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August 5th, 2009
05:03 PM ET

Excerpts: Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi

Vincent Bugliosi
Helter Skelter

Program note: Tonight, attorney Vincent Bugliosi will join us on AC360° at 10pm ET to discuss the Manson murders. He was in charge of prosecuting Charles Manson, and wrote a book about the killings and the case. Below are some excerpts of his book.

Editor's note: Excerpted from Helter Skelter, The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi (c) Curt Gentry and Vincent Bugliosi. With permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Page 23

It was so quiet, one of the killers would later say, you could almost hear the sound of ice rattling in cocktail shakers in the homes way down the canyon.

The canyons above Hollywood and Beverly hills play tricks with sounds. A noise clearly audible a mile away may be indistinguishable at a few hundred feet.

It was hot that night, but not as hot as the night before, when the temperature hadn’t dropped below 92 degrees. The three-day heat wave had begun to break a couple of hours before, about 10pm on Friday – to the psychological as well as the physical relief of those Angelenos who recalled that on such a night, just four years ago, Watts had exploded in violence. Though the coastal fog was now rolling in from the Pacific Ocean, Los Angeles itself remained hot and muggy, sweltering in its own emissions, but here, high above most of the city, and usually even above the smog, it was at least 10 degrees cooler. Still, it remained warm enough so that many residents of the area slept with their windows open, in hopes of catching a vagrant breeze.

All things considered, it’s surprising that more people didn’t hear something.

Page 26

There appeared to b blood on the trunks, on the floor next to them, and on the two towels in the entryway. She couldn’t see the entire living room – a long couch cut off the area in front of the fireplace – but everywhere she could see she saw the red splashes. The front door was ajar. Looking out, she saw several pools of blood on the flagstone porch. And, farther on, on the lawn, she saw a body.

Screaming, she turned and ran through the house, leaving the same way she had come in but, on running down the driveway, changing her course so as to reach the gate-control button. In so doing, she passed on the opposite side of the white rambler, seeing for the first time that there was a body inside the car too.

Once outside the gate, she ran down the hill to the first house, 10070, ringing the bell and pounding on the door. When the Kotts didn’t answer, she ran to the next house, 10090, banging on that door and screaming, “Murder, death, bodies, blood!”

Fifteen year old Jim Asin was outside, warming up the family car. It was Saturday and, a member of the law enforcement unit 800 of the Boy Scouts of America, he was waiting for his father, Ray Asin, to drive him to the West Los Angeles Division of LAPD, where he was scheduled to work on the desk. By the time he got to the porch, his parents had opened the door. While they were trying to calm the hysterical Mrs. Chapman, Jim dialed the police emergency number. Trained by the Scouts to be exact, he noted the time: 8:33.


Filed under: Crime & Punishment
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. J.V.Hodgson

    Dear Anderson,
    For me and I think many others the time you devote to Manson ( for god's sake its history nothing said today will change it and what do you hope to improve!? Same applies to MJ. It is virtually a family squabble about money so whats the news!! And the question of manslaugter will never be proved,because he was a drug addict!! Sorry fans that's the reality!! I was never a "fan" but I liked a lot of what he did.but not all.
    Your panels and pundits would be much more appreciated giving more time to health care reform, the Stimulus plan, the economy and financial regulation. This latter definitely not getting enough coverage, but I guess Wolf and other hosts like John King might object.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    August 6, 2009 at 2:39 am |
  2. ann rafkin

    Releasing any of the people involved with the Charles Manson murders.....it is not just a case of rehabilitation...IT IS A QUESTION OF JUSTICE. "she just wants to live a quiet life"...a bit late don't you think?
    ...what about Sharon Tate and all the rest of those murdered..what about their llving their quiet lives!!!!! I am not a vengeful person and I don't believe in the death penalty...but this decision is so shameful for the survivors of the murdered.

    August 6, 2009 at 2:29 am |
  3. ISAIAH GONZALEZ

    I think manson was wrong in his killing of Tate and her child. Unforntunatley people glorify a two bit country boy of possibly(irish,German,English) decent who has a discusting aryan swatztika in the middle of his forehead. I dont candon the killing of women and children. It takes some one with out a heart to do that. A White spanish American like me has more cultural pride,class, decency, and heart than to ever do what Charles manson did. Manson is the lowest of the low in my book. Dont you agree.

    August 6, 2009 at 12:34 am |
  4. Paula

    I've read Bugliosi's book a number of times over the years as if I could somehow try to come to a finite understanding of the madness and murder perpetrated by the Manson family. You can't, its just too horrific even with Bugliosi's explanations of the motives behind the murders. With the exception of Manson himself, Atkins, Krenwinkel, Van Houten, Watson et al. have been model prisoners and seemingly truly remorseful. But the notorious murders of 40 years ago is most definitely proof enough that they all should remain behind bars. Susan Atkins didn't show mercy for Sharon Tate so the same goes for her as she wastes away from brain cancer. No matter how rehabilitated they have become in prison, they cannot remove the taint of Manson and the murders.

    August 6, 2009 at 12:04 am |
  5. marlie

    I was a teen at that time and remember when this happened and how shocked I was that anyone could ever do something so horrifying. I also remember thinking how manson's eyes were black and hollow – so evil and his "family" how they acted when arrested. It was surreal and haunts me to this day.

    August 5, 2009 at 11:01 pm |
  6. Linda

    I read the book many years ago and afterwards had to burn it. There was a photo of Charles Manson on the cover and I couldn't get those evil eyes out of my memory. None of those murderers should ever be paroled. What they did is beyond horrific. Even prison is too good for them.

    August 5, 2009 at 10:47 pm |
  7. Heidi Berg

    sounds like a good book

    August 5, 2009 at 9:36 pm |
  8. Annie Kate

    He captures the raw horror of the crime and the shock and terror it invoked. Its a good book about a very bad thing and reading it I was just glad that the killers were all in jail. This was all so scary and senseless....

    August 5, 2009 at 8:56 pm |
  9. Elaine

    I interviewed Mr. Bugliosi many years ago – right after "Til Death Us Do Part" came out. The most amazing thing about the Charles Manson conviction is that Manson wasn't at the scene, and didn't actually commit any of the murders. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant attorney. I wish it had been Mr. Bugliosi prosecuting OJ.

    August 5, 2009 at 8:36 pm |
  10. Jeff

    I'm reading it now, not too far into it, but the Tate murder scene has been described in detail. It made my skin crawl.

    August 5, 2009 at 8:21 pm |
  11. carol kesling

    i havent read the book, except for the little bit on line.. got hooked so i will have to buy the book...this case has allways been of interest to me.. HOW COULD ANYONE DO SUCH HORRIBLE THINGS TO ANOTHER HUMAN BEINGS?????????? sick,sick people .

    August 5, 2009 at 8:06 pm |
  12. Nancy

    I lived a mile away from the LaBianca house. The neighborhood was in terror. Once we learned the house had been chosen at randon, there was a sense it could have been any of us. We felt very lucky.

    August 5, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  13. Janet St. Clair Shores Mi

    I thought In "In Cold Blood " was brutal, until I read "Helter Skelter".

    August 5, 2009 at 5:45 pm |