she had returned to live at the Spahn ranch).
Lutesinger, after informing several times on the Family, running away twice, and being generally regarded as untrustworthy by the group, also returned to live amongst them and became one of The Girls on the Corner, alongside Catherine Share, Catherine Gillies and Ruth Ann Moorehouse whom she had implicated for arson, Nancy Pitman, whom she had implicated for embezzlement, (mistakenly on the authorites part) Lynette Fromme for murder, Mary Brunner for murder, Steve Grogan for murder, and Bruce Davis for murder (twice). Not forgetting those females members she implicated as being involved after the fact in the Shea murder. As well as the burglaries, credit card frauds, etc. Many of those whom she implicated received death sentences.
Like the rest of those involved in the vigil she also carved an X onto her forehead and shaved her hair. Tate-La Bianca prosecutor Bugliosi now found Lutesinger so uncooperative that he declined to use her as a witness for the trial.
Lutesinger first arrived at Spahn ranch around two months after Paul Watkins and Brooks Poston began the process of distancing themselves from the Family. It should be noted that along with Lutesinger, Watkins and Poston were also voluntarily making statements to police, in the aftermath of the Barker ranch raids, regarding the activities of the Family, and in particular Manson.
Watkins would also return to live amongst the family for a short while. But unlike Lutesinger he would not take part in serious criminal activity. On 20 October 1971 Lutesinger would be involved in the escape of Kenneth Como from the LA Hall of Justice, but along with Fromme and Pitman would be arrested but not be charged.
Ed Sanders mentions that Lutesinger was eventually helped to break away from the Family by the Hinman detectives Guenther and Whitely. Once again Lutesinger had assisted the authorities, this time regarding 'The Chicken Coop Kids', who were the children of Family newcomer Dennis Rice (who would be jailed for his part in the Hawthorne Shootout and had been previously jailed for his part in the conspiracy to prevent Barbara Hoyt from testifying).
Their mother had reported the children missing in February, and had approached Family members living in a van (possibly The Girls on the Corner), who had informed her they knew where her children were but would not tell her.
Rice had left his four children in the care of the Family. They and an infant (daughter of Onya Sipe), aged from one to ten, were located by police in July 1971 on a ranch in Lancaster, living in what was described as man-made plywood caves 3ft by 9ft beneath a dilapidated chicken coop.
Sandra Good, still on her vigil outside the Hall of Justice explained "we have children in hiding everywhere. We teach them to hide. People give them to us because they know we love them." Adding that the holes the children had been found in were actually bunkers in case of the impending revolution if Manson was not set free.
1min13sec in for brief Lutesinger interview
The girls on the Corner
Hinman Report 10-13-69
Barker Raid Report 10-20-69 from Motorcycle File S.U.B. Auto-theft
Barker Raid Arrest-Investigation Report 11/20/69
Bugliosi Helter Skelter
Emmons Manson in His Own Words
Gorightly Shadows over Santa Susanna
Sanders The Family
the usual nod to LSB3.com