I heard this morning that Vincent Bugliosi, the famed prosecutor who put Charles Manson and his followers away for the awful Tate-La Bianca killings in Los Angeles in 1969, died over the weekend of cancer at the age of 80. While I am in the middle of writing a new Beatles related piece, I thought I’d comment on this current (somewhat Beatles related) bit of news.
I’ve been fascinated by this case since I heard about it, as a 9-year-old in the late 1970’s. It’s kind of like a recurring nightmare that has caused me to read the famed book, Helter Skelter, and seek out further information to understand the case that has haunted me since childhood. The central question to these murders is why? Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor pushed one motive on the jury to frame the murders and put Charles Manson at the center of it all. He called the motive “Helter Skelter” and it resonated. I’m not a Helter Skelter defender. Not the song, which I love, but the raison d’etre for the killings. This motive, central to using the conspiracy theory, was used by Vincent Bugliosi to tie Manson, who didn’t actually murder any of the victims, to the crimes and lock him up with the actual murderers. Apparently, Helter Skelter (the motive) was based on the concept that the Beatles playground themed proto-heavy metal track, and the rest of the White Album, supposedly inspired the idea in Charlie and his followers’ minds that an armegeddon like race war was about to take place and would need to be set in motion by Manson so that he and his followers could go into hiding in the California desert and wait out the war until its conclusion. Then at which time, Manson supposedly prophecied that the black masses would defeat the white masses, but would be unsuited to rule the new world and would lead them to relinquish their power to Manson, who would them rule over a new and better world. Pretty out there stuff!