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
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