Helter Skelter in the Summer of 1969

Tina Lerno, Librarian, Digital Content Team,
Charles Manson being lead away by deputies
Deputy sheriffs lead Charles Manson to court during the Sharon Tate murder trial, [1970]. Herald Examiner Collection

1969 was a tumultuous year. The US Apollo 11 mission brought men to the moon, and the Beatles gave their final live performance. Richard Nixon was sworn in as President, the war raged on in Vietnam (along with huge protests), and the draft was reinstated. The Stonewall Riots took place in New York and violence in Northern Ireland escalated to a fever pitch. In California, a massive oil spill devastated the coast spilling over 3 million gallons, and on August 8, Charles Manson and his followers would carry out some of the bloodiest and most violent crimes to date.

50 years later, the obsession with the Manson Family and their horrific crimes continues. The new Quentin Tarantino movie, Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, brings a renewed curiosity to the younger generation, and sheds light on a time in Los Angeles when the peace and love era came to an abrupt end.

The library's vast Photo Collection preserves images of not only the best the city had to offer, but also its darker more sinster elements. Here is a selection of photos from the Mansion murders and subsequent trial.

Home of the late Sharon Tate
The Benedict Canyon residence where actress Sharon Tate and four others were murdered by followers of Charles Manson on August 9, 1969. Photo credit: Michael Haering, Herald Examiner Collection
Manson family in Spahn Ranch cave
Some of the Manson family members in a cave at Spahn Ranch. From left to right: Danny DeCarlo, Catherine Share, Mary Theresa Brunner, Chuck Lovett, Jennifer Gentry, Cathy Gillies, Lynne Fromme, Sandra Good, and Ruth Ann Morehouse, [1970]. Photo credit, Michael Haering, Herald Examiner Collection
Charles Manson in custody
Cult leader Charles Manson is led out of court by members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's office after deferring a plea to the charges regarding the Tate-LaBianca murders. The 35 year-old is shown wearing a dirty buckskin jacket and trousers. Herald Examiner Collection
Manson women brought back to courthouse
From left, Leslie Van Houten, Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel in hallway of Hall of Justice for their appearance as defendants in the Tate-LaBianca murder trial, [1970]. Herald Examiner Collection
Charles "Tex" Watson
Charles 'Tex' Watson today following court appearance. Watson was accused of the murders at both the home of Sharon Tate and Leno and Rosemary La Bianca. His trial began after Manson, Krenwinkel and Van Houten were convicted and sentenced. He was also found guilty in October, 1971. Photo credit, Michael Haering, Herald Examiner Collection
Massive police search gets underway in Hollywood Hills for murder clues
Massive police search gets underway in Hollywood Hills for murder clues, [1969]. Photo credit: Bruce E. Howell, Herald Examiner Collection
Charles Manson in court
"Charles Manson in Superior Court. Later told newsmen: 'You're the jury... the court.'" Manson was in a Santa Monica courtroom to answer questions from the press after he entered a not guilty plea in the murder of Gary Hinman, [1970]. Photo credit, Michael Haering, Herald Examiner Collection
family members of murder victim
Steven Parent's family December 5, 1969, at grand jury hearing concerning his murder by the followers of Charles Manson. Herald Examiner Collection
Charles Manson and Susan Atkins in Santa Monica court
Charles Manson (left) and Susan Atkins are seen in a Santa Monica courtroom to plead on charges of murdering Gary Hinman, a musician from Malibu. Both defendants pleaded innocent and are on trial in Los Angeles for the murders of Sharon Tate and Leon and Rosemary LaBianca, [1970]. Herald Examiner Collection
Bald women sit on the sidewalk outside the Manson trial
Nancy Pitman (a.k.a Brenda McCann), Sandra Good, Catherine Gillies, and Mary (Mary Theresa Brunner) dubbed "the girls on the corner." They shaved their heads along with Manson, Atkins, Krenwinkel, and Van Houten following the guilty verdicts. They told reporters, "You'd better watch your children because Judgment Day is coming!" [1971]. Herald Examiner Collection
Terry Melcher, witness in Sharon Tate murder trial
Terry Melcher talked to the grand jury in the Tate case on December 5, 1969. Charles Manson had previously discussed his music with him, [1969]. Herald Examiner Collection
Linda Kasabian testifying
Linda Kasabian shown testifying in court against Charles Manson and his Family, of which she was formerly a member, [August 19, 1970]. Herald Examiner Collection
Witness Paul Watkins
Paul Watkins as witness at Tate trial. Watkins, a good looking youth with a way with women, had been Manson's chief procurer of young girls. Often he acted as Manson's second in command. While on his trips to and from the Barker Ranch in Inyo County, Watkins over whom Manson had a vice-like hold on was successfully deprogrammed from Manson's way of thinking by a local miner, Paul Crockett and was, therefore, able to serve as a witness at the trial, [1970]. Herald Examiner Collection
Manson defense team
Charles Manson's defense attorneys after resting their case on November 19, 1970: from left, Daye Shinn, Irving Kanarak, Paul Fitzgerald and Ronald Hughes, [1970]. Herald Examiner Collection
Tate suspect Harrigan
Sharon Tate murder suspect Thomas Harrigan is shown being escorted into the LAPD building by his attorney Paul Caruso, [August 19, 1969]. Herald Examiner Collection
Three Manson girls
From Left: Leslie Van Houten, Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel shown in a transport van during the time of the Tate-LaBianca murder trials, [1971]. Herald Examiner Collection
Manson girls remain stoic
Photograph caption dated April 2, 1971 reads, "Manson 'girls' remain stoic after hearing judge impose death penalty. In head-shaven serenity, Leslie Van Houten (left), Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel leave court." Herald Examiner Collection
transcripts of the Tate trial
Photograph caption dated January 19, 1971 reads, "The 168 volumes of transcripts of the Tate trial, with 5,752,080 words. Deputy District Attorneys Stephen Kay (left) and Donald Musick stack manuscripts." Herald Examiner Collection
Vincent Bugliosi
Vicent Bugliosi, attorney for the prosecution in the Tate-LaBianca trial. He is pictured here at a press conference after he won his battle for the death sentence in the trial, [1971]. Herald Examiner Collection

Further Reading

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders
Bugliosi, Vincent

Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties
O'Neill, Tom

The Manson Women and Me: Monsters, Morality, and Murder
Meredith, Nikki

Hunting Charles Manson: The Quest for Justice in the Days of Helter Skelter
Wiehl, Lis W.

The Shadow Over Santa Susana: Black Magic, Mind Control and the Manson Family Mythos
Gorightly, Adam

Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness that Ended the Sixties
Lake, Dianne

American Girls
Umminger, Alison