May 25, 2013

New Manson clues? LAPD reviews Charles Manson follower's tapes for new clues

New Manson clues? LAPD reviews Charles Manson follower's tapes for new clues After a lengthy battle, Los Angeles Police Department detectives and prosecutors have decades-old audiotapes that could shed new light on other cases potentially connected to the Charles Manson killing rampage.

LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said the department's elite Robbery-Homicide Division, along with Los Angeles County prosecutors, are starting to review the tapes of conversations between one of Charles Manson's most fervent followers and his late attorney to see whether they can help solve more cases from that period.

U.S. District Judge Richard A. Schell in March ruled that Charles Watson waived his attorney-client privilege when he allowed the lawyer to sell the tapes to an author who wrote a book on Watson.

The LAPD did not take immediate custody of the tapes because of the potential for appeals by Watson.

LAPD Robbery-Homicide detectives sought the tapes because they believe that during the several hours of conversations, Watson "may have discussed additional unsolved murders committed by Manson followers."

Investigators believe the Manson family may have been responsible for more than the nine slayings that members were officially tied to or convicted of four decades ago.

Over the years, people, including Manson and prosecutors, have said his followers were connected to more killings. A bankruptcy judge ruled last year that the LAPD can have the tapes that were part of the lawyer's estate.

Watson, however, appealed that ruling, claiming they were privileged. Smith said the department owes it to the victims and their families to ensure every facet of the case is thoroughly and completely investigated. Watson has denied the tapes will shed any new light on the killings.

But the tapes could provide the first new clues concerning the killings in decades. Watson is serving a life sentence for killing Sharon Tate and four others.

Detectives until now had not been able to get the tapes, but Watson's attorney died in 2009 and the attorney's law firm filed for bankruptcy. Watson's decision to sell the tapes to a coauthor of his 1978 book "Will You Die for Me? The Man Who Killed for Charles Manson Tells His Own Story" waived his attorney-client privilege, the judge ruled.

Manson prosecutor Stephen Kay has said Manson bragged about additional killings. Over the years, questions have persisted about a man's apparent suicide in England, the drowning of an attorney in Ventura County and whether bodies are buried at the California ranches the cult called home.

There are also the killings of two Scientologists and separate slayings of two women in the Hollywood Hills. read more