52 thoughts on “Briefly…

  1. Greetings:i had heard years ago that manson as a
    Prisoner in vacaville had been a subject in psycology
    Research.and when he was released was given a
    Hippy bus and gas credit card?i think the cia etc
    Wanted to put the 60’s in a bad light. Also heard
    Ted the unibomber had been a subject in psycology
    Reseach. I was living in los angeles in summer of
    69 so i recall my emotions at the staged events.

  2. Paul Fitzgerald was a first cousin of mine. He was with the DA’s office at the time this story broke. His brother Steve told me that Paul thought he could get the two girls off until Atkins showed up.
    I got home from Nam in May 1970. Paul is no longer with us but his brother Steve is. My Mother’s name was Fitzgerald. Paul was one of her brothers kids.
    Mr. John Butterfield

  3. Just into reading chaos. On page 53 of my hard copy, there are two separate references to a house, namely “the Cielo house” and “the Tate house”. I assume this is the same house where the murders took place but why the different labelling? Is this meant to imply that Sharon Tate was resident while the S&M movies were being produced?

  4. I’m halfway through Chaos and cursing every time I get interrupted. Damn you, modern world! Just wanted to say how much I’m enjoying your archaeological dig into such a pivotal time in America’s past. I remember the times well and your research and perseverance are mind-blowing.
    Just finished section on Reeve Whitson, now I want a book on him! Fascinating. Are you game?

  5. Dear Mr. O’Neill,
    I am just finishing my read of your new book on the unfinished business of the 60’s.
    It is the best book or article I have read on the subject by far.
    I met Mr. Bugliosi and his son when they came to our house in Covina to take some bamboo from our backyard. This is well before Manson. She joined the DA’s office right after retiring from the LASO. She was one of three women who were hired by LASO to work the Woman’s Prison at Terminal Island. So she was there when Manson was. She knew Barbara Graham. She said Barbara was innocent. She knew Bill Hunter. She was the first woman to work in a Field Office, Temple City.
    Now I look online and see that there is a “the Art of Charles Manson at the Lethal Amounts Gallery in Hollywood. Tomorrow is the premier show omg of a documentary by Nicholas Schreck at the Zebulon Theater in Silverlake.
    As per the Hollywood Reporter. I see this as buzz due to the release of Quentin Tarantino’s new flick.
    I hope it helps sell your book. You deserve it.
    My name is Richard Higgs. My mother was the Witness Investigator who was responsible for Linda Kasabian. Otherwise known as “alternative arrangements.” Check out Seven Psychopaths, the movie.
    I live in Bellingham WA. 360-305-4183.

  6. In the UK Northwest, Wh Smith (bookseller, news and stationary) had your book on offer in early July under new books non-fiction, but no longer has it on sale the past few weeks. Stopped by Waterstones today but didn’t see if on offer under new books. Not sure if the book is on re-order.

    Started reading new Chaos book, wow, so much work as gone into this. Congrats.

    Hope your book doesn’t get the cold shoulder treatment because

  7. Hi Tom,

    I just finished the book, thanks to RS for shedding light on it. I very much enjoyed the read and appreciated some of the newer revelations. I think that you accomplished much.

    You mentioned that your family is here in Philadelphia. Can I ask what part and how often do you return? I’d love to buy you a beer and have you sign my copy if your ever available.

    Best regards

    J Fafara

  8. Really enjoyed your book. I hope you get paid royally for your herculean efforts.
    Also being from Philadelphia, I was curious if you knew where George Spahn lived in Chestnut Hill? Thanks, way to go.

    • I have read your book. I would like to talk to you at some point. Your book, plus the new movie, will affect the value of my Manson Memorabilia, so it behooves me to revisit the past once again. I was a volunteer at the Southern California Counseling Center. What they called a peer counselor. Dr. Walter Kempler gave us a demonstration of his use of Existential Encounter Therapy. Zen Wanderer talked about Behavior Therapy techniques. Fritz Perls came from New York and partnered up with Kempler. Frederick Stoller joined them. Kempler was head of Gateways, a private psychiatric hospital. This was the Kempler Institute at its height. In 1970 Kempler abruptly left for Denmark. He never returned. Now I think I know why.

      Sent from my iPhone

      >

  9. Thank you for all your sacrifices, Mr. O’Neill. I’m also from the Philadelphia area. The book was incredible. It was tremendously cohesive and the reader was able to follow the breadcrumbs, especially considering how exhaustive the research was. I am a long time amateur researcher of all things from history that I am very skeptical of, with the Manson case being near the top of the list. This is the most comprehensive and effective book on the matter I’ve ever seen. It filled in so many gaps that we’ve been lied to about for all these years. In my opinion, please do not feel like you have failed by not finding a ‘smoking gun’. I think you have triumphed in the exact way you state, that you’ve proven that the story they’ve told us for 50 years is not true and that Bugliosi especially was always a narcissistic compulsive liar with an agenda. I hope people will not treat you like they have treated other brave journalists who have had the courage to uncover the truth, such as Gary Webb and Jim Marrs. You have my sincerest thanks.

  10. Reflections on Chaos – Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties, by Tom O’Neill with Dan Piepenbring

    Did you know that Charles Manson and his followers were arrested and released multiple times not long before the Tate-LaBianca murders? What was the motive behind these killings? Why are files about Manson still secret, 50 years after the crimes?

    I’ve just finished reading Tom O’Neill’s fascinating and compelling new book about Charles Manson and his followers, Chaos – Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties. If you are interested in understanding US culture and politics in the 1960’s and 1970’s, you’re going to have to spend time with this book and consider its implications. Chaos does a splendid job documenting in compelling detail how Manson and some of his followers had “get out of jail free” cards. The book also proves Manson’s prosecutor, Vince Bugliosi, to be a self-promoting sociopath and a completely unethical lawyer.

    Chaos doesn’t quite connect Manson to known US Intelligence operations such as COINTELPRO. However, the book does make a compelling showing that the Manson pattern of local law enforcement being countermanded by “higher authorities” from the federal secret police (FBI-CIA) is consistent with these covert domestic operations. Manson and his followers are treated differently from other criminals. There are significant irregularities. Did you know that, at the time Manson was putting together his little cult, he was under federal probation? Did you know his probation officer, a guy who was studying connections between drug use and violence, had only one person under his supervision?

    The author spent 20 years on this book. It started as a magazine piece and morphed into a life-dominating experience in street-level journalism. Part of what makes this book so useful is that the author doesn’t take the easy way out and engage in reasonable-but-salacious theories about “what really happened.” Instead, he shares his reasoning with us, his motivations for pursuing various leads and asking specific questions. Many of these questions remain unanswered. Chaos helps us consider important issues – both about the Manson case and about current events. This book puts a remarkable degree of order to a multidimensional spiderweb of connections, and helps us make better sense of them.

    Law enforcement in southern California has been making a dog’s breakfast of hugely important cases for decades. Anybody who studies the murder of Robert Kennedy soon sees that the LAPD’s handling of the case was wildly improper. Bobby Kennedy’s family has argued in public that the convicted assassin could be factually innocent of his murder. That killing was just a bit more than a year before the Tate-LaBianca crimes. The LAPD “police spying” case was litigated for years in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Again, tons of horrifying information about illegal police and prosecutorial policies and practices came out. A few years later, nobody close to southern California law enforcement or the criminal justice system in LA was surprised by the Rodney King beating.

    Thinking about Patty Hearst in the 1970’s, or OJ Simpson much more recently, one doesn’t have to look far to see that the cases are irregular, that there’s quite a bit more going on than meets the eye. In all these cases, we see compelling evidence of corruption in high places across law enforcement and the news media. At the same time, we also see that some of the most important sources for tracking down important leads come from sincere “by-the-book” members of law enforcement and journalism. In the end, it comes down to each of us thinking critically and with heart, but without succumbing to the temptations of overreaching. Tom O’Neill serves as a fine role model for this approach to journalism.

    The 50-year anniversary of the Manson murders finds the USA perhaps as upset and divided as it was in 1969. The historical record proves that America’s most bitter divisions in the 1960’s were made worse – consciously – by the federal ‘intelligence’ agencies and by their local agents and colleagues. Nobody doubts that these agencies are vastly more entrenched and powerful today than they were 50 years ago. So to me, the most important question implied by Chaos – Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties isn’t about Charlie Manson or the 1960’s, but about today: To what extent are America’s current violence and culture wars the deliberate work-product of US domestic covert operations?

    My takeaway from all of this is a sense that modern America is far more like the former East Germany than anybody wants to admit. I say we should all demand a Truth and Reconciliation process, right here in the good old US of A. We need to open our military and intelligence files and take a good look at what happened – is happening – to our society.

    Surely we can do better.

  11. Tom, thanks for writing your great book. There are so many, many answered questions, and now I want to find the truth. Do you think Manson had a sexual hold on all of these straight men. Either with his wives or him, or they liked his stories. Or they gave Manson drugs for his Family, and finally, did they know before the murders, that Manson was planning something horrific. I do know people in Hollywood and Beverly Hills still talk about it. As you know there is something still missing from the Truth of this story.

  12. Hi Tom,
    I really enjoyed your book, thanks so much for writing it!
    I’m trying to do some research on a list of trials Bugliosi was involved in but i’m not finding a comprehensive list.
    Could you point me in the right direction?
    Thanks again.
    Ross

  13. Just finished CHAOS, great read, thank you for devoting so much of your life to shining a flashlight into the corners of this great mystery.

    Now I wish it were four books or five – one on just the San Fancisco days and the forming of the Family, one on Hollywood in the late 60’s, one on the Ranch days, one on intelligence connections throughout, and maybe one that follows the full timeline in order from the 1950’s through the 1970’s.

    Again, thank you!

    Mark

  14. Hi Tom! I’ve always been fascinated by this case. My dad moved out to LA in the mid seventies and told me stories about Hollywood and how there were still Manson holdovers floating around the city. I just moved to Los Angeles a little over a week ago and I’ve been reading your book. I’m two hundred pages in and I cannot thank you enough for devoting all of your time and energy for twenty years in to this. It’s fascinating and informative. I wish you all the best!
    -Max

  15. Thank you for taking such risks to write this book. I couldn’t put it down and went back to reread much of it. Did you ever look into the Hollywood Hospital that operated in Vancouver, BC? They were notorious for treating alcoholism and homosexuality with LSD straight from the lab in Switzerland. A few celebs used to go there for LSD treatment such as Cary Grant, Ethel Kennedy, and Andy Williams. I often wondered if the CIA was involved with that little operation of Dr. Ross McLean.

  16. Hello Tom and thank you for your excellent effort and research which I cannot put down. It reminds me of Maury Terry’s definitive work on the New York shootings in 1977- his book was The Ultimate Evil and his research led him into realizing the connections between the Manson family and the Satan worshiping group in New York. Six years ago I had a novel published Imagery: The Day Before on the world after the war with Iran a world of global militarism. It is available from Friesenpress.com and from Amazon. Thank you again! Willard Payne-Flossmoor, IL

  17. Hi Tom. I had a question about someone named Jauques Honduras. In the documentary Inside the Manson Gang the director/narrator claims that someone named Jauques Honduras(not sure if I’m spelling that right) who was Close to Tate told her to stay away from the house til her baby was born. I was wondering if you knew who this person was and if you had any contact with him. I can’t find any info on this guy. There was a spoken word of sorts ecord released under the name but not sure if it’s the same guy.

    Anyway just finished CHAOS and really enjoyed it. Thanks

  18. Hi Tom. I had a question about someone named Jauques Honduras. In the doc Inside the Manson Gang the director/narrator claims that someone named Jauques Honduras(not sure if I’m spelling that right) who was Close to Tate told her to stay away from the house til her baby was born. I was wondering if you knew who this person was and if you had any contact with him. I can’t find any info on this guy. There was a spoken word of sorts ecord released under the name but not sure if it’s the same guy.

    Anyway just finished CHAOS and really enjoyed it. Thanks

    • Hi Jacob,
      I looked into Robert Henrickson’s cryptic claims re this fellow and his connection to Tate and possibly the Family, but could never confirm anything substantial. Thanks for the kind words about my book.
      Best,
      Tom

  19. Thank you for this book. Thank you for your dedication. I’m listening to it for the fifth time. There’s so much to digest.

      • Hey, Tom, I keep thinking about your book all the time. I know that their is still more to this very scary, haunting story.

        I consider trump a mass murderer now when you consider how many Kurds have been killed.

        I hope all is well with you. What is your next book going to be about? Or are you taking a long deserved rest?

        All my best, Steven Michael Mascaro

  20. Hello Tom,
    I got so much good stuff from your book.
    I met Bugliosi in ‘68 when he came to my mother’s house in Covina. She had just started working for the DA as an Investigator. I find it interesting to that there is no mention of her role
    in Helter Skelter. I assume that the “cousin” in Texas was Tom Montgomery. Also interesting.
    I suspect that your book is doing well, as it should. It gives me motivation to finish my own.
    Add to that Tarantino’s new movie, and we have a Buzz blast. While I was not CIA, but I was in the NSA in ‘62-63. In the 80’s I attended a Workshop on Suicide at UCLA taught by Dr. Edwin Schneidman. Google just told me that he gave the Eulogy at Dr. West’s funeral.
    Interesting.

  21. Dear Tom, I just finished your book in two days and it was so good, I loved all the research you have done and the thoroughness. I hope one day this book gets adapted to film or a tv series because I would definitely watch it. Thank you for this great book and in the future I hope you will write more stuff.

  22. Hello, Tom.
    I just finished your book. It was an articulate, well written, exhaustive and might I say, mind-blowing, account of the crime that changed the world as we knew it. That said, I have some information with which I would like to provide you and to which there was no reference made in either your text or the end notes. While it is not my intention to fuel your self-confessed obsession, I think the resource I offer may prove to be, at the least, of interest, should you have any further curiosity about this particular narrative.

  23. Tom-
    Heard you on NPR talking about CHAOS. My family we getting ready to go on a 10-day vacation and I was looking for something compelling to read. Suffice to say, I’m glad you were obsessed enough with this project to spend the better part of 30 years delving into it. On the other hand, don’t you wish you could go back and time and tell some of these guys, “dude, just be honest with me. It’ll save me a LOT of time digging into the truth.”

    It’s striking how cagey some of your interviewees were. Years later, many of them were still so tight lipped taking useful information to their graves. You’d think after 20 years some of them could’ve loosened up a bit.

    Anyway, thank you for this. It’s the best book I’ve read (and first book I couldn’t put down) since the Steve Jobs bio from Walker Isaacson.

  24. Hey Tom,
    Just finished “Chaos…”. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would like to correspond with you if that is possible. Heard your interview on NPR, ordered the book and am a better person because of it.
    Thanks,
    Steve Miller

  25. Hey Tom,
    I finished reading “Chaos…” this past Friday and that evening saw Neil deGrasse Tyson on Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect. The astrophysicist, in response to religious people believing planet earth is flat and the universe is 6000 years old named 3 truths.
    He said there is A. personal truth, like religious beliefs that are engrained in us from childhood,
    Like Jesus is your personal saviour.
    B. Political truth which we come to believe because it is repeated constantly, like “Im going to make America Great again” or “19 individuals from the Middle-East are responsible for the events of Sept 11, 2001.
    C. Scientific Truth which is true whether our personal or political beliefs endorce it or not.
    As I was listening to Tyson, again having just finished “Chaos”, it dawned on me that except for political interference/stonewalling the public would have a completely different understanding concerning Charles Manson . You have enlightened me. And believe me, I am not a conspiracy theorist. I am into conspiracy truth and have studied the assassinations of the 60’s, Vietnam, Oscar Romero’s slaughter, the Bush Crime family, 9/11, etc, etc. The common denominator in the Manson story along with all the rest is the CIA and political “truth”. What I found refreshing and hope proves to be contagious with the American public is your curiosity. We the American people are much to complacent and compliant and all too ready to believe the “official story.”

  26. Reading your fascinating Chaos book. Excellent structure choice reminds me of Search for the Manchurian Candidate. Great job. You deserve an award. And a vacation, too.

  27. Thanks for the book Tom. I also interviewed ” Vinny the bug” twice . First was after his Soros pub book about Bush. Second was for his JFK book I think. I hit him with a bunch of the same questions about Manson, and the weirdness of the Tate house / Laural Canyon. It got pretty weird. On you tube from 2010,? Got a message that Charlie heard it. Ha ha. Anyway congrats. Let’s do an interview someday.

  28. Finished the audiobook today. It was very good. Thank you for the years of hard work and debt.
    Reading between the lines is where the CIA operates. Because of the nature of clandestine alphabet agencies proof is difficult to deal in but, books like yours and “Dr. mary’s monkeys” , “ Confessions of an economic hitman” and countless others allow pieces of the puzzle on how our current world situation came to be (there are few if any coincidences)
    And side note have you seen the off the cuff interview with Charles “kid” that was posted in the last week?

  29. Hello my name is Claire. If possible I would love to speak with Mr. O’Neil, I know the Decarlo family and my father was close friends with the Foldgers. I’ve been fascinated with this case since Mr. Decarlo told me who Manson was. This book has me captivated and I just can not peel away from it. It’s really amazing.

      • No he’s not, I played with his granddaughter.
        Her and I were playing in her room one day at her grandfathers house where she lived with her dad. I don’t think her mom was ever in the picture.
        This was when Marilyn Manson was a huge hit so her and I were listening to his CD when she turned to us and said “hey did you guys know my grandpa knew Charles Manson?”
        None of us really knew who he was at the time but when she said this oh boy did grandpa get pissed. He screamed at us “STOP TELLING PEOPLE OR YOU’LL PUT ME IN JAIL”. His son who is my friends father tried calming his dad down but it didn’t work. We continued to get scolded for talking about Manson and mentioning his name to friends. He had us kicked out of the house haha which I now look back on and it’s just funny he made two 11yr old girls leave his house and go some where else cause we made him that uncomfortable.

      • Sorry to be like this but it’s not ok to share personal information about people via the internet. I’ll be contacting Tom privately via email.
        He has passed away and it was very heart breaking for my friend and her father.
        Yes he had tons of motorcycles outside because he was for sure in a biker gang (he was always wearing his cut) and yes my mother didn’t like me playing over there. When she found out what we all knew. I was no longer allowed to play at her house.
        He was definitely dealing drugs out of that house. I got all of my information from the father, grandfather & the grand daughter.

        I will be emailing the author because last thing anyone needs is some fan of this book contacting the family to try and prove a point.

        This is a wonderful book full of scary facts that even I see are real hard facts.

  30. Am reading the “chaos” book and am wondering about the corrine calvet and johnny fontaine marriage in the fifties. I can’t find anything on a johnny fontaine except as a character in the “godfather” movie. And he isn’t listed as any of calvet’s husbands. Also on page 91 I noticed a disparagement with some dates. In the last paragraph, you write about manson’s obsession with the beatles “white” album, released in november 1968. Next sentence refers to how “things only got worse in the winter of ’69, when he arranged for melcher to come out . . .”. Murders happened in august of ’69. You see my confusion. Is it just a typo? Please, can you explain both? Thank you.

    • Hi Dixiie,
      Thanks for the question and you’re not the first to ask about the Fontaine info in the book (I’m also going to put the following in the end notes of the paperback edition of CHAOS which comes out this summer).
      Look up the actor “Jeffrey Stone” on Wikipedia and you’ll see that he was born “Johnny Fontaine” and married Calvet (and had a kid with her) before changing his name to Stone. I was told by Corrine Calvet (among others) that the Godfather character “Johnny Fontane” (no “i”) was Mario Puzo’s inside nod to her ex-husband who had the same relationship with mobsters that the fictional one did. He changed his name to “Jeffrey Stone” because his connections to Mickey Cohen were preventing him from getting work in the 1950s. If you look at the IMDB entry for “Jeffrey Stone,” you’ll see the false story the studio put out to explain the name change (they said it was done because it sounded too much like Joan Fontaine!).
      I’m a little confused by your second question, though — things DID get worse as 1969 progressed…

  31. Dear Mr. O’Neill:
    I really enjoyed Chaos. It is definitely the most fascinating book on Manson that I’ve read so far. I was wondering what you thought about Manson’s connections to the Process Church of the Final Judgement. I know Ed Sanders seemed to think there was a deeper connection there. But I’m reading “Love, Sex, Fear, Death” by Timothy Wyllie and he says there was no connection other than an article that Manson wrote for their magazine. Also, I would love to hear your thoughts on Timothy Leary? He was in prison with Manson and he also seems to be a guy with a lot of CIA connections.

      • Leary’s LSD experiments at theMillbrook house in NY were being bankrolled by William Mellon Hitchcock of the Mellon family who later went on to bankroll the mass distribution of LSD through the Brotherhood of Eternal Love aka the “Hippie Mafia.” There are court records to that effect because Hitchcock got busted and later turned informant. I’ve read that the Mellon family had close ties to the CIA but I haven’t confirmed that. Wouldn’t be surprising though.

  32. After hearing your interview on NPR – “Radio Times” October of 2019, light bulbs went off in my head unleashing a whole train of thought going back to ’69 about my life and personal interactions. I bought your book, read by my partner Deb who relayed it all to me. Your interview and book tied together many disturbing loose ends in my life since 1969. Ironically, the very morning of your interview, I woke up agitated with a very strong vibe about wanting to know about what the deal was with so many of those weird cults from the ”60s and ’70s. I asked Deb if she would post a question on Facebook that day about those cults and people’s experiences. I had encounters back then with those ubiquitous groups–which popped up like mushrooms everywhere–all with different names but the same M.O.including to how they tried to recruit me each time. I couldn’t join any of them because I was already serving the ultimate cult of all Americans – the United States Government. I had been drafted and was serving my time stateside in a private hospital with military ties; my charge nurses were military because this was Ike Eisenhower’s hospital, where he was served when he was in PA. Which was most of the time because he lived in the state on his farm nearby. I had to keep my nose clean and not get in any trouble and make sure my record as a nurse’s ass’t was clean there. One of the women who relied on me for my patriotism and work ethic, came up to me one day and asked, “Are you Charlie Manson?” I was in shock, since I was working side by side w /her every day, doing my service in a peaceful way, trying to save lives and attending to many sick people. I was the antithesis of everything Manson and all his copycats were. Within my 2 years of service every dirty trick in the COINTELPRO book was played on me. I survived this honorably, just to be blacklisted and targeted some more. I was left with PTSD from all this and my life being destroyed and having to start over in this new dystopian world I found myself in, with no underpinnings because once I was drafted I fell down the same rabbit hole you ventured into. I’m still trying to find my way out of this puzzle factory, and once I find out I’ll let you know. THANK YOU for making me feel saner than I have in a long long time, and more spiritually together. Such a wonderful service. Thanks for your pain, poverty, dedication and service to the truth. You are a true citizen patriot. Like all journalists committed to the Truth.

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