Barbara Hoyt, a former Manson Family member, joined the Family in April 1969. She lived with the Clan at Spahn Ranch. While not involved in any of the murders, Hoyt overheard several Family members discuss the murders. Hoyt became a witness for the prosecution.
Barbara Hoyt was born on December 27, 1951. Hoyt ran away from home after an argument with her father and traveled to L.A. Hoyt was sitting by the side of the road eating her lunch, when a couple of Manson girls approached her. They introduced Hoyt to Manson, who took her on a motorcycle ride and brought her into the fold. “I met Charlie the next morning,” Hoyt said. “He took me for a motorcycle ride and we went for doughnuts. He was very nice. I thought he was pretty neat.”
Murder She Wrote
On August 8, 1969, the night of the Tate murders, Susan Atkins asked Hoyt to get 3 sets of dark clothing from the Family’s wardrobe. When Hoyt returned with the clothing, Manson informed Hoyt that Atkins and the others had already left.
On August 9, 1969, Hoyt was watching television in a trailer at Spahn Ranch when Susan Atkins came in and told Hoyt to turn on the news. When the Tate murders came up, Atkins and several others started laughing. Hoyt thought Atkins’ behaviour was weird, but she didn’t yet realize she was in the company of the Tate killers.
About a week after the August 16 Spahn Ranch raid, Hoyt had heard screams coming from a creek. The screams lasted for five to ten minutes. Hoyt was sure they were Shorty's screams. Shorty was a ranch-hand killed by the Family. After that night, she never saw Shorty again. The next day, Hoyt overheard Manson tell Danny DeCarlo that Shorty had committed suicide, “with a little help from us.”
While at Myers Ranch, in September 1969, Hoyt heard Manson tell someone that it had been very hard killing Shorty. They had hit him over the head with a pipe, then everyone stabbed him.
Hoyt also overheard Susan Atkins confessing to the Tate murders to Ruth Ann Moorehouse. Hoyt heard Atkins saying that Tate had been the last to die because, “She had to watch the others die.” Not long after, Hoyt and Sherry Cooper fled from the Family. Hoyt and Cooper walked 27 miles through Death Valley to escape Charles Manson.
When Manson found out that the two girls had deserted, he went after them. He spotted them at a local diner in Ballarat. He tried to persuade them to remain with the Family, but because other people were present, he had to let them go. Manson offered them $20 for their bus fare to L.A.
It is said that Manson subsequently sent some of his people after the girls to murder them, but they were unable to find the girls. Hoyt turned against the Group and became a witness for the prosecution. Several Family members hatched a plan to dissuade Hoyt not to testify.
Honolulu Hamburger Case
On the afternoon of September 5, 1970, Hoyt was contacted by some of the Manson girls, and they offered her a free vacation in Hawaii in lieu of testifying. Hoyt agreed. Hoyt spent that night at Spahn Ranch, the Manson Family hangout.
The next day, Steve Grogan drove Hoyt and Ruth Ann Moorehouse to one of the Family hideouts in North Hollywood. The place was being rented by one of the newer Family members, Dennis Rice.
Rice took them to the airport, bought tickets for the girls, and gave them fifty dollars in cash and some credit cards. The girls flew to Honolulu, and they booked the penthouse suite of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel.
The pair saw little of the island, since Moorehouse insisted they remain in the suite. Moorehouse tried to convince Hoyt not to testify. Moorehouse told Hoyt that she knew of ten people the Family had killed besides Sharon Tate. Every morning, Moorehouse made a long-distance call to a pay phone in North Hollywood, three blocks from the Rice residence.
On the morning of September 9, 1970, after Moorehouse made one of the long-distance calls, she told Hoyt that she had to go back to California, but Hoyt was to remain in Hawaii. Moorehouse made a reservation on the 1:15 flight to L.A. that afternoon.
They grabbed a cab to the airport. While waiting for the airplane, Moorehouse suggested that Hoyt eat something. They went into a restaurant, and Hoyt ordered a hamburger. Moorehouse picked up the hamburger and went outside, telling Hoyt to pay for the burger.
When Hoyt came out, Moorehouse gave her the hamburger. Hoyt ate the hamburger while waiting for Moorehouse's flight. Just before Moorehouse boarded the airplane, she told Hoyt, “Imagine what it would be like if that hamburger had ten tabs of acid in it.”
After Moorehouse departed, Hoyt started feeling high. She grabbed a bus to the beach, but got off when she began feeling sick. Hoyt panicked, started running, and collapsed. Hoyt was rushed to the emergency room, where her condition was diagnosed as an acute drug-induced psychosis.
As it turned out, Moorehouse actually put ten tabs of acid in the burger. After receiving emergency treatment, the hospital called Hoyt parents. The next day, Hoyt's father flew to Hawaii and took her back to L.A. By this time Hoyt was determined to testify against the Family.
In 1971, the Family members involved in poisoning Hoyt were given a 90-day jail sentence, except for Moorehouse, who failed to appear at the sentencing hearing. In 1975, the FBI located Moorehouse in Sacramento.
Moorehouse appeared in court to be sentenced, but the court did not give Moorehouse any jail time. The court ruled that because Moorehouse was thrown into the Manson cult by her father, she could go free with time served.
After the trial, Hoyt went back to high school and became a nurse. Because of her connection to the Family, no nursing school wanted Hoyt until Vincent Bugliosi wrote a letter of reference. Later, Hoyt married and became a mother.
Hoyt befriended Debra Tate, Sharon Tate’s sister, and together they fought to keep the Manson Family members responsible for the murders behind bars. Photo of Hoyt (left) and Debra Tate (right) [image]. In one of her last interviews, Hoyt said that Moorehouse never apologized to her. Hoyt passed away in 2017.