the story of one of Charlie’s youngest followers
Ruth Ann Moorehouse was just 14 years old when she met Charles Manson in the summer of 1967, introduced by her own father. A few months later, she was emancipated and went to live with the Manson Family.
Ruth Ann Moorehouse was born on January 6, 1953 in Toronto, Canada. Her parents both grew up in Minnesota. Her father, Deane, was a pastor. Her mother was the former Audrey Lucille Sirpless. Audrey and Deane had three children shortly after their 1939 marriage: Kathleen (born 1940), Deane Junior (born 1941) and Sharon (born in 1945). We don’t know what took the family to Canada but it was there that little Ruthie was born.
By the mid-60s, the family was living in San Jose, California and by 1967, Deane was no longer a pastor. That summer, while driving, he picked up a scruffy hitchhiker named Charles Manson. Charlie and old Deane started talking about the Bible, and Moorehouse soon invited his passenger to come to the house for dinner.
Charlie agreed, and accompanied Deane to his house. There, he found two objects that he greatly admired: a piano, and Dean’s 14-year old daughter Ruth Ann.
Deane later proved himself a creepy old man and this author suspects that he may have molested his own daughter. She was certainly highly sexualized for someone so young.
A week later, Charlie returned to the Moorehouse home and negotiated with one of Deane’s neighbors to exchange the piano for a 1961 Volkswagen microbus. Charlie and Mary Brunner, the first member of his so-called Family, turned that VW into a mobile love pad. Soon, he was using it travel around the state including the Los Angeles area. It was in Venice Beach where, one day that summer, he met Lynette Fromme (later known as Squeaky).
Squeaky Fromme Didn’t Really Intend to Kill the President
she just wanted to free her beloved Charles Manson
Charlie brought Mary and Lynette to San Jose, to visit the Moorehouse residence. They planned to stay for a night or two but two weeks later, they were still there. Charlie and Dean rapped all night about Jesus while Dean’s frustrated wife grew impatient with their houseguests. Audrey Moorehouse finally left to visit her sister, leaving the threesome with Dean and youngest, Ruth Ann. One day, Charlie and Ruth Ann left together in the VW bus. Her mother called the house several times, demanding to know where her daughter was. When she spoke to Lynette, Audrey was told not to worry.
Meanwhile in Mendocino County, Charlie had sex with the 14-year old a few times before being found by police who’d been contacted by Ruth Ann’s mother. Manson was arrested. Ruth Ann was sent home but not before Charlie gave her a piece of advice: marry some poor schmuck and you’ll be emancipated. Then you can leave him and do whatever you want to do.
Audrey and Dean got divorced soon after that.
- The Manson Family: More to the Story by H. Allegra Lansing ©2019 Swann Publications
A month or two later, Charlie, Mary and Lyn again visited the Moorehouse home. Deane ran outside, shouting at Charlie for deflowering his precious daughter. Charlie and the women jumped back in the van and tried to drive away. But Deane soon followed:
“Moorehouse… grabbed a shotgun and set off in pursuit. He had no trouble tracking the black school bus, and somewhere along the road he cornered Charlie, announced that he was going to kill him, and put the shotgun to his head. The others from the bus were frozen with fear… then Charlie did something that seemed to them to confirm his specialness, even his divinity. This crazy man was about to murder him and Charlie wasn’t afraid. Moorehouse screamed that Charlie was about to die and Charlie smiled and said quietly, ‘Go ahead, shoot me,’ which stopped Moorehouse cold… Charlie’s tone was calm and his voice didn’t quaver. He gently put his hand on Moorehouse’s shoulder and talked about how love was so much better than anger, and what a relief it was when you gave up your individuality and became part of a real family. Moorehouse put down the gun.” — Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson by Jeff Guinn ©2013 Simon & Schuster
Three days later, Ruth Ann ran away. Deane tracked her down where Manson and the women were staying in Santa Barbara and dragged his daughter home. But not before Charlie slipped Dean a tab of acid. Old Dean was noticeably calmer when he departed than when he arrived.
Manson didn’t want to get arrested again so he convinced Ruth Ann to go home but reminded her that if she were married, she’d be free. She went back to San Jose, and married a 23-year old bus driver named Edward Huevelhorst. She bided her time for a few months, until she could join Charlie and the women.
Charlie soon added several more women to his growing claim including Patricia Krenwinkel, Susan Atkins and Ella Jo Bailey. They were a nomadic clan, traveling around the Southwest together in an old school bus (they upgraded from the VW in the fall of ‘67). By early 1968, two of the women (Mary Brunner and Susan Atkins) were pregnant and Charlie was looking for a place for them to stay in the Los Angeles area while he pursued getting a record deal.
He was very fortunate to meet the acquaintance of Dennis Wilson, drummer for the Beach Boys. Dennis enjoyed Charlie’s music, his philosophy, and his women. So, too, did Dennis’s friends. It was while the Family was staying at Wilson’s Pacific Palisades home that Ruth Ann ditched her husband and finally joined them.
The Beach Boys and Charles Manson
the band’s relationship with Charlie began with a threesome
The day she arrived, now 15 years old, Manson whisked her into Dennis’ bedroom for sex. The teen was turned off when Charlie also invited Lynette to join them, but she didn’t say no. Over the next few months the dark-haired adolescent found herself the object of many men’s attentions and was often used as Charlie’s pawn. He would lure a man with the promise of sex with lovely Ruth Ann, getting them to agree to him, or he’d withhold Ruth Ann until he got what he wanted from one of her many admirers. Like talent agent Gregg Jakobson. Or record producer Terry Melcher, the man who then lived at 10050 Cielo Drive — the house where Sharon Tate and four others were later killed by members of the Manson Family.
Meanwhile, crazy Dean Moorehouse showed up at Wilson’s. The acid trip Charlie sent the ex-preacher on the previous fall had caused a dramatic personality change in the man. He wasn’t preaching the Bible anymore and no longer looked the part of the devout minister: he’d grown his balding hair out and wore an untidy beard. He came looking, once again, for Ruth Ann but after he saw Wilson’s palatial estate, he seemed fine with just squatting there and seeing his daughter from time to time. Moorehouse became a fixture at the house, a weird gnome with his gut hanging out, ogling the hot Sunset Strip babes that liked to visit the famous drummer who lived there. — The Manson Family: More to the Story by H. Allegra Lansing ©2019 Swann Publications
But soon after, Charlie and his group left Wilson’s to live at a ranch in Chatsworth, California. It was during that summer (1968), largely thanks to ranch owner George Spahn, that many of the Family members got their unusual nicknames.
Ruth Ann became ‘Ouisch’ (pronounced Oh-weesh!). One source cited that it was the whistling sound men made when the pubescent beauty walked by. Ouisch was in charge of garbage runs. She was so young that anyone would take pity on her if she was caught. But all the girls knew that if they were caught, they were to flirt their way out of the situation.
But her main responsibilities became taking care of the children in the Family, and helping Spahn run his pony-ride business.
The Manson Family left Spahn Ranch in October 1968 and went to Death Valley for several weeks. But they were back by the Spring of ’69, and with them came a dangerous new element: the outlaw motorcycle gang the Straight Satans.
Charles Manson was a sex trafficker. He had served time in prison on charges related to pimping, and the women in his Family were used to attract, and to keep, the men that he wanted around. He wanted the bikers, because he thought they’d be like an army for him if Helter Skelter (the race war he imagined) actually happened.
In the summer of 1969, a series of terrible things happened involving Charles Manson and his Family. His music career was going nowhere, some of his followers were leaving or threatening to defect, others were putting the Family at risk by dealing drugs and robbing drug dealers, and Charlie’s temper was at an all-time high. On July 1st, he shot a black drug dealer in Hollywood, and three weeks later, members of the Family killed their first victim. Ten days after that, the Family killed the Tate/LaBianca victims, and two weeks later, they murdered a ranch hand.
Ruth Ann was not directly involved with the murders, although later onlookers reportedly heard her mention that she couldn’t wait to get her ‘first pig’ (a reference to establishment white people that were targeted for death by the Family).
After the murders, the Family again fled Spahn Ranch for Death Valley where several of them (including Ruth) participated in the arson and destruction of a piece of earth-moving equipment in Death Valley National Park, leading to their arrests. One of the women arrested started talking, in jail, about the murders to other inmates. Two of them ratted her out, leading to the solving of the Tate/LaBianca murders, a December 1969 grand jury, and the 1970–71 trials of the Family.
During the summer 1970 trial of Charles Manson, Susan Atkins and two others, Ruth Ann did her part to try to dissuade one of the witnesses (Barbara Hoyt) from testifying. She was pregnant at the time that she and Barbara flew to Hawaii. The Family had been hounding Barbara, insinuating that her folks could be in jeopardy if she testified against Charlie, and that she’d be happier if she was back with them. She agreed to take a vacation with Ouisch, if she kept silent. But a few days into their Hawaiian trip, Ruth suddenly announced she had to depart and the two women went to the airport together. Ruth Ann, while waiting for her flight, ordered a hamburger for Barbara and then told the other woman to go pay for it. While Barbara was at the cash register, Ruth Ann slipped ten tabs of acid (LSD) into the burger. She was soon on her flight, and Barbara collapsed near the airport. She managed to get medical help, and the Family’s efforts to silence her only made her resolve to testify against the killers that much stronger.
“Even though they tried to kill me, I had to testify. I’d seen Sharon Tate’s mother on TV talking about her grief. That’s what swayed me… What it finally came down to for me was this: Did I want to be able to live with myself when I got old? I decided that I did.” — Barbara Hoyt quoted in “Manson: An Oral History” by Steve Oney ©July 2009 Los Angeles magazine
Poisoned by the Manson Family
The Manson Family gave her a burger with 20 tabs of acid to silence her testimony
Ruth Ann was indicted in December 1970 along with four other Manson Family members of attempting to dissuade a witness from testifying. But she fled the state, running first to Nevada where she delivered her daughter in April 1971. Later, she went to her mother’s new home in Minnesota, where Ruth Ann evaded the authorities for four more years.
In October 1975, Ruth Ann was arrested on the 4-year old warrant for poisoning Barbara Hoyt. She was living in Minnesota, married and raising children (she had a second daughter born in 1973 with her second husband, a construction worker she met in Carson City, Nevada). Ruth Ann tearfully appeared before a judge in a Southern California courthouse, pleading for mercy. Wearing a bandage over her forehead (following plastic surgery to remove her X, the scar that Manson and many others in his Family carved into their foreheads during the trial), she said she escaped in fear of the Family who wanted her to have her baby in prison.The judge agreed to set her free, satisfied that she had cut ties with Manson, showing mercy due to her tender age at the time her father introduced her to Charlie.
By 1979, Ruth Ann was divorced from her second husband, and remarried. She and her third husband had two sons together in 1980 and 1983. But sadly, her second daughter (Amber, born in 1973) died in 1981 at the age of seven.
Today, Ruth Ann is 67-years old. She and her third husband divorced in 1994, and she continues to use his surname. She lives in Minnesota, as do most of her surviving children. Her mother Audrey died in 2002, and her father Deane passed in 2010. She has never spoken publicly about her time as one of the youngest members of the Manson Family.