Thursday, January 2, 2014

Eventually... Everybody meets their Match.

Jan Holmstrom
The other day, I was thinking about the dude who set Charles Manson ablaze in September of 1984. (Tuesday, September 25, 1984)  

I thought to myself: 

Who was this dude, and what was his real motivation?
How much do we really know about him?
Turns-out... Holmstrom was a real twisted sister.

Here's the basics of Holmstrom's attack (on Manson), for anyone unfamiliar:

-Manson, then 48 years old, was in the hobby shop of the California Medical Facility, the state's prison for psychiatric prisoners. 

-Manson was drenched with paint thinner and set on fire. 

-Manson was attacked by Jan Holmstrom, 36, who was serving a life term for second-degree murder. 

-Holmstrom claims Manson threatened him because of his membership in the Hare Krishna religious sect.

-Manson suffered burns over 18% of his body, concentrated on his face, scalp and hands, in the 8:45am attack.


Here's a small tidbit, that I didn't know about the incident:

-In January of 1985, authorities dismissed the assault charges against Homstrom, citing "self defense".

Jan. 16, 1985 11:50 PM ET
 VACAVILLE, Calif. (AP) - Authorities dismissed assault charges Wednesday against a state prison inmate who allegedly splashed convicted mass killer Charles Manson with paint thinner and set him ablaze.

Inmate Jan Holmstrom apparently acted in self-defense, said James Highsmith, deputy district attorney of Solano County.

It would ''be a waste of time and effort to pursue the case any further,'' and it appeared ''unlikely that we could get a conviction'' against Holmstrom, 36, Highsmith said.

It appeared probable that Holmstrom acted in self defense, in view of Manson's prison record, in which attacks on other inmates have been reported, he said.

Prison officials said Manson was in the hobby shop of the institution, located 50 miles northeast of San Francisco, when the other inmate drenched him with paint thinner and tossed a match on him.

Manson was burned over 18 percent of his body, mainly on his face, scalp and hands, in the attack.

He had threatened Holmstrom, a member of the Hare Krishna sect, because of his religious beliefs, Holmstrom told prison officials.  Full Associated Press Story Here

Lighting a man on fire, seems like a pretty extreme form of "self defense" to me. You really have to wonder, if this incident would have been dismissed as "self-defense" if a correctional officer had been assaulted thusly.


At this point, I began to study Holmstrom's personal background.  It's quite a rap sheet of insanity, to say the least. 

Shall we?

- Born in 1949

-In his late teens he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia -- a mental disorder accompanied by a distortion of reality and a fragmentation of one's personality. His family was told that he needed medication to curb his mood swings.

-Beginning in 1967, at age 19, Holmstrom was in and out of jail on charges ranging from marijuana possession to disturbing the peace -- in one case helping himself to gasoline at a service station to douse his jacket before trying to set it on fire.

-His behavior became more bizarre as time went on, his family said. He dropped out of his circle of friends, hallucinated a great deal, became unkempt and seemed detached and uncaring. He had a fascination with fire and an obsessive fear of swastikas and crosses.

-One night his family came home and found that he had placed lit candles throughout the house, some of them on the carpet. Another time, he tried to set fire to their church.
They grew to fear him. They decided he could no longer stay at home. "We were so frightened of him we had changed all of the locks on the house," the family member said.
-Holmstrom went to live at a nearby halfway house. He was only allowed near his family's house to walk up his parents' driveway to the mailbox to retrieve a monthly check for rent and food.
-In 1971, after Southern California was rocked by a severe earthquake, Holmstrom had a "vision" that told him to join the Hare Krishnas. 
-During an October 1973 incident, Holmstrom allegedly stabbed another Krishna member in a temple kitchen in Venice, Calif.  He was arrested for the knifing but was later acquitted of the charges. He was banished from the temple.
-Three months later, he killed his father, nearly decapitating him with a 12-gauge shotgun as the elder Holmstrom returned home from work.
-With four shotgun blasts, Jan Holmstrom ended his father's life in the driveway of his family's fashionable Pasadena home.
-The gun Holmstrom used was turned over to police by a Cub Scout who told police he had been sitting in a car with friends about a block away from the scene of the shooting when Holmstrom walked by and handed him the weapon.
-Family members believe a dispute over money between Holmstrom and his parents the previous week may have precipitated the murder. They also believe that Holmstrom was trying to lure his mother out of the house that day to kill her, too. During the trial, his mother testified that right before the shooting her doorbell had been rung frantically several times but that she had found no one there when she answered it.
-Sketches police found in Holmstrom's room at a halfway house after the killing depicted two bodies lying in a driveway.
-In December 1974, he was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Behind bars, he remarked to a prison guard that killing people was "just like stepping on spiders."
-In 1984, at the state's prison facility for psychiatric prisoners, Holmstrom's path crossed that of mass murderer Charles Manson (See Above).

-One sketch, apparently of his mother, shows a woman in a housedress with a large cross on her chest. The drawing includes scrawlings that read: "Peg: socialist, killer of babies, fanatic, drunkard, whore, wicked witch, evil, Miss goody two shoes. . . . Her days are coming to an end quickly. The white witch is going to be burned to ashes."

-Another, a depiction of Holmstrom's deceased father, shows a man wearing swastikas and holding a hypodermic needle in one hand. "Dr. Emil Gustav Holmstrom," it reads. "Gloomy Gus, Killer of babies, Herr doctor . . . whiteGod . . . He died on Jan 22 1974 No one can escape the wrath of God."
-Holmstrom is paroled.  Holmstrom was eligible for parole in 1982 but the attack on Manson and other inmates and guards kept him in prison for seven more years.
-"I just had a fit when they told me he was going to be sent to Los Angeles," a relative said. "I just thought that was absolutely ridiculous. I was frantic."
-Family members were able to convince state officials that Holmstrom would be a severe threat to the family and the community if he were paroled in the Los Angeles area. State law permits victims of violent crimes to request that a parolee be paroled at least 35 miles away from their victims.  So Holmstrom was sent instead to San Francisco, where he was under the dual supervision of the Department of Corrections and the Department of Mental Health for three years, said Miriam Joselyn, a parole agent with the Department of Corrections.
-It was 6:10 p.m., November 26, 1994  when police received a frantic call from the Hare Krishna temple at 84 Carl Street. The woman on the telephone told the dispatcher that someone in the temple had just stabbed another person.
-Holmstrom is charged in the November 26, 1994, stabbing attack at San Francisco Hare Krishna temple.

This information was found here:


Holmstrom received a 10 year sentence for decapitating his father, with four shotgun blasts (to the head).  That's pretty ridiculous huh?  Comparatively... Leslie Van Houten's continued incarceration seems a bit out-of-balance, no?

As for Holmstrom's 1994 stabbing charges... he was ruled insane, and found "not guilty by reason of insanity". (See Below)

Jan Holmstrom sat in a Hall of Justice courtroom yesterday in shackles the sheriff's department reserves for those considered too volatile for simple manacles.
A thick chain ran around his waist, connected to two handcuffs that bound his hands together in front of him, then looped down his body to his feet, cinching them so that the 47-year-old man could only walk in small, shuffling steps.
But Holmstrom was not the image of the raving paranoid schizophrenic that those who know him claim he can be. Having received psychiatric treatment while in jail, he sat calm and composed and listened intently as Superior Court Judge Lenard Louie pronounced that Holmstrom was not guilty by reason of insanity for the stabbing of a man inside a Cole Valley Hare Krishna temple in November 1994 -- an act Holmstrom has said he did for his God.
For a man whose life has been marked by violent acts committed against himself and others, including the shotgun slaying of his father in Pasadena over 20 years ago, the judge's finding was the most humane decision that could have been made, Holmstrom's lawyer said.
The ruling, which Louie based on the recommendations of three psychiatrists, means that Holmstrom will not be sent to prison for his crime. Instead, he will go to a high security mental facility that Holmstrom's lawyer hopes will provide him with extensive psychiatric care.
"We would not be where we are now, if Mr. Holmstrom had gotten the proper treatment the first time he got violent," said his defense lawyer Sheila O'Gara. "The mentally ill fall through the cracks. They don't belong is the criminal justice system, but there is no other system to put them in. The government has shirked its responsibility."
While Holmstrom was awaiting trial on the charges of assault with a deadly weapon and burglary for the Nov. 26, 1994 attack at the Hare Krishna temple, O'Gara and prosecutor George Beckwith came to agree that state prison was not the right place for Holmstrom.
Holmstrom was not given proper psychiatric care or medication for his illness, when he was serving time for the 1974 slaying of his father, O'Gara said. In prison, he sent death threats to family members and attacked guards and prisoners -- including fellow inmate, cult leader Charles Manson, whom he set on fire.
If the 1994 case had gone to a jury trial and Holmstrom had been convicted on the charges, the outcome would be the same as his earlier trip through the justice system, O'Gara said. He would be sent to prison, receive no psychiatric care, later be paroled and, without supervision, probably become violent again, she said.
Under Louie's ruling yesterday, however, Holmstrom can be incarcerated for as many as 25 years. His release will depend on the opinion of psychiatrists who will evaluate him periodically.
"Whatever sins were committed by Jan Holmstrom he has suffered like the damned. It is the curse of mental illness," O'Gara said. "Because he is medicated now, he is aware and living in a state of remorse. But every day he has to live inside his own head. Every day he has to live with Jan Holmstrom."
Let's recap the most "lightly sentenced" man on the planet earth:
-In 1973, Holmstrom stabbed a Krishna member and was acquitted.

-Three months later, he blasted his father's head to pieces with a 12-gauge shotgun, and received just 10 years.

-In 1984 he set Manson ablaze, and the act was deemed "self defense".

-In 1994, he stabbed another Krishna member, and was found "not guilty by reason of insanity".

Did that dude have "nine lives" or what??

Special Thanks to my dear friend Kimchi, who located the photos of Holstrom for me.


LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

"A long time ago, being crazy meant something. Nowadays everybody's crazy"

Charles Manson

katie8753 said...

Good thread Lynyrd!

Wow he looked so normal in HS. I guess that's a HS pic.

I agree, sending crazy people to prison is not the answer. They just keep acting crazy.

What he wrote about his parents is creepy!

Patty is Dead said...

Miss, u, Kimchi. U R Patty's favorite spicy little cabbage. xxoo

starship said...

setting Charlie on fire as a form of self-defense? Freaking priceless.

Kimchi said...

Happy New Year Everyone....

Yeah Katie, even his family said he was "normal" during adolescent years.....

It's really too bad, two people are dead because of this guy's "mental problems"

I can't believe he was "only" convicted of 2nd degree murder for the death of his father...oh well, just part of the liberal 70's I guess.

Thanks for the nice words Patty!

katie8753 said...


Soooooo good to see you!!! :)

katie8753 said...

I know, how do you get 2nd degree murder from blowing someone's head off?

sunset77 said...

“He was screaming, ‘My face is burned!’ ”said the source. “Manson was lucky because it turned out that his beard prevented much more serious injury.”

"Photographic evidence of Manson’s disfiguring burns was snapped by correction officials the attack and placed in a file. But the dossier never saw the light of day because an attempted murder case against Holmstrom never got off the ground, the source explained."--Published on: August 10, 2013 by BOB BURNS,--National Enquirer.

On the Paper
Posted Sat, 01/09/2010 - 19:25 by bhakti
By :
Jan Holmstrom

This world is a prison house
Birth and death are real
But if there were not spirit souls
nobody would feel

Our consciousness has always been
the atma never dies

and smaller than a molecule
is the person' size
Lord Vishnu is the supersoul
the origin of thought
The universe is personal
It's not some empty pot
Life is not a magazine
and time is not a clock
and Krsna's bird Garuda
is not some German hawk

katie8753 said...

Thanks Sunset. That guy was really disturbed.

Chris B said...

I lose track of the distinctions, but the 2nd degree was probably because either malice, to maturely reflect on one's actions were absent or there was no premeditation.

California got rid of the maturely reflecting bit in the 1980s I believe.

Look up the Dr Markmann post on here, he believed legally that Watson and Van Houten should not have faced 1st degree charges. He did concede Watson harboured malice.

As to him being normal as a child, I believe schizophrenia usually kicks in during late teens.

I have an acquaintance with schizophrenia and he readily concedes that he does not think in the same terms as expected by society. He just doesn't get it. Dislikes how his meds make him feel. When he comes off of them he can work harder at his job and can concentrate more, has much more interesting ideas, but then becomes delusional and eventually does something that brings him into conflict with society and gets himself arrested.

Chris B said...

I will add there is a delicious irony in putting a man with a fear of swastikas in the same room as a man with one tattooed on his forehead.

johnnyseattle said...

You know you have 'arrived' when Charlies says, 'This Guy is Crazy.'

Mrstormsurge said...

They had a ....disagreement...That's all.

A disagreement.

johnnyseattle said...

I think this fellow should be Tex's next cellmate.

Lynyrd, will you spring for the matches?

MrPoirot said...

Both Charlie and his pal who burned him were skidzos. I have read where Dr's say that LSD makes the brain mimic the condition of schizophrenia. If you already have schizophrenia like Charlie did the last thing you need to ingest is LSD because this will compound and inflame the illness which is what happened to Charlie. In 1968 Dr David Smith said Charlie was an "ambulatory schizophrenic" which is a skidzo who doesn't require being institutionalized. By the summer of 69 Charlie's schizophrenia had worsened to the point where he had to be institutionalized once again. Charlie isn't the type of person who should drink or ingest any type of recreational drug. Charlie wrongly thought that as long as he avoids the "heavy drugs" he and the Family would be ok. Wrong. Many of the Family had what looks like bipolar or borderline personality disorder. These two illnesses are said to be intertwined with other mental illnesses like schizophrenia. Squeaky and Sandra always struck me as being bipolar. There were others like Paul Watkins which are harder to figure out. Even Charlie remarked how Watkins had a good family he was from but for some reason he would not go back to them. Perhaps Watkins just liked staying effed up. Every day was a party. This is called "substance abuse" which was why Watkins ended up at the end of the road at Spahn Ranch.

MrPoirot said...

As early as 1954 Charlie had been diagnosed as being schizophrenic yet Charlie was continually released from prison without medication for a known illness. Does anyone know if this is typical for schizophrenic parolees? I have never once read where Charlie took medicine or sought medical help for his mental illness outside of prison yet he was physically force fed or inoculated with psychotropic drugs while in prison.
It certainly looks like Charlie's mother, society and the system all said to Charlie: we give up. But releasing a sick man with no medicines to help him seems like somebody should have had to answer for this oversight.
Charlie's parole officer in SF, Roger Smith, never mentions Charlie as being mentally ill with schizophrenia. He said Charlie was sociopathic but that is not an illness as far as my limited knowledge goes. Dunno how sociopathy is classified.
I find it hard to believe Roger Smith did not think Charlie was mentally ill.

katie8753 said...

Mr. P, who diagnosed him with schizophrenia?

MrPoirot said...

in 54 he was in prison. They were the first to diagnose. Dr David Smith said in68 Charlie was schizophrenic

katie8753 said...

Thanks Mr. P. I thought a schizophrenic had more than one personality. I didn't realize Charlie had that.

Did they treat him?

MrPoirot said...

I only know bits and pieces of what is done to treat him. It doesn't appear that anyone has ever been able to help him. Just throw him in prison and throw away the key.

MrPoirot said...

Dunno if Schizophrenia is multiplr personality disorder. I just know the mere basics of psychology you pickup from 6 credit hours of Pschology but isn't it always claimed that Charlie was able to become whomever he needed to be like? is that sorta like a multiple personality? Dunno

Chris B said...

I seem to recall Manson has been diagnosed previously as both a schizophrenic and a psychopath. His current diagnosis is something like suffering from Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD).

As far as I am aware APD is the new name for sociopath which was was the new name for psychopath.

Schizophrenia and what was called multiple personality disorder (MPD) aren't the same thing.

MPD is apparently so rare no-one can decide on exactly how to diagnose it, whereas TV and Movies would have you expect it to be commonplace.

My understanding is that schizophrenia is having a distorted view of reality which may include delusions, paranoia, hallucinations, etc. If this becomes a serious break from reality the sufferer becomes psychotic.

Anyone can have a psychotic episode without being a schizophrenic.

I had a quick peak over on wikipedia, under APD there are subtypes, the covetous one reminded me of someone: Feels intentionally denied and deprived; rapacious, begrudging, discontentedly yearning; envious, seeks retribution, and avariciously greedy; pleasure more in taking than in having.

All of the above is about medical diagnosis and not regarding legal terms of insanity, etc.

katie8753 said...

Thanks Mr. P & Chris.

It does sound like Charlie has APD.

Mrstormsurge said...

Schizophrenia and Multiple Personality Disorder (last called Dissociative Identity Disorder) are two totally different things. Never having met Charlie, I could see a diagnosis of Paranoid Schizophrenia but that's a guess. He certainly seemed to have delusions of grandeur, paranoia and disorganized thought and speech at different times. As to medicating these folks, that's hard to do out of jail if they don't comply and schizophrenics are notorious for not complying with their medication.

MrPoirot said...

Symptoms of schizophrenia can include:
hitch hiking
hearing voices
shaving their head

MrPoirot said...

Charlie's fascination with Scientology was not helpful to his mental issues because Scientology strongly discourages using psychologists and psychotherapy.

Mrstormsurge said...

Psychiatrists are good for only one thing: curing the clap!!

katie8753 said...

Stormy! LOL.

It's amazing how they've changed the "diagnosis" for all these disorders. Now there's a fancy name for everything, but it all boils down to just being nuts.

katie8753 said...

Hey I just discovered that you can change the size of the comment box. Just put your cursor on the little triangle at the bottom right. LOL.

Unknown said...

Schizophrenia is not multiple personality disorder. It consists of paranoia, along with auditory, visual, and tactile hallucinations in its most severe form. If the tragic murders happened now, I seriously question any incarceration for CM. He could have been helped with psychiatry, but back then, people with mental illness literally WERE thrown away and just called nuts. The whole thing is sad. CM, the family, the victims. Very sad.

Unknown said...

Feel bad for everyone all around. The victims, CM whom I question his actual guilt, and the family.

Ed said...

Charlie has a whole bunch of psychiatric issues. Most likely anti-social personality disorder with elements of paranoid schizephrenia and narcissistic personality disorder falling under the ASPD umbrella.

Kamalavatidd said...

I knew him well at Carl St. and he seemed totally normal while he was taking his medicine. It was only when he stopped that he started behaving unusually. The night before the '94 stabbing he had gotten kicked out of his apartment because he hadn't paid rent, and therefore was banging on the aluminum siding of the temple in the middle of the night asking to be allowed in. Luckily I had enough with the things going on there and had accosted from the temple to search for Krishna elsewhere a couple hours before the stabbing.

Right Katie, sending crazy people to prison is not the answer, nor is the temple. But there has to be someplace for everyone to be protected. Hari bol.

Kamalavatidd said...

Hare Krsna, Ujval. Take care of yourself.

Unknown said...

I used sit next to Jan in junior high school and used play with him as a kid. Nice guy, fuzzy and inquisative personality. He started to get mean in junior high B football. He would twist the runningbacks legs and try to hurt them.

His schizophrenia must have been late onset.

He was adopted by his father; a doctor who helped in his birth. His older also adopted brother was a Marine who died of cancer after his Vietnam tour, possibly do to agent orange.