Friday, May 31, 2013

The Process: A Strange and Terrible Journey Part II

Welcome to the second installment in my examination of the notorious 1960/1970s cult the Process Church of the Final Judgment. As was noted in part one, the Process has had a subtle influence upon pop culture during the preceding decades, sometimes intentionally (i.e. it's courting of various rock stars and other counterculture figures during its heyday) and sometimes not. As far as the latter is concerned, there have been numerous conspiracy theories surrounding the Process since the early 1970s when Ed Sanders, a founding member of the folk outfit the Fugs, linked the Process to the Manson cult in his book The Family. This association was further reinforced by the publication of Maury Terry's The Ultimate Evil in 1987, a book that linked the Process not only to Manson, but also to the Son of Sam killings, the murders of Stanford University student Arlis Perry and New York vaudeville producer Roy Radin, Valentine's Day shooter Fred Cowan, and so on.

Since the publication of The Ultimate Evil in 1987 several other intrepid researchers have joined the fray, most notably David McGowan, Adam Gorightly and Peter Levenda, and have linked this cult to a nationwide wave of mayhem that also includes Henry Lee Lucas and his alleged Hand of Death cult, Adolfo Constanzo's Matamoros cult, the "Company" of Drew Thornton, the Atlanta Child Murders, and others notorious organizations and incidents.

Lucas (top) and Constanzo (bottom)

While I believe such notions have varying degrees of merit I've increasingly become disillusioned with the notion that the Process Church had any real role with such a cult, if it did in fact exist, beyond a very marginal level. Nonetheless, over the course of this series I shall examine the legitimacy of the alleged ties of the Process to some type of serial killer cult that is also involved in sex and drug trafficking and other such criminal activities.

After having examined the credibility of Maury Terry, the chief architect of these theories, in the first installment of this series I shall now turn my attention to their origins, namely the long purported link between the Process and the Manson Family. This possibility was first proposed publicly by Ed Sanders in 1971 with the publication of The Family, which alleged that Manson and the gang had first come into contact with the Process during 1967 in San Francisco while both were living on Cole Street within a few blocks of one and other. Vincent Bugliosi, the man who successfully prosecuted Manson and other members of the Family, also alluded to some type of contact between Manson and the Process in his book Helter Skelter. In that tome he wrote the following of their possible connections (which can be found online here):
"... the San Francisco headquarters for The Process, was 407 Cole Street, in Haight-Ashbury.
"From about April through July 1967, Charles Manson and his still fledgling family lived just two blocks away, at 636 Cole. In view of Manson's curiosity, it appears very likely that he at least investigated the satanists, and there is fairly persuasive evidence that he 'borrowed' some of their teachings.
"In one of our conversations during the Tate-Labianca trial, I asked Manson if he knew Robert Moore, or Robert DeGrimston. He denied knowing DeGrimston, but said he had met Moore. 'You're looking at him,' Manson told me. 'Moore and I are one and the same.' I took this to mean that he felt they thought alike.
"Not long after this I was visited by two representatives of The Process, a Father John and a Brother Matthew. Having heard that I was asking questions about the group, they had been sent from their Cambridge, Massachusetts, headquarters to assure me that Manson and Moore had never met and that Moore was opposed to violence. They also left me a stack of Process literature. The following day the names 'Father John' and 'Brother Matthew' appeared on Manson's visitor's list. What they discussed is unknown. All I know is that in my last conversation with Manson, Charlie became evasive when I questioned him about The Process."

407 Cole Street, the location of the Process San Francisco chapter (top) and 636 Cole Street (bottom), the house Manson resided in for a time during San Francisco days

It has been alleged that the Family and the Process used to have contact at a place known as the "Devil House" in San Francisco.
"... In 1967, hanging out around a San Francisco landmark called the 'Devil House,' he started rubbing shoulders with a morbid cult from England called the Process Church of Final Judgment. As one 'family' member described the scene for author Ed Sanders: 'The Devil House people said it was a religious order, and it went under many ancient names, one of them being the Champions of Life, another one being the Final Church of Judgment. The Final Church is the name Manson chose for the church he would eventually found.' Aside from its name, Manson also borrowed his concept of 'The Fear' from Process spokesmen, along with the cult's program for recruiting outlaw biker gangs to 'terrorize society' on the eve of Armageddon.
(Raising Hell, Michael Newton, pg. 239) 
This association would reportedly continue in Los Angeles at a place known as the Spiral Staircase in Topanga Canyon, where Charlie reportedly met an even more extreme satanic cult.
"Near the end of 1967, Manson moved his 'family' south to Los Angeles, meeting an even more sinister cult at a house called the Spiral Staircase, in Topanga Canyon. Manson described the scene in his autobiography, published 20 years after the fact.
Each Time I return, I would observe and listen to all the practices and rituals of the different groups that visited the place. I'm not into sacrificing some animal or drinking his blood to get a better charge and sex. Nor my into chaining someone whipping them to get my kicks like some of those people were.
The day we first drove up, we were innocent children compared to some of those we solve during our visits there. In looking back, I think I can honestly say our philosophy --fun and games, love and sex, peaceful friendship for everyone --began changing into the madness that eventually engulfed us in that house."
(ibid, pgs. 239-240)
the area where the Spiral Staircase house supposedly stood

Some more details on the Spiral Staircase scene:
"Before heading to Los Angeles for the Universal recording sessions, Charlie'd met a woman in San Francisco named Gina, who in Manson In His Own Words, he remembered as 'a trippy broad, about forty-five years old, who experimented with everything' and was 'pumped-up' on devil worship. Gina extended an invitation for Charlie to visit her in Los Angeles at an old two-story Gothic mansion she owned in Topanga Canyon which Charlie's family later nicknamed 'The Spiral Staircase 'due to the circular stairs at the entrance of the residence. Later -- during his Universal Studio sessions --Charlie needed a place to park the Family bus for a while, and so decided to take up Gina on her offer. As Ed Sanders noted, The Spiral Staircase became a 'scrounge-lounge' for Manson and his girls over the next few months.
"The Spiral Staircase (also known as 'The Rattlesnake Pit') was a fabled meeting place of people beautiful and weird, a party house and freak-out pad, home to light shows, acid orgies and occult rituals. According to researcher Salvador Astucia, The Spiral Staircase was once owned by Bela Lugosi and later the popular L.A. rock group, Arthur Lee's Love, lived there for a period. In fact, many of the band's publicity stills show them standing on a spiral staircase reportedly taken at their L.A. residence...
"Charlie described The Spiral Staircase as a 'house of transition'; a place where those who walk the straight and narrow could come to by the dark of night and indulge in what they preached against during daylight hours.
"At The Spiral Staircase you would find celebrities and prominent sports figures and, one occasion, those who wore the cloth. It was a melting pot of different occult groups and religious practices then being bandied about, much in the same way that different drugs became fashionable for a period of time, then were replaced by the next strange elixir to show up on the market, promising immortal life or, at the very least, a fleeting flash illumination.
"Each time Charlie return to The Spiral Staircase, he'd see something new and different, and not all of it was love and flowers. Animal sacrifices, and the drinking of blood, apparently took place upon the hallowed Spiral Staircase grounds, in conjunction with satanic sex rituals, some located out on the beach near the property, apparently directed by the house's owner, 'Gina.' It was at The Spiral Staircase that Charlie was exposed to various counterculture gurus, and he no doubt took note of the 'heavy' raps laid down, and how they maneuvered and manipulated their followers. Charlie picked up on the way some of these acid fascists maintained control by instilling fear. Later, these lessons would come back to him as a method to employ his own special form of madness, the seeds of which were seemingly planted at The Spiral Staircase."
(The Shadow Over Santa Susana, Adam Gorightly, pgs. 33-34)
the band Love posing in what some researchers believe was Manson's "Spiral Staircase" house 

Of course Maury Terry insisted that this Spiral Staircase crowd included the Process.
"... A jailed Manson killer told me Charlie's 'family' met Process leaders at the 'Spiral Staircase' house near Los Angeles in 1968. Manson himself confirmed this statement in his autobiography. In a clear reference to the English group, he wrote that he met individuals who worshiped 'multiple devils' at the very house in question."
(The Ultimate Evil, Maury Terry, pg. 533)
The Process also included an essay by Manson in an issue of their magazine in the wake of the Tate-LaBianca murders, a move that solidified the Process' connection to Manson in the minds of many.
"What initially bothered Terry about the Process was the appearance in one of their issues (the 'Death' issue) of an article written by Charles Manson. Critics of the Terry thesis have scoffed at this, saying that such persons as Marianne Faithful and Salvador Dali also appeared in the Process magazine; my reaction is simply this, however: what was Charles Manson going in such august company?"
(Sinister Forces Book III, Peter Levenda, pg. 196) 

But the thing is, the Process were hardly the only outfit hailing Manson in the immediate aftermath of the Tate-LaBianca murders. Indeed, Manson found support throughout the counterculture initially.
"Soon after his arrest for the Tate-LaBianca killings, the radical group the Weathermen --who had helped Timothy Leary escape from prison --declared Charles Manson a revolutionary hero. 'Manson Power' joined the grab bag of trendy slogans, like 'Power to the People' and 'Black Power.' It was the 'Year of the Fork,' for the underground press, with a weekly column by Manson and the LA Free Press. Tuesday's Child, not to be outdone, declared Manson 'Man of the Year.' Rolling Stone almost ran a cover proclaiming 'Manson is Innocent,' but scuttled it after David Dalton and David Felton's interview with Charlie. (It was changed to 'Is this the Most Dangerous Man Alive?)"
(Turn Off Your Mind, Gary Lachman, pg. 359)

Thus, the Process' tentative embrace of Manson was hardly uncommon during that era amongst certain circles. Of course, as many will argue, none of the above-mentioned publications or groups (aside from the Weathermen) have been implicated as associates of Manson to the extent that the Process has. Fair enough, and indeed I cannot fully discount such an association (as will be addressed below) but it must be understood that the Process was not the only organization to embrace Manson during this era. What's more, even if the Process did hint at an association with Manson it does not mean that they approved of his actions --Indeed, I suspect the brief flirtation with Manson was primarily driven by commercial concerns on the part of the Process. The de Grimstons, especially Mary Ann, would not be above trying to cash in on the notoriety that Manson initially lent the Process. In the long run, however, this move proved to be disastrous for the Process as we shall now examine.

Timothy Wyllie, a former high ranking member of the Process, vehemently denies any association between the group and Manson in Love Sex Fear Death: The Inside Story of the Process Church of the Final Judgment. Concerning the group's time in San Francisco, he writes:
"I passed through the new San Francisco Chapter quickly, spending perhaps a couple of weeks in that 1967 Summer of Love before being sent down to Los Angeles to look for an appropriate building for a Chapter there. The only Bay Area memory that comes to me is of a sunny late afternoon with a companion  --we now only one out in pairs --taking our two dogs out for a walk in one of the large parks. Masters had started to wear long flowing black robes in public at that point, with a large red cross sewn on the front. That phase didn't last long. The robes were simply too terrifying...
"What none of us knew at the time, however, was that Charles Manson was also living with his coterie on Cole Avenue, a few blocks down from where our Chapter was located. Although we didn't know him or his Family, and had never seen any of them in the Chapter, this unhappy coincidence has long fed the conspiracy theorists contend on proving that we had directly influenced Manson's paranoid ramblings."
(Love Sex Fear Death, "My Life Inside the Process Church," Timothy Wyllie, pgs. 77-78)

As for the L.A. scene, he states:
"There had always been an interest issuing from the Omega encouraging us to try to make contact with celebrities. Coming from such a deprived background, Mary Ann doubtless would have deluded herself into thinking that the glamour of the famous would rub off one of us. And if a celebrity were to actually join The Process, what then?
"Besides, I'm sure she reckoned that's where the money was.
"So, once again, we set off in our pairs, not to find a building this time, but in search of willing celebrities. It wasn't hard to get to meet film stars or famous musicians in those more relaxed days. An afternoon spent, for example, with James Coburn out at his ranch, or hanging out with Micky Dolenz of The Monkees,  or being invited into the home of John and Michelle Phillips and having to watch in embarrassment while they yelled at one another, was all very well, but it never got us anywhere...
"In spite of meeting a wide variety of celebrities I tend to associate Los Angeles with Charles Manson, although the murders occurred in 1969, two years after we left the city. And it was 1971 when The Family came out and caused a such grief. With our dark cloaks and apocalyptic rhetoric, we were just too tempting a target.
"Vincent Bugliosi, the L.A. prosecutor who made his name on the case, thoroughly researched all possible influences on Manson and had completely absolve The Process Church of any association."
(ibid, pg. 79)
Vincent Bugliosi

Obviously there are more than a few discrepancies between the two different narratives of the Process' time in California in the 1960s. While a meeting between Manson and the Process in San Francisco is certainly within the realm of possibility the same cannot be said of reports of their continued affiliation in Los Angeles. It is difficult for me to make a decisive judgment on this point as the primary source of this alleged affiliation is apparently Manson's autobiography, of which I have not read. But unless something significant has been left out I am not especially convinced based on the descriptions of his time at Spiral Staircase that have been presented in other books I do possess that he was in league with the Process in Los Angeles. As noted above, Maury Terry's evidence of this affiliation was a reference to individuals who worshiped "multiple devils" Manson made in his autobiography which Terry interpreted as an allusion to the Process (as well as information allegedly given to Terry by an unnamed "jailed Manson killer," of course).

Maury Terry

Adam Gorightly describes the individual who owned The Spiral Staircase house as a woman named "Gina." I've wondered if this woman could in fact have been Mary Ann de Grimston, but there's nothing to indicate that she was in Los Angeles during this time. What's more, this "Gina" figure is described as being around 45 years old. While Mary Ann de Grimston was certainly older than other members of the Process it seems unlikely that she was older than 37 or 38 around this time, nearly a decade younger than the woman described in Gorightly's account.

Conspiracy theorists have continuously pointed to the UK ruling in favor of the publisher of Ed Sanders' The Family in a defamation lawsuit brought by the Process to exonerate them of alleged associations with Manson as proof that there was indeed some contact between the two cults in California. On the flip side of the coin American courts ruled in favor of the Process during an earlier lawsuit in this nation even though defamation laws tend to be much stricter in the UK. Publisher Adam Parfrey, in the introduction to Love Sex Fear Death, argues that the UK ruling was partly the result of a biased judge.
"'The Process,' Chapter Five of The Family, swiped at The Process with hipster ridicule ('oo-ee-oo') and called Process' German shepherds a 'vicious Alsatian dog pack,' tying The Process, though tenuously, to Charles Manson. All this provoked the cult to protect itself with a defamation suit. Sanders' American publisher soon caved in, removing the offending material from the book in a settlement. Following the victory, The Process initiated a lawsuit in England against Sanders' British publisher. Rather than settling, the British case went to trial. Transcripts of the trial reveal a judge with obvious bias in a case that pitched an underground cult against a major British corporation. The Process lost the defamation case, and were forced to pay the British publishers legal fees."
(ibid, "Rarely What It Seems," Adam Parfrey, pg. 10)
Feral House founder Adam Parfrey

Beyond this, Wyllie also notes in his account that the De Grimstons put little effort into mounting their UK defense.
"Possibly the rot set in when we lost that English court case against the Ed Sanders book. It was Mary Ann's idea not to demand a substantial sum in damages when we settled the American case. She would have wanted to impress people with how decent we were and how it wasn't about the money, but just about clearing the name of The Process. Presumably it was this miscalculation that encourage the publisher in England to think we were rollovers --which turned out to be perfectly true. The English publisher won the case...
"... After all, it was Mary Ann and Robert's decision to stay clear of the courtroom and have three unfortunate Masters take the stand in their defense that led to a level of sarcasm from the judge and defense attorney seldom heard in an English court. The sometimes incoherent responses from poor Father John and the others, and the court's mocking disbelief that Robert would choose not to defend and justify his own writings, swung the court firmly against us.
"Little was talked about when the Omega and the Masters return from England, so it's only now, when I have the court transcripts in front of me, that I've come to understand what an arrogant and cowardly act it was for Robert to try to avoid, once again, the responsibility for his words and actions. Neither did I know that the judge ordered us to pay the opposing defense counsel's doubtless very substantial fees. Out of the money we had scrabbled off the streets for them, no less.
"Once again I'm inclined to see Mary Ann's hand behind Robert's foolish decision. I can almost hear her saying, 'Robert, you shouldn't have to defend your writing in front of those people. Let the others take care of it. It's an open-and-shut case, like we won in America.'"
(ibid, "My Life Inside the Process Church," Timothy Wyllie, pg. 63)
Robert de Grimston

So it would seem that the legal victory for Sanders' UK publisher does not definitively prove the truth of the allegations that he made in The Family as The Process was handicapped by a biased judge and a gross lack of interest on the part of the De Grimstons to mount an adequate defense. Conversely, however, this revelation and Wyllie's account of the Process' California years does not entirely exonerate them from some type of association with Manson, at least during their time in San Francisco anyway. Even prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, who supposedly absolved the Process of any association with Manson, cannot totally rule out the possibility that they had made contact in San Francisco. Given their closeness to one another in San Francisco and a certain amount of shared ideological points it hardly seems beyond the realm of possibility that the two groups did have some type of contact with one another.

But simply having contact with one another does not mean that Manson was a member of the Process, even if he did borrow some of the ideology from the group and was clearly aware of the cult's public leader (Manson's claim of being Robert Moore/de Grimston is less striking when one realizes that Mary Ann was very much the dominate personality in the Process while Robert was chiefly a figurehead). It must be remembered that the Process, while being small in terms of sheer numbers, had a presence in several major US (and a few abroad) cities associated with the counterculture during that era. What's more, their apocalyptic ideology and proto-goth fashion sensibilities made them stand out in many of those cities even with the massive infusion of freaks and heads that occurred in the late 1960s.  

Indeed, one of the chief weaknesses in Terry's thesis is the notion that the more extreme elements of the Process' philosophy were some esoteric doctrine only shared with high ranking members. Much of the more radical stuff was openly proclaimed in the Process magazines, Robert de Grimston's books and even by the rank-and-file members when dealing with the public. In point of fact, I've encountered no evidence that Manson was aware of the Process' more esoteric practices, such as the fact that the cult's inner circle was effectively a matriarchy centered around Mary Ann de Grimston.

Thus, it's hardly beyond the realm of possibility that Manson would have been both aware of the Process and some of their ideology without having been a member of the cult. Furthermore, the Process was apparently not the only cult of whose rituals Charlie adopted to his own ends. For instance, Ed Sanders speculates that the bizarre LSD-laced crucifixion Charlie underwent with the Family was inspired by the Fountain of the World cult, who also resided in the deserts near Santa Susana.
"Charlie seems to gotten the idea for his crucifixion ceremony from the Fountain of the World. There was a large rock at the Fountain of the World that looks remarkably like a huge skull. At the top of the 'skull' was a wooden upright cross. Fountain members, so one is told, were wont to strap themselves up on the cross for penitential meditation sessions. Far out."
(The Family, Ed Sanders, pg. 76)
the Fountain of the World cult

And while there are several striking similarities between the ideology of the Process and Manson there are also some stark contrast between the two cults. For instance, the Process strictly prohibited drugs and generally alcohol as well as forcing long periods of celibacy upon its members. In general, the lifestyle imposed upon Processeans was quite rigid and disciplined.
"Strict obedience and, from time to time, celibacy was required of anyone wishing to live within the community --not a beguiling attraction in the liberated '60s. Hard, devoted work was demanded of even those on the periphery of the group. It could take at least two years as an OP (Outside Processean) for them to pass muster before we asked them to become an IP --an Inner, or Internal Processean."
(Love Sex Fear Death, "My Life Inside the Process Church," Timothy Wyllie, pg. 51)
The Process did, however, engage in orgies and other bizarre sexual rituals from time to time which Wyllie speculates were probably designed as a controlling mechanism by Mary Ann de Grimston.
"Mary Ann maintained complete control while she and Robert sat back from the melee, with her instructing who should be with whom, without any explanation. In spite of the alcohol consumed, these were largely joyless encounters, and since we all knew each other so well, somewhat awkward as well.
"Although Mary Ann's stated aim was to get us through any residual sexual repression and inhibitions, there was clearly another edge to the orgies. While none of us would have been able to acknowledge it at the time, it seems fairly obvious now that her other agenda was to control us through sexual guilt and humiliation.
"It's difficult to assess the damage inflicted in the course of those sexual shenanigans, but children were conceived who didn't know their true parents; pairs who had no desire for one another were shoved together; heterosexual men were persuaded to perform acts clearly distasteful for them; and the women were sometimes treated like goddesses and sometimes like whores."
(ibid, pg. 64)
the enigma who was Mary Ann de Grimston

While the effects of the Process orgies were undoubtedly similar to the methods employed by Manson there was clearly a greater sense of order to the sexual rituals of the Process. What's more, Mary Ann (easily the most dominating personality in the Process) did not seemingly participate in many of these endeavors. This is of course is in stark contrast to Manson, who certainly embraced a hands-on approach when it came to these types of ordeals. Mary Ann apparently preferred to manipulate the sexuality of her members from afar.

the Manson Family approach to orgies

Beyond the contrast in approaches between the Manson and Process cults, there's also a question of whether or not the leadership of the two could coexist. By all accounts Manson tended to react aggressively towards rival gurus, at times trying to take over their sects. This is apparently what became of the Manson Family's occasional dealings with the Fountain of the World.
"The Fountain of the World, a religious sect dedicated to 'peace through Love and Service' or so the sign on the hill above the cult corner reads, was an apocalyptic Christian cult that held public meetings every Saturday night. Several of the Spahn ranch hands, including Shorty Shea, were associated with the Fountain of the World. Ranch hands would attend the Fountain's religious meetings and group song sessions. Manson and the Family occasionally attended these meetings. A black guy named John was involved in the leadership of the Fountain of the World and Manson several times hungered to take the place over. The cult members wore robes and practice celibacy. Charlie assigned some of the girls to try to seduce the priests of the order, evidently to no avail."
(The Family, Ed Sanders, pgs. 75-76) 
Then there was Manson's bizarre feud with prospector Paul Crockett, who he apparently regarded to some type of rival wizard.
"Around the first of March 1969, to miners named Paul Crockett and Bob Berry arrived at the Barker Ranch to find Brooks Posten and Juanita living there, following the marijuana raid. Bob Berry had visited the Barker Ranch area the preceding autumn and evidently had enjoyed himself. Crockett, an articulate gentleman in his fifties filled with the lore of scientology, left his home in Carlsbad, New Mexico to come to Goler Wash for the purpose of discovering gold. Soon he attracted several close Manson associates, Brooks Posten and Paul Watkins, to his sway, and Manson viewed him as a rival. Posten and Watkins came to believe in Crockett's 'powers,' such as when one evening Crockett putatively halted a rain long enough for Watkins to bring a mattress to some friends camping out nearby...
"Watkins persuaded Charlie to let him go back up to the Barker Ranch, perhaps to keep an eye on the so-called scientologist, looking for the mother load. Several times during the spring months of 1969, Manson and the others tried to drive up to the Barker Ranch, but it always seemed that something went wrong. Witch-beams were thwarting them? Or were the so-called scientologist keeping the Family away? Paul Crockett certainly didn't do anything to dispel this illusion that he was preventing the Family from coming up there by means of his mental powers. In fact, he was promoting the idea that he could establish a magical warp to prevent Manson from returning to harm those remaining in Death Valley. The Family seems to have begun to believe that occult beams and powers were attempting to prevent them from returning to holy Devil's Hole. Even Manson, ever a beam-phobe, evidently held some belief in Crockett's power."
(ibid, pgs. 103-104)
Paul Crockett is the individual on the far left

Given Manson's clashes with individuals such as these it's hard to imagine that he could have endured himself to the Process's leadership, especially Mary Ann, who as a former prostitute likely would have been immensely unimpressed with Manson's brand of hustle. Nor is it especially believable that they would form an alliance with such a libertine outfit as the Family. Thus, it seems unlikely that any affiliation the Process had with the Family went beyond a few tentative encounters in San Francisco during 1967.

Still, there are a few long alleged connections between the Process and the Family that I cannot totally discount of sinister implications and for the sake of fairness I shall briefly outline them. First, let us consider the obsession both groups had with celebrities.

Both groups coveted celebrities and went out of their way to forge ties with them, especially during their respective times in Los Angeles. What's more, there are some indications that there was an overlap between the celebrities that the Process and the Family respectively courted. As noted above, for instance, the Process was known to have hobnobbed with John and Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas. John Phillips was a close friend of Sharon Tate and also had a peculiar relationship with Roman Polanski, her husband, and is suspected of hanging out with Manson as well. Polanski would reportedly become suspicious that Phillips played a role in his wife's death.
"There was also the possibility that John Phillips of The Mamas and The Papas was involved; Polanski had one slept with Phillip's wife, the singer and now actress Michelle Phillips, and Phillips was angry over that. Polanski actually considered John Phillips the prime suspect and investigated him on his own, coming up empty. Then there was a substantial rumor pointing to what Ed Sanders calls a 'voodoo cult' operating from Jamaica. Polanski went down to Jamaica to check it out, and again came up empty."
(Sinister Forces Book II, Peter Levenda, pg. 113)

Bizarrely, Phillips also came to suspect this "voodoo cult" and also investigated it, possibly with Polanski himself.
"One of the strange twists of fate that links two other was unrelated events is the person of Min S. Yee, a reporter who -- with rock star John Phillips of The Mamas and The Papas, a close friend Sharon Tate -- visited a 'voodoo astrologer,' who told them that the night of August 8-9, 1969 had been a perfect time for a sacrifice. Also, it seems a 'voodoo adept' had  threatened the life of Wojciech Frykowski, one of the Tate murder victims. This promoted Polanski and Phillips to fly to Jamaica to conduct their own investigation of Caribbean voodoo and some other, possibly drug-related, Jamaican links to the murders, apparently without success."
(Sinister Forces Book III, Peter Levenda, pg. 132)
Even stranger, the above mentioned reporter --Min S. Yee -- would go on to play a role in the Jamestown saga, of which his family was reportedly involved. But I digress.

The celebrity angle surrounding both the Manson family and the Process is most curious but it is hardly damning. Again, we must consider the era in which these events unfolded. In the wake of the Beatles' ventures to India it became highly fashionable for celebrities, especially rock stars, to affiliate themselves some type of guru, the more far out the better. This enabled Manson and a host of other unsavory characters, many of them little more than glorified conmen, access to any number of celebrities during this time in Los Angeles, especially amongst the younger variety. Indeed, the Tate murders were very much an assault on "young" Hollywood, an aspect little investigated but highly compelling in light of information I've recently stumbled upon and which will be shared with my readers at some point in the (hopefully) near future. But let us move along.

Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski, oh-so-young-Hollywood

One of the most striking omissions from Wyllie's account of the Process is the figure of Bruce Davis, possibly the most compelling link between Manson and the Process. Davis was involved in at least two murders attributed to the Family (but not the Tate/Labianca killings) and was reputed to be high in Manson's hierarchy. One of the strangest aspects about Davis's affiliation with Manson are a series of trips he took to London, allegedly on Charlie's behalf. There he was said to have visited both chapters for the Church of Scientology as well as the Process.
"... Bruce Davis returned to California from London, where he had been staying for some months with the local Scientologists and, as some (including LAPD homicide detectives) insist, meeting with the Process Church of the Final Judgment.
"Bruce Davis had been sent to London by Charles Manson in November 1968, shortly after the murders of Clida Delaney and Nancy Warren (the latter, like Sharon Tate, eight months pregnant) near Ukiah, California. They had been beaten, and then strangled to death 'with thirty-six leathers thongs,' on the evening of October 13. Nancy Warren was married to a Highway Patrol officer, Clida Delaney was her grandmother. The Manson group was quickly suspected of having committed these murders when they were arrested the following year and more information about their criminal history came to light. Several members of the Manson clan were known to have been in the area on the day of the murders, and Manson moved to operations from the Spahn ranch (near Chatsworth, just outside of Los Angeles proper) to the Barker ranch (in Death Valley, on the other side of the Mojave Desert, many more miles away from Ukiah) about two days after they occurred.
"Davis returned from London on April 25, 1969, and then flew to London again in November that same year, after the murder of a pair of Scientologists in California in which he was later considered a suspect, and in time for the murder of Manson family associate Joel Pugh in London. (Joel Pugh was the husband of Sandy Good, who later teamed with Lynette 'Squeaky' Fromme to create the Manson cult ATWA.) According to British Immigration officials, Davis had given as his address in the UK the address of Scientology headquarters.
"Since Davis was regarded by California investigators as 'Manson's second-in-command,' this constant traveling back and forth between California and London --Specifically to either Scientology or Process headquarters, or both --is evidence of a larger plot. Davis was later convicted for his role in the murders of Gary Hinman and Donny Shea, the two 'bookend' murders that took place before (Hinman) and after (Shea) the seven Tate/LaBianca killings, during the period July 26-August 26, 1969. He reappeared in February 1970 at the Spahn Ranch and then disappeared again when he was convicted for the Gary Hinman murder, only to reappear in Los Angeles in December 1970, when he turned himself in to authorities..."
(Sinister Forces Book II, Peter Levenda, pg. 89)
Bruce Davis

The saga of Bruce Davis is indeed one of the most curious aspects of the Manson case and it is disappointing that Wyllie did not weigh in on this subject especially since I believe that he was in either mainland Europe or London itself around this time period. Again, there's nothing concrete to link Davis to the Process Church in London but if he was indeed involved in several murders coinciding with the time of his travel then that provides a compelling reason for the travel in the first place. But why flee to London? And why does Scientology keep cropping up in this whole saga time and again?

After all, Robert and Mary Ann de Grimston had met while both were enrolled in the Church of Scientology and they incorporated several of its techniques (i.e., the E-meter) into the Process very early on. And Charles Manson had studied Scientology extensively during his time in prison in the 1960s. Indeed, the Scientology link between the Process Church, Charles Manson, and other figures eventually linked to Terry's alleged cult network (i.e. Michael Carr, who was a high-ranking Scientologist in Clearwater, Florida and allegedly a member of the Son of Sam cult) is easily the most compelling.

By all accounts the Church of Scientology was far more alarmed about an association with Charles Manson than the Process and conducted a vigorous internal investigation to determine Manson's involvement in their church. The results were apparently concerning.
"In April 1969, Bruce Davis had just returned to California and the sticky embrace of the Manson Family after having spent more than five months with either Scientologist, the Process, or both. His lengthy mission in England is still a mystery, as is the funding for this junket. Documents seized by the US Government after a raid on Scientology headquarters in 1977 show considerable anxiety over the alleged connection between the Manson Family and Scientology; the Scientologists sent emissaries to try to find Steve Gorgon (who was later convicted of the murder of Donny Shea), a Family member who had information concerning Manson's Scientology background (they were unsuccessful). Then, an informant came to them with informational on Manson's 150 hours of Scientology auditing sessions in prison. The picture painted is frightening, for it shows a Manson at turns extremely enthusiastic about his training... and terrified to the point of demanding to be put into solitary confinement so that he could escape his auditor. It was after the Scientology cell broken up at the prison by the warden that another inmate after his release began sending Manson books on hypnotism and ' black magic.'"
(ibid, pgs. 93-94)
Wyllie makes some keen observations concerning the Scientology connection as well.
"What has come to be known is that Manson himself told Bugliosi that he first encountered Scientology in 1961 and had studied it, maintaining he was a 'clear.' Scientology material was also found that the Spahn Ranch with Manson was arrested.
"Understandably, this was not something Scientology would have wanted known. 'Squirrels' was the official term for those who have broken away from the Church of Scientology. The Process Church was considered squirrels, making it to the Church's list of 'SPs' or Suppressive Persons. In our early days we did use the Scientology E- meter, and turned to it for different purposes.
"In our term, we always did everything we could to disassociate ourselves from Scientology. Mary Ann, who seldom talked openly about her time with that group, regarded L. Ron Hubbard with scorn, telling us in building her case that his teeth were rotting out because he was too frightened to go to the dentist."
(Love Sex Death Fear, "My Life Inside the Process Church," Timothy Wyllie, pgs. 79-80) 
L. Ron Hubbard

Of course the Church of Scientology and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, have been a fixture of conspiracy theorists for decades. Much of this centers upon his peculiar relationship with rocket scientist and occultist Jack Parsons (who was a member of Crowley's OTO and corresponded with the Great Beast before his death), with whom he performed a bizarre piece of ceremonial magic known as the "Babalon Working." When it was all said and done Hubbard made off with Parsons' girlfriend, the 21-year-old Sara 'Betty' Northrup and much of his life savings, leaving the rocket scientist devastated. Hubbard, who briefly served with the Office of Naval Intelligence, later alleged that he had been working under deep cover for that agency during his time with Parsons in order to break up "black magic" in America.

Jack Parsons

Hubbard's involvement with the Office of Naval Intelligence is most curious as more than a few former ONI men seem to appear time and again in the most peculiar places throughout the 20th century. Consider Guy Banister, for instance. After serving with the ONI during the Second World War Banister returned to the FBI (of whom he had joined in 1934) where, in 1947, he found himself investigating a series of UFO reports during the first modern great wave of UFO sightings. These documents were filed under "Security Measure-X" or simply "SM-X."


After leaving the Bureau he established himself as a private detective in New Orleans in 1960. During this time (the early 1960s) many researchers have alleged that he became involved in Operation Mongoose (the CIA's numerous attempts to assassinate Castro) as well as the Kennedy assassination. What is known about Banister during this time is that he became deeply involved with several militant anti-Castro Cuban groups as well as far right outfits such as the 1960s version of the Minutemen and the John Birch Society all the while continuing to report to the FBI.

And then there's William Milton Cooper, another former ONI man who also became involved in the UFO question as a self-acknowledged disinformation agent and who eventually established himself as the most prominent far right conspiracy theorist of the 1990s. Like Banister, Cooper also affiliated himself with paramilitary organizations and became one of the chief proponents of the modern day militia movement. Cooper's bizarre death (via a shootout with police, not unlike any number of other far right leaders since the 1980s) in the wake of his alleged prediction of the 9/11 terror attacks has become the stuff of legends in conspiracy lore.


Strangely, Manson was also accused of affiliating with an ONI agent by another legendary conspiracy theorist, Mae Brussell:
"... Mae Brussell informed him that a Naval Intelligence agent named Nathaniel Dight had associated with Tex Watson prior to the murders... L. Ron Hubbard had been with Naval Intelligence. The Committee to Investigate Assassinations had linked Lee Harvey Oswald with Naval Intelligence! Even the infamous Zodiac killer had left obsolete Naval Intelligence ciphers. Dight, Brussell claimed, was a Postgraduate at the Navy's Monterey Language School --where only intelligence officers were admitted. Dight, she said, had used the cover of a 'hippie artist' while working as an undercover agent provocateur to infiltrate Charlie's Family.
"According to Brussell, Dight was the Manson Family's main drug supplier. After the murders, Dight, '... cut his hair, put his shoes back on...' and return to the Monterey Language School, setting aside his hippie guise, which had served its purpose. Prior to shedding these hippie trappings, Dight had done artwork for an 'undergroun'd magazine that, Brussell asserted, '... was a conduit for CIA funds for medical research in mind control, intelligence money for electrode implants and for LSD experiments, according to documents I got from the Pentagon.'"
(The Shadow Over Santa Susana, Adam Gorightly, pg. 151)
Mae Brussell

Naturally I've found absolutely nothing to collaborate Brussell's story other than a few other references Gorightly makes to Dight in the above cited tome though it is highly probable that Manson was involved in the drug trade (as I've argued before here). This certainly makes for a bizarre aspect of the Manson saga that few researchers have explored, and given the high strangeness that seemingly follows ONI men like a shadow, a most apt association on some cosmic level.

As a whole I don't believe the possibility that Hubbard (who tends to come off as little more than a con man of the highest order even in accounts meant to paint him in a sinister light) continued to have some type of contact with the ONI after he founded the Church of Scientology to be too improbable. But this contact surely would have been on a very small and informal scale and not involving something as exotic as mind control. The thing is, the Church of Scientology is almost universally held in suspicion (if not outright contempt) the world over. For this reason it would not make for an idea cover for such a nefarious project. It could, however, make for an effective recruiting tool on some level.

But in fairness to Scientologists, it should also be noted that they've charged the US Intelligence community with trying to infiltrate their Church for years. Thus, the presence of all these suspicious characters in their midst in the 1960s and 1970s --the de Grimstons, Manson, Michael Carr, etc., could be evidence of a plot to infiltrate or smear the Church of Scientology as well as a means of "sheep dipping" the previously mentioned individuals.

And it is here that I shall wrap things up for now. In the next installment we shall consider the possibility of the Process' involvement in the Son of Sam killings as well as taking a closer look at the alleged Machiavellian mastermind sometimes known as Robert de Grimston. Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Process: A Strange and Terrible Journey Part I

While largely a marginal sect during their heyday the Process Church of the Final Judgment has gained a reputation as one of the most enigmatic and potentially sinister artifacts of the American counterculture that came to prominence in the late 1960s. Originating from England, the Process was bizarre even by the standards of Haight-Ashbury circa 1968. Appearing on the streets decked out in black cloaks with hoods, sporting Goat of Mendes patches and peddling literature with titles such as Death, Fear and Humanity Is The Devil, the Process was in stark contrast to the flower power and tie-die that characterized the era (at least in the public consciousness). At the time, years before heavy metal and goth fashions become a staple of American malls everywhere, few knew what to make of the Process and for their part the group itself also perpetuated the enigma.

Process co-founder Robert de Grimston

While the Process seemingly accomplished little before rebranding itself as the Foundation Church of the Millennium in 1975 and largely disappearing from the public consciousness (until approximately a dozen members of the original Process collective reemerged as part of the Best Friends Animal Society, the final incarnation of what was originally the Process, an organization regularly featured on the TV series DogTown) it would ultimately have a significant, if little appreciated, influence upon popular culture.

Early on the group would seek ties with popular rock acts of the day, a move that would ultimately lead to aspects of the group's art work and ideology (and eventually, even their hymns) being incorporated into the works of various artists over the next few decades.
"The Process Church of the Final Judgment officially changed its name and its gods in 1975, but even today the original group enjoys cultural influence. It's screeds were reproduced as linear notes for two Funkadelic album; Skinny Puppy had an album called Process complete with an anti-vivisection lyrics, a prominent Process Church concern. Process rituals were appropriated and valorized by Psychick TV and Thee Temple Ov Psychick Youth (or TOPY), and the Process' misanthropic bombast appeared on the pages of my Apocalypse Culture compilation."
(Love Sex Fear Death, "Rarely What It Seems," Adam Parfrey, pg. 7)
the legendary, Process-quoting inner sleeve of the Funkadelic album Maggot Brain

Eventually even a rock band would be formed to reproduce the hymns of the Process, a retro occult act known as Sabbath Assembly, of which I've written much more on here and here. But enough about the Process' ties to rock 'n roll's mythos.

Easily the Process' most significant cultural contribution was its incorporation into conspiracy literature, specifically those revolving around Satanic cults and serial killers. As early as 1971 the Process was being portrayed as the inspiration to (and possibly the guiding hand behind) the Manson Family by the Fugs' Ed Sanders in his book The Family. Then, in 1987, this association went into overdrive with the publication of Maury Terry's The Ultimate Evil. Not only did Terry link them to Manson, but he also argued that a splinter group of the Process had formed some type of Satanic cult that operated on a national scale and had been involved with various serial killers and other occult related killings in addition to more conventional crimes such as drug trafficking. The chief premise of The Ultimate Evil is that the Son of Sam killings were actually committed by this cult (of whom David Berkowitz, the man convicted of the Sam killings, Terry alleges was a member of) and that it was yet another terror campaign directed by this Process splinter group (which Terry dubbed the Four-P Movement).
"A key element in Terry's thesis is that the Process Church of the Final Judgment is alive and well, and involved in nefarious activity stretching from drug-running to child prostitution to murder. This was also asserted in Ed Sanders' study of the Manson Family, The Family. Sanders was successfully sued (in the United States) and references to both the Process and the OTO -- so prevalent in the first edition of his book --were expunged by the time the book was republished. (This was not so in the United Kingdom, where the courts decided in favor of the publisher and author.) However, Terry recounts in The Ultimate Evil his discussions with Sanders concerning these cults. Terry makes no bones about mentioning both the Process and the OTO in The Ultimate Evil, and has evidently resisted any legal attempts to get him to change his story."
(Sinister Forces Book III, Peter Levenda, pg. 196)

Since the publication of The Ultimate Evil a host of other researchers have joined the fray and expanded Terry's thesis to include a whole host of serial killers, cults, and criminal organization such as Henry Lee Lucas and his alleged Hand of Death cult, Adolfo Constanzo's Matamoros cult, the "Company" of Kentucky drug smuggler Drew Thornton, and so on. Several of the most compelling accounts include later period works such as David McGowan's Programmed to Kill, Adam Gorightly's The Shadow Over Santa Susana and especially Peter Levenda's brilliant Sinister Forces trilogy.

The conspiracy theories surrounding the Process have also trickled into the popular consciousness, at first via low budget horror sequels such as Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers and Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (both of which I've written extensively on here, here and here). Eventually such notions were incorporated into high concept prime time dramas such as the Chris Carter created and produced Millennium (of which I covered before here, here and here) and The Following (which I covered here).

Still, Terry's original thesis remains highly controversial and for good reason. Terry's original research, from which many of the later period works are all heavily dependent upon, is highly suspect, to say the least.
"Maury Terry has insisted that there is a connection between Charles Manson and David Berkowitz, and he has based this conclusion largely on jailhouse confessions and some controversial interviews with convicted felons. His research has been attacked in many cases, especially as it has contributed to the rise of 'satanic cult survivor hysteria" in the 1980s and 1990s in the United States. Some of his conclusions have been drawn from an idiosyncratic decoding of the 'Son of Sam' letters to the press and by a loose association of the dates of the Sam murders to dates with alleged occult significance."
(Sinister Forces Book III, Peter Levenda, pg. 162)
Levenda is being kind. Publisher Adam Parfrey was able to find several major holes in Terry's research with little effort as far back as 1987.
"I first learned in 1987 that some of the conspiracy literature regarding the Process Church was either dishonest or was poorly fact-check. After hearing a rumor that Robert de Grimston was listed in the Staten Island phone book under his given name Robert Moor, I called him up -- that is, after certain hesitation. After all, Murray Terry's The Ultimate Evil informs us that de Grimston is a diabolical mystery man who had removed himself from the world at large to pursue the practice of evil. What was he doing so easily reached in the phone book? And how confident could I be of Maury Terry's research if he couldn't even bother locating Robert de Grimston by calling the Information operator?
"After dialing the listed Mr. Moor and hearing the phone answered by a polite man with a British accent, I was more than a bit surprised. Though he wasn't particularly happy to receive an unexpected phone call, Mr. Moor and I spoke for ten minutes about the conspiracy literature ("unbearable... a pack of lies"), and my appeal for him to tell his story ("I'll think about it").
"Murray Terry reveals more about his experts on the Process Church within The Ultimate Evil:
I raise the subject of the dead German shepherds with Larry Siegel... Larry, twenty-seven, was a well-inform researcher and professional writer. he'd offered to spend some time checking into the occult, and was ready with an opinion.
'You've heard of the Process, right? Well, the Process German shepherds.'
"Here, a 27-year-old 'researcher' speculates that since the Process Church took care of German shepherds, some sort of weird splinter group must be the ones massacring them a la the Son of Sam murders in the late '70s long after the Process Church folded and became the Foundation. Maury Terry further writes:
The Process, as far as is known, has now officially splintered, and its offspring -- while still active --have gone underground. But before the Process divided, it spread seeds of destruction throughout the United States. Those spores were carried on winds of evil across the 1970s and into the present. The terror still reigns with far-flung subsidiary groups united by the sins of the father.
"It's strange to see these unsubstantiated assertions stated as fact, and repeated widely online as absolute proof. Coincidently, Maury Terry's New York agent contacted Feral House in 2008 to publish a revised edition of The Ultimate Evil.
(Love Sex Fear Death, "Rarely What It Seems," Adam Parfrey, pgs. 9-10)
Adam Parfrey

Over the course of this series we shall examine the legitimacy, or lack therefore of, of the Process' ties to some type of serial killer cult bent upon wrecking Satanic havoc across the United States. While I've found compelling evidence of some type of terror outfit that operates not unlike what Terry describes in The Ultimate Evil I remain highly dubious of the notion that this organization had any ties to the Process except possibly amongst marginal individuals within the British import. While I've always found certain elements of the Saunders/Terry account to be highly dubious (most notably their portrayal of Robert de Grimston as a Manson/Jim Jones-like cult leader with total control over his followers, but more on that later) I left the Love Sex Fear Death: The Inside Story of the Process Church of the Final Judgment, an anthology largely comprised of accounts by former Process members such as Timothy Wyllie, all but convinced the Process was little more than a red herring.

The accounts of the Process given in Love Sex Fear Death can hardly be described as romanticized -- Indeed, virtually all participants in the project took a rather dim view of the Process aside from Genesis P-Orridge, the only contributor to the anthology (aside from editor Adam Parfrey) who was not actually in the Process (or one of its later incarnations). Love Sex Fear Death compellingly resolves lingering mysteries about the Process, such as its command structure (its inner circle was effectively a matriarchy centered around Mary Ann de Grimston), while also highlighting actual incidences of abuse (chiefly concerning children) that the cult engaged in.

Still, I can't help but shake the feeling that Wyllie and company tactfully left a few major revelations out of their accounts of the Process. Or perhaps, though he would be loath to admit it, Wyllie takes a certain delight in perpetuating the Process mythos. For instance, early in his account he casually states:
"I should add that my family was not drawn from the upper classes. I got into Charterhouse, my public school, through a stroke of luck and my mother's connections in British intelligence from working for MI6 before the war."
(Love Sex Fear Death, "My Life Inside the Process Church," Timothy Wyllie, pg. 25) 

Given the long-standing allegations that the Process had ties to some type of intelligence service (likely either of the United States or Britain), a topic of which Wyllie discusses and compellingly debunks at several points during his narrative, I find it most curious that he would make such a revelation with so little elaboration considering the various charges that have been made against the Process over the years. I'm assuming that his mother's work for MI6 was largely secretarial or something of the like, and that Mr. Wyllie is simply having a little fun with researchers such as your humble author, but who knows?

My chief concern here is in examining the evidence both for and against the involvement of the Process in some type of terror network. As a result, this series will only discuss the Process at length and will not delve too deeply into potential alternatives for said network. I will hopefully have a separate series concerning these possibilities posted for my readers at some time before year's end, but make no promises as the research for this subject is rather vast.

With these boundaries established, let us first turn our attention to the chief source of Process conspiracy lore, namely Maury Terry himself. As noted above, many investigators who followed Terry found his research more than a little suspect at times. Even Peter Levenda, who arguably provided the most compelling argument for the Process' involvement in some type of sinister plot, acknowledges that Terry's research (especially that involving the occult and secret societies) is lacking.
"Where Terry is on shakier ground is his analysis of occultism and the activities of various cults and secret societies. His background in this field comes strictly from a handful of very poorly-composed occult books designed for popular audiences that were themselves written by people with very little direct knowledge. This has happened to many investigators, of course, who come upon occultism for the first time and have their eyes opened wide at this strange demimonde  in their own communities, and thus begin to believe everything they read on the subject, growing more and more nervous with each purple page of sensationalist prose, not realizing that the reality behind most of what comprises the modern manifestation of occultism is usually a lot less exciting and a lot more tawdry, about one step up from the standard established by Star Trek conventions, but minus the sophistication. Thus, it is possible for Terry -- in The Ultimate Evil --To confuse the Golden Dawn with satanism, or the OTO with the Process, etc. Although we can easily show a 'line of succession' leading from the Golden Dawn to Aleister Crowley, and from Crowley to the OTO and from the OTO to Scientology, and from Scientology to the Process Church of the Final Judgment, and eventually from there to Charles Manson, the so-called 'Solar Lodge of the OTO,' and even cult killers such as Clifford St. Joseph and others, we certainly don't have enough to show a deliberate conspiracy on the part of all these organizations in the Son of Sam case, and certainly not enough for calling all of these groups 'satanic' or 'murderous.' Perhaps, from a very narrow Fundamentalist Christian point of view, Terry could be forgiven for making these assumptions, because to a Fundamentalist anything smacking of the occult is automatically from the Devil and satanic. This includes rock music, homosexuals, prime time television and your daily horse go. All the evidence shows, however, the Terry is not a Fundamentalist Christian with an ax to grind against alternative religions..."
(Sinister Forces Book III, Peter Levenda, pg. 195)

Actually, Terry's politics are hardly as cut and dry as Levenda indicates above. Indeed, Terry would become involved with more than a few far right individuals while working on The Ultimate Evil. One of the least remarked upon aspects of the Son of Sam killings, especially by conspiracy theorist, is the role Rupert Murdoch played in creating the mythos.

Rupert Murdoch, the notorious media baron

At the time Murdoch had recently just acquired the New York Post and said daily's coverage of the Son of Sam killings has generally been described as sensational, a description commonly applied to any number of enterprises affiliated with the media mogul. The Post was the first major publication to hint at a possible conspiracy concerning the Son of Sam killings. What's more, individuals working for the New York Post with ties to Murdoch going back to Australia provided Terry with his first access to alleged Son of Sam killer David Berkowitz.
"The New York Post, a recent acquisition of Australian publishing magnate Rupert Murdoch, was heavily involved in coverage of the Son of Sam case. At times, it was guilty of sensationalism, but so were the rest of the media. The Post was losing money when Murdoch took the reins, and he immediately laid claim to the .44-caliber investigation, engaging the Daily News, particularly, in a battle of headlines as the probe continued. It was said in New York that Murdoch ' hung his hat on son of Sam.'
"Two weeks after Berkowitz's arrest, I said in the office of Peter Michelmore, the Post metropolitan editor, and elicited his interest in the subject of John Wheaties Carr and the Carr illustration studio. The Post was headquartered at 210 South Street, near the Seaport, not far from the Brooklyn Bridge. Its city room reflected the papers financial struggles, which antiquated typewriters and general disarray in evidence.
 "Murdoch had imported a number of Australian writers and editors to work at the Post; people he knew well from his overseas operations. Michelmore, a distinguished-looking, gray-haired man of about 50, was one of those.
"'I think this John Carr thing is good stuff,' he said, after I explained what I'd discovered. Michelmore summoned columnist Steve Dunleavy, another Australian, and assigned him to work with me to develop the story. Dunleavy was about 40 and had just written Elvis, What Happened?, which would become a bestseller...
"A week later I heard from Peter Michelmore,who asked me to drive to his office for another session. 'I think we can get something on Carr,' he said.
"'We've got a man in the hospital.'
"'In King's County? You've got access to Berkowitz?'
"'Yes,' Michelmore answered, but he didn't reveal who it was. I knew Berkowitz was being guarded closely, segregated from other prisoners and patients... 
"But there was no time for self-congratulation. Michelmore asked for a list of pertinent questions which the source could put to Berkowitz one or two at a time. Dunleavy, meanwhile, would use some of my information in a letter he was composing to the alleged .44-Caliber Killer. It was agreed that John Carr wouldn't be mentioned in the note: we wanted the hospital source to handle that one personally, so he could observe Berkowitz's immediate reaction."
(The Ultimate Evil, Maury Terry, pgs. 144-145)

Peter Michelmore (top) and Steve Dunleavy (bottom)

Berkowitz responded to the Dunleavy letter shortly thereafter.
"Steve Dunleavy, meanwhile, was having better luck. Berkowitz answered his letter, in a fashion, and the Post made plans to publish it on Monday, September 19. Acting on the Carr illustration studio lead, Dunleavy also located a couple of Berkowitz's former friends from Co-Op City. Both agreed that the writing ability manifest in the Breslin letter surpassed Berkowitz's, and they stated that the printing style didn't resemble his either. These were important building blocks, adding to the credibility of my suspicions.
"Michelmore called me the night of the eighteenth. 'We're going to fire the first of the big guns tomorrow,' he said, and then read me the text of Berkowitz's letter to Dunleavy.
"In it, Berkowitz was still following the party line. He called Sam Carr 'one of the devils of Satan... a force beyond the wildest imagination of people. He is not human...' The dog, of course, was 'a demon from hell.' Then Berkowitz gave Dunleavy what he was looking for: 'When I kill, I really saved many lives. You will understand later. People want my blood but they don't want to listen to what I have to say... there are other Sons out there --God help the world.'
"I wasn't overly thrilled with the letter's contents. 'He sounds just as crazy as the cops say he is. I think it's an act. So what good are we going to do printing this?'
"Michelmore explained that the letter would provide a basis for raising the questions about the handwriting and composition ability. 'This gives us an opportunity to go into these things. And [Berkowitz] did say that there were "other Sons" of Sam.'
"Michelmore was true to his word. The next day the Post hit the newsstands with a banner headline: BERKOWITZ WARNS OF MORE 'SONS.' LETTER TO POST SUGGEST ACCOMPLICE.'
"The handwriting issue was addressed; the possibility of a co-conspirator was mentioned; and Dunleavy managed to squeeze an admission from a police source that officials 'haven't had a real chance to question [Berkowitz].'"
(ibid, pgs. 147-148)
The Post would  eventually introduce Terry to their source, a former member of the New York City Police Department known as Jim Mitteager. Mitteager was not the actual source but was in contact with the individual that was communicating with Berkowitz during his stay at Kings County Hospital. Mitteager (who informed Terry during their first meeting that he got involved in the Son of Sam investigation in order to procure a position at the Post) would go on to become a key source for Terry's research into the Son of Sam cult in the early stages.

However Terry, to his credit, would eventually become weary of the Post and would even speculate that some element within it was trying to sabotage his investigation. Terry and Mitteager lost access to Berkowitz almost immediately after their first meeting due to the Post running a series of photographs that Mitteager's source had taken. The photographs, one of which notoriously depicted Berkowitz sleeping soundly in his cell, would bring the Post ample notoriety in addition to raising questions about the security surrounding Berkowitz.

not the actually 'Sam Sleeps' photo, but the closest I could find

Some six weeks after the Post ran the photographs Mitteager was arrested for bribing a corrections officer. He was ultimately acquitted by jury in 1979, but this incident effectively cut Terry off from the Post. Still, the Post would not be the only source that Terry would draw upon with ties to the far right.

Another individual who would aid Terry's investigation was Ted Gunderson. Anyone who has read their fair share of conspiracy literature has surely encountered Gunderson at some point, but for those uninitiated: Gunderson was a former high-ranking FBI agent who had headed the field offices in Memphis, Dallas, and ultimately Los Angeles throughout the 1970s. Then, in 1979 he retired (after interviewing for the directorship of the FBI) and opened a private detective agency. Shortly thereafter he became involved as an investigator for the defense of Jeffrey MacDonald, a former Green Beret doctor who was convicted of murdering his pregnant wife and two daughters in 1979. For years MacDonald had alleged that the murders, which occurred in 1970, were actually conducted by a Manson-like, drug-addled hippie cult, a notion that Gunderson quickly embraced (all the while charging an hourly rate of $100).

a young Ted Gunderson

Soon, Gunderson allegedly became convinced that the FBI had been co-opted by some type of Satanic cult affiliated with the Illuminati, the longtime bugaboo of the conspiratorial right. Naturally Gunderson, who was by all accounts an excellent investigator during his time with the Bureau, was totally unaware of this state of affairs while working for the FBI despite being in upper management. Ah, but the MacDonald investigation combined with a book known as Pawns in the Game by William Guy Carr soon opened his eyes to the centuries old Jewish/Masonic/Illuminati/Communist conspiracy to implement a one world socialist government.

From there on Gunderson would become a staple of the conspiratorial right throughout the 1980s, 1990s and even into the 00s (Gunderson died in 2011), rubbing shoulders with more than a few far right organizations along the way. While Ted would weigh in on virtually every single major event associated with conspiracy theories in the past century his bread and butter would continue to be allegations of some type of vast Satanic cult network that had infiltrated the government at every level and was involved in an international drug/child sex trafficking ring. Indeed, Gunderson was one of the chief architects of the Satanic ritual abuse panic that unfolded in the United States in the 1980s and early 1990s. The Examiner notes:
"Sensationalist journalism quoting from him almost universally described Gunderson only as a former FBI man, even long after he had become an obvious caricature, a public paranoid for hire. Ted was still simply a respected former FBI man even after decades of attaching his expertise to the furthest-flung theories of world-wide Illuminati/Masonic/Satanic/Zionist conspiracies. Throughout the moral panic of the 1980s - 1990s regarding Satanic cults thought to be subverting Christian-American lives, he would regularly appear on daytime talk shows warning of the insidious influence of Heavy Metal music and ubiquitous subliminal urgings being silently forced upon impressionable youthful minds."

Needless to say, Gunderson was and remains a highly controversial figure. For years conspiracy theorists accepted Gunderson's allegations without question because of his background with the FBI even when such a background should have raised major red flags. The Bureau has a saying that goes something like "once FBI, always FBI" and for good reason. Any number of former Bureau men, typically operating through private detective firms, have continue to operate on behalf of the FBI in a more covert fashion. In such cases they are typically gathering intelligence, usually relating to industrial security, for the Bureau or another agency in the US intelligence community.

While some may scoff at the notion that Gunderson was working under deep cover during his affiliation with the conspiratorial right, such an operation is hardly without precedent. Guy Bannister, a "former" FBI Agent and New Orleans private detective who has been widely linked to both CIA plots to overthrow Castro and the Kennedy assassination, was the Louisiana organizer of the Minutemen (the 1960s version, which was a prototype of the modern day militia movement) in addition to being a member of the John Birch Society and affiliating with various paramilitary anti-Castro Cuban organizations such as the Cuban Revolutionary Council. All the while working as a private detective and collaborating with these "patriot" type organization Bannister continued to report to the FBI.
"Guy Banister, to begin with, was undoubtedly working with the FBI. A declassified CIA document has confirmed that Sergio Arcacha Smith, the chief delicate of the Cuban Revolutionary Council at 544 Camp Street, maintained extensive relations with the New Orleans FBI... Two of his regular FBI contacts were a [name deleted] and the deceased Guy Banister.'"
(Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, Peter Dale Scott, pg. 87)  

With this in mind combined with the frequently sensational claims and suspect evidence Gunderson presented during his days with the conspiratorial right, it seems fair to question whether or not he had he was involved in some type of domestic operation, likely involving intelligence gathering and possibly the spreading of disinformation, for the Bureau or some other branch of the US intelligence community. But I digress. Let's return to Terry.

I tend to give Maury Terry the benefit of the doubt and assume that he is a basically well-intentioned individual. But as the above should illustrate, Terry does not seem to have been overly critical of his sources. Thus, while there is some highly compelling raw data in The Ultimate Evil there are also indications that Terry was being fed misinformation and disinformation by several of his sources. This makes several of his conclusions, most notably his notion that the cult that he was pursuing was a "subversive foreign group," highly suspect.

And with that I shall wrap things up for now. In the next installment we shall examine the evidence for an association between Charles Manson and the Process, a notion first put forth in Ed Sanders' 1971 classic The Family. Stay tuned.