snopes.com  

Go Back   snopes.com > Urban Legends > Crime

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 16 March 2008, 03:36 AM
snopes's Avatar
snopes snopes is offline
 
Join Date: 18 February 2000
Location: California
Posts: 109,623
Icon402 Forensic experts at Manson site

For years, rumors have swirled about other possible Manson family victims hitchhikers who visited them at the ranch and were not seen again, runaways who drifted into the camp then fell out of favor.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/csi_manson_ranch
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 16 March 2008, 10:09 PM
MisterGrey MisterGrey is offline
 
Join Date: 26 September 2002
Location: USA
Posts: 4,991
Default Possible Graves Discovered at Manson Compound

CSIs discover two possible graves at Barker Ranch, former compound of Manson Family

Quote:
...the results of just-completed followup tests suggest bodies could indeed be lying beneath the parched ground. The test findings -- described in detail to The Associated Press, which had accompanied the site search -- conclude there are two likely clandestine grave sites at Barker Ranch, and one additional site that merits further investigation.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 18 March 2008, 03:40 PM
E. Q. Taft's Avatar
E. Q. Taft E. Q. Taft is online now
 
Join Date: 30 July 2003
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 13,456
Default

One slight correction to the article:

Quote:
The Manson family members currently in prison are already serving life sentences -- the maximum penalty allowed at the time the crimes were committed.
Actually, the convicted Family members were sentenced to death at the initial trial. However, at some later time, the California Supreme Court decided that the death penalty was "cruel and unusual punishment" and all convicts on death row had their sentences reduced to life (with chance for parole, which is why Manson still gets a hearing every few years). Later, the death penalty was re-instated in the state, but those whose sentences had been reduced could not have them increased again.

I wonder if they ever have or will find the remains of Donald "Shorty" Shea, a cowboy actor/ranch hand who disappeared from the Spahn ranch? Last I read he'd never been found; it was presumed he was killed by the Family, but it couldn't be proven.

ETA: I should really do my research first..

Quote:
Shea "disappeared" in late August 1969, but his corpse went undiscovered until 1979, when another Family member, Steve "Clem" Grogan, seeking parole for the murder of Shea, agreed to tell authorities where the body was. Shea's remains were found and Grogan was paroled in 1986. To date, Grogan is the only Manson Family member convicted of murder to have been paroled.
http://www.courttv.com/archive/verdi...is_092498.html
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 18 March 2008, 05:58 PM
nancyfancypants's Avatar
nancyfancypants nancyfancypants is offline
 
Join Date: 27 July 2006
Location: Pittsburgh, PA area
Posts: 1,717
Default

There are a few pages toward the end of Helter Skelter in which Bugliosi talks about other murders that could possibly be linked to the Family. I wouldn't be surprised if they found one or more bodies at both Barker and Myers Ranches or elsewhere in the Panamint Valley.

But the bodies would be extremely difficult to identify (especially because, as the article said, many were drifters, runaways and hitchhikers). This seems like such a huge waste of time and resources, more of a mission to satisfy someone's curiosity rather than a mission to find the dead and notify their families.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 18 March 2008, 07:28 PM
RBCal RBCal is offline
 
 
Join Date: 04 April 2005
Location: Palm Springs, CA
Posts: 1,743
Default

I don't think its a waste of time. Murder doesn't have a statute of limitation. If other Manson family members committed murder they should be prosecuted.

Last year I drove through the Panamint Valley where the Barker Ranch is located. It's a vast area and they could be looking for quite a while.

(A bit off topic but recently Patricia Partin's body was found near there. She was one of Carlos Castaneda's "witches" who disappeared after his death. It is thought that she committed suicide though and was not murdered).
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 18 March 2008, 10:26 PM
nancyfancypants's Avatar
nancyfancypants nancyfancypants is offline
 
Join Date: 27 July 2006
Location: Pittsburgh, PA area
Posts: 1,717
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by RBCal View Post
I don't think its a waste of time. Murder doesn't have a statute of limitation. If other Manson family members committed murder they should be prosecuted.
But do you really think they would ever find out exactly who should be prosecuted? You can't just lump them all in together, and I doubt that any one of them would say for sure who killed whom. Those who would most likely talk at all are the women who wish to be paroled - Leslie and Patricia - and these are likely murders that took place after they were already in prison.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RBCal View Post
Last year I drove through the Panamint Valley where the Barker Ranch is located. It's a vast area and they could be looking for quite a while.
This, and the reason above, are why I think it's a waste of time.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 18 March 2008, 10:56 PM
Lainie's Avatar
Lainie Lainie is online now
 
Join Date: 29 August 2005
Location: Suburban Columbus, OH
Posts: 73,389
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by nancyfancypants View Post
But do you really think they would ever find out exactly who should be prosecuted? You can't just lump them all in together, and I doubt that any one of them would say for sure who killed whom. Those who would most likely talk at all are the women who wish to be paroled - Leslie and Patricia - and these are likely murders that took place after they were already in prison.



This, and the reason above, are why I think it's a waste of time.
I understand both points, but I'm reluctant to suggest that uncovering murders is ever a waste of time.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 18 March 2008, 11:27 PM
Daphodil's Avatar
Daphodil Daphodil is offline
 
Join Date: 22 April 2003
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 857
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by E. Q. Taft View Post
I wonder if they ever have or will find the remains of Donald "Shorty" Shea, a cowboy actor/ranch hand who disappeared from the Spahn ranch? Last I read he'd never been found; it was presumed he was killed by the Family, but it couldn't be proven.

ETA: I should really do my research first..



http://www.courttv.com/archive/verdi...is_092498.html
I'm doing some research too, because I thought there was also an attorney (defense, I think) that disappeared during the trial. There was rumor he was killed in the desert too. Checking...

I'm not crazy (just a bit off): "A few days later, Ronald Hughes had disappeared. After the trial was over, his body was found wedged between two boulders in Ventura County. One of Manson's followers later admitted that the Manson Family had murdered him." from here:

Crime Library

Last edited by Daphodil; 18 March 2008 at 11:30 PM. Reason: Added more stuff...
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 18 March 2008, 11:30 PM
Astra's Avatar
Astra Astra is offline
 
Join Date: 29 September 2001
Location: Indianapolis, IN
Posts: 8,229
Default

I find it sad to see how many people condemn this as a waste of resources or whatever, especially within my own field.

Maybe it's just because one of the most frustrating parts of the job for some people is to never be able to pin someone for a crime, but I believe that anything we can find out helps. In this case, at the very least maybe some missing people can be accounted for and their families can finally know where they went, if not who put them there.

As far as wasting resources goes, maybe it seems that way to a by-stander, but the publicity this trip is getting is a great thing. High-profile expeditions like this allow new methods to get attention and when they are successful, encourages their use.

Ground-penetrating radar is a great tool for location of clandestine graves, but it's not something people are as familiar with as cadaver dogs and the like. It's also expensive, but the price is coming down as the market has warmed to it. I saw it demonstrated a few years back in a course on clandestine graves - the radar system was mounted on a baby carriage chassis and operated by a pair of grad students testing its use in different soil types. Now companies are manufacturing such systems set up for forensic applications.

Just the stuff Oak Ridge is testing could be awesome. The grad student they mention, if I recall correctly, worked with Bill Bass at UT. A portable cadaverine sniffer could eventually be used in places too dangerous or confusing for cadaver dogs, as well as provide more information than a dog could.

Just because the bodies have been in the ground for 40 years doesn't mean they would be difficult to ID, either. Teeth take a long time to break down and the desert soil could actually be ideal for long-term preservation. Even if they were drifters, there's still a chance. To write off the entire thing because they would be "extremely difficult to identify" makes far too many assumptions to me.

Forensic science may be seen often as just a tool in prosecution, but to me it's really about the search for things we didn't know when we started. If this thing finds a couple more missing people, great. If it doesn't, but we learn a little more about how to apply technology to other searches, that's good too. In the end, whatever knowledge they pick up will help someone down the line, whether they are linked to a famous case or not.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 18 March 2008, 11:34 PM
Daphodil's Avatar
Daphodil Daphodil is offline
 
Join Date: 22 April 2003
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 857
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Astra View Post
Maybe it's just because one of the most frustrating parts of the job for some people is to never be able to pin someone for a crime, but I believe that anything we can find out helps. In this case, at the very least maybe some missing people can be accounted for and their families can finally know where they went, if not who put them there.
I agree - they may never know who did what to whom, but the victims most likely had family and the family should know they've been found.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 19 March 2008, 02:50 AM
nancyfancypants's Avatar
nancyfancypants nancyfancypants is offline
 
Join Date: 27 July 2006
Location: Pittsburgh, PA area
Posts: 1,717
Default

Sure, if that's possible. A family member would have to come forward with medical or dental records from a doctor or dentist who is probably either retired or (more likely) dead. I think the chances are pretty slim that any remains would be identifiable.

It seems odd, though, that the article talks about the probe moving easily into the ground and that it wouldn't slip that easily into undisturbed soil. That would indicate to me that this would be something more recent; I would think that the ground would have settled quite a bit in nearly 40 years.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 19 March 2008, 03:17 AM
ganzfeld's Avatar
ganzfeld ganzfeld is offline
 
Join Date: 05 September 2005
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Posts: 23,023
Glasses

Quote:
Originally Posted by nancyfancypants View Post
Sure, if that's possible. A family member would have to come forward with medical or dental records from a doctor or dentist who is probably either retired or (more likely) dead. I think the chances are pretty slim that any remains would be identifiable.
DNA testing is relatively simple if there are living relatives.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 19 March 2008, 03:51 AM
geminilee's Avatar
geminilee geminilee is offline
 
Join Date: 02 December 2005
Location: New Orleans, LA
Posts: 11,515
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ganzfeld View Post
DNA testing is relatively simple if there are living relatives.
cute, very cute.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 19 March 2008, 03:59 AM
ganzfeld's Avatar
ganzfeld ganzfeld is offline
 
Join Date: 05 September 2005
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Posts: 23,023
Icon05

Quote:
Originally Posted by geminilee View Post
cute, very cute.
Sorry, did I say something funny? I wasn't trying to.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 19 March 2008, 04:02 AM
geminilee's Avatar
geminilee geminilee is offline
 
Join Date: 02 December 2005
Location: New Orleans, LA
Posts: 11,515
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ganzfeld View Post
Sorry, did I say something funny? I wasn't trying to.
It wasn't intentional? I thought the redundancy of "relative" was for humorous effect.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 19 March 2008, 04:05 AM
ganzfeld's Avatar
ganzfeld ganzfeld is offline
 
Join Date: 05 September 2005
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Posts: 23,023
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by geminilee View Post
It wasn't intentional? I thought the redundancy of "relative" was for humorous effect.
Oh, that! Actually I only noticed after I wrote it but forgot about it after a brief chuckle to myself, thinking no one else will think that's funny.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 19 March 2008, 04:33 AM
Astra's Avatar
Astra Astra is offline
 
Join Date: 29 September 2001
Location: Indianapolis, IN
Posts: 8,229
Borg

Quote:
Originally Posted by nancyfancypants View Post
It seems odd, though, that the article talks about the probe moving easily into the ground and that it wouldn't slip that easily into undisturbed soil. That would indicate to me that this would be something more recent; I would think that the ground would have settled quite a bit in nearly 40 years.
You would think, but you would be incorrect. The ground does settle, but it remains visibly disturbed to those who know what they are looking for. As the body breaks down, it changes the soil composition and the fill at the top of the grave falls in a bit. Some of the examples I viewed were actually archaeological sites, but the difference in the ground was still very visible. While the soil in the grave isn't necessarily loose like potting soil, it's still soft when compared to soil nearby outside the burial area.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 19 March 2008, 10:45 AM
nancyfancypants's Avatar
nancyfancypants nancyfancypants is offline
 
Join Date: 27 July 2006
Location: Pittsburgh, PA area
Posts: 1,717
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ganzfeld View Post
DNA testing is relatively simple if there are living relatives.
Yes, it is. If the right ones come forward.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 20 May 2008, 07:43 PM
RBCal RBCal is offline
 
 
Join Date: 04 April 2005
Location: Palm Springs, CA
Posts: 1,743
Default

They began digging at the site yesterday and are continuing today.

IMHO, this shows that they don't know what they are doing. Its currently 120F in Death Valley. If they would have done this in the winter, the temperature would have been pleasant.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 21 May 2008, 04:14 PM
Ali Infree's Avatar
Ali Infree Ali Infree is offline
 
Join Date: 02 February 2007
Location: Wheeling, WV
Posts: 2,534
Icon86

I saw this hit the news yesterday and re-read this thread.I guess the original story was based on their plan to carry out this search.

I think I agree with RBCal. Why not do the job when the weather is better? Of course, why do you think they call it dope?

Ali "helter skelter" Infree
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 05:21 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.