HELTER SKELTER: Police raid Spahn Ranch, Death Valley, California, 1969
LOS ANGELES TIMES: PANAMINT SPRINGS, Calif. — A posse of Inyo County sheriff’s investigators and forensic experts this morning began digging for human remains at a remote ranch in Death Valley National Park once used as a hangout for the notorious Charles Manson family. Armed with ground-penetrating radar, spades and a cadaver dog named Buster, the 20-member group’s mission was to wring every fact they could out of the sandy soil at the ranch where Manson and his followers holed up in 1969 after the massacre of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six others.
Of particular interest today were two sites where cadaver dogs and analyses of soil samples produced mixed but somewhat encouraging results that could possibly support lingering rumors that bodies may be buried at Barker Ranch. The collection of sheds and a rock-and-plaster ranch house are five miles up a rugged black rock canyon at the park’s southwestern boundary. Inyo County Sheriff Bill Lutze has said a total of five sites may be excavated over the next few days amid temperatures forecast to hover near 110 degrees. Sheriff’s authorities were expected to provide reporters with a progress report later today.
In the late 1960s, the Manson gang roamed the barren Death Valley landscape in dune buggies and prepared for “Helter Skelter,” a race war Manson was trying to spark. The phrase was taken from a Beatles song, which Manson believed was encoded with predictions that the conflict would destroy modern civilization. Manson and his followers planned to survive by living in a tunnel, then emerge as leaders of some new world order. Manson was arrested by law enforcement authorities who discovered him hiding beneath a sink in the ranch house five miles up Goler Wash, a narrow rocky canyon that is home to chuckwalla lizards and wild burros and must be traversed via a teeth-rattling serpentine dirt road. MORE
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