Five unsolved mysteries of chilling Manson Family murders – from 'extreme overkill' deaths to Satanic cult theory | The Sun
IN 1969, Hollywood was stunned to discover that one of its most promising stars, Sharon Tate, had been brutally murdered while nearly nine months pregnant.
The 26-year-old had been horrifically stabbed 16 times in her own home during the Manson Family's infamous Los Angeles killing spree on August 8, which left four others dead.
The vile cult – led by the psychopathic Charles Manson – went on to kill married couple Leno and Rosemary LaBianca just a day after Sharon's death.
They were also behind the deaths of Bernard "Lotsapoppa" Crowe and Gary Allen Hinman, who they had failed to convince to join the cult.
While these are the evil gang's nine known killings, they have been further linked to numerous unsolved murders over the decades.
Here, we delve into some of the most remaining riddles and rumours surrounding the Manson Family.
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Were there more murder victims?
In addition to their callous killing spree, the Manson Family has been linked to a string of cold cases – including the chilling murders of Doreen Gaul, 19, and James Sharp, 15.
The pair's bodies were discovered on November 21, 1969, after being dumped in an alley behind a house in LA – Doreen's corpse was naked while James was fully clothed.
LAPD officers noted they had been savagely stabbed more than 50 times – just like the Family's victims – and their bodies were found close to where the Tate-LaBianca murders occurred just months earlier.
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The two victims were members of a Scientology offshoot group called the Process of the Final Judgement, which Manson had been linked to.
Cult member Bruce Davis was rumoured to be Doreen's ex boyfriend, but denied knowing her in a police interview.
A man confessed to killing the pair in a robbery years later, but was never charged before he died.
Months before Doreen and James's murders, an unidentified woman's body was discovered by a birdwatcher near Mullholland Drive with 157 stab wounds.
It was only 46 years later in 2016 where she was identified as Reet Jurvetson, after her mortuary sketch was recognised by family friends.
Once again, the 'overkill' tactic of stabbing the victim multiple times was eerily consistent with methods used by the Manson Family.
Manson was jailed over the Tate and LaBianca murders in 1971, and detectives later quizzed him about Reet's death, but found him uncooperative and prone to playing mind games.
The cult leader was also rumoured to be behind the death of his apparent uncle, Darwin Scott.
Rumours surround Manson's murky family history and he never knew his biological father, believed to be Colonel Walker Henderson Scott Sr, a labourer who took off after finding out his mum, Kathleen, was pregnant.
Colonel Walker's brother, Darwin, was found hacked to death in his apartment on May 27, 1969.
In 1971 – two years after Tate's murder – Ronald Hughes, a lawyer for cult member Leslie Van Houten mysteriously vanished without a trace.
When his badly decomposed body was eventually found in Ventura County, Family member Sandra Good claimed he had been killed after"offending" Manson during the trial.
What was truth behind 'Satanic network' theory?
Nearly a decade after the Manson Family murders, serial killer David Berkowitz slaughtered six men and women in New York.
The killings between 1976 and 1977 were dubbed the Son of Sam murders, and were investigated for decades by reporter Maury Terry.
As revealed in the Netflix documentary The Sons of Sam, the journalist became obsessed by his belief that the Berkowitz did not act alone and was part of a sinister satanic network with links to Manson.
According to the theory, the network was based in California, Texas and New York and had been responsible for a number of murders that had ritualistic elements.
Some believed they even worked for drug lords and other powerful establishment figures.
Terry's efforts to stand up the theory, which were never fully substantiated, ultimately led to a warped quest which haunted him until his death in 2015 at the age of 69.
Did Beach Boy witness execution?
Beach Boys star Dennis Wilson had a close but brief relationship with members of the Manson Family in 1968.
He hosted members of the Family – mostly women who were seen as servants – in his own residence in Sunset Boulevard.
Dennis spent $100,000 of his own money on the Family, funding expenses such as clothes, food, cars and a persistent gonorrhoea issue affecting members of the Family
He is said to have been fascinated by the cult and named their leader "the wizard".
Dennis even recorded a song written by Manson for the Beach Boys called Never Learn Not to Love, but angered the leader by failing to credit him.
His cars were subsequently destroyed by the Family, while he was forced to move out of his home out of fear.
But in the darkest story about Dennis's relationship with the cult, fellow Beach Boy Mike Wilson claimed the star had even witnessed a Manson murder.
In his 2016 memoir, Good Vibrations, Mike said Dennis had told him that he saw the killer shoot a man dead with an M-16 rifle and stuff his body down a well.
If true, it would be the first case in which Manson was accused of personally carrying out a murder, rather than conspiring to kill through his followers.
Was Manson trying to spark race war?
To this day, it remains unclear why the Family set out on their bloodthirsty spree.
But one of the most enduring theories is that Manson wanted to spark a nationwide 'war' to push his racist agenda.
The cult reportedly believed that tensions between black and white Americans had reached fever pitch – and that a clash was inevitable.
Manson is said to have convinced his followers that the protests following Martin Luther King's death were the beginning of an 'uprising' within the black population.
He interpreted songs by the Beatles – including their hit Helter Skelter – and passages from the Bible as signs of an incoming 'race apocalypse'.
Did Doris Day save son from killers?
Charles Manson believed he was destined to be a a popstar and famously had a passion for music.
This led him to befriend Terry Melcher, a music producer and son of screen legend Doris Day.
Terry listened to some of Manson's songs, but was not impressed.
"Once he got to [Manson’s place], he just wanted to get the hell out of there," Bill Cassara, a former police officer who knew Terry, told Fox News.
"It was filthy and very obvious that there was no talent. He described hearing Manson’s girls singing while he played the guitar. He felt he had to get out. So he tried to make a graceful exit."
Seven months later, Manson's cult murdered Tate, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, Wojtek Frykowski and Steven Parent at 10050 Cielo Drive in Los Angeles – the very home Terry had just moved out of.
It is said that after hearing of the group's increasingly dark practices, Doris advised her son to leave his home and move in with her out of fear for what the Family could do to him.
At the time, it was theorised that Terry was the intended target, but police later established that Manson knew he had moved out of the home.
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Nonetheless, until his death in 2004 at the age of 62, the producer lived in fear of being the cult's next hit.
"No one would ever talk about the Manson murders in front of Terry," said Cassara. "Terry was a very paranoid person. He did not like to be around crowds. He certainly didn’t like being recognized."
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