Five To Die
Manson 40 years

A SENSATIONAL BOOK THAT CHRONICLES THE REST OF THE MANSON FAMILY STORY
THAT COULDN'T BE TOLD 40 YEARS AGO.


Susan Atkins dies in prison September 24, 2009
Susan Atkins denied parole - September 2, 2009.

"I HAVE NO DOUBT THAT SUSAN ATKINS IS CRITICALLY ILL AND CARRIED OUT THE KILLINGS WHILE HEAVILY UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF MANSON AND HEAVY DRUG DOSES...BUT IT IS HARD TO FORGIVE AND FORGET WHEN YOU REALISE THAT SHE SHOWED NO MERCY TO THE PREGNANT SHARON TATE AND THEN BOASTED ABOUT HER PART IN THE KILLINGS"
--Ivor Davis author of "Five to Die: The Book that Helped Convict Manson."

Forty years ago, I awoke to the news that during the night one of the most brutal murder rampages in the history of California had taken place just six miles from my house.

Sharon Tate
Sharon Tate

In the early hours of August 9th l969, Sharon Tate, a devastatingly beautiful, 26-year-old actress, eight and a half months pregnant with her first child, a son, had been savagely slaughtered in a house she was renting in the Benedict Canyon area of Beverly Hills.

As the world quickly learned, the victims of a night of wholesale carnage included a group of her friends: Hollywood celebrity hair stylist Jay Sebring, coffee heiress Abigail Folger and her boyfriend Voityck Frokowsky who was an old pal of Tate’s Polish, film-director husband Roman Polanski, and a young man named Steven Parent. The l8-year-old Parent, who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, was a friend of the estate’s caretaker.At the time, I was the West Coast correspondent for one of Britain’s largest circulation newspapers and my editors immediately assigned me to find out everything I could about this senseless massacre that was instant front page news around the world. What happened that balmy Summer’s night became one of the most infamous chapters in the history of brutal murder in America.Eventually Charles Manson and his band of pitiful souls were arrested not only for the Tate murders but also for those of Los Angeles businessman Leno LaBianca, 44, and his 38-year-old wife Rosemary, whose bodies were found one day after the Beverly Hills killings in a house in Silver Lake some 13 miles from the first murder scene.I and a colleague Jerry LeBlanc wrote a fast book about the Manson murders called “Five to Die. We had an early start on the case. As soon as the story broke that Manson, who had been taken into custody at the remote Barker Ranch in Death Valley on October 12, l969 more than two months after the murders, was a key suspect in the case, we began to dig into his background and that of his ‘family.’
Remarkably, as we progressed, we seemed to be several steps ahead of police investigators.Our book was rushed out in paperback in January 1970—seven months before the trial began. It was the very first book to catalogue the bizarre story of life with Charlie Manson.

Several years later, long after I had covered the trials which resulted in first degree murder convictions for Manson and four of his acolytes-- Charles “Tex” Watson, Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel, I met former Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Aaron Stovitz. He had been head of the DA’s trial division and the lead prosecutor in the case before he was removed by the District Attorney for contravening the Judge’s gag order. Much to my astonishment Stovitz dropped a bombshell. “Your book was the blueprint for our prosecution,” he said. “It was all there for us to follow.”
“Five to Die” had not been a best seller and it received scant attention at the time it was swiftly overtaken by new developments as the sensational trial unfolded.
But the conversation with Stovitz encouraged me to revisit the book written forty years ago. And as I did I once again recalled the amazing events that led us to the real story of Manson and his murderous ‘family.’

I also revisited conversations I had had over the years with Roman Polanski, record producer Terry Melcher, his mother Doris Day and Beatle Paul McCartney as well as key figures in the trial. And I examined how I too had been personally affected by my proximity to the case, not least by the menacing death threats to myself and my family from Charlie’s ‘family.’
Here then is that personal odyssey back in time as well as an up to date picture of where Manson and his killer band are today.

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