Charles Manson was never a hippie. His real family included con artists, pimps, drug dealers, thieves, muggers, rapists and murderers. He had known only power relationships in an army of control junkies. Manson was America’s Frankenstein monster, a logical product of the prison system–racist, paranoid, violent–even if hippie astrologers thought that his fate had been predetermined because he was a triple Scorpio.
In the course of my research, I met Preston Guillory, a former deputy sheriff at the Malibu Sheriff’s Department, which aided the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department in the original raid of the Spahn Ranch. Guillory had participated in that raid, and I interviewed him at an apartment in San Francisco. He stated:
“We had been briefed for a few weeks prior to the actual raiding of Spahn Ranch. We had a sheaf of memos on Manson, that they had automatic weapons at the ranch, that citizens had complained about hearing machine-guns fired at night, that firemen from the local fire station had been accosted by armed members of Manson’s band and told to get out of the area, all sorts of complaints like this.
“We had been advised to put anything relating to Manson on a memo submitted to the station, because they were supposedly gathering information for the raid we were going to make. Deputies at the station of course started asking, ‘Why aren’t we going to make the raid sooner?’ I mean, Manson’s a parole violator, machine-guns have been heard, we know there’s narcotics and we know there’s booze. He’s living at the Spahn Ranch with a bunch of minor girls in complete violation of his parole.
“Deputies at the station quite frankly became very annoyed that no action was being taken about Manson. My contention is this–the reason Manson was left on the street was because our department thought that he was going to attack the Black Panthers. We were getting intelligence briefings that Manson was anti-black and he had supposedly killed a Black Panther, the body of which could not be found, and the department thought that he was going to launch an attack on the Black Panthers.
“Manson was a very ready tool, apparently, because he did have some racial hatred and he wanted to vent it. But they hadn’t anticipated him attacking someone other than the Panthers, which he did. Manson changed his score. Changed the program at the last moment and attacked the Tates and then went over to the LaBiancas and killed them. And here was the Sheriff’s Department suddenly wondering, ‘Jesus Christ, what are we gonna do about this? We can’t cover this up. Well, maybe we can.’
“I bet those memos are no longer in existence. The memos about what Manson was doing. Citizens’ complaints. All those things I’m sure have disappeared by now. It shows the police were conscious of the fact that he had these weapons in violation of his parole. You’ve got at least involvement here on the part of Manson’s parole officer, on the part of the Sheriff’s Department, probably the sheriff himself, and whoever gave him his orders. Manson should have been [imprisoned] long before the killings, because he was on parole, period. He was living at the Spahn Ranch with an outlaw motorcycle gang. I feel that, to say the least, the sheriff of Los Angeles County is an accessory to murder.
“The raid was a week after the Sharon Tate thing, and the intelligence information was coming in for about three weeks prior to the raid. They just didn’t want any arrests made. It was obvious they wanted the intelligence information we were gathering for some other reason. Three days after they were arrested, 72 hours later, they were all released–lack of evidence–after this mammoth raid. This raid involved two helicopters, 102 deputies and about 25 radio cars, and all the charges were dropped against everyone.
“It appeared to me that the raid was more or less staged as an afterthought. It was like a scenario that we were going through. There was some kind of a grand plan that we were participating in, but I never had the feeling the raid was necessary or that it required so many personnel. Now, if you were a police official and you were planning a raid on the Spahn Ranch, utilizing 102 deputies and helicopters and all that, one would think that with all the information coming out a month prior to the raid, wouldn’t you have them under fairly close surveillance? If you did have them under fairly close surveillance, wouldn’t you see them leave the Spahn Ranch to go over and kill seven people and then come back?
“So the hypothesis I put forward is, either we didn’t have them under surveillance for grand-theft-auto because it was a big farce, or else they were under surveillance by somebody much higher than the Sheriff’s Department, and they did go through this scenario of killing at the Tate house and then come back, and then we went through the motions to do our raid. Either they were under surveillance at the time, which means somebody must have seen them go to the Tate house and commit the killings, or else they weren’t under surveillance.
“You have to remember that Charlie was on federal parole all this time from ’67 to ’69. Do you realize all the shit he was getting away with while he was on parole? Now here’s the kicker. Before the Tate killings, he had been arrested at Malibu twice for statutory rape. Never got [imprisoned for parole violation]. During the Tate killings and the Spahn Ranch raid, Manson’s parole officer was on vacation, so he had no knowledge of Manson being incarcerated, so naturally Manson was released, but why wasn’t a parole hold put on him?
“It’s like Manson had God on his side when all these things are going down, or else somebody was watching every move he made, somebody was controlling from behind the scenes. Somebody saw that no parole hold was placed. Manson liked to ball young girls, so he just did his thing and he was released and they didn’t put any hold on him. But somebody very high up was controlling everything that was going on and was seeing to it that we didn’t bust Manson.
“Prior to the Spahn Ranch raid, there was a memo–it was verbal, I would have loved to Xerox some things but there wasn’t anything to Xerox–that we weren’t to arrest Manson or any of his followers prior to the raid. It was intimated to us that we were going to make a raid on the Spahn ranch, but the captain came out briefly and said, ‘No action is to be taken on anybody at the Spahn ranch. I want memos submitted directly to me with a cover sheet so nobody else can read them.’
“So deputies were submitting memos on information about the Spahn Ranch that other deputies weren’t even allowed to see. We were to submit intelligence information but not to make any arrests. Manson was in a free fire zone, so to speak. He was living a divine existence. We couldn’t touch him….”
And so it was that the presence of racism had morphed the Sheriff’s Department into collaborators in a mass murder. But who was the higher-up that gave them the order to leave Manson alone? I was certainly prepared to believe that’s what occurred. I had been gathering piece after piece of a mind-boggling jigsaw puzzle, trying to make them all fit snugly into one big cohesive picture, but without having any model to pattern it after.
I concluded that the brainwashed Manson family actually served as a hit squad for a drug ring run by mobsters he had met in prison. But, he wrote to me, “I’ve always ran poker games and whores and crime. I’m a crook. You make the reality in court and the press. I just ride and play the cards that were pushed on me to play. Mass killer, it’s a job, what can I say.”
The above is excerpted from my 1993 autobiography, Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut: Misadventures in the Counterculture. Simon & Schuster has since reverted all rights back to me, and an expanded edition will soon be published online by New World Digital.
PAUL KRASSNER edited Pot Stories For Soul, available at paulkrassner.com.