The story of the Manson Family at the Hog Farm commune

The Manson Family were a nomadic commune, a warped counterculture movement, a messianic cult, and ultimately a bunch of thrill-kill savages, responsible for the heinous August 1969 Tate/LaBianca murders. They killed several people, in part to start a race war which their guru/father figure/cult leader Charles Manson had prophesized. When the race war (which he called “Helter Skelter” in homage to the Beatles’ song) didn’t happen naturally, Charlie gathered several of his doped-out followers and ordered them to the Hollywood Hills home of actress Sharon Tate. Tate, 8-months pregnant…

I’m way more interested in how Elizabeth Short lived

It’s the shocking story of a woman killed and mutilated, her body cut in two and left for all the world to see.

Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia

Discovered 74 years ago by a housewife walking with her daughter, the cold and lifeless severed body of Elizabeth Short was dumped in a vacant lot in Los Angeles. The woman who found her initially thought she was looking at pieces of a department store mannequin. The body was bisected with surgical precision, drained of blood and disemboweled.

The victim had multiple cuts, bruises, contusions showing signs of…

“Recovering Alcoholics Reading This Are All nodding”

Your top comments this month to my stories

I started doing this last month — sharing some of the comments that others at Medium have shared to my stories. You may not always agree with my perspective, and I may not always love your responses but I do think it’s instructive to acknowledge them.

To my first story about Patty Hearst (the second was more about my own feelings about the Symbionese Liberation Army who kidnapped her in 1974), I received a comment from JacksDaName who responded to my comment within the article:

What may have happened to this missing young man

I’m a big fan of the podcast “And Then They Were Gone.” Now in its second season, hosts Kona and Ethan highlight the stories of people who suddenly went missing and were never found. As they say, “There’s a special kind of pain in the not knowing” and each of these tales are heartbreaking — children who may have been sexually trafficked, women who likely met with foul play, stranger abductions, and other mysteries perhaps yet to be solved.

I’ve been listening to this podcast since it launched in 2020. I…

Paul: thank you for the clarification on Ramer's name (it's spelled multiple ways and I had trouble finding his biographical info). The language of "Charlie began to understand that he was 'an immortal spiritual being'" is taken directly from my book, is my own language but culled from Scientology's stated beliefs - not a literal quote from Manson himself. An imagined 'awakening' on Charlie's behalf and a bit of literary assumption on my part;)

I will have to check out Ramer's 1972 article. Appreciate the comments!

Walking away from your life in today’s technology

I’m currently catching up on Season 2 of the podcast And Then They Were Gone. This podcast explores the stories of people who went missing, and have never been found. Shoutout to Kona and Ethan of ATTWG, who do a great job of sharing these stories of people who suddenly disappeared, leaving loved ones to wonder (sometimes for decades) what became of them.

I’m only a few episodes into Season 2, but already they’ve explored the stories of a couple of people who may have simply walked away from their lives. …

A follow-up to my article about Patty Hearst

Just yesterday, I posted an article here at Medium about the 1974 kidnapping of Patricia Hearst by the Symbionese Liberation Army, a radical group that wanted to exchange 19-year old Patty, heiress to the Hearst media fortune, for two men who had recently been arrested for a murder sanctioned by the SLA.

I argued that the narrative around Hearst — who famously ‘joined’ her captors in their armed rebellion after spending 58 days locked in a closet and indoctrinated with their rhetoric — has been co-opted by the far right to suppress…

Don’t let the anti-leftist agenda reframe the narrative around Patty Hearst

There was a knock at the door. It was 9 o’clock on a Monday night, February 4, 1974 in Berkeley, California. The couple inside — 26-year old math teacher Steven Weed and his 19-year old girlfriend, UC Berkeley Art History major Patricia Campbell Hearst — were enjoying a relaxing evening after dinner, watching evening television while Steven graded papers. The knock sounded furtive, intrusive and Patricia’s first thought was “Don’t open it” before Steven got up and went to the door.

Patricia Hearst with her fiance, Steven Weed just weeks before her abduction

Immediately, three people wearing dark clothing burst into…

What happened to Diane Schuler?

Diane Schuler with her children

Have you ever had a moment so bad that it’s a miracle you survived?

I did. Fifteen years ago my world came crashing to a halt. I was alone, ostracized by my so-called friends and in a complete panic. I remember sitting in my new house, on the floor of an empty living room, and then something really terrible happened.

I blacked out.
I was stone cold sober, by the way. But as I sat on that floor, feeling my heart racing and my mind spiraling, I lost time. Perhaps a few seconds, or maybe…

Yep - I read that book when I was a young adult. It was heartbreaking, learning how troubled her daughter had been her whole life and knowing the family had little they could do to control her, or her tragic outcome.

I totally believed Sid had killed her most of my life, until I watched a couple documentaries in recent years and began questioning the story. Could he have done it? Sure, I do believe he was capable of murder. It's just baffling that police apparently never looked seriously at any of the other potential suspects.

Steven C was someone…

H. Allegra Lansing

Author of the “More to the Story” true crime nonfiction series.

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