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Reviewed by Philip John Zozzaro for Readers' Favorite
In August 1969, a pair of savage murders stunned Los Angeles and the world. The Tate-LaBianca murders left seven dead and an entire city consumed by fear and paranoia. Lis Wiehl sets out to examine the events in Hunting Charles Manson: The Quest for Justice in the Days of Helter-Skelter. Despite an initial bungling of the police investigation, evidence would lead to the arrest of Charles Manson and various followers. The questions that followed in the wake of the murders were varied, including the motive for these senseless murders. How did Manson sway so many to commit acts sometimes against their better nature, and how many more murders were this group responsible for? Charles Manson died in 2017 while serving a life sentence for his crimes. The answers to his Svengali-like hold and his true involvement in the Tate-LaBianca murders may be forever buried with the man.
Finding Charles Manson is an excellent addition to the body of work chronicling the Manson Family murders. Lis Wiehl (Hunting the Unabomber) brings her no-nonsense prosecutorial approach to the one-time billed “Crime of the Century”, dissecting the eyewitness testimony and evidence in a concise way, but never sparing the humanity involved. The timeline of and around the murders is examined in fine detail, along with the chaos that consumed the multiple trials that followed. The book doesn’t engage in a retread of the past but lays out the case along with the credible alternative theories that had surfaced during and after the trials. Her work, delivered in a near-flawless manner, would have served either side well during the time of the trials.