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Who was the Zodiac Killer?

In 1980 conspiracy researcher Mae Brussell identified Robert Linkletter, son of the famous Hollywood entertainer and celebrity Art Linkletter as the Zodiac Killer. Brussell’s source of information was a letter from a woman who lived in Woodland Hills who knew Robert personally and also knew him as the Zodiac.

Zodiac, a serial killer in the San Francisco Bay area, wrote a series of letters to local newspapers boasting of his murders and appending sophisticated cryptograms that defied the best efforts of amateur and professional codebreakers. Using many deliberately misspelled words, he made mocking jabs at the police, laughed at their futile efforts to catch him, and described in detail how he would dispatch future victims. In a letter sent to the San Francisco Chronicle on October 13, 1969, he wrote, “School children make nice targets, I think I shall wipe out a school bus some morning.” A letter sent to the same newspaper on June 26, 1970 threatened that if people did not start wearing Zodiac buttons, he would punish them “by anilating a full School Buss.” The disappearance of a school bus full of children in 1976 prompted many to believe that this was the work of the Zodiac. It also prompted Mae Brussell to reveal on her weekly program Dialogue: Conspiracy the existence of a letter that identified the Zodiac by his real name. [1]

The afternoon of July 15, the last day of summer school at Dairyland Elementary in the farming community of Chowchilla, a school bus departed with thirty-one children, ages ranging from five to fourteen. Traveling on ruler-straight roads past cotton fields and almond groves, the driver, Frank Ray, dropped off five youngsters at three separate stops.

Proceeding west on Avenue 21 toward the intersection at Road 15, he noticed a white van straddling the road with its door open. As he came around to pass, he saw jumping out of the van a man wearing a nylon stocking mask and brandishing a shotgun and revolver. He signaled Ray to stop the bus and in a deep voice demanded that he open the door. He was a big man, 6 foot 2, medium to heavy build, tan short-sleeve shirt, white gloves, light tan corduroy pants, light brown belt with horsehead buckle, cowboy boots, and an eagle tattoo on his right arm. Grayish white hair and moustache were discernible through the nylon. He appeared to be about 50 years old.

Two more men wearing stocking masks came out of the van. One of them was armed with a pump shotgun, about 23 to 27 years old, very thin, 5 foot 7, collar length brown hair, light complexion, moustache, and a hairy mole on the right side of his chin. He wore a white T-shirt, white gloves, blue corduroy pants, cowboy boots, and silver watch. He had a blue-green tattoo on his right wrist. He spoke with a foreign accent, possibly French. He came into the bus and ordered Ray to go to the back seat.

The third man was unarmed, stocky, 5 foot 6, white hat, white gloves, blue-checkered shirt, brown pants, and blue tennis shoes. Over his mask, he wore black, thick-framed glasses. His age might have been anywhere from 28 to 45. He had sideburns, a one-inch scar on his right cheek, and a chipped front tooth. His stocky appearance was deceptive, for up close one boy observed that he had “a pillow stuffed in his shirt to make him look fat.” He settled into the driver’s seat and took control of the wheel.

Continuing west about a mile, the bus and van turned left into a clearing off the road and drove into a dry creek bed. After hiding the bus in a heavy thicket of bamboo, the three men herded their captives into the white van and into a green van parked nearby. As Ray climbed in through the back doors of the green van, he glanced at the license plate number of the white van.

Chowchilla bamboo grove

Aerial view of the bamboo grove where kidnappers abandoned the school bus.

Neither Ray nor the children could see where they were going – plywood and a coat of paint blocked the windows. They sped along highways for many hours, never stopping at a gas station. Those who needed to urinate had to do so in their pants. Several times along the way, the abductors stopped to put more fuel in the gas tanks from gas cans stowed onboard. After eleven hours on the road, they finally stopped at their destination. They told Ray and the children to get out and directed them to descend a ladder through a three-foot opening in the ground into an underground chamber. As they went in, one by one, a man asked for their names, ages, parent’s names, and took from each a shoe or an article of clothing.

Using a flashlight given to him to guide the children in, Ray could see that they were inside the trailer of a truck about eight feet wide and sixteen feet long, buried underground. He saw some mattresses and box springs, two wooden boxes with holes on top that served as improvised toilets, ten five-gallon containers of water, some dry breakfast food, bags of potato chips, two loaves of bread, and six 4×4 vertical posts that extended eight feet from floor to ceiling. Mounted in two holes, one cut through the front and the other through the right side, were battery-operated fans that circulated air through flexible hoses, four inches in diameter. (One hose was thirty-five-feet long, hidden from view in the branches of a tree.)

After pulling up the ladder, the captors put a heavy metal plate on top of the hole and weighed it down with a pair of hundred-pound truck batteries and a wooden box full of dirt. Using wire-cutters, they cut cables holding back a wire-mesh fence. An avalanche of dirt and gravel poured down upon the roof of the trailer, covering the plate, batteries and box to a depth of six to seven feet above the roof of the trailer. Inside, the captives watched fearfully as the ceiling buckled from the weight of earthen material, but the standing posts kept the roof from collapsing.

Trapped in the darkness of their dungeon with only the flashlight and a candle for illumination, children cried from terror and despair. As the hours dragged on, the heat inside rose to an oppressive level. The makeshift ventilation system was inadequate for proper airflow. One of the air vents stopped working, and the children gathered together trying to breathe around the one air vent remaining. Many were coughing from the lack of fresh air, or vomiting amid the odors of urine and filth.

As the driver and children viewed with increasing alarm the horror of their situation, in the world outside they became the number one news story, pushing aside Jimmy Carter’s speech accepting the nomination for president at the Democratic Convention in New York City. One major news development was the discovery of the missing bus just before dark by an airplane doing an aerial search. Reporters found people who blamed the kidnapping on black radicals or anti-capitalist leftists. An anonymous person called the San Francisco Chronicle and said “Chowchilla, Weatherman,” obviously referring to a radical leftist group. A spokeswoman for New World Liberation Front, when questioned by reporters, denied that the group had anything to do with the kidnapping. The following day, a group of birdwatchers found children’s notebooks, shoes, clothing, and Frank Ray’s wallet and pants, on an embankment near Saratoga in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The discovery indicated that hippies dwelling in communes nearby might be responsible for the kidnapping.

Meanwhile, the people of Chowchilla prayed for their children. God heard their prayers, and a miracle occurred.

After some hours passed, the sound of shoes above the captives ceased. The kidnappers had apparently left the site. After waiting for what seemed an eternity, the oldest boy, Mike Marshall, age fourteen years, decided he was going to dig his way to freedom. The bus driver, who had already given up in hopeless despair, discouraged him from trying and told him that their time had come “to kick the bucket.” Mike refused to give up.

He kicked one of the box springs apart and found a suitable stick of wood, eighteen inches long. Piling up mattresses to reach the plate covering the hole in the ceiling, he dug and clawed around the plate. At last Ray and another boy came to help. Using all their strength, they pushed up on the plate and managed to open a gap sufficient to jam a stick underneath it. The gap was enough to enable continued digging. As they dug upward, increasing amounts of earth trickled down. Periodically the diggers doused themselves with water to keep from passing out in the suffocating heat.

Their efforts were finally rewarded when they saw a streak of sunlight and felt the fresh cool air. Continuing to tunnel upward, they moved the plate and opened a space large enough for a boy to squeeze through. It was 7 pm, and the sun was still up. He saw around him the heavy machinery of a rock quarry. It had been sixteen hours since they descended into their underground tomb. After climbing out, Ray and the children wandered around until they found a welder on a nearby elevator, who notified the police.

The quarry belonged to the California Rock and Gravel Company, near the city of Livermore in Alameda County, 95 miles north of Chowchilla. Since travel time from Chowchilla to Livermore was normally an hour and a half, the eleven hours on the road indicated the abductors used a roundabout way to get to the quarry.

Chowchilla trailer

Interior view of trailer.

Once they returned everyone home, law enforcement officials began collecting information. The bus driver remembered the last three digits of the license plate for the white van, 414. This corresponded with the license number 1C91414, obtained from an insurance secretary in Los Banos, Mrs. Mary Phillips. She had observed a suspicious white van parked in front of her Chowchilla office the evening of July 14. It was still in the same spot when she came back the following morning. At about 1:30 in the afternoon a second van identical in every way except in color parked next to the white van. A passenger got out and conferred with the driver of the white van for a few minutes. There appeared to be an exchange of money. Then the passenger climbed behind the wheel of the white van, and the two vehicles left the area and headed east on Highway 152. Before the vans drove off, Mrs. Phillips jotted on a piece of paper the license number of the white van. She gave this information to sheriff’s officers later that same day after hearing about the disappearance of the children and bus driver. 

The solid lead of the plate number enabled investigators to trace the two vans to a San Jose warehouse. An unidentified individual purchased them at an auction of military vehicles in Alameda on November 24, 1975. The trailer used to entomb the captives came from a moving and storage company in Palo Alto, purchased four days before the two vans. The man who bought it used the alias “Mark Hall,” and gave a non-existent address.

Thanks to information garnered from the driver and children, apprehension of the culprits was almost within reach. They were not, as initially believed, scruffy hippies or hotheaded radicals. Frederick Newhall Woods III, a member of one of California’s wealthiest and most prominent families, rented the San Jose warehouse where the two vans were found. He was also the owner of the rock quarry. His home was sixty miles from the quarry in Portola Valley, a lavish estate in San Mateo County – 100 acres of oak-studded rolling hills near Stanford University. Woods was a major stockholder in the Newhall Land and Farming Co., which had enormous investments in agriculture, cattle, oil, gas, and real estate. Its best-known asset was Magic Mountain, a popular and immensely profitable amusement park near Los Angeles. In May 1976, just two months earlier, it opened a spectacular rollercoaster ride called the Great American Revolution.

Newhall estate

Vehicles and buildings on the Portola Valley estate of Frederick Newhall Woods III.

Some sixty lawmen armed with riot guns, tear gas, and automatic weapons surrounded the family home in Portola Valley to search for evidence. Welcoming them graciously was an elderly couple, Mr. and Mrs. Woods, the only persons around. As they searched, they gazed with curiosity at the dusty, rusting, second-hand vehicles lined up in rows among the buildings, including Malibus, Impalas, Thunderbirds, station wagons, jeeps, bulldozer, fire engine, red hearse, orange vans, school bus, tow truck, an Allied Van Lines moving trailer, vintage campers, police cars, police motorcycles, many in working order. These vehicles, numbering about a hundred, might have been used in other previously unknown criminal activities, according to a suggestion made by Mae Brussell on one of her programs [2]. Among the vehicles on the property was a World War Two-era truck-tractor that matched the buried trailer in the Livermore quarry. With the help of a bulldozer, it was used to pull the trailer out of the pit.

Chowchilla quarry

Truck-tractor found at the Portola Valley estate being used to haul trailer out of pit at the rock quarry

A search of the main house yielded a paper bag with the scribbled names of the twenty-six children and a ransom note demanding five million dollars. All totaled, from various locations searched, investigators piled up “an astronomical amount of physical evidence,” according to a spokesman for the Alameda County sheriff’s office. According to the Sacramento Bee and the Fresno Bee, at least seven members of a gun and drug cult, sons of wealthy San Mateo County families, were suspects in the hijacking of the school bus. Soon after this article appeared, the police took into custody three suspects:

(1) Frederick Newhall Woods IV, son of the quarry owner, 25 years old, 6 foot, 145 pounds, brown hair and blue eyes;

(2) James Schoenfeld, son of a podiatrist in Atherton, 25 years old, 6 foot, 170 pounds, red hair and blue eyes;

(3) James’ brother Richard Schoenfeld, 22 years old, 5 foot 11 inches, 150 pounds, blonde hair and blue eyes.

Whatever part these men had in the Chowchilla plot, if any, they were not the ones seen by Ray and the children. According to AP reporter Mike Dunston on July 26, “The victims’ descriptions of their abductors appeared quite different from the descriptions of the Schoenfeld brothers and Woods in an all-points bulletin issued Thursday night.… Investigators said some of the apparent discrepancies in the original descriptions can be explained, but they declined to offer an explanation.”

Chowchilla kidnappers

Left to right: Frederick Woods IV, James Schoenfeld, and Richard Schoenfeld leaving courthouse August 26, 1976.

Law enforcement officials assigned to the case got an earful from Mae Brussell, who pointed out to them that the suspects arrested lacked the specific details mentioned by the bus driver and the children – gray hair, glasses, tattoos, chipped tooth, hairy mole, foreign accent, shortness of stature. They tried to brush her off with superficially plausible explanations or evasive non-sequiturs. An assistant to the Alameda County Sheriff said the children were too young to give credible descriptions of people.

“What about the bus driver?”

“Oh, the bus driver? He has no concept of what was involved, or who was involved.” [3]

On August 2, the expiration of a gag order on evidence found at the Woods estate allowed sources within law enforcement to provide reporters of the Sacramento Bee and the Fresno Bee a few more specifics. The ransom note demanding five million dollars was signed, “We are Beelsabub,” a misspelling of Beelzebub, which is the biblical name for the devil. Several other documents contained “strange references to Satan,” and others were coded in Sanskrit. Also found were paraphernalia indicating an obsession with satanic ritual. The following day, Stan Bohrman, on the six o’clock news for a television station in San Francisco, reported on these same findings, but he went one step further by mentioning the Zodiac. He said, “The [ransom] letter found in the home of Frederick Woods resembled the writing of the Zodiac killer. The markings above and below the letter and references to the occult were on this letter.”

The importance of this information can be measured by how quickly it was suppressed. One hour after the letter was released, Judge Howard Green put a new gag order effective at that moment. Repeat broadcasts of Bohrman’s report on the letter scheduled for the seven o’clock and the eleven o’clock news were cancelled, Bohrman was fired, and the Zodiac connection made no further appearances in the news media. Except for updates on insignificant court matters from time to time, there was almost a complete news blackout on the Chowchilla case from that evening on. [4]

Since schoolchildren were a prime target of the Zodiac, the Zodiac-style markings on the ransom note is another clue to his participation in the hijacking of the Chowchilla bus. A comparison of the Zodiac on the left shows resemblance to a composite sketch made of the kidnapper wearing the hat and glasses.

Zodiac                          Zodiac Chowchilla

Heavy dark-rimmed glasses are a characteristic feature of the Zodiac. Bryan Hartnell, who survived an attack on September 27, 1969 near Vallejo, said the Zodiac was wearing a black executioner-style outfit. Over his hood, he had clip-on sunglasses and underneath the hood was another pair of glasses. The killer was about 5 foot 8 inches, light brown curly hair, possibly a wig, 26 to 30 years old, 195 to 200 lbs.

The composite sketch of the Zodiac wearing heavy, horn-rimmed glasses came from three teenagers who witnessed the murder of cab driver Paul Stine in San Francisco on October 11, 1969. They said he was about 25 to 30 years old, 5 foot 8 to 9 inches tall, heavy build, short brown hair.

Kathleen Johns saw the composite sketch of the Zodiac on a poster at a local police station in Patterson and recognized him as the man who tried to kidnap her and her baby on March 22, 1970. She said he wore black, heavy-rimmed, plastic-lensed glasses held firmly in place by a thin band of elastic around his head. He was about 30 years old, 5 foot 9 inches, 160 pounds, short dark hair, jaw “not weak”, dark windbreaker jacket, navy blue bell-bottom pants, military shoes highly polished. After surreptitiously disabling her car, he posed as someone trying to help and lured her and her baby into his own car. Alarmed by his menacing manner, she managed to get out of the car and escape with her baby at a freeway off-ramp. Four months later, the Zodiac wrote in a letter, “So I now have a little list, starting with the woeman + her baby that I gave a rather intersting ride for a couple howers one evening a few months back that ended in my burning her car where I found them.”

A man wearing black-rimmed glasses, overweight, 5 foot 8 inches, curly hair, neatly dressed, frightened Darlene Ferrin with his visits. [5] Mike Mageau, boyfriend of Darlene and survivor of the shooting on July 4, 1969, said that the shooter was about 5 feet 8 inches, “real heavy set, beefy build… possibly 195 to 200, or maybe even larger… short curly hair, light brown almost blond”, combed up in a pompadour style. Mageau further said he was not wearing glasses. Evidently, the Zodiac did not need them all the time.

Glasses of a similar type was a prominent feature in the Manson case. When Charles Manson announced to his followers at Spahn Ranch on August 8, 1969 “Now is the time for Helter Skelter,” he told Tex Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel, Susan Atkins, and Linda Kasabian to get knives and changes of clothes. Shortly after midnight, they entered the home of actress Sharon Tate at 10500 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon and brutally murdered her and four other people. The following night the same four and two others killed Leo and Rosemary LaBianca at 3301 Waverly Drive in the Los Feliz Hills.

Originally, the police believed the slaughter at the Tate house was the work of one man. A clue to his identity was a pair of glasses found in the living room.  A lieutenant for the Los Angeles Police Department, Robert Helder, showed them to the press on October 23 and said that the killer probably lost them during the struggle with the victims. There were fingerprint smudges on it but no identifiable ridges. The owner was extremely near-sighted and could not operate a vehicle without them. An unusual feature was the plastic lenses. Unlike glass lenses, plastic resisted shattering and was the choice of very active people such as athletes. The amber-colored, horn-rimmed frames were of a specific type manufactured by the American Optical Corp. The customized bend of the temple shafts showed that the left ear was about one-fourth to one-half inch higher than the right. Police sent flyers to thousands of eye doctors, hoping that someone might provide information about the man who bought them. (The article Zodiac Killer at the Tate House has more details on the glasses.)

Glasses Tate House

Glasses found at the Tate house.

What the news media hailed as a major breakthrough in October quickly became an almost forgotten loose end in December after the arrest of Charles Manson, Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Linda Kasabian, none of whom wore glasses.

When the case came to trial, prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi feared that defense attorneys might bring up the glasses and make the reasonable assertion that at least one killer was still at large. From that standpoint, they could argue that the wrong people were on trial. [6] Augmenting the effectiveness of this strategy would be to identify and locate the doctor who prescribed the glasses. That man, as will be shown below, was Dr. Victor Ohta, a wealthy ophthalmologist in the town of Soquel in the Santa Cruz area, 350 miles north of Los Angeles. As one of the state’s busiest eye surgeons, he specialized in the removal of cataracts. He and his family lived in a secluded mansion designed by Aaron Green, a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright, on a hilltop ten-acre site overlooking Monterey Bay.

On October 19, 1970, three days before the glasses came up during the testimony of prosecution witness Roseanne Walker at the Manson family trial, [7] Mrs. Ohta was driving her green Oldsmobile station wagon home at about 5:00 pm. Calvin Penrod, a sales manager for mobile home parks, who knew Mrs. Ohta, was driving in close proximity to her car and noticed she had three passengers, young people with long hair. Behind Mrs. Ohta in the back seat was a man with a moustache; next to him was a woman with straight, long black hair; and a second man sat in the rear compartment behind the back seat. As it shortly turned out, the three passengers were highly trained, well-prepared killers. At the house they bound, blindfolded, and shot from behind Dr. and Mrs. Ohta, their two young sons, and the doctor’s secretary. Then they set fire to the house. The fierce blaze attracted the attention of two sheriff’s deputies, who called the fire department. Firemen attempting to reach the scene found both driveways blocked, one by Dr. Ohta’s Rolls Royce and the other by the secretary’s Continental, with the ignition keys snapped off in both locks. By the time they could push the cars aside, the mansion had already suffered extensive damage. While looking for a source of water, they found five bodies in the swimming pool.

Ohta map

Map showing locations of the murder site and sightings of Mrs. Ohta’s car

On the windshield of the Rolls Royce was a note, typed on Dr. Ohta’s typewriter, declaring war against those who “misuse the environment,” presumably referring to the bulldozers used to cut a driveway on the steep wooded hillside and to clear off a place for the mansion. Signing the note were Knight of Wands, Knight of Cups, Knight of Pentacles, and Knight of Swords, figures represented on tarot cards. Pentacles is a five-sided figure associated with witchcraft and Satan. It appeared to be a note written by crazed hippies enamored with the environment and the occult.

Mrs. Ohta’s station wagon served as the getaway car, driven wildly, nearly running other cars off the road. Witnesses saw three long-haired people in the careening car. At a campsite in the Bonny Doon area, witnesses saw three long-haired people, one of them a woman, near the station wagon. The following day the car was about a mile inside the Rincon railroad tunnel. An off-schedule Southern Pacific switch engine banged into it at 4:45 pm. Someone had driven it into the tunnel and set the seat cushions on fire (a destructive act similar to what happened to Kathleen Johns’ car). The engineer put out the flames with a fire extinguisher and then used his engine to push the car out of the tunnel. The motor was still warm from recent use. Three sets of footprints led from the spot where the car was abandoned to outside the tunnel.

Mrs Ohtas car

Mrs. Ohta’s car at the entrance to the railroad tunnel

Alerted by a tip from “three long-haired persons” who provided the address of a woman who in turn gave directions to her husband’s tiny ramshackle hut in a wooded area in the Santa Cruz Mountains, sheriff’s deputies arrested John Linley Frazier, an auto mechanic who had dropped out of society and was living the hippie life-style. As soon as they took him into custody, the search for more suspects was discontinued. When newsmen asked District Attorney Peter Chang how one man could have bound, blindfolded, and shot five people with two pistols, a .38 and a .22, he said, “It sounds ridiculous, but it’s possible that it happened.”

Originally, Frazier denied killing the Ohtas. He said that three persons went into the Ohta house while he waited outside at the driveway entrance. He changed his story later, confessing to a psychologist that he killed the Ohtas single-handedly. The original story is probably the correct one, and his role that day was to serve as lookout.

According to a letter written by a woman who lived in Woodland Hills (near Los Angeles), Dr. Ohta was the man who prescribed the glasses found at the Tate house, and the owner was none other than the Zodiac himself. In late September 1970, less than a month prior to the Ohta slayings, she saw the Zodiac with Frazier in Woodland Hills. They “looked exactly alike” except that the Zodiac wore glasses. The implication is that Frazier was a Zodiac double. If he wore glasses, the resemblance would be greater. Pictures of Frazier at the time of his capture and all during his trial show him without glasses. However, a driver’s license photo released by the sheriff’s department shortly before his capture shows him wearing glasses. Perhaps he needed them to drive a car, yet the weird Zodiac-like appearance is certainly striking.

Frazier no glasses                       Frazier glasses

The author of the letter goes on to identify the Zodiac by his real name and said that he was a member of a white supremacist organization called the International White Guard.

Somehow a copy of this letter came into the possession of Mae Brussell. On July 19, 1976, she called up Sherwood Morrill, a documents specialist for the Bureau of Criminal Identification in Sacramento and chief expert on the handwriting of the Zodiac. She read the letter to him and stated her belief that the Zodiac was involved in the Chowchilla case. He was not a deranged man working alone, as commonly believed, but rather he was part of a group of extreme rightwing fascist killers. She urged him to be on the lookout for a ransom note and check it for Zodiac handwriting characteristics. (A few days later, newspapers reported the finding of a ransom note at the Woods house. Bohrman’s revelation of the Zodiac markings would not emerge until almost two weeks later.)

After speaking with Morrill, she called David Toschi, the detective for the San Francisco Police Department in charge of the Zodiac files. After reading the letter, she asked him if he knew the name of the man identified as the Zodiac. He said he did. As she continued to ask more questions, he became increasingly angry, rude, and hostile.

Brussell                                                                            Toschi

   Mae Brussell                                                                                          David Toschi

“We had that name five years ago” [1971].

Has he been cleared?”

“No, he has not been cleared.”

“Has he ever been arrested or called before a grand jury?”

“No, he has never been arrested or called before a grand jury.

“Have you asked him any questions about it?”

“No, we’re not asking him any questions.”

“Have you seen the composite sketch of the Chowchilla suspect wearing the hat and eyeglasses, who looks like the Zodiac?”

“Where did you see that picture?”

“On the front page of the San Francisco Examiner. Did you talk to the Chowchilla police department?”

“I am not involved in the Chowchilla case.”

“If the Chowchilla authorities and the Los Angeles authorities think the Zodiac might be involved, how come you have not thought of it?”

Toschi said they would never bring him in, and he had no interest in pursuing Brussell’s proffered lead. [8] (Five days later, his partner, Bill Armstrong, suddenly quit and transferred to the Bunco division, leaving Toschi to become the only San Francisco detective working on the Zodiac case. [9] The dispute between them might, or might not, have something to do with a Zodiac connection to Chowchilla.)

While relating these conversations on her Dialogue: Conspiracy program on radio station KRLB in Carmel, Brussell never mentioned the name of the woman who wrote the letter and only said that she lived in Woodland Hills and worked as a school bus driver. She did however reveal the name of the Zodiac – after an interval of four years. At the end of her program on September 21, 1980, she said:

[Next week I want to bring up] the death of Art Linkletter’s son. He was killed in an automobile accident. I have hinted many times and suggested through a letter that I have that went to a judge at the time of the trial of John Frazier for the killing of the Ohta family in California, that Robert Linkletter was the Zodiac. Now that he’s dead, I feel it’s safe that I can mention that I did call David Toschi, the chief [investigator assigned to the Zodiac case] of police in San Francisco in 1976 and talked to him about this. He said that they would never bring him in. They had this information, that they didn’t clear it, that they had no interest in pursuing it. It’s a subject that has to do with a massive entanglement of California violences. Mr. Toschi was later removed from the police department for forging letters of the Zodiac Killer in San Francisco. Now, I am not saying this is true, or not true. It will be interesting to see if the Zodiac letters, or that person, ever surfaces again. But next week I’ll read to you a letter that was sent to the judge about a group, of the white organization. It’s like the “Hooded Ones,” the Cagoulards in France, and it has to do with an organization of killers called the International White Guard. This letter to the judge at the time of the trial did mention Robert Linkletter. He was killed this last week in an automobile accident. No charges have been filed against the [driver who caused the] head-on collision. We’ll bring that up next week, because there isn’t time for the details. It has to do with Reagan and the California violences.

On September 12, 1980, Robert Preston Linkletter, son of television interviewer and Hollywood celebrity Art Linkletter, was at his apartment, where his mother came to visit him. An hour later, he got into his car, a 1979 Saab. With him was his lawyer, Charles Crozier. Shortly after leaving his apartment, as he was driving west on Santa Monica Boulevard near Thayer Avenue, Gracie Jones travelling eastbound in a 1976 Buick crossed the center divider and rammed head on into the Saab. Robert died an hour later at the Los Angeles New Hospital from chest injuries. His passenger, Mr. Crozier, survived the accident, suffering from rib and face injuries. Jones’ explanation was that a car made a U-turn in front of her, forcing her to swerve into oncoming traffic. In January 1981, she pleaded no contest to the charge of vehicular manslaughter and was given a year probation.

Linkletter family

The Linkletter family. Behind Art in the back are Jack, his wife Lois, Robert, and Dawn. In front are Diane and Sharon.

The letter that Brussell read on her program of September 28, 1980 was the second of two letters written by the Woodland Hills woman. Excerpts of the earlier letter appeared in an article on the front page of the Redwood City Tribune, Saturday, November 20, 1971.

RWC heading 2

RWC title

Below is the complete article:

Letter-Writer Links Frazier and ‘Zodiac’

By Duane Sandul, Tribune Staff Writer [10]

The Zodiac killer also was an accomplice of John Linley Frazier in the mass murders of Soquel eye surgeon Victor Ohta and four others on Oct. 19, 1970, a woman from Woodland Hills claims in a letter to the Tribune.

The woman, Mrs. Marie Vigil, asked the Tribune to forward the letter to Frazier’s attorney.

She said that Dr. Ohta once prescribed glasses for the Zodiac killer, sought for multiple murders in San Francisco. Mrs. Vigil identified the Zodiac killer as Robert Linkletter and said she saw Linkletter with Frazier before the Ohta murders.

She said she knew Linkletter as a man who has been killing since 1966 but declined to elaborate in a telephone conversation with the Tribune from her San Fernando Valley home. She said she had not intended her letter to become public information but as “confidential” to the defense.

James Jackson, attorney for Frazier, said last night the letter writer “probably is eccentric,” but that he would have an agent “check out the letter.”

“I’ve received seemingly wild letters before which indeed did help produce witnesses,” Jackson said. He added he had received other letters linking the Zodiac killer with Ohta.

The typewritten letter claims that the Zodiac killer also is one of the killers of Sharon Tate and the LaBiancas. Charles Manson and his “family” were convicted for those murders earlier this year.

When the Tribune spoke with Mrs. Vigil, she declined to discuss specifics “over the telephone.”

Frazier’s trial, shifted to Redwood City from Santa Cruz by order of the California Supreme Court, ended Wednesday. The four-man, eight-woman jury which must decide his guilt or innocence will begin deliberations Friday.

Frazier has pleaded innocent and innocent by reason of insanity.

Mrs. Vigil, who said she is over 50 years old, told the Tribune she had reported her information to police departments linking the Zodiac killer with Frazier although she wouldn’t say which police departments.

Sgt. Frank Witt of the Woodland Police Department told the Tribune police have no record of Mrs. Vigil filing a report with them.

Asked why she thought Frazier and the Zodiac killer are accomplices, Mrs. Vigil said, “Because they were together.” She added, “I’ve seen them; they were in Woodland Hills.”

She would give no further information about her acquaintance with the “Zodiac killer.”

Excerpts from the letter:

“I do have some information about the accomplice of Frazier. He is Robert Linkletter, one of the killers of Miss Tate, La Bianca never brought to trial here, the killer who lost one pair of glasses the night of the Tate killings.

“Less than one month prior to the execution of Dr. and Mrs. Ohta and three other people, Robert was with them here one Sunday pointing me out to them because I knew those glasses did belonged (sic) to him. Dr. Ohta must have prescribed them. A few days later, I was to see Robert again with Frazier driving a light-colored van, kind of old. Robert was driving, was also wearing a blonde wig and some round oversized glasses with pink lenses …

“If the two daughters of Dr. and Mrs. Ohta know of some connection with their father and Robert Linkletter, their lives are in danger …. [11]

“… This killer has been dropping bodies since 1966, a knife killing in Riverside he has admitted. He moves constantly from San Diego to the High Sierra killing here and there. He must believe the Law and Order is willing to cover up all of his murders

Sincerely,

Mrs. Marie P. Vigil” [12]

According to the above excerpts, Robert Linkletter had a discussion with Dr. and Mrs. Ohta on a Sunday in late September. Mrs. Vigil apparently was not part of this discussion but somewhere nearby, close enough so that Robert could point her out as someone who knew about the glasses at the Tate house. A few days later she saw him with Frazier.

The last paragraph says he “has been dropping bodies since 1966, a knife killing in Riverside he has admitted.” On October 30, 1966, Cheri Jo Bates, a student of Riverside Community College, was brutally beaten and stabbed to death. One month later, nearly identical typewritten letters were mailed to the Riverside police and the Riverside Press-Enterprise, titled “The Confession,” describing how he killed her. A third letter, handwritten, was sent to Cheri Jo’s father, Joseph Bates. It said, “Bates had to die, there will be more,” and it was signed with the letter “Z.” Going on an anonymous tip, Paul Avery wrote an article for the San Francisco Chronicle on November 16, 1970, linking the Zodiac to the Bates murder. Five months later, on March 13, 1971, the Zodiac mailed a letter to the Los Angeles Times acknowledging he had indeed killed Bates.

Avery further said in his article that a janitor found a poem carved into the bottom side of a desktop in the Riverside College library. [13] Its language and handwriting resembled that of the Zodiac. Titled “Sick of living/unwilling to die,” it was signed with the initials rh. It is possible that the h was originally an l. There are three h’s in the poem. The first two were made with a continuous motion without lifting the pen, and the descending part of the arch ends at, or near, the baseline. Unlike the first two h’s, the slight overlap of the left foot of the arch on the vertical line in the third h indicates a two-step operation. Furthermore, the termination of the descending part of the arch in the first two h’s have an assurance that is lacking in the third h, with the right side of the arch trailing hesitantly below the baseline. Since Sherwood Morrill saw distortion and disguise in the formation of letters in the letter to Joseph Bates, the initials at the end of the desktop poem might been subjected to the same treatment to disguise the writer’s identity.

First h                    Second h                      initials

Vigil said that Robert travelled constantly between San Diego and the High Sierra. In the second letter that will be quoted below, he is said to have sometimes stayed with his sister at Lake Tahoe and that he was a member of the Sierra Club. His parents often spent their weekends at a skiing cabin in Alpine Meadows.

Six weeks prior to the Ohta massacre, on September 6, 1970, Donna Lass, a nurse at the Sahara Tahoe hotel and casino, disappeared. Six months later, the Zodiac sent a postcard to the San Francisco Chronicle claiming responsibility for the nurse’s disappearance. The postcard was a collage featuring a scene from an advertisement for Forest Pines condominiums in Incline Village and pasted letters and texts from magazines including one that read “Sierra Club.”

Lake Tahoe postcard

Vigil wrote her second letter on November 21, 1971 to Judge Charles Franich, the presiding judge of the Frazier trial, forwarded through the Redwood City Tribune. [14] Apparently it never appeared in print, and its contents are only known through Mae Brussell. She read excerpts on two of her programs, sometimes word for word, sometimes paraphrasing, in order to leave out information she wanted to keep confidential. Below is one excerpt:

“The Los Angeles Times of today finally had a story about the trial and murder of the Ohtas and their secretary. You asked if I was certain it was John Frazier who was with Robert Linkletter. They were here in Woodland Hills less than a month prior to those killings. He looked exactly like Frazier, when they were arrested, except for one thing. He also wears glasses. About the van, there were two people in the car and it was Robert who was driving it. I do not recall something in the newspaper about that at the time.

According to Frazier’s original story, he drove a white van to the Ohta house where he met three persons. They went into the house, while Frazier stood in the driveway. After they came out, Frazier drove Mrs. Ohta’s car. Witnesses saw three people in the car. That leaves one to drive the white van. Probably on the following day, in accordance with Vigil’s letter, two people were in the white van and the other two were in Mrs. Ohta’s car as they drove toward the railroad tunnel.

I have some reason to believe that Robert was driving north just last Thursday. So if you are observant, you will see him snickering in the courtroom to see how his murders are done and taken care of. He is the man that John Frazier is trying to find at the rear of the courtroom. Does Frazier know about the organization of killers called the International White Guard? Does he fear his wife will be killed if he were to name Robert Linkletter and his father as being heavy in this honorable organization of killers?

 On the day “Robert was driving north,” Thursday, November 18, the court had gone into recess. Frazier apparently expected to see him prior to the recess. The Los Angeles Times article mentioned in the letter, dated November 21, said, “Frazier’s appearance in court seems strangely in contrast to the magnitude of the crime he is accused of. Much of the time, the 5-foot, 6-inch defendant sits slumped in his chair, turned from the judge and jury, focusing his soft hazel eyes impassively toward the rear of the sparsely occupied courtroom.”

Linkletter might have been in the back of the courtroom on Monday to hear the closing arguments. He might have been “snickering” as the jury convicted Frazier of mass murder on November 29. Ten days later, the same jury declared him legally sane, leaving the way clear for the judge to impose the death penalty on December 30. His sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment after the California Supreme Court abolished the death penalty on February 18, 1972.

Robert was also identified as the Zodiac by his sister three days before her death. She had read his first message, that was partly coded. I never believed that she committed suicide any more than her brother-in-law, John Zweyer, did. He had been shot by Robert. These two  were witnesses the night of the Tate murders. John did turn down a bribe that was offered to him concerning the killings. These are the kind of killers that this state has been cultivating and nurturing.

Robert is 27. Sometimes he lets his beard grow. He wears a wig, and sometimes he looks almost bald. Within the past two years, I have seen him in all colors and wig lengths. I know him as Robert Linkletter and also as the Zodiac. I drive a school bus in Los Angeles, and I used to see him on Van Nuys and Ventura Boulevards. He sometimes waits for me on Ventura Boulevard, driving on my way to pick up some children from school. He follows behind and then moves to the side until he is sure I recognize him. Someone must know how smart he is.

He stays sometimes at Lake Tahoe with his older sister, who is a widow, and belongs to the Sierra Club, which is interested in the misuse of the environment.

This Robert, may I say, has the eyes and fingerprints that should be checked. Also I believe Dr. Ohta must have prescribed those glasses that were lost the night of the Tate murders.

A plea of not guilty by reason of insanity is no defense at all [referring to Frazier], because of the horror of those murders. They should convict everyone who is brought in before the courts.

 Zweyer

John and Dawn Zweyer

John Zweyer married Robert’s older sister Dawn in 1959 at the Westwood Methodist Church in Los Angeles. John was a lieutenant in the Air Force, serving as a public information officer at Stead AFB, just north of Reno, Nevada. After getting out of the Air Force, he and his wife moved to Hollywood where he became an insurance salesman. On July 15, 1969, he died of a gunshot wound to the head beside the swimming pool of their home while his wife was on the phone. The coroner ruled it as “a possible suicide.” Supposedly his failing insurance company was the cause of his depression. A more probable cause for his death was murder.

As read by Mae Brussell, the letter seems to say that Zweyer was a witness the night of the Tate murders. Probably while simultaneously reading aloud and condensing parts of the letter, she had accidentally conflated key sentences and obscured the original message. Perhaps what Vigil actually said was that Zweyer was a witness to the planning stage of the impending massacre, and his refusal to be silenced by a bribe was the reason he had to be killed.

On October 3, three months after her brother-in-law died, Diane Linkletter, a roving Hollywood reporter, left the doctor’s office in a cheerful mood. “Suicide seemed as far from her mind as the sun,” her doctor said afterwards. Later that night, at 3:00 am, her friend Ed Durston got a call from Diane asking him to come to her apartment, which was on the sixth floor of the Shoreham Towers in West Hollywood. He went there and found her to be “extremely emotional, extremely despondent, and very irrational.” Six hours later, while Durston was still there, she called Robert and told him she felt like committing suicide. He told her to calm down and said that he would be right over. Robert then spoke to Durston and asked if he could handle her until he got there. He said he could. For a few moments, Diane seemed to relax and even seemed cheerful. Then without warning, she rushed toward the kitchen window. Durston tried to grab the belt loop of her dress but could not prevent her from jumping out. Robert arrived on the scene shortly after the ambulance took her away. A private funeral service was scheduled for Tuesday, October 7, but Robert, his father, and his mother did not attend, having gone into seclusion at their cabin at Lake Tahoe.

According to Vigil, Diane Linkletter died because of what she knew about the Tate murders. She certainly had a connection to the Sharon Tate milieu. Her name was in the address book of Abigail Folger, one of the five victims killed at the Tate house. Diane’s live-in boyfriend of several months, Harvey F. Dareff, allegedly went to the Cielo house on August 8, shortly before the massacre, to buy or sell drugs. [15] A Los Angeles Police Department homicide lieutenant admitted to UPI reporter Vernon Scott, “Yes, Diane Linkletter knew Abigail Folger, and probably was an acquaintance of Sharon Tate.” Diane’s friend, Ed Durston, knew Polish filmmaker Voityck Frokowski, another victim in the Tate house. According to Vernon Scott, “Only one element ties the death of Miss Linkletter with the multiple murders in the canyon home of Miss Tate and her director husband, Roman Polanski – drugs.” The article again quotes the lieutenant regarding this Hollywood subculture, describing it as “a patchwork of peripheral celebrities such as Sebring and Miss Tate, offspring of movie stars and jet setters, hangers-on (Frokowski) and the cast-off children of the big rich. . . . The Hollywood-oriented 600 to 800 go in for bigger kicks, the eerie, weird and freaked-out. They are not militants, protestors or idealists. They groove to their own bag and stick together in the event of a bad trip.”

According to Art Linkletter, his daughter was going with a group that was experimenting with drugs and died from the effects of ingesting LSD. He blamed LSD advocate Timothy Leary and the music industry, particularly the Beatles, for fostering a tolerance for dangerous drugs. The drug-induced suicide version of his daughter’s death was later contradicted by the autopsy report. Coroner Thomas Noguchi said, “We have not been able to pick up any trace of lysergic acid, heroin, marijuana, any narcotics or alcohol in the body of Diane Linkletter at this time.”

Monti

The day after Diane’s funeral, October 8, Toni “Connie” Monti, apparently depressed by the death of Diane, took her own life with an overdose of pills, according to her husband Nick Monti. He said he and his wife were friends of Miss Linkletter. This was contradicted by Sheriff’s Lt. Richard Griffin, who said, “There was no indication she even knew the Linkletter girl.” Connie’s mother disputed the suicide version of her daughter’s death and said she never took drugs and would never consider taking her own life. Perhaps the true reason behind her death is the fact that she lived in an apartment across the street from Shoreham Towers at 1211 N. Horn Ave. From this vantage point, she might have seen Diane’s fatal plunge. An interesting coincidence is that Ed Durston also lived at 1211 N. Horn Ave. [16]

Untitled

According to Vigil, Diane identified her brother as the Zodiac three days before her death and read the “first message, that was partly coded”. Her discovery would have been several days after the slaying of a woman and the severe wounding of a man at Lake Berryessa on September 27. The weekend following Diane’s death, the Zodiac killed cab driver Paul Stine in San Francisco on October 11. The “first message, that was partly coded” had a 408-character cryptogram and was sent to three newspapers in the San Francisco Bay area on August 1. Three days later, a Vallejo newspaper dated August 4, printed the contents of a letter mailed to the San Francisco Examiner, which said, “This is the Zodiac speaking,” the first time the Zodiac name become public. Four days later Manson sent four of his followers to the home of Sharon Tate. Linkletter was also at the Tate house that fatal night and somehow lost his glasses. As mentioned earlier, the right temple stem of the glasses found at the Tate house was lower than the left. A picture of Linkletter showing both ears appears in the Minnesota Star Tribune on November 19, 1965. Since newspaper editors sometimes reverse pictures for various reasons, I have taken the liberty of changing the picture to an alternative orientation. It shows the right ear lower than the left.

RL 1965 front view

Robert Linkletter was born in San Francisco on October 15, 1944. He was a “free-spirited, curious explorer,” according to his brother Jack, very capable of designing and making things. As a teenager, he built his own electric guitar, when his father refused to buy him one. He went to Santa Monica City College, where he acted in a musical comedy. His goal was to become a theater arts major at the University of Southern California and then become an actor. Instead of going to college, he became the guitarist for a surfing music band, called the Cornells. From December 1962 to November 1963, the band released four singles and one record. In May 1963, it appeared on a television show called “I’ve Got a Secret.” Their secret was “We’re all the sons of Hollywood celebrities.”

Linkletter went into the Air Force, spending some time in Australia. During the last six months of his enlistment, he was at Sheppard Air Force base in Wichita Falls, Texas. At that time, war protest songs such as Barry Maguire’s “Eve of Destruction” and Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind” were becoming popular. Linkletter believed such songs, put out by “radical nuts,” had a depressing effect not only on military morale, but also on the nation as a whole, even to the extent of causing the Watts riot of 1965. He also hated “long-haired freaks” like the Beetles. When he left the Air Force in October 1965, he began a nationwide tour singing songs with a “positive” outlook, speaking out against war protesters, and urging people not to give in to the demoralizing influence of those dominating the pop music field.

RL 1965

From Detroit Free Press, November 26, 1965

Linkletter was a prolific inventor, with many patents to his credit. His best-known invention was the childproof safety cap for bottles containing medications. After his death, his father set up “Robert Linkletter Associates” to promote the safety cap and placed as its head Charles Crozier (the attorney who was with Robert in his fatal crash). In 1983, the company was expected to produce eight billion caps for the pharmaceutical industry.

A search of the newspapers.com website shows no pictures of Robert for the six years following November 1965. Then on December 13, 1971, his picture appeared in the Los Angeles Times – smiling like Cesar Romero playing the Joker in the TV series Batman. The accompanying article said he had joined the board of trustees for Los Amigos del Pueblo, a citizen’s group dedicated to preserving and restoring historic landmarks of the Old Plaza, the birthplace of Los Angeles.

RL 1971

The timing of this odd picture is interesting. On January 25, 1971, a jury found Manson and his female co-defendants guilty of murder. Defense attorney Paul Fitzgerald brought up the eyeglasses during the closing arguments at the trial, but no attempt was made to identify the owner. Neither was the owner identified during the trial of Tex Watson, who was convicted of murder on October 13, 1971. In 1971 detective David Toschi became aware of Linkletter but never questioned nor arrested him. In July of 1971 Donald Cheney told Manhattan police that his friend Arthur Leigh Allen used the name Zodiac and said he liked to kill people. Allen then became a prime suspect in the Zodiac case. On December 9, 1971, a jury found Frazier legally sane, which meant either the gas chamber or life imprisonment. Considering the favorable outcome of these related events, it is no wonder that he is smiling.

In September 1980, a few days before his fatal accident, Robert attended a social event at the Westwood Methodist Church in Los Angeles. Prince Peter of Greece and Denmark (cousin of Prince Philip, married to Queen Elizabeth) bestowed the Commander Cross of Merit on General Omar Bradley [17] and Michael DeBakey, a heart surgeon, and on Alice Tyler, the honor of Dame of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. She was the widow of John C. Tyler, one of the founders of Farmers Insurance Group. In 1973, she established the prestigious Tyler Ecology Award to honor individuals who had done significant work in preserving the environment (such as Russell Train, President of the World Wildlife Fund). Included with the article was a picture of Robert Linkletter congratulating Mrs. Tyler. The caption read, “This is the last photo of Robert Linkletter before his tragic accident a few days later . . . He was a favorite of Mrs. Tyler.” [18]

RL and Mrs. Tyler

Robert Linkletter mingled easily among the rich and powerful. He was also a man of many talents – singing, acting, guitar playing, inventing useful things. It is hard to believe that he could be the Zodiac. Yet the letters of Marie P. Vigil, corroborated by Mae Brussell’s interview of David Toschi, indicate that he was. The letters further show that he participated in the slaying of the Ohta family, and that he worked with the Manson family in murdering people at the Cielo and Waverly residences. As a member of the International White Guard, he would have been simpatico with Charles Manson, who believed in the superiority of the white race.

For those who believed in equality of rights regardless of skin color, the emergence in 1975 of a civil rights advocate for president offered a bright future. Governor Jimmy Carter from Georgia had received the endorsement of many black leaders. His principal rival was George Wallace, who was making his fourth run for president as a Democratic candidate. Despite health problems, Wallace’s role as spoiler looked promising until he suffered a setback at the Florida Democratic Convention in Orlando on November 16. A straw ballot poll of delegates gave Carter a whopping victory over Wallace. White supremacists must have seen the handwriting on the wall and believed they needed to do something to stop Carter’s march to the White House. Conceiving the diabolical idea of kidnapping a school bus, they began making arrangements by purchasing a trailer on the 20th of November and, four days later, two vans.

The Democratic National Convention of 1976 was notable for heartfelt demonstrations of racial inclusiveness. It opened on July 11 with a rousing speech by Barbara Jordan, the first African American woman to be the keynote speaker, and it closed on July 15 with a fiery benediction by Martin Luther King, Sr., which led delegates to join hands in an emotional finale, singing “We Shall Overcome.” The seizure of the school bus in Chowchilla was deliberately timed to coincide with the evening when Carter would make his acceptance speech. It effectively stole the news media spotlight just when he needed it most. His staff lost many opportunities for news updates, sound bites, and interviews with reporters to kick off the campaign. Another feature of this plot was putting the blame for the kidnapping and possible murder of twenty-six children and their bus driver on black radicals and radical leftists. The racial harmony that prevailed at the convention would dissolve in the aftermath into an ugly display of dissension and finger pointing. What saved Carter and the Democratic Party from a ruinous debacle was the unforeseen use of a piece of wood to prop open the plate so that the captives in the trailer could tunnel their way to freedom.

Just as in 1972 a piece of tape on a hotel door fundamentally changed the politics of the country by bringing down a president and his administration, so a short piece of wood prevented the overturning of a dynamic movement toward a more integrated society in 1976.

Sources

  1. Much of this article came from newspaper articles too numerous to cite individually. To find sources, go to newspapers.com or newspaperarchives.com and use their search engines.
  2. Dialogue: Conspiracy, July 26, 1976 at 16:20. This and other programs are accessible at the Worldwatchers Archive website.
  3. Dialogue: Conspiracy, August 2, 1976 at 34:30.
  4. Dialogue: Conspiracy, August 9, 1976 at 07.20; September 13, 1976 at 00.58; and July 11, 1977 at 34:30. On his popular late night television show in Los Angeles, Stan Bohrman interviewed Raymond Broshears, a friend of David Ferrie, who said he met a “Bert” who turned out to be Clay Shaw. Shortly after this interview, the television station fired him. In 1975 he interviewed the brother of Manuel Pena, a key figure in the police investigation of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. According to the brother, Manuel Pena was in the CIA.
  5. Graysmith, Robert, The Zodiac, Berkley Books, 1987, pp. 17-19.
  6. Bugliosi, Vincent, Helter Skelter, W.W. Norton and Co., 1974, pp. 106, 109, 380. On May 26, 1970 Paul Fitzgerald, defense attorney for Patricia Krenwinkel submitted a formal motion charging that the police and district attorney investigators were withholding from the defense photographs of the location of the glasses in the Tate house. Seven months later, on December 28, Fitzgerald mentioned the glasses during his final argument, saying that the person who owned those glasses was the true perpetrator of the crime. This argument proved unavailing, for on January 25, 1971 the jury found all four defendants, Manson, Watson, Atkins, and Krenwinkel guilty of first degree murder.
  7. According to the testimony of Roseanne Walker, she and Atkins heard a newscast about the glasses in October 1969. Susan’s comment was “Suppose they found the person. Wouldn’t it be too much if they found the person that owned the glasses? The only thing they were guilty of was dropping a pair of glasses there.”
  8. Dialogue: Conspiracy, July 19, 1976 at 27:50; July 11, 1977 at 34:30; July 14, 1978 on side one at 05:58; September 21, 1980 on side two at 23:41; and September 28, 1980 on side two at 03:18.
  9. Graysmith, Robert, The Zodiac, Berkley Books, 1987, pp. 197.
  10. One daughter, Taura Ohta, “committed suicide” by taking an overdose of pills and asphyxiating herself with carbon monoxide in her garage on May 27, 1977. Dr. Ohta’s mother, Aiko Ohta, age 78, “committed suicide” by hanging herself in the bathroom on December 5, 1979. The other daughter, Lark, is still alive but lives in seclusion, according to the website Santa Cruz Ghost Hunters.
  11. Duane Sandul was a reporter for the Redwood City Tribune and the San Mateo Times until 1985. He then became a public relations consultant for the Port of Redwood City for 30 years. When he retired in 2016, he moved to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I was able to contact Mr. Sandul by telephone. When asked about the article, he said he has no memory of writing it nor of any of the details mentioned in the article.
  12. A search of the internet shows a Marie P. Vigil, who at one time lived at 20412 Lander Drive, Woodland Hills, died at the age of 98 in Fort Myers, Florida on November 11, 2015.
  13. Graysmith, Robert, The Zodiac, Berkley Books, 1987, pp. 170-173.
  14. Dialogue: Conspiracy, July 14, 1978 on side one at 12:03 and September 28, 1980 on side two at 03:18.
  15. “Second Homicide Investigation Progress Report” on the website vdocuments.net.
  16. Ed Durston was implicated in another mysterious death, that of blonde actress Carol Wayne who appeared as the “Matinee Girl” on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. They were in Mexico in the resort town of Manzanillo for a vacation. She disappeared, and he returned to Los Angeles. Three days later, her bloated body was found in Santiago Bay. The official version was that she accidentally drowned while swimming, even though she was deathly afraid of swimming. Mexican police believed she was murdered but were never able to question the mysterious Durston. From John Austen, Hollywood’s Greatest Mysteries, S.P.I. Books, 1994, pp. 87-99.
  17. Omar Bradley was chairman of the board of Bulova watches from 1958 to 1973. On June 4, 1968 twenty-three Bulova salesmen were in the Ambassador Hotel the night Robert F. Kennedy was shot. Two of the salesmen might have been CIA agents. From Shane O’Sullivan, Who Killed Bobby? Sterling Publishing, 2008, pp. 471-474.
  18. Los Angeles Times, supplement section, October 19, 1980.

Author: William Weston, researcher of conspiracies for over 25 years. Among articles written are “On the Death of JFK: Spider’s Web at the Trade Mart” and “The USS Indianapolis Conspiracy.”

Zodiac Killer at the Tate House

Helter Skelter Safehouse in Carmel

Charles Winans, an agent provocateur disguised as a hippie, moved to Carmel, California in November 1967. His home became a safehouse for meetings with members of the Manson family, specifically Tex Watson. Winans orchestrated, and Watson spearheaded the scenario of violence and witchcraft known as Helter-Skelter. 

Charles Francis Winans

Key points discussed in this article are:

  • Louise James, a resident of Carmel, watched a family of hippies move into a house next door with the help of an Army van.
  • The head of the family was Charles Winans, a hippie artist from Texas.
  • Suspecting the husband to be a government agent in disguise, James and her friend Mae Brussell watched the Winans family with earnest and sustained attention.
  • After the Tate-LaBianca murders in August 1969, Charles Winans set aside his hippie garb and became a post-graduate at the Navy’s Monterey Language School.
  • Four months later, when pictures of accused Manson Family murderers appeared in the news, Louise James recognized Tex Watson as a visitor at the Winans house.
  • Susan Atkins met Charles Winans through Tex Watson. According to Atkins, Winans supplied the dope to the Manson Family. 
  • In 1972 Louise James was permanently disabled by a mind-altering drug.
  • Mae Brussell suspected her friend was silenced by the CIA.

Charles Francis Winans (pronounced “why-nans”) was born in Alice, Texas, May 14, 1939. As a teenager living in San Antonio, he had a passion for Hot Rods – building them, displaying them, and racing them. As an airman in the Air Force, he became an expert in cryptography and signal communication. [1] In 1962, he married Carolyn Scriven, a divorced woman with two children. They went to California, first to Hollywood and then to Monterey, where Carolyn worked in a milk factory on Cannery Row.

Returning to San Antonio in 1966, Charles partnered with his brother Dan “Boogie” Winans to open one of the first head shops in Texas: Grandma’s Tea Shop and Jomo Gallery. They sold buttons, peace bead necklaces, and vests that Carolyn herself sewed. The gallery had Dan’s drawings, similar in style to those of R. H. Crumb. Charles’s psychedelic artwork attracted the interest of local musicians, who were looking for new ways to promote their music. Composer Philip Krumm said in an interview:

By 1967 I had teamed up with a great artist, Charles Winans, considered the original hippie in San Antonio. [2]

 Old-timers in San Antonio still remember Charles and his outlandish ways. The following comments appeared on a San Antonio forum:

  • There was a guy named Winans living in Balcones Heights that drove a hearse as his personal car in the 60’s. I also went to school with a guy named “Boogie” Winans. Would these be some of the same Winans brothers?
  • Charles was the talk of the neighborhood with the hearse and his “hippy style”. His son attended Baskin GS and had shoulder length hair which caused an uproar. His mom would walk him from school down Balcones Heights road to Crestview and to his street. I think she also looked and dressed hip. [3]

The following comment was posted on April 23, 2018 on the Contratexts website regarding a book that Winans illustrated:

The artist that illustrated the cover art for Fabun’s “Children of Change” is Charles Francis Winans. Charles was always an erudite long-haired, bearded spear point probing at “the Establishment.” Charles was the “done that, been there” creative consultant and guide for Don’s little book in 1969.

Charles started the first “head shop” in South Texas in 1966 in the front room of his art gallery (Gramma’s Tea House: San Antonio). More underground newspapers from the East & West coast were distributed than Zigzag cigarette papers. He considered himself as a “watcher” or modern member of the Counter-Culture Committee of Correspondence, spreading news of the military industrial complex and their war in Viet Nam. Charles also created The Electric Kiss Light Show at the Mind’s Eye night club in San Antonio in 1966. Did light shows for bands like the 13th Floor Elevators, Conqueroos, and Jefferson Air Plane. Charles passed away in 2007. He was a creative enigma genius. [4]

In the summer of 1967, Charles, Carolyn and their three children (two from Carolyn’s previous marriage and one of their own) left San Antonio and again moved to Hollywood, where Charles associated professionally with some of the most celebrated names in rock and roll. He produced light shows and created posters for, among others, Janis Joplin, Frank Zappa, Big Brother and the Holding Co., Chet Helms, Wavy Gravy, and The Velvet Underground.

The Winans family spent several months at the Log Cabin in Laurel Canyon, [5] a massive, rustic building that once belonged to Western movie star Tom Mix. It was located at the corner of Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Lookout Mountain Road. (The cabin burned down on Halloween 1981. The cause of the fire still remains mysterious.)

A picture of Charles Winans with a guitar seated among friends in the living room of the Log Cabin appears in an article called “Strange Days in the Canyon,” written by fellow Texan and close friend, Richard Williams.

“The cabin was a frequent stopping point for rock stars who lived in the neighborhood. I managed the place for a year before splitting to San Francisco just before the Manson murders. Apparently, Tex Watson had once knocked on the front door but we wouldn’t let him in.”

Tex Watson, whose real name was Charles Watson, arrived in Laurel Canyon in September 1967, about one or two months after the Winans family. Born and raised in Texas, Watson was an outgoing, clean-cut young man who lived in Denton, Texas, where he was enrolled as a business major at North Texas State College. He also worked as a baggage handler for Braniff Airlines at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport.

When the spring semester ended, Watson got re-acquainted with David Neale, a college fraternity buddy, who had quit school and was then living in Los Angeles. Neale saw Watson when he returned to Denton to visit his family. After hearing about life in California, Watson decided to check it out. He got a half-fare ticket from Braniff (one of the perks of his job) and flew out to Los Angeles to visit his friend. Subsequently, he used half-fare passes to make three more trips to Los Angeles. 

After his fourth trip, which occurred in the latter part of August, Watson decided to pack up his belongings and move to California. For two to three weeks he stayed at the apartment shared by David and his brother Jay in the Echo Park District of Los Angeles (adjacent to the area of Silver Lakes). In mid-September, Watson started taking classes at Cal State Los Angeles, as well as working for a wig company. At the same time, he and David moved out of the Echo Park apartment and into a place in Laurel Canyon on Wonderland Avenue.  

Both David Neale and Charles Watson testified at Watson’s trial on September 1, 1971. Neither one offered specifics about the nature or precise location of the place they were staying at in Laurel Canyon. Apparently, it was a place where mind control substances were being tested. 

From Neale’s testimony:

We were given some seeds from –  [testimony deleted here?]

Rosewood seeds, I believe they were. . . . We were on Wonderland; we were living in Laurel Canyon. . . . It was about probably two hours after we had taken the seeds, I was laying down in my bedroom and I heard Charles jump up and he was hitting the wall; and as I opened the door, he ran out of his room and into a hallway and there was a door to a bathroom — I don’t recall if he kicked it — I think he hit it with his hand, but he put a hole through the door; and I grabbed him and began talking to him and wrestled with him for a moment and finally calmed him down; and he went back to bed and I stayed in the room and talked with him for a few minutes; and that was it.

When Watson was asked what effect the rosewood seeds had on him, he said:

Well, a lot of hallucinations. I remember the room came in on me completely; and it seems like my head was just in one little room, you know, and the little room was around my head. And I remember I hit a door, hit the door and put my hand through a door; and kind of got mad at the guy that gave them to us, you know.

I never had did anything like that or anything, and I couldn’t understand why he had given me something that would make me do that.

No doubt Neale was the placebo-control subject, whereas Watson got the real stuff.

Some researchers suggest that Watson and Neale stayed at a house located at 8584 Wonderland Avenue, about a half-mile west of the Log Cabin at 2400 Laurel Canyon Boulevard. One-half mile in the opposite direction was a top-secret military facility that served as a haven for Hollywood celebrities and intelligence operatives.

Lookout Mountain Air Force Station

Located at 8935 Wonderland Avenue, Lookout Mountain Air Force Station occupied a two-and-one-half-acre site originally secured in 1941 to coordinate radar installations in the area of Los Angeles during World War II. A secret movie production studio, built in 1947, was utilized by an Air Force unit designated as the 1352 Motion Picture Squadron. It made motion pictures and still photographs for the Department of Defense and the Atomic Energy Commission. It produced thousands of propaganda films; documented atomic energy tests in Nevada; and edited films and photos of missile firings and rocket launches.

David McGowan writes in his book, Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Ops & the Dark Heart of the Hippie Dream: 

It seems that intelligence operatives who didn’t even bother to pose as entertainers were streaming into the canyon to report to work at Lookout Mountain Laboratory for at least twenty years before the first rock star set foot there.

From Nick Bryant’s Foreword to McGowan’s book

Sprinkled throughout these pages is the ominous specter of the military/intelligence complex, and perched quite literally atop Laurel Canyon was the top-secret Lookout Mountain Laboratory, which seems to be McGowan’s grand metaphor for Dr. Strangelove having a bird’s-eye view of the nascent hippie movement, treating it as though it were a petri dish brimming with a lethal biological weapon that could be unleashed in meticulously monitored increments. Indeed, many of Laurel Canyon’s rock ’n’ roll idols had former incarnations steeped in the world of military/intelligence operations.

Elimination of people who posed a threat to the military-industrial-intelligence complex was among the operations conducted by Laurel Canyon spooks. From David MacGowan’s book:

As Laurel Canyon chronicler Michael Walker has noted, LA’s two most notorious mass murders, one in August of 1969 and the other in July of 1981 (both involving five victims, though at Wonderland one of the five miraculously survived), provided rather morbid bookends for Laurel Canyon’s glory years. Walker though, like others who have chronicled that time and place, treats these brutal crimes as though they were unfortunate aberrations. The reality, however, is that the nine bodies recovered from Cielo Drive and Wonderland Avenue constitute just the tip of a very large, and very bloody, iceberg.

To partially illustrate that point: Diane Linkletter (daughter of famed entertainer Art Linkletter), legendary comedian Lenny Bruce, screen idol Sal Mineo, starlet Inger Stevens, and silent film star Ramon Novarro, all have something in common — all were found dead in their homes, either in or at the mouth of Laurel Canyon, in the decade between 1966 and 1976. And all five were, in all likelihood, murdered in those Laurel Canyon homes.

As noted in other articles on this website, Diane Linkletter died just a few days after she discovered a partially coded message by her brother Robert indicating that he was the Zodiac Killer.

On July 1, 1969, Lookout Mountain Station was suddenly decommissioned, and the motion picture squadron re-located to Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino. [6] It has been alleged by Bill Kaysing, author of the book We Never Went to the Moon, that Norton was where the moon landings were staged and filmed for future broadcasts on television. Notwithstanding, the fake moon landing footage was probably already in the can by the time the motion picture unit left Laurel Canyon to go to San Bernardino.

After spending seven months in Laurel Canyon, Neale and Watson moved to a Malibu beach house at 18162 Pacific Coast Highway. In April or May of 1968, Watson met Dennis Wilson, a member of the Beach Boys. Wilson invited Watson to live at his house on Sunset Boulevard. There Watson met Charles Manson and his girls. In September, Watson went to Spahn Ranch and became a member of the Manson Family. Shortly afterwards, Neale went to see Watson at the ranch and noticed something different about his friend.

I had noticed a bit of a change in his personality . . . he seemed to have – he was beginning to have an absence of emotion. He had a very blank look on his face. I know he was taking acid — he had become to take a great deal of acid. . . .

In November of 1968, Charles Manson sent Watson up north to visit the “Candy Man.”

Charlie had sent us up north to see a man called the Candy Man and going to bring back some candy. So we went up north and Charlie wasn’t with us then you know, like he had told us to go up there and see about the candy and so a couple of guys and I and some of the girls went up north in a school bus. When we got back down from north this is when I called Dave. . . . I came back down, from north in the school bus and I had been away from Charlie for a little while, because he sent us up to the candy man to get candy and I came back down and I called David and I told him that I was just losing myself.

Further details of this episode are given in Neale’s testimony:

He had gone through a complete reversal of anything that he ever believed as far as Manson, it seemed. He was almost frightened over the phone and asked me if there was room for him to come stay, he was afraid of the girls and also of Manson. . . . He said he was frightened, he was frightened of what Manson and what the girls were doing and he felt that he was going insane, could he come stay with me.

When Watson was at David’s apartment in Highland Park, they had discussions about Charles Manson.

We talked of Manson’s philosophy and we talked of the hold that he seemed to have on him and the hold that he seemed to have on the people were at the ranch; and I remember explicitly Charles saying that he felt he was losing his identity, didn’t really know who he was when he was there.

On December 2, David was inducted into the Army. Watson continued to stay at the Highland Park apartment with David’s brother for about a month and a half. In February or March, Watson returned to Spahn Ranch and rejoined the Manson Family.

In June of 1969, Neale was home on leave, having just got his orders to go to Vietnam. He made a phone call to Spahn Ranch,  trying to get in touch with Watson, but failed to reach him. Watson later called David’s brother and found out that David was staying at a friend’s house. Watson went to visit Neale with three Manson girls, one of whom being Patricia Krenwinkel.

When Neale first saw Watson, he could not recognize him.

 . . . physically, he had lost a great deal of weight. He was smoking cigarettes, which I had never seen him do and he had a stare, absence of emotion almost. . . . He asked me to come to the ranch and to live and he explained Charles Manson’s philosophy, which was now his, and he explained helter skelter and he told me that there was going to be a revolution in the country. . . .  and that it would be happening in this country within a matter of months. . . . [His appearance and conversation] disturbed me mainly because I didn’t — he had completely lost his identity from the Charles that I knew. It wasn’t the same person.

Watson’s zombie-like enslavement to Charles Manson was actually a ploy to conceal his dedicated commitment to the Helter Skelter plan. The mind control that he suffered did not rob him of his mental faculties, but rather it turned him into a ruthless killer.

Helter Skelter was basically a false flag operation. The Manson gang would invade the homes of rich white people, slaughter them, and leave behind clues that indicated, initially, that the Black Panthers were to blame. Later the blame for the murders would fall on the hippies. Although the killers came out of Spahn Ranch, the actual direction and control of this complex plan came out of a safehouse in Carmel 300 miles away.

The Winans family had been living in Carmel since November 1967. Four years later, when they were living in Pacific Grove (thirteen miles from Carmel Valley), Mae Brussell mentioned a hippie provocateur on her radio program Dialogue Conspiracy, October 13, 1971.

I had a friend I met who worked at the Diggers, and they were being handed bad acid by disguised agent provocateurs, to begin to burn their bellies out and rob their minds. [And that’s the way] the Diggers were [being treated] up there. This can be documented. I know that the federal government were throwing things out at pop festivals. They allowed people like Melvin Belli — who worked with Jack Ruby — was the man in on the Altamont thing. That brings the pressure. We’ll go on to that some other day; on pop festivals and music, and what happened to the music scene, and the musicians at the Monterey Pop Festival.

So I was watching how the hippie scene would be put down and what evidence there was that they had to crack it. I’ve mentioned on two different programs that in my neighborhood a man moved in from Texas. I think he gets tired of me talking about this, so this is the last time I’ll mention him. He was dressed as a hippie, but he wasn’t a hippie. He brought his children into this community. He lived a block from my house. He wrote a book for Henry Kaiser called Children of Change. (I’m repeating for somebody who hasn’t heard the show.) A non-hippie from Texas, he lived here for about one or two years, walking down the coast, going the music scene. And he wrote, just prior to the Sharon Tate murders, that, “…the hippies would have made it…” — this is what Henry Kaiser published — “…would have made it if, number one: they had a sense of humor. And number two: they weren’t so violent.

If anybody had a sense of humor that generation did. Because there wasn’t much to be funny about — the way the Cold War was going after Korea and everything like that.

I have a button collection. People who’ve been to my home see it. I started this around those years, and I have a whole wall with thousands of buttons. And it’s funny. They did have a sense of humor. The kids were beautiful. And they laughed. There were very funny things. If you read the button, it says sociological things. I have the sense of humor of that generation. And I collected the car bumper stickers for a while, but it got too expensive, so I save the buttons.

They did have a sense of humor, and there was no violence at all. This same particular man referred to his wife and hippie-women as witches. And she wasn’t a witch. She was a very establishment Texas girl who is the wife of this man that was dressed as a hippie.

He is now at the Navy post-graduate school; He’s Navy. He had to be Navy Intelligence. How did he get into the Navy post-graduate school if his undergraduate school was being a hippie on Big Sur road, walking back and forth on the highway?

So this particular man had his gun and his scopes and his knives and things. And I watched, and there was no massacre. And I was watching the phenomena. How was our government going to handle it?

According to Brussell, the “non-hippie from Texas” wrote the book Children of Change. Actually the author was Don Fabun, and Winans was the illustrator. This fact does not necessarily preclude the possibility, as indicated by Brussell, that Winans had a hand in guiding and helping Fabun in the composition of his book.

Front cover

Back Cover

Brussell did not reveal on her program the name of the phony hippie from Texas, but she revealed it privately to Paul Krassner, publisher of The Realist. According to Adam Gorightly, author of the book, The Shadow Over Santa Susana, p. 151:

Mae Brussell informed him [Krassner] that a Naval Intelligence agent named Nathaniel Dight [a pseudonym] had associated with Tex Watson prior to the murders. . . . Dight, Brussell claimed, was a Postgraduate at the Navy’s Monterey Language School – where only intelligence officers were admitted. Dight, she said, had used the cover of a “hippie artist” while working as an undercover agent provocateur to infiltrate Charlie’s Family.

According to Brussell, Dight was the Manson Family’s main drug supplier. After the murders, Dight, “. . . cut his hair, put his shoes back on . . .” and returned to the Monterey Language School, setting aside his hippie guise, which had served its purpose. Prior to shedding these hippie trappings, Dight had done artwork for an underground magazine that, Brussell asserted, “. . . was a conduit for CIA funds for medical research in mind control, intelligence money for electrode implants and for LSD experiments, according to documents I got from the Pentagon.”

Paul Krassner revealed the name of the hippie artist from Texas in an article written for Rolling Stone, October 23, 1975, entitled “My Trip with Squeaky: Just One of Charlie’s Girls.” 

I had hoped to get confirmation of the heaviest lead in my research. I’d been tracking down the path of Charles Winans, an individual in Navy intelligence who had posed as a hippie artist, orchestrating the scenario of violence and witchcraft in meetings with Tex Watson, who then fulfilled the prophecy of this agent provocateur with all that shooting and stabbing. Manson had merely instructed his ladies to go and do whatever Tex told them.

Further in the article, Krassner said that he went to the California Institute of Women and interviewed a trio of convicted Manson killers: Leslie Van Houten, Susan Atkins, and Patricia Krenwinkel.

When I asked about Charles Winans, Susan Atkins replied, “Oh, yeah, Tex took me to sleep with him. And he gave us dope.”

Was Charles Winans the Candy Man?

Charles Winans brought a libel suit against Krassner and The Rolling Stone in 1976. A discussion of the suit appeared in New West magazine, April 10, 1978, in a short notice by Laura Bernstein, entitled “Hustler’s Krassner, Stone Broke, Is Sued for Libel”:

Flamboyant San Francisco attorney Melvin Belli will be in court this summer. He is now seeking damages of $450 million in a libel suit against the publishers of Rolling Stone magazine. The case scheduled to be heard in June, stems from a 1975 article about Squeaky Fromme, her botched attempt to assassinate President Gerald Ford, and her Manson family companions. Called My Trip with Squeaky, Just One of Charlie’s Girls, it was written by then writer, now Hustler editor Paul Krassner.

During Krassner’s research into the Manson family, he stumbled across the name of Charlie Winans, whom Krassner described as his “heaviest” lead. Krassner wrote that Winans worked in naval intelligence and was an “agent provocateur,” who posed as a “hippie artist” to the Manson family and “orchestrated the scenario of violence and witchcraft.”

Six months after his name appeared in Rolling Stone, Winans, 38, filed suit in San Francisco Superior Court against Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc.

Scott Hansen, one of Winans’s three attorneys, claims “Charles never met any of these people. He never worked for naval intelligence, never met Susan Atkins [Krassner quoted Atkins as saying she was taken “to sleep with” Winans]. And, he’s never talked to Rolling Stone. But he is an artist. He’s designed record-album covers, done oil paintings, sculpture.

“The fact-checking at Rolling Stone was in conscious disregard of the truth.”

Rolling Stone‘s attorney Jerry Dougherty responds, “The research department at Rolling Stone did the best available work they could under the circumstances to check the truth of what Krassner wrote.”

Paul Krassner, reached at Hustler, says the libel suit was filed “out of greed.”

Krassner says he has four sources for the information he printed about Winans: noted conspiracy theorist Mae Brussell; Louise James, then Winans’s next-door neighbor in Carmel Valley; California author Stan Ross, who allegedly told Krassner he saw Winans listed as an informant on a police record; and Susan Atkins.

Krassner now admits that Stan Ross may have misunderstood and given Krassner information about someone else by mistake. According to Hansen, Susan Atkins denies naming Winans. Another of Winans’s attorneys says Louise James couldn’t substantiate any information.

Winans’s attorneys, who have seen copies of the Krassner manuscript, agree there was “careful” checking of names and other information. But they claim that only “Krassner” and “L.A. police report” are written in the margin next to the six paragraphs that refer to Winans. “They spent more time checking spellings than anything else,” says attorney Hansen. “And the name ‘Winans’ is written across one page.”

Krassner says an editor at Rolling Stone had told him, “We’re diving headfirst into part one of the Patty Hearst story,” which ran in the same issue. Krassner says, “There was a diversion of energy in terms of looking out for libel.”

“I’ve always won them,” says Krassner of earlier libel threats. “So my time may have come.”

Rolling Stone will be represented by the San Francisco firm of Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro. Jann Wenner, editor of Rolling Stone, and Joe Armstrong, former publisher, are also named as codefendants. The magazine hired a separate attorney for Krassner, but he worries about the provision that says, he claims, that he must pay for counsel if he can afford it. Although he’s reportedly making $90,000 at Hustler, Krassner says, “I’m just starting to get out of debt. I thing I have $34 to my name.

A longer article by Laura Daltry appeared in New West on July 3, 1978 entitled “Winans vs Rolling Stone.” The complete article is given below:

“I seriously considered pleading insanity,” says Paul Krassner, “but I thought it would be a cop-out.”

Reporters sued for libel usually do not plead insanity as a defense, but Paul Krassner is not a run-of-the-mill gazette reporter. After serving as editor of The Realist for 16 years, Krassner’s reputation as a satirist was so well established that in 1974, when Krassner announced he’d “secretly interviewed” fugitive Patty Hearst, the FBI – whose agents were checking thousands of off-the-wall Hearst sightings – didn’t even bother to phone him up.

Krassner, recently fired from his job as $90,000-a-year publisher of Larry Flynt’s Hustler, has a new worry (in place of his old worry that whoever shot Flynt would gun his way down the masthead of Hustler). Along with Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. (publisher of Rolling Stone), Krassner is fighting a $450 million libel suit brought by a Texan who didn’t take kindly to the things Krassner wrote about him in a 1975 article in Rolling Stone.

Titled “My Trip with Squeaky: Just One of Charlie’s Girls,” the article detailed Krassner’s 1972 acid trip with Manson family member Squeaky Fromme, who had just gotten her name in the news again by leveling a pistol at then-president Ford. The acid trip with Squeaky was just one research effort in Krassner’s 1971-1972 investigation for a later-abandoned book about the Manson case. His working theory (never substantiated) was that members of the Manson family were hit-men for “the right” and the Tate-LaBianca murders were designed to strike fear into the liberal Hollywood community that had supported Bobby Kennedy. “Well, you know,” Krassner points out, “the night Kennedy was shot, he had had dinner with Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate.”

In the RS article, Krassner wrote that he had asked the Manson family about “the heaviest lead in my research.” Charles Winans, whom Krassner described as “an individual in navy intelligence who had posed as a hippie artist orchestrating the scenario of violence and witchcraft in meetings with Tex Watson, who then fulfilled the prophecy of this agent provocateur with all that shooting and stabbing.” But Squeaky “had never heard of Winans,” Krassner wrote. A year later, according to his article, Krassner finagled a prison visit with three other Manson women and asked if they had known Winans. “Susan Atkins replied, ‘Oh yeah, Tex [Watson] took me to sleep with him. And he gave us dope.”

After the RS issue hit the stands, a late-night phone call reached a modest home in San Antonio, Texas. “Charles, I just heard on the radio that a guy named Winans, a CIA agent, infiltrated the Manson family.”

“What?” drawled the sleepy 35-year-old artist, Charles Winans. “That can’t be me. Go back to bed.”

In 1967, drawn by the California dream, Charles Winans had moved with his wife and three children to Carmel Valley, where he tried unsuccessfully to earn a living as an artist. Throughout the late sixties, during the years of intense antiwar activity on the Monterey Peninsula, Winans had lived with the nightmare of being branded a suspected agent – a paranoid lie, he says.

By 1975, he’s moved back to Texas. His wife had divorced him and remained in California with the children. When the suspicion that he was an agent surfaced in Rolling Stone, Winans says “I just tried to block it out of my mind.” In fact, it wasn’t until February, 1976 – four months after the article appeared that Winans saw a copy.

Soon afterward, on a trip to Carmel to try to regain custody of his children, Winans asked an attorney to demand a retraction from Krassner and RS. When they refused, standing by the story, Winans filed a libel suit. Four hundred fifty million dollars in damages is being sought, and the case has attracted superstar attorney Melvin Belli.

“At the beginning,” Winans says, “I would have settled for a retraction and let it go at that.” Private detective Hal Lipset says Jann Wenner, editor of RS, showed him a galley proof of a retraction shortly after the suit was filed. Francis Coppola’s now defunct City magazine published an article by Krassner with similar information. City later published a point-by-point retraction in San Francisco magazine and settled with Winans for a reported $4,000. But the RS retraction was never published, and Wenner denies showing such a galley to Lipset.

Rolling Stone’s chief attorney in the case is Jerry Dougherty of Pillsbury, Madison and Sutro, a powerful 220-attorney law firm whose major clients include Standard Oil. Dougherty says he plans to show “substantial truth” to the allegations about Winans, and prove the fact-checkers and editors of RS did the “best possible work” in checking the facts before publication.

Krassner first heard about Winans in 1972 from 54-year-old conspiracy researcher Mae Brussell. Brussell lives in Carmel Valley on a hill overlooking the ranch home where Winans and his family lived in the late sixties. According to Krassner, Brussell told him that Winans was a naval intelligence agent. Brussell said she’d heard Winans was taking classes at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, and believed that only intelligence officers could attend there: therefore, Brussell reasoned, Winans was an agent. According to a school official, Winans, on welfare because his modern-realism and psychedelic artwork didn’t sell in the Carmel tourist shops, worked as an illustrator at the school for three months under a federal assistance program.

Winans’s alleged connection to the Manson family was furnished by Louise James, a friend of Brussell’s. James, an artist in her fifties, had lived next door to Winans, and told Krassner that she had seen a strange man visiting the Winans in early 1969. She said she later recognized the visitor as Tex Watson from newspaper photos published after the Manson killings: therefore, James, reasoned, Winans was an agent who met with Watson to inspire the Manson killings.

Louise James suffered a mental breakdown in 1972 and now lives in a board-and-care home. Other people in Carmel say that James, who was active in the Peace and Freedom party and the anti-war movement, was “extremely politically paranoid” and “all tensed up about the CIA” long before she spoke with Krassner.

Mae Brussell calls Krassner “totally irresponsible” for printing the statement about Winans without further confirmation. But she claims that the mere fact that Melvin Belli is Winans’s attorney is positive proof that Winans is an agent. “Belli has worked for the CIA all his life,” Brussell contends, pointing out that Belli represented Jack Ruby.

“I may have worked for the CIO,” Belli responds, “but not the CIA.” And he adds: “She sounds like she’s going to be an interesting witness.”

Convicted Manson-family murderer Susan Atkins was another one of Krassner’s sources. Atkins now claims she never knew Winans and can’t remember telling Krassner that she did. Krassner’s fourth source was Hollywood television writer Stan Ross, who supposedly told him he’d seen Winans’s name listed as an informant on an LAPD report. Ross now says that he never saw Winans’s name on a police report and doesn’t remember Krassner asking about Winans.

“When I said I thought of pleading insanity, I was serious,” Krassner said, “I was so crazy and paranoid when I was researching this that I remember riding in the back of a Greyhound bus, whispering into my ballpoint pen: ‘Abbie Hoffman, Abbie Hoffman. Come in please. This is Paul Krassner,’ actually believing Abbie would answer me.”

The RS fact-checker who worked on the article, Bob Wallace, says he spent five to seven minutes asking Krassner about his sources for the six paragraphs about Winans, and took Krassner’s word for most of it because he knew Krassner to be a “well-known journalist.”

But this article may have been an exception to RS’s strict fact-checking standards. After the suit was filed, Krassner says, an RS editor told him that “we were diving headfirst into part one of the Patty Hearst story” (which ran in the same issue). Says Krassner, “There was a diversion of energy in terms of looking out for libel.”

If RS is able to prove the truth of Krassner’s statements about the complicity of military intelligence in the Manson murders, it will be the story of the decade. If they can’t, the major battle in court will be over damages, actual damages to Winans’s reputation and livelihood, and punitive damages claimed for RS’s “reckless disregard” for the truth.

Winans claims that he had lost interest in sex, his artwork and almost everything else as a result of the article. He also seeks compensation for his constant dread that an unjailed Mansonoid would believe the allegation that he was an agent who had infiltrated the family and do him some grisly harm.

Dougherty will try to prove that Winans was not damaged at all by the article. He is also trying to have RS legally classified a newspaper, not a magazine, since the libel law makes a crucial distinction between the two. If RS is held to be a newspaper, no punitive damages are awarded if the libeled party did not demand a retraction within twenty days of actual knowledge of the libelous statement. But some courts have held that the retraction statute does not apply to magazines.

Dougherty has also asked the court to summarily dismiss Winans’s claim for punitive damages, arguing that RS held no “actual malice” for Winans. If either of these legal moves is successful, Winans will be eligible only for actual damages, which – according to Dougherty – don’t amount to much. Dougherty says he can show that Winans’s friends and fellow artists didn’t believe what Krassner wrote about Winans.

But Winans’s attorneys contend that RS was well aware of Krassner’s reputation as a “creative journalist” and are seeking huge punitive damages for RS‘s “reckless disregard” for the truth. “Jann Wenner is romping around New York with Caroline Kennedy based on the money he makes on this magazine,” says one of Winans’s attorneys, Scott Hansen. He argues that facts are checked “when RS writes about Jack Ford or Patty Hearst or Bill Graham. But Jann Wenner doesn’t care about people he’s never heard of, like Charles Winans, so they don’t bother to check the facts. I think we ought to teach RS a lesson.”

According to the above article, Louise James saw Watson at the Winans house sometime in early 1969. This was probably after Watson rejoined the Family in February or March of 1969, for Watson was accompanied by women, whom James later recognized as Manson followers, when their pictures appeared in the newspapers in December after arrests were made.

Winans’s house and James’s bungalow were somewhere on Carmel Valley Road. Nearby was the corner of a street that led into a cul-de-sac. Mae Brussell’s house was among the houses in the cul-de-sac. [7] The New West article said that Mae Brussell’s house was “on a hill overlooking the ranch home where Winans and his family lived in the late sixties.”

The A librarian at the Carmel Clay Public Library checked the phone books for the 1960s and early 1970s. Louise James was listed at a P.O. box for the years 1960 to 1965. No listing for her appeared in the  directories of 1966 through 1970. A 1971 directory listed her as living on Schulte Road, no street number given. There was no listing for Charles Winans in the directories of 1968 through 1970, but a 1971 directory showed him at 153 19th Street in Pacific Grove.

Mae Brussell spoke about Louise James on her Dialogue Conspiracy program, April 9, 1978. She said:

There is an article in New West, a brief mention of a big lawsuit that’s going to be coming up. It’s a $450 million lawsuit by Charles Winans against Rolling Stone. It has to do with an article Paul Krassner wrote for Rolling Stone, making allegations about Charles Winans, a man who was living on the Monterey Peninsula, a neighbor of mine. New West said there were four sources for information on this story. One is Stan Ross, who told Paul Krassner certain pieces of information about Charles Winans and then backed down and probably was wrong; Sue Atkins, who talked with Paul and then she denied what she had said. The third one was Louise James, and New West described her as not being a credible witness, and then the fourth is Mae Brussell. So there is a $450 million lawsuit coming up, and the primary witness is going to be Mae Brussell. The attorneys for Rolling Stone are the same law firm that represents the Rockefeller combine. They’re up in San Francisco. The attorney for Charles Winans is going to be none other than Melvin Belli.

I really welcome meeting Melvin Belli in court. I met him at a lecture and asked him questions about Jack Ruby, because I know Belli worked for the CIA. I am very anxious to meet him head on in court. It will be an interesting trial. I think it will be up in San Francisco around June, if it isn’t settled out of court. Next week on Dialogue Conspiracy I am going into details about Louise James, and the mind control of Louise James, and why she was forced out as a witness and therefore she cannot be presentable in court as supporting the allegations that she made at the time she made them.

The following week, April 16, she had more to say about her friend:

Last week on Dialogue Conspiracy I said that I would talk about Operation Mind Control [a book by Walter Bowart, published in 1975], about the article in New West – it’s April 10, 1978. It’s about Paul Krassner and a lawsuit in San Francisco. It involves San Francisco attorney Melvin Belli, who was Jack Ruby’s attorney. He’ll be in court this summer. This is what the article in New West says, and then we’ll talk about it. They are seeking $450 million in a libel suit against Rolling Stone and against Paul Krassner. The case will be up there in June, and I’ll let you know on the air. Some of you may want to go to the court – and I’ll be testifying – if you want to go observe this trial. It’ll be interesting.

In 1975 Rolling Stone published a story by Paul Krassner called “My Trip with Squeaky Fromme, Just One of Charlie’s Girls.” He was researching the Charles Manson Family when he stumbled across the name of Charles Winans. This is what the New West article said. He stumbled across the name of Charlie Winans. Krassner wrote that Winans works in “Naval intelligence,” and that he was “an agent provocateur, who had posed as a hippie artist” and who “orchestrated the scenario of violence and witchcraft” that led to the killings in Los Angeles at Sharon Tate’s home and the killing of Mr. and Mrs. LaBianca. The article says Krassner had four sources of information: 1) noted conspiracy theorist Mae Brussell; 2) Louise James, Winans’s next-door neighbor; 3) California author Stan Ross, who told Krassner he saw Winans’s name as an informant on a police record; and 4) Sue Atkins of the Manson Family. New West says that Krassner now admits that Stan Ross may have misunderstood and gave him wrong information by mistake. Sue Atkins denied knowing Charles Winans. Louise James, according to New West, can’t substantiate any information, and that of course then leaves Mae Brussell as really the primary witness in a $450 million lawsuit.

The way I met Charles Winans:

In September 1967, I went to New Orleans to meet District Attorney Jim Garrison, who had arrested Clay Shaw for participating in the assassination of John Kennedy. Louise James, a close neighbor, the witness that the New West article said can’t substantiate her information, was the next-door neighbor of Charles Winans and his family. She lived about fifteen feet away from them in a small bungalow, and they had a larger home. The home belonged allegedly to a family of military intelligence, who were overseas and lived in Korea, and they were renting the house to another military family, I believe.

When I got home from New Orleans – this was the end of September 1967 – a family was living in the house next to Louise, who was my close friend. Around November, the family all of a sudden moved out, very fast. They didn’t tell Louise James they were moving out. She knew them. She talked to them all the time. They had a friendly neighborhood relationship.

One day the van came:

They just completely moved out, which floored her, and then an Army van moved in, a dark green type of khaki van with an identification of some Army base. Another family moved in, which isn’t unusual for the Monterey Peninsula, because we’re close to Fort Ord, and we have the Presidio Language School near Hunter Liggett. And so a family moved in. But out of the house came these hippies. They were dressed as hippies, and for all the world looked like the California variety of a 1960s-1970s hippie.

At the time (one day one family moved out so fast, and the other one moved in so quickly with the Army helping them) Louise and I were very concerned about this, and we watched them. We were observing them, just because we were active politically. 

I will give you a rundown of what Louise was doing at the time. The reason I am building up this story of Louise James is because New West says that as a witness to this trial, she is not a reliable witness anymore, she can’t substantiate her information. But I believe that Louise James is a classic example of what is described in the book Operation Mind Control. Because of what she saw in regards to these various conspiracies and because of her very heavy political involvement, she was neutralized with a substance put into her water and food, which reduced her to a literal zombie so that she can’t remember anything or see anybody involved in the case anymore.

When this family moved in, Louise and I were politically active, and we were exposing the system. I was in New Orleans there with Jim, and I was working hard on the Kennedy assassination. I was involved calling the police department and exposing the Robert Kennedy assassination in Los Angeles, which took place in 1968 – about one year later. But in ’67, in the winter of ’67, we were already watching the Winans family, and then in June 1968 was the time of the Robert Kennedy assassination.

We were watching the system and how it operated and managed. We were watching the use of doubles in the house, of late-night meetings, of sources of income that were unexplained, the separation of a husband and wife with low-key visibility similar to Lee and Marina Oswald, mail drops, guests, trips in the dark that didn’t take place at night, and the kind of people going in and out of the house, because, as I say, Louise was very political, and she wanted to see and observe the operations over at the Winans house. So in a sense we were playing spy, because we thought the Winans were too close to us. We thought that, for things that they did immediately – their outward appearance versus how they came in – they were agents or agent provocateurs. We were watching them very closely. 

We couldn’t have been too careful. There was an article just this last week that came out of Zodiac News [Service] that the CIA had undercover informants with local police in the late Sixties. This was in the period of ’67, ’68, and that they worked with field offices on the campuses, state and local police, the FBI, the Air Force, the Army, and the Navy, and the operation was called Project Resistance. The whole United States was infiltrated with these agents. It was at the height of the anti-war movement; so we were watching these people.

Then in 1969 the murders took place at Sharon Tate’s home, August 9, 1969. Steve Parent was murdered, Sharon Tate, Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, and Jay Sebring. The next night Rosemary LaBianca and Leo LaBianca. It was around December when these men and women were apprehended for being suspect in the murder case, and the arrests took place.

And when this happened, Louise James said – her allegation was – that she recognized these people that were over at Charles Winans’s house. She recognized some of the members of the Manson Family. She saw when Charles Watson’s name came out, she recognized Charles Watson, and she recognized some of the women. I don’t remember which ones they were, whether it was Squeaky Fromme, or Sue Atkins, or Leslie Van Houten, or Patricia Krenwinkel, or Sandra Good. She recognized some of the women from the Manson Family, and Charles Watson specifically, over at Charles Winans’s home, her next-door neighbor. That was in 1969. But we both have been having contact with the Winans – she, living within fifteen feet away, and I, socializing with them, making a point to know them and actually liking them. Their children and our children played together. So Louise was close to the scene from 1967 to 1969, when the photographs of the members of the Manson Family came down.

Now Louise was not only a next-door neighbor just happening to watch an interesting family operate, she was probably my best political teacher, just in the practical sense. I was naïve and innocent in terms of politics in those days. I still am in a way, but much more then than when I met Louise. She was the most dynamic political woman on the Monterey Peninsula as an activist. She was in the forefront of the anti-war movement, which was constantly bugged and taped at meetings, and I went to them with her. She opened the GI coffeehouse in Seaside for war resistors and helped soldiers get politicized and informed about the war in Vietnam.

When the Seaside community had their Fourth of July parade [in 1970], she challenged the military. She was told that the members of the Peace and Freedom Party and so forth [abbreviating a list of five groups the city would not allow to participate], that they couldn’t have floats, that they couldn’t march in the parade. They had to stay on the sidewalk. When the parade was over and the last float came, she and Roger Lorenz were crossing the street, and they were arrested just for putting their foot on the street, and picked up by the military police.

She published an alternative newspaper here on the Peninsula called The Nose. In The Nose, I wrote many articles for her, and we had pictures of Louis Tackwood, agent provocateur from Los Angeles she recognized here in the Monterey community.

She helped Jesse Philips, a black man. She was a white woman in Carmel Valley helping a black man get out of prison, out of Soledad Prison, and talking about the CIA and the FBI and the California prison system and their drugging of them long before anybody else was aware of it. She informed groups of the prison savagery, about the segregation. Then when the murders of three black men took place in Soledad Prison January 14, 1970 – William Nolen, Cleveland Edwards, and Alvin Miller – by these guards, the purposeful murdering of three black men, just shooting them, right out in the yard, she was right in the forefront of exposing it. I was at her home when the information came about their murder.

She wrote articles, and she spoke for and organized the Peace and Freedom Party. She worked with the Black Panthers, she helped form the women’s movement. She was one of the first activist women that I ever met and was active in the Peace and Freedom Party, when they had an office down in Alvarado, and the office was bombed, and tires were slashed.

She helped Brady Avery, a black man who had a car repair shop in Seaside, an all-white community out by Fort Ord. A civil rights suit got going, because he couldn’t let cars park in front of his shop he repaired. Brady won a $40,000 law suit. It went to the California Supreme Court against Sand City, and the jury allocated him $40,000 and his partner. Then before they paid the $40,000, the judge rescinded the agreement of the jury, called Brady in, and said take an amount (I believe it was five or seven thousand) or nothing. Within a week or two before Brady could decide whether he wanted to take it or fight for his $40,000, he was murdered with a seven-gauge shotgun and shot down brutally by a man from Fort Ord named Mr. Buffington, who never went to jail. All he had to do was go to Vacaville and wait and pay the funeral expenses for Brady Avery’s family and be released. The excuse to release him was he never killed a man before. This was one of the most important civil rights cases, because a black man had won against a small city like Seaside out here, because he couldn’t earn a living in this country. Brady was at my home two weeks before he was murdered. I sat with the family. I figure the way [Brady Avery was shot was like the way] Larry Flynt was shot and the articles about him stretched out and too weak [to move]. I stayed at the hospital, moved Brady, and tried to save him from bed sores. He was brutally slain and he laid there about a week or two, maybe a week, and then expired [on November 5, 1972]. When the funeral expenses were paid, they wouldn’t bury him unless two or three thousand dollars was put up right there in cash, and we all helped out. Then Buffington paid the funeral and is free on the streets today.

Louise was active with the long Presidio Trial, the mutiny trial. A man, Mr. Bunche, was murdered in the stockade there. He was deranged, he lost his mind. The other fellows saw him shot down by the guards. They sat in the court and chanted for their attorney, Vincent Hallinan [actually his son, Terence Hallinan], and wouldn’t go to work that day. They were charged, I believe, twenty or twenty-one men with mutiny. Two or three got stiff sentences, like twenty or thirty years. There were so many demonstrations in San Francisco, they moved the trial down to Monterey Peninsula. Then Natalie Gentile, whose son was one of these defendants, stayed at my home. Louise went to the trial every day, and she was very active in those things.

Now Louise was exposing the Los Angeles Police Department and Evelle Younger. The reason I talk about Louise James at length, and I talked about her on another show when Lillian Castellano died, is that this woman was active in many, many things, and each one of them would be a reason to silence her: her publication of The Nose, the Peace and Freedom, the womens’, the Panthers, the prisoners, the seeing of the [Tex] Watson gang. Now the reason I go into her background is that she was totally reliable with appointments. She was precise, she was organized. She would have no reason to make up anything that she saw, because she never had hallucinations or anything like that.

When the men were arrested at Watergate Hotel, June 17, 1972, Louise told me that she also recognized James McCord from a time when she lived in New Mexico and was an artist. She recognized the Watergate defendants. She helped me with my article “Why was Martha Mitchell Kidnapped?” [published in the August 1972 issue of The Realist].

We were working on it, and all of a sudden Louise got what is called a heart attack. At the time, living in her home was a young woman who came out here from Brandeis University to Carmel, California. Her father is a psychiatrist in Pasadena, California. She moved into Louise’s house to help “with the womens’ movement,” or The Nose. Louise had blamed this person – I won’t name her on the air – as putting some substance in her water. Louise remembers, it says, “something was put in my water,” because she only drank bottled water that she got at the store. She was a health food freak and very healthy, clean, and particular. This person moved into her house, and then the house began to fall apart, and Louise had what they called a heart attack, violently sick.

Now the similarities to what Louise got in 1972 physically were identical to what my son had in 1967 while I was in New Orleans with Jim Garrison. The only difference was that two people were at the house and saw a woman, Caroline Gilman, who lived on the Peninsula, whose husband worked with Aristotle Onassis and the Central Intelligence Agency. Two people saw that this person, Caroline Gilman, I can name it, because they can come on the show and tell you that she handed to my son Marvin Goodwin this acid and that gave him a violent heart attack. He was writing songs for Bobby Darin and going to University of California. He had what was supposed to be a heart attack at 19 years old. Louise had a heart attack. She was older than Marvin, in her thirties, maybe in her early forties at that time. I guess she’s about 45, and Marvin was 19, but they had the similar symptoms. Their memory was gone, they became rigid, catatonic, wasted away, almost starved to death, had similar symptoms. She became a hermit, he became a hermit, they were cut off from their friends. Two people, different in age, but the mother of one [Mae] working with the other one.

Marvin was sent down to a hospital in Los Angeles and has recurrent cases. He is in a trauma now. He has been on Dialogue Conspiracy with me. He has blacked out in the last three weeks, since Los Angeles when I saw him in February in Larry Flynt’s office, challenging Mark Lane [author of Rush to Judgment] and an agent of the FBI. Marvin has flipped out. But Louise flipped out chemically some way, because all of her memory and political activity ended, just as drastically as you turn a light off in a room, and it’s over. You turn the oven off and walk out of the kitchen. Louise’s mind went, she was half starved, she was taken away.

She now lives in Salinas. The only person she would see after her mental transition was a man whom she accused of being an agent on this Peninsula, a CIA agent. She accused him publicly and everywhere. That man came around all the time to see her, and that was the only person she trusted after she had the breakdown. And the old friends couldn’t get around with her. There was a sudden overnight change. Louise is in Salinas, as I say, has a conservator. She lives like you see these pictures of The Borgia Stick. She lives quietly, does some artwork and sewing. She does no political work at all.

It reminds me of the book Operation Mind Control, which we’ll talk about. On the back of the book, it says, “For over twenty-five years the CIA has developed a technology of terror.” Its purpose is “to devise operational techniques to disturb the memory. Its purpose is to devise techniques to discredit people through embarrassed behavior. Its purpose is to alter sex patterns or to create an emotional dependence.” Louise has her memory disturbed; she is discredited because of her behavior; she has emotional dependence and has to be the ward of the state. My own son Marvin, now at last released, has gone through hell. He has had another relapse. He claims that people were in his apartment, reading ledgers. He is going through a memory disturbance. He is discredited because of his behavior. He has created another emotional dependence. 

Louise James was a fantastic political person. When the New West says, or when people in the court try to say, that Louise James is not a credible witness, I will go to court in June and tell them exactly what I am telling you here and accuse the Central Intelligence Agency because of the symptoms of her disease and the way she suffered and what happened to her. I will accuse them of having altered her mentally and neutralizing her, because there is every possibility, a good possibility, that she did see those people in that home and had to be neutralized, and was neutralized.

Well, we’ll do more about the Holocaust next week and mind control. This is Mae Brussell of Dialogue Conspiracy. Take care, keep your eyes open, and read the papers to see what’s going on.

Not surprisingly, Winans’s libel suit was settled out of court. Apparently one result of the settlement was a court order imposed on Krassner to refrain from mentioning Charles Winans ever again. [8]

The woman who gave a debilitating, hallucinatory drug to Marvin Goodwin was the wife of Peter Gilman, the author of a novel called Diamond Head that was made into a movie in 1962. Columbia Pictures paid Gilman $100,000 for rights to the book, the highest amount the studio ever paid to an unknown author.

The Borgia Stick is a television movie released in 1967 starring Don Murray and Inger Stevens (mentioned earlier in this article as among the mysterious deaths of Laurel Canyon). The movie is about two agents, a man and a woman, pretending to be a normal married couple living in a suburban neighborhood in order to carry out money laundering duties for a crime syndicate. An interesting scene in the movie is a bank president at a nursing home. He had been reduced to a helpless, infantile state by means of psychosurgery, forced upon him by the syndicate. The reference to this movie indicates Brussell’s belief that her friend also suffered a mind-altering event, albeit with a drug and not with surgery, by the CIA.

Project Resistance was a CIA program that sought the cooperation of campus security and local police in finding and  recruiting informants to conduct covert intelligence gathering on antiwar protestors, political dissenters, and campus “radicals.”  The project was launched in December 1967, two months after approximately 100,000 people converged on Washington, DC during the weekend of October 21-22 to protest the war in Vietnam. Johnson’s inner circle consequently became increasingly alarmed by the strength and growing numbers of antiwar groups and feared that they would move from dissent to outright resistance and disrupt the machinery of government. 

One of the groups targeted by Project Resistance was the Peace and Freedom Party in California. The following notice appeared in the Hearings, Reports and Prints of the Senate Select on Intelligence, 1980:

CIA/Resistance/Peace and Freedom Party; 1968-1974:  85 pages. This file was obtained by the Peace and Freedom Party under FOIA. The Party was an object of CIA domestic surveillance under Project Resistance. This file shows that more than 50,000 names of PFP members from a single state (California) were indexed by Resistance; the figure given by the Church Committee was 12-16,000 names nationwide. These indexes were retained at least as late as May 1974.

In December 1967, Eldridge Cleaver of the Black Panthers opened negotiations with the California Peace and Freedom Party. It would be the first time a black nationalist group allied with a predominantly white group for common goals. The alliance between black and white citizens involved in the civil rights movement and in the antiwar demonstrations had the potential of affecting the outcome of the election. Eldridge Cleaver was the Peace and Freedom candidate for president in 1968. His campaign fell apart on April 6, 1968, two days after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., when Cleaver and fourteen other Panthers had a violent confrontation with Oakland police. Two officers were wounded. Cleaver was wounded, and one Panther was killed.

Undoubtedly, Charles Winans was an informant under the Project Resistance umbrella. The Helter Skelter project was an additional assignment. It is interesting that shortly after the Tate-LaBianca slayings, he set aside his hippie clothes and became a post-graduate at a school dedicated to training intelligence officers, even though he never previously took a college course. Winans’s elevation to the upper ranks of intelligence was probably due to a recognition by fellow agents that Winans had recently achieved something notable in the nationwide effort to suppress the hippies.

References:

  1. Obituary of Charles Winans, San Antonio Express-News on Mar. 18, 2007.
  2. .Interview with Philip Krumm http://ronsen.org/monkminkpinkpunk/17/krumm.html
  3.  http://www.city-data.com/forum/san-antonio/27062-gone-but-not-forgotten-san-antonio-266.html
  4. http://contratexts.blogspot.com/2011/09/hippies-book-1969-children-of-change.html
  5. Obituary of Carolyn Scriven Kelly, October 1, 2017, at https://lostcoastoutpost.com/2017/oct/1/obituary-carolyn-scriven-kelly-1942-2017/
  6. Los Angeles Times, “Stars will celebrate Lookout Mountain Date,” June 26, 1979
  7. Comments on the location of the homes of Winans and James made by Brussell on Dialogue Conspiracy, October 27, 1978. About 1974, Brussell moved to the house at 25620 Via Crotalo.
  8. Charles Winans discussed his art in 1995: