In the spring of 1968 Beach Boy drummer Dennis Wilson picked up two young female hitchhikers. This was the first of several seemingly unimportant encounters which would ultimately lead to a recipe for murder.
On their way to the Santa Monica Mountains Dennis Wilson and a friend picked up two hitchhikers, Patricia Krenwinkel and Ella Jo Bailey. A month later Wilson saw the same two girls again. This time he took the girls to his Hollywood mansion at Sunset Boulevard. The girls stayed a couple of hours. Wilson told them about his involvement with the Maharishi and they told him they too had a guru, a guy named Charlie.
Wilson had a recording session that night and returned home around 3 a.m. When he pulled up in the driveway a strange man, Manson, walked out of his backdoor. Wilson asked “are you going to hurt me?” Manson replied, “Do I look like I’m going to hurt you, brother?” Manson then dropped to his knees and kissed Wilsons’s feet.
Wilson became fascinated by Manson and his followers. To Manson it was like hitting the jackpot. Here was a famous, rich and generous rock star who gave Manson and the girls everything they needed, for free. And even more important to Manson, Wilson represented the opportunity for Manson to get a record deal and to become a rock star himself.
One day Wilson himself was hitchhiking and he was picked up by a young guy from Texas named Charles Watson. Wilson invited Watson back to his mansion to hang out. Watson became a regular at Wilson’s mansion and soon became friends with Manson. Charles Watson’s nickname was Tex Watson.
The Producer: Part 1
Dennis Wilson was so impressed by Manson’s charisma and musical talent that he introduced Manson to producer Terry Melcher and pressed Melcher to land Manson a record deal. Manson auditioned for Melcher but Melcher was not impressed and declined to sign Manson. After witnessing Manson getting in a fight with a drunk at Spahn Ranch both Wilson and Melcher ended their friendship with Manson.
At that time Terry Melcher lived in a house in Benedict Canyon with his girlfriend, actress Candice Bergen. The address of the house was 10050 Cielo Drive. Not long after ending his friendship with Manson, Melcher moved out of Cielo Drive. On February 12, 1969, Roman Polanski and his pregnant wife Sharon Tate signed a lease for the house on 10050 Cielo Drive. They moved in three days later.
The Tate Murders
On the night of August 8, 1969, Manson sent Tex Watson , Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian to “that house where Melcher used to live” and told them to totally destroy everyone inside, as gruesome as you can. That night, Sharon Tate, her unborn child, Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, Abigail Folger and Steven Parent were brutally murdered.
The Producer: Part 2
1966. While incarcerated at Terminal Island Prison Manson met flamboyant producer Phil Kaufman. After Kaufman’s release from prison he hooked up with Manson. Kaufman spent most of his time crashing at the house of his friend, Harold True. Manson regularly visited Kaufman there, Manson even stayed a week at Harold’s house. Harold lived at 3267 Waverly Drive. The next door neighbors at 3301 Waverly Drive were Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.
The LaBianca Murders
On the night of August 9, 1969, Manson and six Family members rode out with murder on their minds. After driving around for a couple of hours Manson directed the group to 3301 Waverly Drive.
Manson and Watson entered the house and tied up Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. At that point Manson left and ordered Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten to join Watson and to kill Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.
The mainstream narrative is that Manson wanted to start a race war. This “Helter Skelter” motive was adopted by all major media outlets, however if you dig deeper it’s pretty clear that the motive for these murders were either residential relatedor just hate crimes. Manson knew the houses, he knew the neighborhoods. He knew Melcher moved out of Cielo Drive. He just wanted people to die.
Manson was a manipulator, someone who could influence others to do his dirty work. A manipulator with a failed music career combined with a hate for society fueled by a criminal mind led to these murders.
The wrong people meeting at the wrong time led to a recipe for murder. And it all started with two hitchhikers.