Inside the murder… of many

Helter Skelter

Solving the Tate-LaBianca murders was all about the unnoticed evidence. // Photo by Andrew Forbes

Each page turns with an eerie ripple – one word, one sentence, one quote stands out at me.

Pregnant. Murder. Piggy. Manson.

It is arguably one of the most infamous acts of brutality – of barbarism – ever committed in the United States. Sending chills down the spins of people – even today – the story of the Tate-LaBianca murder is one captured in the pages of Helter Skelter written by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry. 

Upon picking up this book, I didn’t know a lot of the back story surrounding Charles Manson and his family of followers. I knew that murder had been the crime and that there was a somewhat famed victim, but didn’t know what exactly occurred in 1969.

But in every page there was a new fact. There was a new theory – a new suspect and the possibility of a new victim.

At times, however, the book became saturated with so much information about the Family and Charlie it became difficult to read. It was interesting, but it was overwhelming. I was feeling as though I was in Bugliosi’s shoes. I was the prosecution. I was frustrated, stumped, unaware of how ridiculous my final motive would be for why Charlie ordered his victims killed.

How could anyone be that crazy? That dominant? That controlling of a select number of human beings?

How could these people even be considered human beings?

The book delivers all these answers. It puts the reader in the seat of the prosecutor – angry with the way the case was handled by the officers involved and frustrated with the defence attorneys attempts to spoil a locked verdict.

Bugliosi – who was the prosecutor in the case against Manson and three of his female counterparts – briefly takes readers into the mind of the crazy man who called himself Jesus Christ.

He takes you back to the scene of the crime to witness the murder and to see the end game – the writings on the walls, the blood stained floors.

It’s a must-read book – not only for those that are interested in the psychology of a killer, but anyone who doesn’t know what happened in August 1969. Every question is answered and done so with enough detail that it anticipates your following question.

It is hard to read. The description and the crime itself was heartbreaking – almost unbelievable. But it also show the resilience of the public. It shows that justice does exist in some way and that some people do succeed upon receiving second chances.

Bugliosi and Gentry deliver a gut-wrenching tale of undeserving victims and the night of their unforeseeable murders. They explain how Charles Manson and his followers could be responsible for many… many more. But those truly responsible for the massacres in Los Angeles are behind bars and it’s because of Bugliosi – who didn’t give up on the wacky motive of Helter Skelter and Manson’s unique relation to The Beatles – that the Tate-LaBianca killers won’t experience freedom again.

Some interesting quotes:

“An apparently important influence on Manson, in both precept and example, was a dead man: Addolf Hitler….Both were vagrant wanderers; both were frustrated, and rejected artists; both liked animals more than people; both were deeply engrossed in the occult; both had others commit their murders for them. Both were racists; yet there is some evidence that both also believed they carried the blood of the very people they despised. Many historians believe that Hitler was secretly obsessed with the fear that he had a Jewish ancestor. If Manson’s prison records are correct, he may have believed his father was black (pg. 614-615).”

“I [Bugliosi] believe Charles Manson is unique. He is certainly one of the most fascinating criminals in American history, and it appears unlikely that there will ever be another mass murderer quite like him (pg. 630).”


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