This Halloween, Scary Thoughts of Real Monsters Among Us
With Halloween looming over us and scary creatures creeping into our nightmares, it’s the perfect time to think about the real monsters among us.
A friend, writer-colleague Ivor Davis, has just updated his true crime/murder book called Five to Die: The Book that Helped Convict Manson. It is a truly frightening story about one of the most horrible monsters who sent shivers down our spines, and continues to do so whenever we think of the unspeakable crimes he committed.
When I asked why he decided to dig deep to resurrect those awful memories of the Manson murders, here’s what Davis told me. “Forty years ago this past summer, I awoke to the news that, during the night, one of the most brutal murder rampages in the history of California had taken place just six miles from my house. In the early hours of August 9, Sharon Tate, a devastatingly-beautiful 26-year-old actress who was eight and a half months pregnant with her first child, a son, had been savagely slaughtered in a house she was renting in the Benedict Canyon area of Beverly Hills.”
There were more victims of the wholesale carnage that defined the night, and Ivor Davis, at the time, was the West Coast correspondent for one of Britain’s largest newspapers. His editors immediately assigned him to find out everything he could about the senseless tragedy. The massacre was instant front page news around the world. Charles Manson and his band of repulsive followers were soon arrested for the Tate murders, along with the nearby killings of the LaBiancas in Silver Lake.
Davis was the first to write a book (along with colleague Jerry LaBlanc) about the Tate-LaBianca murders, called Five to Die. “We had an early start on the case,” recalled Davis. “As soon as the story broke that Manson, who had been taken into custody at the remote Barker Ranch in Death Valley on October 12, 1969 two months after the murders, was a key suspect in the case, we began to dig into his background and that of his ‘family.’ As we progressed, we seemed to be several steps ahead of police investigators. Our book was rushed out in paperback before the sensational trial unfolded. It was the very first book to catalogue the bizarre story of life with Manson.”
After the trial, Davis had learned that his book had helped get a murder conviction for Manson and his followers. L.A. Deputy District Attorney Aaron Stovitz said that the book was a “blueprint for our prosecution.” And Stovitz “encouraged me to revisit my book. And as I did, I once again recalled the amazing events that led us to the real story of Manson and his murderous ‘family,’” Davis explained.
In the current updated book, Five to Die: The Book that Helped Convict Manson, Davis also revisited conversations he had over the years with Roman Polanski, once again in the news. Also highlighted were record producer Terry Melcher, his mother Doris Day and Beatle Paul McCartney, as well as key figures in the trial. “And I examined how I too had been personally affected by my proximity to the case, not least by the menacing death threats to myself and my family from Charlie’s ‘family.’ The new book is that personal odyssey back in time as well as an up-to-date picture of where Manson and his killer band are today.”
Ironically, Davis revealed that, today, crime pays for Manson and many of his accomplices, still locked up for life. They are behind bars—but make money selling everything from autographed photos, religious sermons and erotic art. And they are constantly trying to get parole. For Davis, that is a very scary thought.