Episode 1: The Ketchup Bottle Bandits | Young Charlie podcast (Transcript)
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On the morning of August 9, 1969, the bodies of actress Sharon Tate and four other people were discovered at the sprawling Benedict Canyon home of Miss Tate and her husband, film director Roman Polanski. The victims had all been brutally murdered. The next day, the bodies of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were discovered at their home in Los Feliz. They had been murdered in a similar, gruesome fashion.
In 1939, young Charlie Manson's mother Kathleen is arrested in Charleston, West Virginia and jailed for robbery. After her release, she is unable to control her son and has him sent to the Gibault School for Boys in Indiana. Charlie runs away after only ten months. Then, after being arrested for burglary, he is given a second chance when a kindly judge sends him to the famous Boys Town in Omaha, Nebraska. After just four days, he escapes from there as well.
Young Charlie podcast | Hollywood & Crime
Young Charlie, from Hollywood & Crime, contains depictions of violence and is not suitable for everyone. Please be advised.
Tracy Pattin: At a little after 8:00 AM on the morning of August 9th, 1969, housekeeper Winifred Chapman approached the grounds of 10050 Cielo Drive. As she got to the gate, she noticed a loose wire dangling above the control box. Already late, thanks to LA's poor bus system, she was now concerned that the electricity might be out, but when she pressed the button, the gate swung open as it did every morning. Relieved, she entered the property.
Only a few yards up from the gate, she noticed a white Rambler at an oblique angle in the driveway. Several other vehicles were parked closer to the garage. Since overnight visitors were a common occurrence at the sprawling estate, she thought nothing of it. Entering the house through the service porch, Mrs. Chapman picked up the kitchen phone and noticed it was dead. Wondering if it could be due to the downed wire, she replaced the receiver. She headed for the living room but was blocked by two large blue steamer trunks that hadn't been there when she'd left work the day before. They looked as if they'd been knocked over, one leaning against the other. Then she noticed the blood smeared across the trunks, on the floor nearby, on two towels lying in the living room entryway. For a moment, she stood there uncomprehending. Only now did she realize she hadn't heard a sound since entering the house.
Forcing herself to move, she stepped toward the living room. Everywhere she looked, there was more blood on the floor, the rugs, the furniture. The front door was half open and two red pools spread across the porch. Beyond, she could see a body sprawled on the front lawn. Screaming, she ran from the house and down the driveway. This time, she noticed the body of a young man lying sideways across the front seat of the Rambler. She managed to get the gate open and fled to a neighboring house.
Male: We have five dead bodies; three male bodies and two female bodies.
Male: Movie star Sharon Tate and four other persons were murdered in her home.
Male: In a scene described by one of investigator as reminiscent of a weird religious rite, five persons, including actress Sharon Tate, were found dead at the home of Miss Tate and her husband, screen director Roman Polanski.
Male: In all my years, I have never seen anything like this before.
TP: As the sun rose higher on another sweltering day, Los Angeles residents would begin to learn about the events that had taken place hours earlier and struggle to find ways to understand them.
In the early morning of August 9th, 1969, five people had been savagely murdered in the tony reaches of the Hollywood Hills. They had been shot and stabbed and bludgeoned. Nooses had been hung around their necks. The owner of the house had pled for the life of her unborn child as she was stabbed repeatedly in the chest. This would not be a night for mercy. What the victims would never know was that the author of their gruesome deaths had not been present, he had been in the wilds outside Los Angeles planning the next acts in a drama begun many years ago and a thousand miles away.
In the ensuing days, the killings would seem a portent worthy of a desert prophet. The rich would cower in their mansions while the poor went on with their lives unworried. Former peace activists would empty the racks of local gun stores. Rival police teams would overlook clues to advance comfortable theories. It was as if the country were looking into a funhouse mirror reflection of biblical prophecy. Lions would not lie down with lambs but be slaughtered by them.
Only 19 days earlier, Americans had revelled in humankind's great achievement in setting foot on the moon. Now, they were forced to look into the darkest recesses of our animal nature. Days later, the love generation would dance in the mud of Woodstock while authorities attempted to come to grips with the Cielo Drive murders. Untroubled by the police, the killers would retreat to their Death Valley abode, awaiting the armageddon they hoped to initiate. Their messiah would lead them in search of the bottomless pit where, he had told them, they would hide out for a 100 years before reemerging to rule the world. After all, the Beatles had predicted it.
TP: From Wondery, I'm Tracy Pattin with Stephen Lang. Today, Hollywood & Crime presents Young Charlie. Our first episode, The Ketchup Bottle Bandits.