The Tate-LaBianca murders perpetrated by Charles Manson and his followers (called "the Family") truly deserves to be called a Crime of the Century. I was about ten-years-old when the murders took place in 1969, and being so young I was only vaguely aware of the events when they happened, but this wasn't a crime that stayed in the headlines for a couple of weeks and then disappeared. It stayed in the memory. Everyone talked about it. In those days adults tried not to describe such things in the presence of children, but the Tate-LaBianca murders was a trend setter, and the crime and the ensuing trial captured the American imagination. With his deranged stare and cryptic and confused statement, Manson himself became the model for the psycho killer; crazy and inscrutable, he had a plan that was even more deranged than his appearance. MEET THE AUTHOR Jeff Davis is a life long educator with a Ph.D. in English Studies who has taught at both the high school and university levels. He is also an artist and an amateur anthropologist who is a proponent of "First Art," that art which our ancient ancestors practiced some 30,000 years ago and even earlier. His most recent book, The First-Generation Student Experience, expanded the college student-affairs field describing the challenges of contemporary nontraditional students. Related to his interest in evolutionary biology, he is currently working on a writing pedagogy book that argues that motivation is the most important dimension of the creative process, even more important than skill and native ability. EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK On the afternoon of August 8, 1969, Manson set his plan in motion. Calling together several of his followers, he announced "Now is the time for Helter Skelter." That evening he told three female members of the Family-Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Linda Kasabian-to grab a change of clothes, a knife, and their driver's licenses. Manson privately discussed details of the plan with a fourth Family member, Charles "Tex" Watson, before all four piled into an old Ford. "Helter Skelter" was Charlie's name for a self-predicted race war that the Family would get started (see section titled Helter Skelter above). Manson conceived of the Tate-LaBianca murders as the trigger that would start up the race war. Although Helter Skelter is widely regarded as the main motive for the murders, Manson possessed other crazy ideas that guided his actions, at least to some extent. One of these ideas was that he was a gifted musician who could be as famous as The Beatles if he ever got the right break. Charlie learned how to play the guitar in prison and had written numerous songs. He even went so far as to contact people in the music industry to listen to and distribute his tapes. A year before the murders took place, he had made the acquaintance of Dennis Wilson, the drummer for the Beach Boys, who evidently told Manson that he would put in a good word for him. It's unclear if Wilson really intended to help Manson or even if his encouragement was sincere. Wilson himself was heavily into the drug scene at the time, and Manson's wild appearance and behavior would have been enough for him to want to appease Charlie out of fear for his own safety, if nothing else.
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March 01, 2013
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