Night 2 of “Mr. Cruel”– December 27, 1988

It was bold and highly premeditative. Mr. Cruel had meticulously planned the attack on Hillcrest Avenue in the Ringwood district of Melbourne, Australia. It was an enormous advance over what he had done in Lower Plenty on August 22, 1987. He had planned it for so long he knew that it would ruin this Christmas for his victim and perhaps many to come. But planning an attack to take place only a couple of days after Christmas ensured that his victim would be home.

Somehow he knew of the 10 year old girl, Sharon Wills. He knew her name. Some think it was because it had appeared in the newspaper about 6 months before, due to a report about a fire in their residence. But that can’t explain how he knew everything else. Somehow he had learned the routines of the household. He knew the father kept the front door key in the lock on the inside of the door. Mr. Cruel ingeniously figured out what to do. He brought paper and a device to gain entry, and he had prepared himself what to do inside.

For this attack was going to be very different from his first attack. He intended to kidnap the small, underage daughter and take her with him. His intent was to hide her in his home, in a specially prepared room, and there sexually assault her while filming it on camera.

Though Attack No. 2 was far quite different, Mr. Cruel was laying down a stalking pattern. Left, above, an overhead of Para and Main, Lower Plenty, Melbourne. The house is near a park and the main roads. Right, Hillcrest Avenue, Ringwood, Melbourne. The house was on a street next to a web of highways and their on- and off- ramps. Both areas were easy to access, surveille, and easy to escape.

Unlike other abductors who kidnapped kids and kept them stashed in a basement for months or even years in order to have one when they wanted to abuse them, he did not want the responsibility of feeding one and taking care of them for a long time. He wanted his own short thrill. Nothing more. He had to carefully work out how to make himself, the girl, and the surroundings so anodyne that no forensic evidence could be traced to him.  He intended to do his “thing” and then return her.

This is indeed a cold, calculating, arrogant and selfish mind. But one who had the self assurance and knowledge to get away with it.

In his first attack there was something about his outfit that seemed disposable. It was clothes that didn’t seem congruous– a sport blazer, tight denim jeans, basic running sneakers . . .and underneath a waterproof nylon windbreaker. Every bit of this outfit could simply have been recently purchased at a thrift store and then worn for the attack and then discarded.

For this night, Mr. Cruel selected blue overalls, gloves and a blue ski mask.

Mr Cruel--overalls

The attack had long been planned, but it must have almost seemed foiled. The night of December 26, 1988, the family returned home from shopping– the parents and their 4 daughters. They ate and went to bed. All 4 girls slept in the same room in a set of two bunk beds. Sharon Wills slept quietly with her sisters. But in the master bedroom the father, John, couldn’t sleep. He got up around 2 a.m. and started working on a jigsaw puzzle. About 10 minutes to 5 a.m. he finally turned off the light and went to bed.

Clad in his blue denim overalls, Mr. Cruel must have been watching, having waited who knows how long. Now he would have checked his watch and waited an appropriate period of time. In this case, about 30 minutes. He crept up to the house, to the front door. He slipped newspaper under the door and then pushed the key through the lock and it dropped onto the paper. He gently pulled the paper under the door. He wanted this kid badly. He unlocked the door and entered.

Mr. Cruel had no idea if one of the parents was still awake. The light had only been out about 30 minutes. Dawn was also coming soon. He wasted no time. He burst into the master bedroom. The parents bolted up. Julie, the mother, screamed, but Mr. Cruel put a gun to her head and told her to shut up. He then put the gun to John’s head: “You’re not going to be a hero, are you?” At his orders they rolled onto their stomachs.

The false clues began. As he viciously tied their wrists together with copper wire he demanded to know where John’s wallet was. John nodded to his pants. Greedily pulling out the cash, Mr. Cruel then he demanded the location of Julie’s purse. Curiously, he asked the location of the telephone. He left the room to go get the purse. He would then cut the phone wire. John and Julie were sure that they were only being robbed, but they worried over their 4 girls.

The house was silent for a while until they heard a scream from one of their daughters. This is what had happened:

Sharon had awakened when hearing her mother scream, but she had remained in bed. Now the door to their bedroom opened and man in a ski mask peaked in behind the blinding ray of a flashlight. She acted like she was asleep. He crept up to her and she could hear him breathing. He rolled her over and asked if she was awake. She continued to feign she was sleeping.

Sharon was only 10 years old.


He left the room and quietly closed the door. What was up with this? He had called her by name?

Soon he quietly returned and shook her. “Wake up, get up.” She knew she had to awake. He called her by name again and made her get up. He went through her wardrobe and selected another complete set of clothes.

They went into  the living room. Mr. Cruel took one of her father’s shirts and wrapped her clothes in it. He also took his coat hanging nearby and made Sharon wear it over her nightie. They then took her to the back porch of the house. Here Sharon screamed, but he shoved a rubber ball in her mouth. He was quite prepared. He didn’t remove it until she agreed not to scream. He blindfolded her and put some kind of material over her head.

The predator was careful. From what Sharon could detect, the man picked her up and walked around to the driveway and then down a ways. He put her down, then he picked her up again and appeared to have changed directions. Soon they were at his car. He had been calming her by telling her that he wasn’t going to hurt her and he was going to send her parents a ransom note. As soon as the banks opened and he got the money, she would be released.


Hillcrest Avenue. The house is next to a corner lot. How did Mr. Cruel scope the area to begin with? He must have been lurking in the backyard. That power pylon corridor is interesting.  Where had he parked?

He set her down on the front passenger side and told her to get down. They traveled for some time and then he stopped. He asked Sharon if she could see, and she said yes.  He then used tape to blindfold her better and threw a blanket on top of her. They drove some more and she finally felt the car bounce up a driveway. Then it stopped. He got out, came around, opened the side door, and picked her up and led her one step up into a house.

The real nightmare was about to begin, but little Sharon was very brave and collected. She was making mental notes.

Continued in Part 2.

*         *          *

Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.


Night 1 of “Mr. Cruel”

An inaccurate title at best. The nights that this sadistic perpetrator struck his victims weere not the only night of his evil. He was a home invader. He was not a spontaneous home invader either. He had carefully assessed his victims beforehand. He violated their privacy for many nights. He was an arrogant mind with evil intent behind fogged windows, an eye peering from behind many bushes. He had learned their schedules and habits. One might say he knew the neighborhood as well. He had reconnoitered the property. He had rehearsed his actions prior to the attack. He had rehearsed his escape. He had planned carefully that he would leave no forensic trace.  Mr. Cruel unleashed his cruelty on a single night, at least on this his first attack.

It was a summer early morning August 22, 1987, in Lower Plenty, Melbourne, Australia’s, northeastern suburb. Para Road was a main road into the residential district, off Main Road itself. Near the intersection of these major roads, a man in a light blue balaclava ski mask crept through a house’s yard and up to the living room window. With his long, kitchen style carving knife he worked out a pane of glass in the window, reached in, and opened it. He put the knife away and set his small canvas carrying bag on the floor.  He drew a small, black automatic pistol, picked up his bag, and crept silently to the master bedroom.

Here he awoke the startled parents. The father’s eyes flashed with resistance. The intruder pointed the small pistol at him. “Do you feel brave?” he gruffly challenged. The parents acquiesced to his demands to roll over onto their stomachs. He handcuffed both of them, wrists and ankles.  “Be quiet and don’t move or I’ll hurt someone.”

The masked man then crept into the room of the 7 year old son and brought him to the master bedroom. He bound him to the bed.

Then he entered the room of the daughter, a mere 11 years old.  He took her to the master bedroom and bound her next to the others.

He calmed the family by telling them that he just wanted to rob them. “All I want is money, food and clothes. How much money is in the house?” The father said only a couple of hundred dollars. The intruder then asked the father his clothes size, saying they looked the same size as each other. He also wanted to shower and shave. He also wanted the first aid kit.

He uncuffed the parents and tied them with nylon cord, and put the handcuffs back into his bag. The children remained tied with nylon cord. He gagged them all with electrical tape. Then he blindfolded the children that way.

He then removed articles of clothes from the closet and then shoved the parents therein. “Get into the wardrobe and sit down.”  After they did, he covered them with a blanket.

He then tried to make a phone call with the master bedroom phone, but he got no answer.  He wandered the house. They could hear him in the other rooms. Then he returned and phoned again. He apparently got someone on the other end, for he started talking. He made threats and called the other person a ‘bozo.’

Finished with the call, he closed the closet door and locked it. He left the room and then soon returned with a radio. He turned it up so the parents and the son could not hear him raping the 11 year old daughter in the nearby bathroom.  They merely thought he was taking the shower he had needed.

After he was finished, he told her to bathe and “Clean your teeth.” He then led her into the kitchen where he helped himself to a morning meal of leftover lamb, biscuits, milk and orange juice.

Now refreshed, he took the daughter into the living room and sexually assaulted her on the couch. In what manner we do not know, but it obviously did not require she bathe afterward.

She heard him leave the room and go check on her family. About 10 minutes later she heard him return. He picked her up, led her to a spare room and then tied her ankles with nylon cord. “I’m going out now so count to one hundred slowly; then you can free your parents.”

He left the room. Shortly thereafter she heard the front door close. She got free and released her parents.

The father had to go shout and wake up his neighbors, for the phone would not work. Later it was discovered that the phone line had been cut outside.

Taken on its own at face value, this case suggested a spontaneous action to the police. Yet many things didn’t fit. The perpetrator was well prepared with handcuffs and nylon ropes. He knew how many were in the house. He even had a sequence planned out on how to use them– the cuffs first to temporarily bind the parents and then nylon rope when the entire family was secured before him. Cuffs might be traceable, but the nylon rope wasn’t. He had a bag and the sufficient gear to pull off his attack– including some shears to cut the phone line.

But when did he do that? First or afterward? None of the family heard anybody speaking on the other end of the phone. He certainly couldn’t have been talking to anybody if he had cut the line first.

It really is of some importance. If he cut the line first, then all what he did in the house was an act. This seems to fit, since it was obviously a well-planned attack. If he cut the line afterward, then it would merely mean he needed some time to get away, and this was buying him that time.

Obviously, he got away. So this wasn’t a transient who needed a bath and some clothes. He must have had a car nearby.

Altogether it does seem like his actions in the house were an elaborate performance and he had cut the line first. His object all along appears to have been the pedophile rape of the 11 year old daughter. It was, in fact, a well planned attack, and his actions and words were designed to throw the police off his scent. He knew to have the victim bathe and remove any forensic evidence against him.  Strangely, he had worn some nylon blue windbreaker under his sport jacket. Not a shirt, a disposable waterproof jacket. Everything he wore over this apparently was disposable and any forensic clues those clothes may have left he felt could not be traced to him. The waterproof jacket protected his body from leaving clues.

This was a careful thinker.

The masked perpetrator had tried to sound quite uninformed. He had asked the girl: “What’s your name? How old are you?” She told him her name, but he wrongly called her “Kate” later, which was not her name, and repeated this several times.

Yet everything else suggested a very confident villain who had carefully planned his attack. So confident he had spent an hour or so in the house, helped himself to a meal, and casually left as dawn was breaking.

A theory was put forward that the culprit was an obsessive pedophile who had seen the daughter’s picture in the paper a few days before. The family had been featured in the local paper. Given how premeditated the attack was, and apparently how knowledgeable the villain was about evidence, we will see how  unlikely this scenario is as the crime spree develops before us.

The perp was an Australian between 5 foot 8 inches and 6 foot tall, medium to slim build, possibly in his middle 20s; oval face, soft hands, possibly right-handed.

But how much was the rest of his appearance a performance? Hair seemed brown-grayish/white with white spots in it. He may have had dandruff, and his hair hung out somewhat from under the balaclava. His eyebrows were bushy and also grayish/white.  His voice seemed gruff, somewhat deep. There was a nervous tenor to it. He sounded uneducated. He had bad breath, described as “musty”– however we are to take that. He had a couple of days beard growth.



The artist’s work above is based on the family’s descriptions of the man who would later be dubbed “Mr. Cruel.”

Despite the sound of a gruff, transient thief that he had cultivated, his clothes were in good condition– close fitting blue denim jeans, brown tweed sports jacket, a blue nylon waterproofed zip up jacket, strangely underneath it, and his tennis shoes were “blue runners with white flashes down the side, white soles in good condition.” His socks were white cotton.” His balaclava was somehow adjusted by him with some kind of material to cover his eyes like a visor, since balaclavas are open-faced ski masks. His gloves looked and felt like dishwashing gloves and were the same yellow in appearance.


A basic light blue balaclava with a strange improvised visor.

So there were things about him that seemed very prepared, but others things which suggested he was home-tailoring them. There was no real similar MO like this in the police records. But, in addition to the rape, had robbed the family of several items. Perhaps it was a one-time incident?

. . .Yet it remained a worrisome example of someone who went to great lengths, and thus it seemed very premeditated.

In evidence of this is the list of items he used. As the Herald Sun tallied them: “Small black handgun, pistol type. Knife, kitchen, black handle, silver blade about 20cm long. At least four sets of handcuffs. Nylon coated cord, white and red/white. Electrical tape, adhesive, roll of red, roll of green and roll of blue. Elastoplast. Material bag, dark bluish/grey or light grey colour, similar to school library bag.”

How long had this nut planned this attack, and would he strike again?



*         *          *

Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

Australia’s Mr. Cruel

Home invaders are a particular brand of evil villain. That’s because it never ends there and it never begins there. These swine make it plain to their victims that they had stalked them for a while. So Home Invasion of this sort is not spontaneous. It indicates a hideous stalker had staked them out for some time.  Of course, there is more purpose to their home invasion than simply invading the house and violating their home life. The victims soon learn that rape, terror, torture, kidnapping, perhaps even murder is the ultimate intent. If it isn’t, the home invader makes it apparent there is that potential.

EAR/ONS perhaps is the most infamous there ever was. But he is not the most mysterious. He was so prolific that his MO was detectable. There is no mystery how he selected his ultimate victims.  But there are others whose crime sprees need a spotlight on them so that more information (and clues!) can be gleaned.

One of these is NORCAL Rapist, a rather dramatic Phantom of the Opera style rapist, who hid behind theatrical or Halloween masks and engaged in theatrics with his victims, aside from taunting them.  How his selected his victims is still a mystery. More information is desperately needed.

The same can be said for what is ultimately one of the cruelest home invaders. This is Australia’s Mr Cruel, aptly so dubbed by the Press because he learned much of his victims and their house before invading it. He then bound the family members and, in his first attack, raped the under-aged daughter on the premises. He assailed them behind the cover of a ski mask, and he always had a gun and a butcher’s knife.


At his first known strike off Para Road in Melbourne’s suburban area of Lower Plenty, he pointed the gun at the father while he was in bed and warned him at gunpoint: “Do you feel brave?” The warning was implicit– just try and challenge him. This attack was on August  22, 1987.

From here, it escalated. After stalking his next victim, invading the house, he then kidnapped the young, under-age daughter. This attack was on December 27, 1988, on Hillcrest Avenue in the Ringwood subdivision.

Mr. Cruel let her go 18 hours later to be picked up by police and then her family. In the interim he had taken her to his lair and sexually assaulted her, apparently videotaping it. He washed her up and had the forethought to have taken a second set of clothing for her to wear after he had finished with her. This means she picked up very few forensic clues to her tragic ordeal. He was very careful.

Again, he struck on July 3, 1990. The parents were gone and this left him with only sisters to contend with. He tied the eldest and took the youngest to his lair. He kept her for 50 hours, drove her miles from her home and dropped her off, wrapped in green garbage bags. She too had been washed, and without her clothes there was very little for the police to use forensically to trace where she had been.

The 3rd victim, Nicola Lynas, taken from her Monomeath Ave. home in the Canterbury subdivision. It is one of the most premeditated attacks.


The only real clue they had was that she, like the previous victim, said they could hear planes landing. The Melbourne police deduced his lair was in the approach path to Melbourne Airport.

Then, waiting quite a long time again, Mr. Cruel struck on April 13, 1991, in the Templestowe subdivision of Melbourne on Serpells Road.  He locked up the two youngest daughters in a cupboard and kidnapped the eldest, 13 year old Karmein Chan. Like in the earlier attacks, he left false clues. Noticeably in this case, he spray-painted one of the family cars (the parents were away at their popular Chinese restaurant) indicating this was payback for the parents being Chinese drug lords, which they were not.

Unlike the previous victims, Karmein would not be returned. A year later her remains were found in a shallow grave miles away. She had been shot in the back of the head 3 times, execution style.  The police surmise she had actually gotten a look at Mr. Cruel, and for this she had to die. He had warned one of his victims that death awaited if she saw him. He obviously had meant it.

After this, Mr. Cruel never struck again. Police thought that in the enormous dragnet that followed, they must have interviewed him and this frightened him. The Mr. Cruel crimes are perhaps Australia’s most infamous unsolved cold case.

In a series of posts we are going to examine this crime spree in detail. We have a very clever and arrogant villain to deal with here. So confident was he that he became incredibly elaborate. He not only meticulously stalked and planned his attacks, he took on whole families, then kidnapped the victim, assaulted her on camera for hours at his pleasure, then made sure there was no evidence to trace her to his lair and to him. It is not surprising that Melbourne Police never found his trail. They have only the surmise that they had interviewed him, and a few other clues two of the victims were able to relate about his lair.

We will examine all of this as these posts unfold.

*         *          *

Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

Oh, Dear. . . A BigFoot Hunter

Cut me some slack. I’m actually the Father of Modern Bigfootery and the Most Hated Man in Established Bigfootery. It’s not because I type in snooty CAPS. My keyboard is Freudian but not smug. I don’t believe in what the others promote. I’m not just a Bigfoot hunter. I seek a little more than a thrilling glimpse at a badger in a tree that I can swoon over and believe was a hominid. I seek the ultimate hunt.

Expeditions are frightfully British in character. It’s not intentional. The English simply have a higher sense of serious adventure. I won’t have an Eaton man along if he admits he learned anything at college. A gentleman learns nothing at Eaton except how to gamble and play the horses. Some appear to learn wenching, but they already knew that. They just have more opportunity now.

A gentleman is the only thing to be with in the wilds; that or a Frenchman.  The Dutch do well, but they are hard to manage.

Well, the true life pursuit is something very different from the plodding reality TV rubbish. Think in terms of the recent Search for the Lost City of Z, only not so langsam, and not so much whispering. I dig that kind of adventure.


In this case, the backdrop are the deep and dank forests of the Pacific Northwest. Unless it is the Torngats, nowhere else . . . with the odd exception there may still be something in Arkansas.

Let’s talk about the Traverspine Gorilla. This is the name that Elliot Merrick gave two beasts who terrorized the small Labrador village of Traverspine at the head of Lake Melville in the 1930s. The citoyens there had never seen anything like them before. They were hairy beasts that could walk on their hind legs, but went down on all fours when in a hurry. He wrote of their encounters in his book True North. These two creatures, a male and female, were hideous. One girl came across them, one of the Michelins as I recall, and she insists that one of them smiled at her and then beckoned her with its finger. She bolted back to momma and the cabin. One thing seems certain: they left a strange 3-toed print, like some ghastly giant sloth.

Professor Bruce Wright later traveled up there and tried to explain the beasts in his book Wildlife Sketches Near and Far. He had spoken with the people involved in some of the most horrific encounters, like the Michelins. Despite them insisting that it was no bear, he later tried to explain the Traverspine Gorilla away as lost polar bears. The explanation didn’t wash.

One hears very little about the Traverspine Gorilla today. Bigfooters and “Cryptozoologists” really don’t exist in the field. They are armchair enthusiasts or plodding about the fringes of a forest with game cameras for so called reality-TV. It would take a lot to go into the Torngat Triangle in Labrador. But it would be a real expedition into largely unexplored territory. It requires guns, a chopper ready to Medivac, some whiskey, lots of gear, some more whiskey, stiff upper lip, and most importantly toilette paper.

The Torngats are the object. The Traverspine Gorilla of the 1930s was an exception. They didn’t come back. They came from somewhere, traveled in a male-female pair, and must have gone back into the Torngats. There’s a lot up there that would shock people. It is a true land that time forgot. Bruce Wright knew the following story was reliable. One hunter in the area quickly scampered up a rock when he saw a red bear coming. He sat there frozen, watching as this bear snuffled at his canoe. It was snuffling at one end and its tail was at the other. The canoe was 15 feet long! That’s a big bear!

This is the wonderful type of adventure that awaits the true adventurer, the true lover of worthy junkets. The Traverspine Gorillas must be explained. They sure aren’t Bigfoot, but then that “chimera” is a combination of many things.

*         *          *

Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

Manson Family in Context– Excuses vs Actions

Those who follow me know that I seek out mysteries with an eye to solving them. . . or contributing to that end. To document, or re-document as the case may be, a famous true crime case doesn’t really interest me. The Manson Murders are one exception. The historical backdrop is exquisite– the era is the Kodachrome brightness of childhood mixed with the innocence of the counterculture. Manson was the alchemist stirring in the darkness, the ingredient that was always ample within reach of the caldron of hippie movement.

But it is not historical interest or sentiment for the crimes and times of my fledging era. There is a possibility that there are undiscovered murders– this means mystery awaits us. I have mentioned this potential in posts before, but lets get down to context here. Just when could these murders have taken place?

Students of the Manson Family and resulting saga know that it was in January 1969 and then especially in July that Manson began to change. He was all love before that. Before this, “Everything we did,” had said Paul Watson, “was for f—ing.” So it would seem that any undiscovered murders could only have taken place after July.

Well . . .

Let’s backtrack.

Too much emphasis has been placed on Manson’s “change” and not how easily his “Family” adapted to brutal murder. It is hard to believe that only “love” was dominant in the guru’s preaching before this. He had returned from the city, visibly disturbed and warned them that Helter Skelter was about to come down and they had to be prepared to help the “little ones” escape.  This sounds like a man preparing his acolytes for action. In other words, ennobling something that otherwise would be considered barbarous. Manson-ad

By the end of July, Manson had shot Lottsapoppa Crowe and along with  Family members they had killed Gary Hinman. It really wasn’t for Helter Skelter, but the “political piggy” and blood palm print was more of an alibi, something done to blame the Black Panthers, a group whose vengeance Manson feared for the Crowe shooting. Bobby Beausoleil (the “Frenchman”) was arrested on the 8th of August for the Hinman murder and that night the Helter Skelter murders begin.

Although it is hard to believe that universal love was preached, the actions of the Family reveal that Charles Manson had taught them a lot of his version of love. He certainly inculcated in his “kids” the strong feeling of bond. More than one member of the Family plainly declared that the Helter Skelter murders were to get Beausoleil sprung from jail. They were done in imitation of the political sentiment Beausoleil wrote on the wall. This would make it look like the same killers– Black Panthers– were still afoot and Beausoleil was innocent.

Some of them certainly believed this, and Manson made sure they did. It was the bond of love for one of their own–Bobby Beausoleil– that motivated them. They may not have had hate preached to them, but a manipulative mind had solely taken control. What is amazing is how well they pulled it off.

Bobby Beausoleil

More than Manson’s “change,” the change of the “Family” is intriguing. The guru’s control had always been there, but they seemed capable of some of the worst acts with very little preparation. The murder of Gary Hinman was obviously not to free one of their own. It was vengeance, an act that Manson solely blamed on “the Frenchman.” Beausoleil was more than capable of it. Bruce Davis stood by, as did Manson, and Susan Atkins had more than a passive role. This does not argue for total love having been preached prior to the July of Change.  This was rather a hippie-esque gang of dopers and Hollywood hopefuls manipulated by a man who had Hollywood contacts in the music industry.

Following the Helter Skelter murders (Tate/La Bianca), there was the Shorty Shea murder. Officially that’s “it” for the Manson Murders because Manson was still a part of the act. After he was arrested, the crimes were perpetrated by the Manson Family.

And death and mayhem continued to follow the Manson Family even with Charlie in stir at prison.

There was the shootout at the store in Hawthorne to get weapons for the mass assault. There was the attempt to murder a family member with a poisoned hamburger. There was that unusual death of another so-called member– “ZERO” was it? There was the killing in Stockton. There was Squeaky packing heat ostensibly just to talk to President Ford in 1975.

We’re speaking about years after the Manson Family convictions. Manson and 7 Family members were in prison. But other members still rated news regarding other diabolical deeds.  With each news report Manson grew more of the bogey man, more of the controlling cursed cult guru whose clan continued their reign of terror.


Members of the family who weren’t in prison, here appearing in a photo shoot. They had a song, sung frequently in Merrick’s documentary, how they would stay together forever.

But are there other murders? Manson personally need not have been out and a part of them. His “apostles” seemed more than capable on their own. If there are undiscovered victims out there, we have to consider the Family’s pattern in order to estimate where and when some murders might have taken place. Their terrorist acts and attempted murders all revolved around a particular motive: silencing traitors or helping each other out.

This is a pretty heavy attitude for just one month of programming (July 1969) for the cult of love to change to a self-protecting band of self important gangsters.  Yet in understanding that “love” of each other was strongly preached, one can figure that any murder they did was along the lines of self protection and vengeance.

Who else could have fallen victim, and where might they be buried?

It also takes understanding who might have been in contact with them, and if those that vanished were the kind to be a threat to the Family.

I have mentioned before the irony of “Clem Tufts” turning evidence in 1977 as to where Shorty Shea had been buried on Spahn’s movie ranch. It wasn’t Bruce Davis or Tex Watson, Manson’s lieutenant and head butcher respectively, though both had undergone a religious conversion. It was poor, simple Steve Grogan.

Steve Grogan aka Clem Tufts


He was pardoned in 1986, the only member of the Manson Family involved in the murders to ever achieve pardon. He disappeared under another name.

Bruce Davis and Tex Watson continue to be denied parole to this day.  Why did they not offer to get Shorty Shea’s burial grounds off their conscience? I have asked this before. Was it fear another body might be found in the process? Steve Grogan obviously had no such fear or he wouldn’t have told the fuzz where to look.  But the judge thought that Grogan had the intelligence of only an animal. He would not have been involved in all of Manson’s dealings.

Spahn’s Ranch has been dug up before by the police looking for remains. Cadaver dogs had made at least 3 hits I’m told. But the bodies, if there were any, appear to have vanished before the police got there. Yet doubt still lingers about other victims, perhaps more over the state, that were murdered merely to protect the Family. No one even knows where to begin to look.

There is the mystery– where to begin to look? Not near Shorty Shea’s burial. If Grogan had known, I doubt he would have offered the location. But there is the Barker Ranch, a location many suspect. Manson liked another valley, and they even journey there on film for Merrick in his documentary. Perhaps it is time to start looking.

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

Family Reunion: The Manson Chronicles

It’s been a long time since I have had a post on my Manson Family research. Much has happened since then: Leslie Van Houten comes up again for parole. Bruce Davis seems perpetually to be up for parole. . . and perpetually denied. There’s the irony of Bobby Beausoleil still being in prison for one stabbing. I’m not minimizing the first “Manson Family” murder. I am simply highlighting the irony. Due to the fame and infamy of the Manson Murders he is still in prison. All other killers with only one victim to their record from that time have long been sprung. This is true even of celebrity killers, like Sal Mineo’s murderer.

The Manson Murders cannot be divorced from the period in which they occurred, the state of fearful flux society was in due to the counterculture, Vietnam, cold war nerves, and every other type of fret. But it was especially the counterculture. Manson destroyed the image of the hippies. This is commonly said. But he could only have done so because society was on the whole nervous about the hippie image and movement already.


Manson murdered the 1960s and the peace movement, it is frequently said.  This is probably true, of images anyway. But it is not frequently said that Manson created the 1970s. In image, I think this to be true. Press coverage shifted. The press had loved the counterculture image and the flower power look. Popular culture followed suit and TV and movie plots incorporated the changing mores of the time, from serious films like The Graduate to comedies like Bob Hope’s How to Commit Marriage.

All this ended with the Manson Murders. Hippies were vilified and the dark urban reality of the 1970s became the focus of the press. There was, actually, very little else they could focus on. They couldn’t continue to drumbeat peace, love, and psychedelica. We were left with the gritty, urban reality of the 1970s– Dirty Harry, The Zebra Murders, and chic urban guerillas like The Symbionese Liberation Army. There was nothing redeeming in popular culture. Without the ideal of youth seeking peace and a new way, they were written up as dropouts and dopers, and each hippie commune or long-haired kid (which was most every youth) was a potential acolyte of some devil Manson-like cult.

In fact, Satanism became a focus of the media. Satanists were blamed for cattle mutilations. That hippie hitchhiker cut the heart out of the man who gave him a lift. They were blamed for missing children. They were altars in the woods. So we heard.  Or, for a kid from Gilroy like me, they were in covens up Mount Madonna, the mountain range that separated Gilroy from Watsonville, haunted orchards, and then Santa Cruz, the hippie mecca.

I was rather intrigued to see an article recently that Quentin Tarantino was looking to make a movie on the Manson murders. From what I recalled from years ago he was the director who lamented that Hollywood had lost its ability to make the gritty urban reality pictures that so dominated the early 1970s. If so, he is the perfect one to bring the authentic flavor  to such a film and not just a facsimile of its historic image.

I have no idea, of course, if the film will be similar to Helter Skelter, or if it will focus on more than a dramatizing of the whole affair. Manson’s rise within the hippie culture and then within Hollywood was never portrayed in Helter Skelter, and it is quite fascinating how it happened, and his success crucial to understanding how he could become so intoxicated as to plan to the nights of August terror.


I’m obviously not an admirer of Manson, but I can appreciate a complex, intricate moment in time and the various and sometimes ironic elements that come together to form exceptional events in history.  All that exists in the window in time in which his bizarre murders occurred. He was both a careful manipulator of what was around him, a logistic thinker, and at times completely fooled about real life by his years in prison and by his success at conning people in the counterculture in the brief time he had been out.

A movie capturing the real Manson, his rise and fall, I think would be something welcomed rather than just another gory attempt to portray the murders, devoid of cause and effect.

Few try and explain why Manson went out on the second night. Few highlight the fact that Manson had a horror of hurting children. The news that his toadies had butchered a pregnant woman might be one of the reasons he went out. Leslie Van Houten testified at one parole hearing about how Manson returned to the car from checking out one potential house and nixed the idea by saying there were kids in there. Then he wanted to go crucify a pastor on his own cross over his church’s altar.

Who could play Manson? Off the top of my head, I would say, academically at least, Jared Leto. He might be considered too old, but he has the ability to morph into the looks and he has the eyes. I suspect someone relatively unknown might be chosen, however.

I don’t usually write on popular culture or speculate on Hollywood affairs, but the Manson murders are a complex subject to recreate dramatically, and this has seldom happened despite the fame and significance of the murders in American popular culture.  The veneer can be captured, but can the complex and agitated spirit of the times and seasons?

The Family– an interesting lot. There was the freebooting they did. The coddling they had on the fringes of a luxuriant society, the superficial Hollywood wannabes they were. There are the 2 nights of terror as they happened, and as Manson wanted them to happen. There are the after-effects Manson wanted for his own protection, and there is the hypocrisy he used to convince his followers to do the murders.

Manson was a master manipulator, but it was because of the times of the crimes. It was because he was a good judge of character, and lack thereof, in people, and the use of drugs, that he could manipulate others. But how he convinced and manipulated himself is far more intriguing.

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

The Bermuda Triangle II– a month after

It’s a month now after the hurried release of BT II. This didn’t give any time for promotion (yet). Sales continue and feedback is starting to come in on Amazon. Here’s a link for those interested in understanding this popular mystery.

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.