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The Charlie Conspiracy (Los Angeles magazine, 1988)

The Charlie Conspiracy (Los Angeles magazine, 1988)

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Published by: MansonCaseFile on Aug 31, 2011
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Feature
Nearly twenty years after the Manson Murders, a string of satanic killings brought fear of the Family back to L.A. Inthis 1988 feature, Michael Bendrix explores CharlesManson’s place in what seemed to be an expanding webof terror
By Michael Bendrix
Los Angeles
magazine, June 1988
 
Photograph courtesy Denise Philibert 
 
Marina Habe’s body was found on New Year’s Day, 1969, by a dog. The bodyhad been tossed to the bottom of a ravine off Mulholland Drive, and whenpolice arrived, the dog’s owner said he wanted to be sure his name got in thepaper.Every detail of Marina’s murder and the time on either side of it left some sliverof absurdity. She was 17, coming home alone late at night from a date, got toher driveway and then, as her mother watched from a window—awakened bythe sound of a racing engine and not knowing whether the man standingbeside her daughter’s car was friend or foe—disappeared into another car. Thecoroner said she was held for a day, fed, raped, and stabbed.
 
 The murder was never solved. A detective on the case believes Marina was therandom kidnap victim of a dope dealer-biker nicknamed Spanky, now dead, butthe evidence is inconclusive. Others familiar with the case believe it may havebeen the work of Charles Manson’s “family”; the Tate-LaBianca murdersoccurred nine months after Marina’s. A newscaster at the time of the Mansontrials even suggested that Marina had connections with the Manson Family, butI’ve always thought that extremely unlikely because she had been living out of the state until a week before her death, and anyone who knew her—I’d grownup with her off and on—could tell you that Marina, a devout Catholic, wouldnever willingly have anything to do with the likes of Charles Manson.She was missing for two and a half days before her body was found, and of allthe horror that circulated through the little bungalow off Doheny where hermother lived, certainly the worst was the horror that settled into the eyes of her mother. “Why don’t you take
me?” 
she often shrieked during those twodays as she lay on her bed, her hand on the telephone waiting for a ransomcall that never came. Sometimes she would cover her face with her hands, andthrough her fingers you could see her screaming, but she made no sound. Three years later, Marina’s mother married my father, whom she had known formany years, and together they have recovered. Progress has been gradual anderratic, broken easily by the prisonlike fact that Marina was an only child. Now,20 years later, Marina’s mother has finally developed the strength to separateherself from that time, not to forget or to accept, but to unlock herself from anobsession. Her one remaining guilt is that she wishes she had done moreherself to try to solve the murder.A murder, and an unsolved one at that, inevitably permeates a family, leavingraces of guilt, resentment and, above all, cynicism. The stain never quitecomes out of the memory, and memory itself is forever stimulated by pictureson a living-room table, by letters and diaries in a bottom drawer, by oddbelongings that from time to time reappear in the back of a closet or hidden inthe garage. The memory is also in the survivors, in the faces of my stepmotherand my father and, I suppose, to a lesser degree, myself. Ironically, it was inthe days just before her murder that Marina and I became closest. The problem is that the original questions have never been answered, and so,of course, the stain can’t be removed. Can the murderer, or murderers, still beout there? What was the motive? What were the circumstances? What was thestory that goes along with the facts?It was in the hope of finding the story, or at least completing a scene of whatmight have happened, that I became so fascinated by
The Ultimate Evil
, a bookby an East Coast journalist named Maury Terry. The book shed new light onthings; on the Manson murders in particular, and above all on what the peoplemay have been like who murdered Marina. After reading Terry’s book, Ireached him and arranged to meet him in Los Angeles, so that we might talkabout his book and about what I assumed was his obsession.
The Ultimate Evil
, published just a year ago (it has sold an impressive 50,000copies, mostly on the East Coast), presents evidence for an extraordinaryassertion: that a single satanic network, existing primarily in California, Texas
 
and New York, has carried out, or has been involved in, numerous murdersincluding among many others, the Roy Radin murder in Copco Canyon in 1983;the Son of Sam serial killings in New York City in ’76 and ’77; the bizarre ritualmurder of Arlis Perry, a Stanford University graduate student’s wife, in 1974;and finally, the crime of crimes, the August 9, 1969, so-called Helter Skelterkillings of Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger and Wojiciech Frykowski,followed the next night by the murders of Leno and Rosemary La Bianca. Terry’s book, which focuses on the Son of Sam shootings and revelations byDavid Berkowitz himself, is in part a record of Terry’s struggle against thepopularly held belief that Berkowitz did all the shootings and that he did themalone. Moreover, it was an investigation by Terry and a handful of others thatestablished a link between Berkowitz and a satanic cult operating inWestchester County, a link that units of the New York Police Department havebeen investigating for the last two years. Terry himself is now working closely with police in Southern California and New York. His evidence for a nationwide satanic network is based on testimony froma variety of sources, including Berkowitz, prison informants, undercover policeand FBI operatives, as well as former Satanists. The portrait Terry paints is thatsmall groups of dedicated devil worshipers in New York, North Dakota, Houstonand Los Angeles who willingly put themselves in the service of others—druglords and power brokers in need of reliable assassins. The specific connections Terry establishes between the Manson murders andthe Son of Sam shootings is this: Although Manson and David Berkowitz neverknew each other, they both belonged—at different times and on differentcoasts—to the same umbrella satanic-cult organization, called the Process. Alsoknown as the Church of the Final Judgment, the Process was begun by RobertdeGrimston—a disciple of L.Ron Hubbard, the creator of Scientology, and astudent of the late Aleister Crowley, the notorious devil-worshiping Englishmanwho once described himself as “the wickedest man in the world.”According to Terry, deGrinston, who now lives on the East Coast, met Mansonon at least one occasion, in the spring of 1968 at a residence in TopangaCanyon. Moreover, says Terry, deGrimston traveled in some of the same socialcircles as Manson—and also, interestingly, Manson’s
victims.
According to Terry, these circles were all at least tangentially linked. One was the Sharon Tate circle that included Jack Nicholson, Robert Evans, John and MichellePhillips, Jay Sebring, Warren Beatty, Jane Fonda, Peter Sellers, WojiciechFrykowski and Abigail Folger. Another circle, the one Charles Manson has mostoften been associated with, included Doris Day’s son Terry Melcher and BeachBoy Dennis Wilson. Still another circle revolved around Mama Cass Elliott andincluded someone that Terry in his book calls Manson II. According to Terry,Manson II is as terrible a figure as Charles Manson and clearly a satanist. The link between Charles Manson and satanic cults is not new. In his 1971book,
The Family 
, Ed Sanders described how in 1968 Manson was involved notonly with the Process but with a chapter of another cult known as the OTO (ordo Templis Orientis), whose headquarters were in the Blythe. The leader of thisparticular OTO chapter was Georgina Brayton, a long-time Satanist whobelieved that a racial war between blacks and whites in Los Angeles would

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