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Sunday, March 16, 2008
More Manson Family Killings?

I have always had a fascination with the Manson Family, dating from the time in 1971 when our local paper ran a long article on the trial of Manson and his followers. I devoured the book Helter Skelter, one of the few non-fiction books I've read more than once. Turns out there's an investigation going on into whether there were other murders at a ranch where the family hid out.

And the results of just-completed followup tests suggest bodies could indeed be lying beneath the parched ground. The test findings -- described in detail to The Associated Press, which had accompanied the site search -- conclude there are two likely clandestine grave sites at Barker Ranch, and one additional site that merits further investigation.

Next step, the ad hoc investigators urge: Dig.

One of the investigators turns out to be the sister of one of the people murdered by the family, actress Sharon Tate:

"After the murder, my mom became a shell of herself," said Debra Tate, who was 17 when her sister, actress Sharon Tate, was killed. Her younger sister Patti was 11. "I filled in at home, as best I could."

Debra Tate's mother, Doris Tate, emerged from years of depression when she heard that a Manson family member was seeking parole.

She gathered 350,000 signatures, helping keep the murderer in prison. She also lobbied successfully to change state law to ensure the rights of victims' family members to make statements during sentencing and parole hearings.

I suspect the member who was up for parole was Susan Atkins. Atkins is by all accounts reformed, but at the same she participated in several particularly gruesome murders. This is one area where I am definitely conservative; prison is not, as liberals say, a place where one is supposed to be rehabilitated. I don't care that she's changed; she did terrible things and should have been executed for them years ago (her sentence was commuted to life after California's death penalty was set aside for a number of years in the 1970s).
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