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The New Violence: An Age of 'Freaky' Crime (LA Mag, Oct. 1969)

The New Violence: An Age of 'Freaky' Crime (LA Mag, Oct. 1969)

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Published by MansonCaseFile
Los Angeles magazine published this fearful story in October 1969, just two months after the Tate and LaBianca murders shocked L.A. Writer Myron Roberts' search for the connection between drugs, madness, and “freaky crime”—not to mention a handy “reasonable person’s guide” to self protection—reveals a city desperate for understanding and a return to order
Los Angeles magazine published this fearful story in October 1969, just two months after the Tate and LaBianca murders shocked L.A. Writer Myron Roberts' search for the connection between drugs, madness, and “freaky crime”—not to mention a handy “reasonable person’s guide” to self protection—reveals a city desperate for understanding and a return to order

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Published by: MansonCaseFile on Feb 24, 2014
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 Los Angeles
 magazine published this fearful story in October 1969, just two months after the Tate and LaBianca murders shoced L!"! #riter $yron %oberts& search for the connection between drugs, madness, and 'freay crime()not to mention a handy 'reasonable person*s guide( to self protection)re+eals a city desperate for understanding and a return to order
By Myron RobertsLos Angeles
magazine, October 1969
 
 Photogra ph courtesy Denise Philibert 
 
Some murders, like some men, are singled out for fame because they are peculiarly symbolic of their times.In the ‘!"s it #as the Leopold$Loeb case, #ith its trappings of flaming youth and the %e# Rich produced by a runa#ay stock market.In the ‘&!"s it #as the Black 'ahlia. (he label, affi)ed to a then anonymous young #oman found mutilated in Los Angeles, someho# suggested all those millions of young girls #ho had left home and family to seek #artime *obs and ad+enture in the big city, *ust like in the Betty rable mo+ies, only #ith a different ending.
 
In the ‘-!"s it #as the inch$(regoff case in /est 0o+ina, #ith its cast and setting of the #ealthy dentist, an aging, e)pensi+e and un#anted #ife, the country club, the suburban ranch home #ith a ne# station #agon parked in the dri+e#ay, and #eekends in Las 1egas #ith a  pretty young nurse.And no# #e ha+e the Sharon (ate case, surrounded by a da22ling array of e)3uisite symbols of our time4 drugs, strange se) games, a bi2arre ne# culture, 5rich hippies,6 ritual murder and a poor dumb kid from 7l Monte #ho #andered into the midst of this freaky scene to die./hy, among the thousands of 5cheap murders6 #hich occur e+ery year in this country 8the current rate is one e+ery &9 minutes: #ere these crimes pounced upon by the press and the  public; 0learly the 5celebrated6 murder tells us something about #here the public"s head and heart are at a gi+en moment.<omicides +ery much like the Black 'ahlia case occur #ith depressing regularity these days, for e)ample, and hardly anyone but the police and those close to the +ictim bothers to regard the e+ent.0learly, too, the Sharon (ate case #ould ha+e been a spectacular e+ent in any era. But it seems to belong to this time and this place. Someho# people identified #ith it, in the #ay  people seem to identify these days #ith strange mo+ies like
 Rosemary’s Baby
. /ithin days there #as another, similar murder in Los Angeles #hich police belie+e to ha+e been the #ork of a 5copycat killer.6 A kind of fear ran through the city that #as almost palpable. =ne o+erheard #omen standing in line at the supermarkets comparing, not hair styles or #ashing  po#ers, but doorlocks. (ract salesmen in places as far a#ay as >almdale reported they #ere getting in3uiries and actual sales from people #ho said they"d had it #ith li+ing in the city, #here they #ere afraid not only to #alk the streets at night, but to stay at home as #ell. =n a nationally tele+ised talk sho#, originating in %e# ?ork, >eter onda, himself a sometime symbol of the 5freak6 culture, casually remarked that he #as going home to his family in Los Angeles@if they #ere 5still ali+e6 by the time he got there.In the days follo#ing the (ate case residents of Be+erly <ills and Bel$Air rushed to hire guards and install e)pensi+e alarm systems. Most of the city"s plusher pet shops #ere cleaned out of guard dogs. A Studio 0ity kennel had to airlift erman Shepherds in from Io#a to meet the demand. 7+en so they sold e+ery dog they could supply at prices ranging up to -! for a full gro#n, attack$trained erman Shepherd./hat seems to be most frightening to people in Los Angeles and else#here is the unpredictability of so much contemporary crime. %ote some of the crimes #hich ha+e happened in Southern 0alifornia recently4A #oman #as trying to cross a street #hen a car s#er+ed out of its lane, deliberately struck her and knocked her do#n. (he dri+er stopped, sa# her trying to cra#l back to the side#alk, listened to her moaning #ith pain, then backed up and ran o+er her again, killing her. <e then got out of the car, grabbed her purse and fled.A couple stopped to gi+e a ride to t#o young men. (he men raped and beat the #oman to death, knocked the man out and robbed him.
 
A man #as stalled on the free#ay. Somebody stopped to help him. After trying for se+eral minutes to get the car started, the benefactor turned in disgust upon the stranded motorist, slugged him, robbed him and dro+e off.>asadena police report finding *agged bits of broken bottles carefully but lightly co+ered by sand at the bottom of children"s slides in parks throughout the city.A semi$official document prepared by the LA>' estimates there are C!!,!!! paranoids in the D.S., according to the best psychiatric estimates. (hat means at least C!,!!! in 0alifornia, mostly in large cities. %o one kno#s ho# many of these are potential or actual killers. As for the number of  potentially homicidal drug addicts or users, the figure is probably astronomical.Is the sense of public terror real or hoked$up to sell ne#spapers and maga2ines and elect  politicians #ho prey on fantasy and fear; Bald figures alone do not tell the story, although the story they do tell is grim enough. In brief, one American in e+ery  committed a ma*or crime last year. 8In Los Angeles -!,!!! serious crimes #ere committed last year. (his means that if you ha+e li+ed here for fi+e years or more and ha+e not been a +ictim, statistically, you"re a lucky man.: =n the other hand your chances of being killed in a traffic accident are - times greater than the probability that you #ill be murdered. And there is no great he# and cry about auto safety #hich e+en remotely compares to the uproar about La# and =rder.ormer LA>' >olice 0hief (had Bro#n, for E years 0hief of 'etecti+es, puts it this #ay4 /hen he #as #orking homicide during the early ‘forties, there #ere about C! murders a year. 8%o# there are o+er &!!.: In those days he #as proud of the fact that F!G of the murders he in+estigated #ere sol+ed #ithin a year. (he procedure #as fairly simple4 check out a +ictim"s family, friends and associates. ind someone #ith a moti+e for killing him and in most cases you had the killer. (oday police are reluctant to di+ulge the proportion of sol+ed to unsol+ed murders. But they admit it"s nothing like F!G. (he problem is that so many of today"s murders seem 5senseless.6 5<omicide used to be a fairly easy crime to sol+e,6 says LA>' Sgt. 'on erguson. 5But today you ha+e so many cases like those Michigan college girl murders@ #e"+e had many similar cases here in 0alifornia@#here it"s almost impossible to tie the +ictim and a logical suspect together.6In (had Bro#n"s day, logic, reason, and careful detecti+e #ork almost al#ays brought results. <e likes to tell, for e)ample, about the case of a young #oman homicide +ictim. (he only clue #as a pack of matches found in the room. <e noticed that the matches on the left side of the pack had been used. 'eduction4 find a left$handed male ac3uaintance of the +ictim and he had his killer@and it #orked. =r about ho# he carefully forged a chain of e+idence that sent L. 7#ing Scott to prison for the murder of his #ife despite the absence of a corpus delicti. 8<e has a theory about #here the late Mrs. Scott"s remains are stashed a#ay #hich may be of interest to San 'iego ree#ay commuters.:=ne difficulty #ith crime today is that #e are beginning to kno# ho# little #e kno#. (he 1ictorians could pontificate #ith great certitude, for e)ample, about 5the criminal mind.6 But Be+erly <ills >olice 0hief Hoseph >aul imble, for one, belie+es 5most criminal acts today are committed by so$called normal people #ho react abnormally to a stress situation.6 (o disabuse oursel+es at the outset of some of the most enduring and least credible clichJs held  by partisans of the left and right about crime, consider these facts4

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