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Helter Skelter II (August 9-10)

I slept very late Saturday, then spent part of the afternoon working on dune buggies and snorting speed with Bruce Davis. At some point during the day Sadie told me that our murders were on the news and that we'd killed some really "beautiful people," but the names didn't mean anything to me and I immediately forgot most of them except Sharon Tate. I did listen to a few radio broadcasts later in the afternoon, but when the Family members who were in the know gathered around a television up at the house for the six o'clock news, I stayed away. I didn't even get together with them later in the evening when Charlie broke out the grass and they all sang. I didn't really feel anything for what had happened, for what I'd done-but I needed to be by myself.

Then it was night and Charlie called us together again - Linda, Katie, Sadie, and me. And two more as well: mentally defective Clem and Leslie, the little mountain-folk girl who was so easy for the others to push around. It would be the same as last night, he told us, only tonight we'd get two separate houses instead of just one. And this time we'd do it right. There'd been too much panic at the Tate house; the girls had told him what had gone down. Tonight would be different. Tonight he would show us how to do it.

We all put on dark clothing again, except Clem who wore a khaki jacket, and before we left, Charlie gave me a light tab of acid. While people were getting things together, Sadie and I took the opportunity to hit our speed bottle and I gave myself three good snorts in each nostril. I knew now I'd need it for what was to come. When we were all gathered at the car, Charlie handed me a .45 automatic pistol. He also had the chrome-plated bayonet we'd bought at the army-surplus store at the same time we'd purchased the Buck knives used at the Tate house. Linda and I got in the front seat with Charlie, and the four others piled in back.

We ended up driving for about three hours. Sometimes Charlie would be at the wheel, sometimes Linda, with Charlie giving her directions. Between the speed and the acid, I wasn't always certain exactly where we were. Somehow we managed to get from Pasadena to the beach to Hollywood, with several stops along the way. There wasn't much conversation as we drove, except for Charlie's asking Sadie a few details about the night before-if we'd been careful not to leave prints, how she lost her knife, what had been written on the walls.

Our first stop was somewhere in Pasadena. We'd driven slowly through several neighborhoods before Charlie and I finally walked up to a house and peered in the windows. In the living room, bathed in warm light, we could see framed photographs of children arranged neatly on one wall. Charlie shook his head, and when we were back at the car he told us he didn't want to kill children, not yet-but the time might come, he warned, when we'd have to kill the children as well. A few minutes later another house-a mansion on top of a hill-was rejected because the neighboring homes were too close to it. Charlie said that someone might hear screams.

Before Charlie settled on the house on Waverly Drive, he would consider three more murders and attempt one of them. Somewhere in Pasadena he stopped at a church and left us in the car, saying he was going to kill the priest. He returned after a few moments and told us everything was locked up and no one had answered the rectory bell. In another residential neighborhood, we saw a couple pulling into their driveway. Charlie stopped across the street, but after waiting for a few minutes he changed his mind and we headed out to the beach. An hour later, coming toward town on Sunset Boulevard, we passed a small white sports car. Linda was driving at this point, and Charlie told her to pull up beside the car at the next signal-he was going to kill the driver. She did what she was told and he jumped out, the gun in his hand. But just then the light turned green and the sports car took off, the driver never aware how close he had come to death.

After that, Charlie started giving very specific directions to Linda, as if he had a particular place in mind. Eventually we ended up parked across the street from a large old Spanish - style house at 3301 Waverly Drive, near Griffith Park in the Los Feliz section of town. Apparently Linda recognized a house nearby, because she said something to Charlie about not hitting it. Charlie also knew the other place, having been there for an acid party with some of the Family over a year before, but he told her no, it was this house, the one directly across from us with the boat in the driveway-this was the house where Helter Skelter would fall again.

Telling us to wait, Charlie slipped up to the house alone. A few minutes later he was back, telling me to come with him. Pointing through one of the windows, he showed me a man asleep on a couch with a newspaper over his face. We went in the unlocked back door and, as a big dog nosed at us with friendly curiosity, crossed through the kitchen into the living room, Charlie still carrying the gun, me with the bayonet.

Charlie poked the man gently with the pistol to wake him up. As with Voytek Frykowski the night before, grocery-store owner Leno LaBianca's first words were: "Who are you? What do you want?"

Holding the gun on him, Charlie smiled and murmured, "We're not going to hurt you. Just relax. Don't be afraid."

"How can I help being afraid when you've got a gun on me?" LaBianca asked with unintentional irony.

Charlie's voice remained low, soothing: "It's okay; I'm your friend. We don't want anything but money."

Telling the heavyset man to roll over onto his stomach, Charlie pulled off a leather thong that had been looped around his neck and had me tie LaBianca's hands with it. I must have cinched him up pretty firmly, because he immediately protested that it was too tight, especially when we turned him onto his back again with the weight of his body pressing down on his wrists.

Charlie asked if there was anyone else in the house. Yes, LaBianca answered, his wife was in the bedroom. Charlie disappeared for a minute or two and then returned with Rosemary LaBianca, holding the gun on her but still murmuring assurances that no one was going to be hurt, this was just a simple robbery. He sat the frightened-looking woman at her husband's feet. LaBianca had on pajamas, and I later found out that his wife had pulled the blue dress she was now wearing over her pink nightgown after Charlie had suddenly appeared in her bedroom.

Mr. LaBianca was still complaining that his hands were bound too tightly, and Mrs. LaBianca turned to Charlie and said, "You're hurting my husband . . . the way he's sitting. Can't you get him in a more comfortable position?" But LaBianca stayed as he was. Soon after his wife was brought into the room he turned to Charlie with an attempt at reason: "Look, we'll give you anything you want; just tell us."

Charlie, still speaking with almost hypnotic calm, answered, "Do you have any cash?" LaBianca told him that the only cash in the house was what he'd left on his nightstand next to the bed and perhaps a little in his wife's wallet. Charlie sent me for both and was obviously displeased at how little money there was. "I can get you more," LaBianca insisted nervously. "Just let me take you to my store and you can get as much as you want."

"No," Charlie answered, "we just want what's here." Then he decided to separate them again.

We took Mrs. LaBianca back to the bedroom and stripped off the pillowcases. Following Charlie's instructions to gag them, I went into the living room, put a pillowcase over Leno LaBianca's head and tied a lamp cord around his skull and through his mouth as tightly as I could. Then I went back into the bedroom and did the same with Mrs. LaBianca, telling her not to make a sound because we would be right in the next room.

Charlie left at this point, taking the gun and the wallet with him. His last words were: "Make sure the girls get to do some of it, both of them." A minute or two later, Katie and Leslie appeared in the kitchen, holding their changes of clothing.

I thought I was whispering when I asked, "Did he say to kill them?"-but perhaps my voice was louder than I thought, because as they nodded grimly, Leno LaBianca began to scream from the living room, "You're going to kill us, aren't you? You're going to kill us!" I somehow knew from the look on her face that Leslie didn't want to go through with what was coming, but like all the rest of us, she must have felt she owed it to Charlie to do whatever he asked, since he'd given himself so totally for us. Katie, on the other hand, began to look through the kitchen drawers for knives with positive relish.

Mr. LaBianca continued to shout. I remember being surprised that he could talk so much with the wire and pillow material in his mouth. As the girls ran to the bedroom on my instructions, I walked back to the sofa with the bayonet and the horror began all over again. I drove the chrome-plated blade down full force. "Don't stab me anymore," he managed to scream, even though the first thrust had been through his throat. "I'm dead, I'm dead . . . ." The shiny bayonet plunged again and again. Once more, as had happened the night before, the room began to explode with color and motion.

In the background, as LaBianca rolled off the sofa onto the floor, I could hear his wife screaming from the bedroom: "What are you doing to my husband?" There were the sounds of some sort of scuffle and I ran in to join the girls. Mrs. LaBianca was in a corner of the room, still hooded with the pillowcase, swinging a large lamp (the wire was wrapped around her head) in an arc that kept the two girls from getting close to her. The bayonet had greater range and I struck out time after time, even after the woman had fallen to the floor.

Katie had run into the living room at some point and now she returned, saying, "He's still alive!"

I went back to the living room and used the bayonet again, over and over. Suddenly Charlie's face clicked in my head, as I heard the words he had sent me off with the night before: ". . . make it as gruesome as you can." Out of some horrible part of my brain an image formed and I reached down and carved WAR on the bare belly below me. Later-while I was washing away the LaBiancas' blood in their own shower - Katie would add to the grotesque picture by stabbing the dead man fourteen times (with an ivory-handled carving fork that she left wobbling in his stomach) and by planting a small steak knife in his neck, both these weapons coming from the LaBiancas' kitchen drawers.

After I'd finished my butchery on the man, I went back to the bedroom and told Leslie to help Katie stab the woman, even though it was obvious that Rosemary LaBianca was already dead. Leslie obeyed me, striking mainly on the exposed buttocks, but with none of the enthusiasm that Katie showed.
We started looking through the house, rifling drawers, opening closets-partly for money (we did find a bag of coins) and also for a change of clothes for me. While I washed off the bayonet in the bathroom sink and showered, the girls wrote on the walls and refrigerator door in blood: RISE, DEATH TO PIGS and Katie's misspelled HEALTER SKELTER. I changed into an old pair of brown khaki pants and a shirt of Mr. LaBianca's. We took some milk and cheese from the refrigerator. After making sure that the girls had wiped everything for fingerprints, I led them out the back door, patting the head of the dog that had followed us everywhere through the house as we left.

Charlie and the others were gone. I'd later learn that, while the three of us wandered through the Los Feliz district - getting lost and walking in circles for hours-Charlie was planting Mrs. LaBianca's wallet in the rest room of a gas station in Sylmar (thinking it was a black neighborhood) and trying to set up the murder of a young actor Linda Kasabian knew in Venice, an attempt that Linda foiled by deliberately going to the wrong apartment door.

As we walked on in the predawn darkness, we came across a reservoir. I threw the bayonet out as far as I could into the water. Finally, half an hour later, we settled down under a tree in a vacant lot, waiting for dawn.

Once the sky started to lighten, we began walking again. I was still carrying my bloody clothes and when we found a large cardboard box full of trash at the curb, I pushed them down under the grass and garbage. Shortly afterward we met a man coming out for his morning paper and got directions to the Golden State Freeway.

We were picked up in a beat-up, multicolored car by a hippie who was also a night guard at Griffith Park. Ironically, he knew Spahn Ranch; he'd been there about a year before and thought he recognized the girls. While Leslie played up to him enough to get us a ride all the way to Chatsworth, we pretended we knew nothing about the ranch and were just on our way up to Big Sur. Apparently Leslie did her job on the guy too well, because after having breakfast with us (we spent most of the time telling him about Helter Skelter, never mentioning what we had just done to bring it down, and paid for the food out of the bag of coins we'd stolen from the LaBianca house), he kept insisting on taking us all the way to wherever we were going. Even after we finally got out of the car and took a long way around the back of the ranch to avoid letting him see us on the road, he turned up at Spahn later in the day, still looking for Leslie.

Charlie had already gone back into the hills to a camp we had by a waterfall, so I didn't see him. The girls disappeared and I flopped down on a mattress in one of the buildings, ready to sleep.

As I lay there, my mind raced and turned with images from the past two nights, like some horrible light show all full of red glare and frantic motion. Yet I felt nothing for what had been done to seven innocent people and an unborn child. Charlie had killed all that sort of feeling in me, just as I had killed those seven strangers.

I wondered what would happen this next night and the night after that. Although Susan Atkins's later claim that we had a death list of famous Hollywood stars was untrue, Charlie had made it clear that two nights would not be the end of it, that we would do more and more killing until either the blacks or the whites took matters into their own hands-and Helter Skelter would begin.

I have no doubt that things would have continued just as Charlie planned-for another night, for three more nights, ten, however long-if later that Sunday afternoon my mother had not called Willis Carson in Los Angeles and asked him to get in touch with me because she hadn't had a word from her son in six months.

That call, and Willis's to the ranch that followed, set up my lie about the F.B.I. having come to my parents' home in Copeville, accusing me of murder. And that lie stopped the killing and sent us all to the desert where, nearly two months later, I refused to murder again for Manson and headed home to Copeville, with its peeling white wood and railroad, home to the store and the gas pumps and the kitchen-back to the world I thought I'd blasted out of my mind forever.

Chapter Fourteen Table of Content Chapter Sixteen

(Will You Die For Me? Copyright 1978, by Ray Hoekstra. Published by Cross Roads Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

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