You Were Only Waiting for This Moment
Sometime late in June, having failed to raise
any funds for Helter Skelter by kidnapping piggies,
Charlie decided I should ask Luella for money.
I called her but she refused.
That wasn't good enough for Charlie: I should
figure out a way to get some cash out of her,
he said. I thought awhile and came up with an
idea. Since grass was particularly scarce at the
time, I called Luella back on July 1 and said
that the Family had $100 and wanted to buy a kilo
of grass, but our Mafia vending-machine connection
would only sell 25 kilos at a throw, for a cool
$2,500. I tried to be casual in planting the seed,
certain that a chance to score two dozen kilos
of grass at a time like this would be more than
Luella could resist. I was right. She called back
about half an hour later and told me that she
knew somebody who was interested in buying the
extra kilos, but she needed to make some money
out of the deal as well.
Over the phone we worked out an arrangement where
we'd pay my supposed connection $2,500 for the
25 kilos, but charge Luella's client $125 apiece.
That way, I would get three kilos free, the client
would get twenty-two kilos, and Luella would make
herself a profit of a couple of hundred dollars.
There was one condition, I insisted-my connection
didn't want to deal with anyone but me. Luella
agreed. Her friend would front the money; she
and I would go for the grass and then bring it
back to him at her apartment. I couldn't believe
it was working out so easily-T. J. would drive
me down to L.A. and drop me near Luella's apartment
to make it look like I'd hitchhiked. He'd then
go on to the dealer's place on the other side
of town, parking in back of the apartment house
out of which the man worked. Luella would drive
me there with the money, and I'd go in the front
door and out the back with the bread, leaving
her to explain things to her friend.
The fact that I was badly "burning"
a woman I'd once loved never really sank in-it
was for Charlie and for Helter Skelter-and besides,
there was no right or wrong anyway, only what
had to be.
When I got to Luella's apartment, however, there
was a snag. Her friend, a black dealer named Bernard
Crowe - "Big Crow" or "Lotsapoppa"
in the trade-wasn't about to just hand over $2,750
to me on the promise that I'd bring him back some
grass. While he and one of his boys waited downstairs
in their big black Caddy, another one of his men
tried to talk Luella and me into letting them
come with us. I tried everything I could think
of, including walking out the door, but finally
we ended up riding out to the connection's apartment
in Crowe's big black car, with his men on either
side of us, just like something out of a movie.
I'd made Crowe's man promise that once we got
to the apartment they'd all wait in the car-since,
I claimed, my connection was very nervous about
being burned off-but when we got there they insisted
they were coming in with me. Luella recognized
the building and tried to convince them that everything
was on the level, but I just said, "Okay,
this is where it ends; let's go back to Hollywood."
It was like a game of poker, each side not trusting
the other and bluffing for everything we were
worth. Finally they agreed I could go in alone.
They would keep Luella in the car as a guarantee
that I would bring them the grass. When Crowe
threatened violence to her if I tried to cheat
them, I gave him one of my Texas grins and drawled
that they should know I'd be coming back when
they had my girl. I don't remember whether I really
thought they would hurt her or not-there was no
reason not to believe he meant what he said-but
it didn't much matter to me what they did to Luella,
as long as I got the money for Charlie. They gave
me the cash and I went straight into the front
of the apartment and straight out the back and
T. J. and I were off to the ranch.
We were still showing the money to Charlie when
the phone rang. It was Luella and Big Crow, not
surprisingly, raging mad. We'd already agreed
that Charlie would handle this end of it, and
I listened as he claimed that I'd left the Family
several weeks before and that he didn't know anything
about where I'd gone. It didn't sell. Charlie
told us when he hung up that Big Crow said he
knew I was at the ranch and if he didn't get back
his money he was coming out with his boys and
killing everyone at Spahn. Charlie believed him.
He sent Sadie and me up into the hills with a
sleeping bag and said he would deal with Crowe.
I heard the rest of what happened from T. J.
the next day. He and Charlie drove into Hollywood
to the apartment where Big Crow lived. Charlie
took Randy Starr's .22 Buntline revolver with
him and tucked it into the back of his pants.
At a signal from him, T. J., who would be standing
behind Charlie, was supposed to take the gun and
kill the black man. But once they got inside,
T. J. couldn't do it; he just stood behind Charlie,
frozen. After a few minutes of verbal baiting
back and forth, Charlie whipped out the pistol,
pointed it at the towering black man and pulled
Nothing happened but a click. Charlie tried again.
Still just a click. Big Crow's white sidekicks
started to snicker. Another click. Finally Crowe
stood up, grinning: "You crazy! You come
at me with an empty . . . ." Then the gun
went off and Crowe went down, bleeding in the
chest-dying, T. J. said. (The next thing Charlie
did was turn the gun on one of the dudes who was
wearing a fancy buckskin fringed jacket and demand
he give it to him. When Manson was arrested months
later at Barker Ranch on suspicion of "grand
theft auto," he was wearing that buckskin
At the ranch the next day, Charlie couldn't stop
talking about how he "plugged blackie."
We all assumed Crowe had died, especially when
a report came on the news that the body of a Black
Panther had been dumped near U.C.L.A. the night
before. This made us a little uneasy, since we
hadn't figured on getting involved with the Panthers,
and Charlie got even more nervous when almost
immediately it seemed that all kinds of blacks
started showing up, renting horses. He was convinced
they were Panther spies and he started posting
armed guards at night and having us sleep scattered
back in the hills. If we'd needed any more proof
that Helter Skelter was coming down very soon,
this was it-blackie was trying to get at the chosen
Much later I learned that Bernard Crowe-who in
fact never had anything to do with the Panthers-had
not been killed, only wounded. His friends had
taken him away and had lain low, fearful that
if Charlie found out the Big Crow was still alive
he might come after him again. He might have,
but I doubt it, because very soon Charlie would
have bigger fish to fry. Much bigger.
Three days after this first blood, someone important
was added to the Family. On July 4, Gypsy brought
a quiet, blond hippie named Linda Kasabian and
her little girl, Tanya, back with her from a visit
to some people we knew in Topanga. Linda joined
the Family that same day, without even meeting
Charlie, and that night I introduced her to our
truth. Linda later said that when we made love
it was like being possessed. For me it was a more
complete sensation of oneness than I'd ever known
with a woman-it was as if our two bodies literally
became one and it was no longer possible to feel
where I ended and she began. Linda and I talked
very late that night, just the two of us in a
little room in the ranch house. I told her she
should steal some money that the man she'd been
staying with had inherited, and when she protested
that she couldn't do that, since he was a good
friend who trusted her, I quoted Charlie and told
her that there was no wrong, no sin; everything
anyone had was meant to be shared. Linda had already
given the Family whatever she owned and the next
day she went back to Topanga and returned a little
while later with $5,000 she'd ripped off according
to my instructions. A little over a month later,
simply because she was about the only Family member
with a valid driver's license, newcomer Linda
Kasabian would be sent out in the middle of the
night to Terry Melcher's old house at 10050 Cielo
Drive with Sadie and Katie and me-and very clear
instructions from Charlie Manson.
That July was a crazy time. We got more and more
paranoid about the blacks that kept appearing.
We spent our nights patrolling the ranch, sleeping
in shifts, with guns and firebombs ready. During
the day we worked on the new dune buggies and
trucks we bought with Linda's money and what I'd
stolen from Crowe. It still wasn't enough for
Charlie's plans, so one day Mary Brunner went
into town and drove back to the ranch in a brand-new
1969 VW she'd stolen off a dealer's lot. We stripped
everything we thought we could use out of it and
rolled the shell down one of the ravines behind
the ranch house.
We also made a number of trips down to an army-surplus
store in the Valley for supplies and weapons,
especially knives, and it was at this point that
we bought the Buck knives and the chrome-plated
bayonet, later put to such hideous use. On the
first of these trips, while we were carrying all
of Linda's $5,000 in crisp new $100 bills, we
were pulled over by the police for a faulty taillight.
When they discovered the money, Charlie and I
were taken to the station and questioned separately.
We told the officers, quite honestly as far as
it went, that the money had been given to us,
and eventually we were released. Several nights
later there was a small raid on the ranch, just
a few police cars, nothing like the August 16
raid, and most of us were in the hills anyway,
waiting for blackie. The guards posted near the
gate used our walkie-talkie system to warn the
women and babies to get out, so the cops didn't
find much of anyone except a few legitimate ranch
From our perches in the hills, we watched the
police wander through the empty sets and ranch
houses, watched them shake down the people they'd
hauled out of the bunkhouse in the circle of brightness
their headlights made, watched the red and white
lights of the police cars whirl madly in the darkness.
We all knew that Charlie was on parole, and all
I could think as we crouched in the darkness,
taking in the light show at the ranch below us,
was: "What if they find Charlie and take
him away? What am I going to do without Charlie?"
Finally the police cars drove off without arresting
anybody, but the raid was a sign, another indication
we had very little time left to get ready for
what was coming.
Charlie decided we needed still more money; there
weren't enough dune buggies and supplies. Over
the past year, he and various other Family members
had spent time with a young musician and teacher
in Topanga Canyon named Gary Hinman. Now Charlie
somehow had an idea that Hinman had recently come
into some money, so one Friday late in July (I
later found out it was July 25) he called together
Mary and Sadie and a boy named Bobby Beausoleil
whom I'd never known very well but who'd been
with Charlie on and off since I'd first come to
The rest of us could tell something was up, but
all we knew at first was that the three of them
were supposed to go to Hinman and lay so much
fear on him that he would give us everything he
had, including the money Charlie was certain he
was keeping at the house.
The three of them left, and the next thing we
knew there was a phone call from Bobby for Charlie.
Other calls followed throughout the day, and finally
sometime that night Charlie and Bruce Davis drove
over to Hinman's place. Charlie took along a large
sword he'd conned the Straight Satans out of earlier
and when he got back all he'd say was that he'd
had to "slice" Hinman to put some real
fear in him.
The calls from Beausoleil continued all day Saturday
and even though we kept up business as usual-helping
with the horses, the girls playing at being guides-we
were all on edge, waiting. Midday on Sunday there
was a final call and Charlie's word was: "You
know what to do."
A little while later Bobby and the two girls
came back with Hinman's VW bus and Fiat. A set
of bagpipes that we all knew had belonged to Gary
appeared on a shelf in the kitchen, and Bobby
was bursting with pride. It didn't take much imagination
to figure out what had gone down. That night T.
J. quietly disappeared-it was too much for him.
Eventually, I didn't have to use any imagination
to know what had happened over those three days
at Gary Hinman's Topanga house. Bobby bragged
a lot, and Mary and Susan gradually filled in
the details. On Friday the three of them paid
what was supposedly a friendly call to the musician,
making general conversation, just hanging around.
After a while Bobby brought up Helter Skelter
and then told Gary that the Family needed all
his money, demanding he give it to him immediately.
Gary thought he was kidding at first, but when
he realized Bobby was serious he insisted he didn't
have any money. At that point Bobby pulled out
a small handgun and started pistol-whipping him.
In the fight that followed the gun went off, but
it didn't hit anyone. Finally Bobby and the girls
got Gary tied up and made their first call to
Spahn, asking Charlie what to do since Gary wasn't
Throughout the rest of the day Charlie continued
to give long-distance instructions, but finally
he and Bruce arrived at Hinman's late that evening.
Gary pleaded with Charlie - swearing he didn't
have any money, reminding him of their friendship,
begging Charlie to take the others and leave.
Manson said nothing, just listened silently until
he suddenly raised the sword and cut Gary's left
ear in half. As Gary whimpered in pain and fear,
Charlie quietly ordered him to sign over everything
he had to the Family or die. That was the choice.
Then he and Bruce left, taking the bagpipes with
That night Mary, Sadie, and Bobby took turns
watching Gary, sleeping in shifts, and all day
Saturday Bobby badgered him, demanding to know
about the money. Gary did sign over the pink slips
to his bus and Fiat, but he continued to insist
that he didn't have any money. After another long
night of watching in turns and another pistol-whipping,
Bobby gave up-apparently convinced that Hinman
was telling the truth-and called Charlie, asking
what to do, since he was afraid Gary would go
to the police if they just left him. Manson's
reply was what we had heard: "You know what
Bobby stabbed Hinman several times in the chest
in front of the girls, then knelt down beside
him as he was dying and told him he was a pig
that had no reason to live anyway, told him he
should thank him for putting an end to him. After
Gary died, Bobby stuck his hand in the blood and
wrote POLITICAL PIGGIE on the wall and made the
mark of a paw print with his palm, this to give
the appearance that Black Panthers, whose symbol
was a panther's paw, had killed the white musician.
Whether this was a spontaneous idea of Bobby's
(or something Charlie had told him to do) I'm
not sure, but it meant that if Gary wouldn't (or
couldn't) contribute to financing Helter Skelter,
he might at least give blackie some useful ideas
and put a little fear into the establishment as
When Bobby was finished, the three of them wiped
down the walls for fingerprints (not very well,
since several prints were later found), hot-wired
the two vehicles and drove back to the ranch.
Two days later Bobby returned to Hinman's to see
if anybody had discovered the body yet. He came
back gloating-word passed through the Family that
he'd been able to hear the maggots crunching through
Gary Hinman's bloated flesh.
Bobby left Spahn Ranch several days later-as
he often did, coming and going-and on August 6
he was arrested somewhere up the coast, driving
Hinman's Fiat, with the bloody murder knife still
tucked in the tire well.
When word of the arrest got to the Family, Charlie
disappeared for a couple of days up to Big Sur,
something very unusual for him. When he got back,
he called us all together. It was the afternoon
of August 8, 1969, and his message was simple.
"Now is the time for Helter Skelter."
(Will You Die For Me? Copyright 1978, by Ray
Hoekstra. Published by Cross Roads Publications,
Inc. All Rights Reserved.)