The CIA, Drugs, the Death of Cass Elliot, and the Reason Sharon Tate Died
Charles Manson, the CIA,
the Death of Mama Cass Elliot
and Other “Restless Youth”
(Revised & Expanded)
By Alex Constantine
“Who can take sugar from its sack,
Pour in LSD and put it back?” —The Fugs, “CIA Man”
Two days before Cass Elliot died in London, the House Judiciary Committee voted 27-11 to recommend the first article of impeachment against President Nixon for obstruction of justice. The second article of impeachment, abuse of power, and third, contempt of Congress, were passed on July 29, 1974, the day that Cass suffered a fatal coronary (Four years later, Who drummer Keith Moon would die from barbiturate overdose in the same flat.)
The executive branch took a fatal blow on July 16, 1973, when Nixon aide Alexander Butterfield sabotaged his boss by revealing in open Congressional testimony the existence of secret White House tapes. Butterfield, a veteran Air Force reconnaissance pilot who flew in Vietnam, had been in charge of tactical charts for Defense Secretary Robert McNamara under President Johnson. In 1969, he gave up his commission to accept the post of security advisor to the Oval Office, offered by his old UCLA classmate H.R. Haldeman, Nixon’s chief of staff. In the mid-‘60s, Butterfield had worked in the Pentagon under Knight of Malta Alexander Haig, whose advisor Bob Woodward left the DoD and took a job at the Washington Post six months before the Watergate scandal broke. By revealing the existence of the tapes, Butterfield, with an assist from the CIA, brought down the nation’s chief executive.
CHAOS entered a hyper-operational phase coincident with Nixon’s election to office.
The late Mae Brussell, a mercurial encyclopedia of political research in Carmel, California, reached some startling conclusions in an unpublished manuscript entitled “Operation CHAOS”:
By August, 1967, Special Operations Group went after the youth. By July, 1968, Operation CHAOS, identical to Chilean “Chaos,” went after the “restless youth.” …
Mid-summer of 1969, one month before the Manson Family massacres, Operation CHAOS went into tight security [mode]. . . . They had perfected enough LSD to cause every violent act or symptom associated with the violence in Los Angeles or at Altamont.
It was identical to giving poison candy at Halloween. LSD was the moving force, the cause for the Sharon Tate-La Bianca slaughters. It was fed at the Spahn Ranch for a steady diet.
July, 1968, explicit orders went out to proceed, accompanied with instructions to neutralize segments of our society, including those restless youth. By 1969, the SSS, Special Services Staff of the FBI, combined with the Justice Department and with CIA’s Operation CHAOS.
August, 1969 was the Sharon Tate-La Bianca slaughter. What Manson called home was a relic of Hollywood’s past. The Spahn Ranch was the backdrop for movies made by Tom Mix, William S. Hart and John Mack Brown. Parts of Howard Hughes’s The Outlaw were shot there. But the ranch had one more claim to historical significance. Next to George Spahn’s property stretched the Krupp Ranch, owned by one of the wealthiest families in Nazi Germany, a ranking sponsor of Hitler’s aggression and its accompanying atrocities.1
The Krupp Ranch has since been transformed into a blooming commercial Bavarian beer garden. Howard Hughes purchased some 500 acres of Krupp-owned land in Nevada after his move to Las Vegas.2
Manson, the aspiring neo-Nazi rock artist and his family of tripping satyrs, socialized with celebrity recording artists, especially Cass Elliot’s entourage, off the Sunset Strip in Laurel Canyon. He lived for a year with Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, who would drown in twelve feet of water in 1983.
Bobby Beausoleil, convicted for the torture-murder of Gary Hinman, was a devotee of Manson. The rock group Love, founded by Beausoleil’s musical companion Arthur Lee (of the signature multi-colored glasses), was not a band of laughing survivors. Since the Tate-LaBianca murders, a curse has dogged their heels. Guitarist Bryan MacLean and bass-player Ken Forssi are dead. Tjay Cantrelli, born John Barberis, a sax player and flutist, is also presumed dead, at least this is the most probable conjecture. Johnny Echols has disappeared and is also thought to be deceased. Michael Stuart, drummer, changed his name to conceal his identity and his whereabouts are unknown.
Arthur Lee, convicted in 1995 to 12 years at the Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, California, for firing a handgun into the air, is fiercely reluctant to discuss the group’s past, and so are survivors of Love’s many incarnations. But the prison sentence is unreasonably harsh — considering that a fan visiting Lee at his home on Mulholland Drive confessed to firing the pistol himself, and that the fan suffered such remorse over the conviction that he was stricken with a bipolar disorder and had to be hospitalized. William Cenego, the fan, points out that the forensic test for gun-powder residue on Lee’s hand was negative.
“I think Arthur had an incredibly unfair trial,” Cenego laments. “It’s almost not accurate to describe it as a trial.”3
The death of Dennis Wilson was questioned by Mae Brussell in her weekly Worldwatcher’s International broadcast on KAZU-FM, Monterey, California, on January 16, 1984:
There’s [an] article in the San Francisco Chronicle . . . that said: “Dennis Wilson was responsible for one of the group’s darkest secrets: ‘Me and Charlie, we started the Family.’” He said he’d founded the Manson Family. He made a record with Charles Manson. On the 20/20 album, Dennis Wilson is credited. . . .
Bill Oster was the fellow who allegedly owned the yacht where he drowned. [Oster:] “He appeared to be clowning [Wilson] when he dove into 12 feet of water. He did not surface after the dive. He poked his hand above and waved. I saw the body slip. I thought he was clowning. I knew he had to come up for air.”
The Los Angeles Herald said that “his wife called at the boat at 4:30.” That would be the exact time he was going under. A woman answered and she was “kind of rude.” She said: “We’ve got some trouble here” and slammed down the phone. That would be the exact time that he was bubbling and waving and nobody jumped in for him. And at 5:30, one hour later, according to another account, he was picked up.
Two days before the drowning, Wilson had signed into St. John’s Hospital to “be clean of alcohol and drugs.” A man and a woman visited him. Wilson became agitated and signed out of the unit. He was taken immediately to the boat.
Medical examiners found a gash on the drummer’s forehead:
The coroner said [the gash] “didn’t contribute” to his death. He died as a result of “drowning.” … He has a hit on the head and drowns in 12 feet of water.
Wilson’s friends check him out and supplied him with alcohol, and he has a hit on the head and drowns in 12 feet of water. He was buried at sea. This assures that there will be no autopsy after that bang on the head. He’s fed to the sharks … that’s the old Grenada trip they’re using. … And there’s no way now to ever know what caused that bang on his head, or how deep it was. …
In Sharon Tate’s home there were video movies of military VIPs. I know there were, but who was on those tapes? They belonged to the LAPD. Would Dennis Wilson know who was on those tapes? He was close to that scene.
Ed Sanders notes that Manson met Abigail Folger, the wealthy coffee heiress found dead among the carnage on Cielo Drive, at the home of Mama Cass Elliot.4
“Gibby,” Maury Terry, author of The Ultimate Evil, discovered in his investigation of satanic cult connections to the Manson family, “had more money than she knew what to do with. She was into finding herself and new directions, and she was always investing in things.” Abigail Folger (daughter of Peter Folger, president of the coffee company, and Ines “Pui” Meija, the youngest offspring of Salvadoran Consul General Encarnacion Mejia and his wife Gertrude), doled out cash to Manson on occasion. Then stopped. “Manson turned against her when she refused to lay out any more bucks for him.”
When Manson lived in San Francisco, Folger loaned $10,000 to the Straight Theater at Haight and Cole Streets. Manson then lived on Cole Street, on the same block as the Process Church of the final Judgment. On September 21, 1967, the Magick Powerhouse of Oz performed at the Straight in celebration of the “Equinox of the Gods.”
The Manson family’s Bobby Beausoleil was the lead guitarist at this august function.
Folger also funded Timothy Leary, filmmaker Kenneth Anger and the Process Church in the establishment of the “Himalayan Academy,” not far from the Esalen Institute.
The Leary lab was chock-a-block with pricey brain-scanning gear, oscilloscopes and advanced bio-electronic hardware. Manson was a hanger-on at the Himalayan Foundation. In fact, he first encountered the Process there, joined the openly Satanic sect, according to Terry, “and later convened with the group in Mill Valley and at a dwelling in San Anselmo occupied by a well-known personage aligned with the LSD scene. Both cities are in the Bay area.”5
Folger, a financier of the covert lab utilized by the CIA’s Timothy Leary, knew another regular of Mama Cass’s entourage: Bill Mentzer, currently serving a life term for the murder of fledgling Hollywood producer Roy Radin, a partner in The Cotton Club. He never lived to see the movie produced by Robert Evans, a partner with the deceased in the film and a friend of Henry Kissinger.6
“I’m used to being around skuzzy people,” Cass Elliot told her future husband Donald von Wiederman on the day they met. “You know, guys with long, stringy hair and zits from not eating right, guys with needle marks on their arms, guys who rip me off every time I turn my back.”7
The nucleus of this pathological parade was Cass, nee Ellen Naomi Cohen, born in 1941 and raised in Washington, D.C., a German baronness by marriage. Her second husband, ‘60s paparazzi journalist von Weidenman, was a German nobleman, heir to a Bavarian baron — also, after his short-lived marriage to Cass, an irrepressibly manic, multifarious Penthouse staff writer, gay porn producer (former publisher of The Advocate), Los Angeles advertising magnate for a spell, artist and novelist.
Cass was the most polished vocalist in the Mamas and The Papas, sometimes described as America’s first hippies. The quartet formed in New York City in 1963 around songwriter John Phillips. Holly Michelle Gillian Phillips, born in Long Beach, California on June 4, 1945, gave up a modeling career to sing with the group and married him in 1962. The Journeymen, as they were initially known, also included Scott McKenzie, who would join the surviving Mamas and Papas in 1985.
Cass moved with the group from the East Coast to Los Angeles in 1964, and they signed with Lou Alder’s Dunhill label. The Mamas and Papas split up in 1968. Michelle Phillips set out on a successful acting career, appearing in Dillinger and Valentino. She was a regular on Knots Landing. Michelle married actor Dennis Hopper for eight days in 1970. John Phillips and Dennis Doherty, the Papas, also went solo with mixed success. Cass Elliot, however, after a rocky start in Las Vegas, launched a highly successful career. She produced seven albums and several singles before her death.
Cass’s beau at the time of her fatal heart attack was “Pic” Dawson, then under investigation by Scotland Yard for international drug smuggling. Dawson was the son of Harrison Pickens Dawson II, scion of an affluent landowning clan in the Bible Belt. Pic’s father was also a respected economist, sent to Germany after WW II to assist in rebuilding the economy. Subsequently, he entered the American Diplomatic Corps and was assigned to the State Department as a foreign service attaché and supervisory commercial officer in Bonn until his retirement in 1970. He died on Christmas Eve, 1985. At the time of his father’s death, Pic, who perished himself a year later from a heroin overdose, was living in London.8
Cass had recently wrapped up two triumphant weeks of sold-out performances at the London Palladium. The coroner’s report was not conclusive. She “probably choked to death,” but there was also “a possibility of heart attack.”
Donald von Wiederman knew Cass as well as anyone alive. He spoke to her by telephone before and after she set off for London. She told him that she was “in love” but didn’t mention Dawson by name. When her death hit the headlines, von Wiederman was immediately skeptical of the forensic report and had reason to suspect foul play:
The phone rings. It’s July, 1974.
“My, my,” says a cheery voice, “how time flies when you’re having sex.” Cass is manic. She’s leaving the next day for London. She’s going to play the Palladium as a solo act, her life-long dream. She tells me that she thinks she’s in love, that her life is finally falling into place. I sense that she is holding something back. I have no idea what it is. …
A week later she calls from London. She is a smash, critically acclaimed, selling out every night. … I ask her about the new man in her life. She tries to change the subject but then tells me that someone told her that Alan Carr, her newly hired manager, had paid her new boyfriend to be with her. She says it uncertainly, telling me she doesn’t really know if it is true.
I think this has to be the ultimate insult, but still she is upbeat. She says she has to go.
The next day she is dead.
The media screams to the world that she choked on a ham sandwich. Not a nice epitaph for someone who gave so much. I don’t believe it for a minute.
There are a lot of seemingly mysterious circumstances surrounding her death. According to the first accounts in the newspapers, no traces of drugs were found in her body, an improbable reality at the very least. The press says her address book is missing. Her jewelry is missing, even the bracelets fused on her wrists for posterity.
The media reports that she was alone when she died. She was never alone, never, unless she was alone with her daughter. Alan Carr claimed he knew nothing, a white lie at best, a malevolent secret at worst. Scotland Yard has to be forced to release the results of the autopsy, and those results are inconclusive, meaningless. In my mind, manipulated. The new and unknown man in her life does not come forward to mourn her.9
In his biography of Cass, Jon Johnson published twelve photocopies from her FBI file, released after an FOIA request. The pages are almost entirely obscured by black ink.
Hoover’s Bureau kept tabs on Cass at the request of Alex Butterfield, who, Johnson notes cryptically, was “obsessed” with her.
“She reportedly has associated with drug addicts,” the FBI report mentions, “and individuals opposed to the President’s Vietnam policy.”
One report marked “urgent” and “confidential” notes that Cass attended a fund-raiser in Hollywood attended by Jack Nicholson and Ryan O’Neal, among other celebrities. The event was hosted by the Entertainment Industry for Peace and Justice Committee (EIPJ). The FBI memo gossips that “between dates with Henry Kissinger, Mario Thomas also attended the EIPJ meet with Barry Diller.” Tuesday Weld, Burt Lancaster and Jane Fonda, among others, attended the fund-raiser as well.
Cass had political ambitions. “I think that I would like to be a senator or something in twenty years,” she told Mike Douglas. She attended a variety of Democratic Party functions, participated in a Madison Square Garden rally sponsored by Rose Kennedy. “I saw in the Democratic Convention in Chicago that there were more people interested in what I was interested in than I believed possible. It made me want to work. … There would be room in an organized movement of politics for me to voice myself.”
Paul Krassner, editor of The Realist, suspects that Cass was the target of political foul play. “Cass Elliot was a friend,” he says. “I believe she may have been killed. She knew an awful lot about the incredible criminal links between Hollywood and Washington and Las Vegas. … She was also a friend of Sharon Tate’s. On the night Bobby Kennedy was killed, [Cass] had dinner with Sharon and Roman Polanski at the home of film director John Frankenheimer in Malibu Beach.”10
Pathologists in London refused to specify the cause of death at a public hearing. They did, however, mutter fatuously that she may have “choked” to death.
The faux ham sandwich legend began with Dr. Anthony Greenburgh, a Belgravia physician and “doctor to the stars,” who entered the flat (loaned to Cass by British singer Harry Nilsson), and thought, as he told the Daily Express, “she appeared to have been eating a ham sandwich and drinking Coca-Cola while lying down — a very dangerous thing to do. She seemed to have choked on a ham sandwich.”
Dr. Greenburgh’s opinion failed to account for the fact that Cass had not bitten into the sandwich, as Inspector Kenneth Humm noted in his police report.11
But the most-ludicrous-explanation award went to Dr. Keith Simpson, whose autopsy detected a “left-sided heart failure. She plainly had a heart attack.” He claimed, to cries of outrage from the medical community, that a section of Elliot’s heart muscle had actually “turned to fat,” a coronary transmutation he attributed to “stress.”
Johnson’s post-mortem examination of a medical hoax:
The conclusion was termed “improper” by a Vanderbilt University heart specialist immediately after it was made public. “It is true that obesity is related to high blood pressure and stroke, but there’s no correlation with a heart attack,” disputed Dr. George V. Mann. “He’s stating an old-fashioned dogma, a Victorian concept of fatty degeneration that has gone out in modern times. Old time pathologists tend to look at deposits of adipose tissue around the surface of the heart and associate it with a heart attack, but a heart attack is due to limitation of blood supply to the heart muscle with the result that some of the muscle dies.”12
Whatever the underlying cause, the verdict remained unchanged. Officially, Cass died of a massive heart attack at the age of 32.
Why did Dr. Simpson reach into the 19th century and extract this long-discredited theory to explain the death of Mama Cass? He was not a quack or charlatan, despite superficial appearances to the contrary.
Dr. Simpson, who died on July 21, 1985, was among the most respected forensic pathologists in the world. In his lifetime, he was a professor of forensic medicine at the University of London and Oxford. He was co-founder and president of the Association of Forensic Medicine, famed for post-mortems in a number of high profile homicides. In 1963, he was elected to the Royal College of Pathologists. Professor Simpson was the editor of Taylor’s Medical Jurisprudence, a standard reference work. Forty Years of Murder, his autobiography, was an international best-seller in the late 1970s.
It’s likely that Dr. Simpson performed more autopsies than any other forensic pathologist in the world, yet his analysis of the death of Cass Elliot was so blatantly stupid that less knowledgeable and experienced pathologists denounced it openly as medical flimflam.
How could he be so mistaken?
Because Professor Simpson was not only a celebrated medical pathologist, he was also a political animal, the first forensic pathologist to be recognized by the Home Office, a consultant to corruption-riddled Scotland Yard. He could not have possibly believed his own diagnosis. He lied and was covering for someone … but who? And why?
The death certificate states that Cass Elliot died from “natural causes.” This conclusion is based on the erroneous autopsy report, so it isn’t known whether her death was natural or not. Dr. Simpson covered up the true cause of death with his Victorian cardiac fantasia — and, they say, the cover-up proves the crime. Given the body count around Cass, most of them connected to the Laurel Canyon rock scene — the slaughters, torture-murders, overdoses, disappearances, corpses stuffed into car trunks, etc. (Googling them is an all-day affair) – it has to be considered that Cass was also murdered. Dr. Simpson invented a “natural” cause of death to conceal the true circumstances. The Church Committee hearings revealed, in its discussion of the famed CIA “heart attack gun,” that the CIA has developed a toxin that causes cardiac arrest, delivered via a tiny projectile that melts once the drug istaken into the bloodstream. This is an explanation, however unfeasible, given the circumstances than Dr. Simpson’s fat transmutation hypothesis.
It is reinforced by his implausible claim that there were “no drugs” detected in Elliot’s bloodstream at the time of death. Recall Donald von Wiederman’s skepticism. Cass, he knew, was always high. She took drugs on a daily basis. But Dr. Simpson was in a tight spot. If he even admitted to traces of drugs in her system, he would have had to list and quantify them. Elliot’s blood samples would be subject to peer review. He was forced to deny that there was any trace of drugs in her system. If he included them in his report, there was a risk that the toxin used to kill her would be detected on subsequent analysis. He would be caught out, opening a can of worms with “Homicide” on the label.
But Simpson’s explanation for the death of Mama Cass wasn’t the only disingenuous moment in an otherwise illustrious career. His opinion concerning another mysterious, high-profile death – also with connections to heroin smuggling — was equally ludicrous: the death-by-hanging of Roberto “God’s Banker” Calvi.
Calvi, whose murder has been the subject of numerous investigative reports, was the chairman of Banco Abrosiano. The bank’s largest shareholder was the Vatican. The bank had been overrun by the infamous Propaganda Due, or P2, Masonic Lodge, founded by Nazi collaborator Licio Gelli in 1966. In consultation with the CIA, P2 and Operation Gladio, a NATO secret army, waged a war on socialists by committing acts of terror and blaming them on the left.
Under his tutelage, the bank laundered funds derived largely from the heroin trade. In 1982, after $900 million vanished from the bank, Calvi fled to the UK. in a state of panic. He threatened to tell authorities everything he knew about the money laundering.
Calvi was found hanging by a length of orange rope twisted into a lover’s knot from London’s Blackfriars Bridge, his pockets filled with bricks. Letters of consolation to offshore banks set up by Calvi were signed by Archbishop Marcinkus, the powerful Chicago-born prelate and Vatican insider implicated in the scandal but never interrogated by the authorities.
Calvi’s mentor was Michele Sindona, poisoned by cyanide-laced coffee while sitting out a life term in prison for the 1986 murder of lawyer Giorgio Ambrosoli.
Sindona was a Knight of Malta and crony of Richard Nixon.
Roberto Calvi took to his grave knowledge of payments made by major Italian companies to prominent political parties. Mafia don Francesco “Frankie the Strangler” di Carlo has confessed that on June 16, 1982, two days before the murder, he was assigned the hit. Di Carlo was directed to contact Giuseppe “Pippo” Calo, a Cosa Nostra general.
But by the time de Carlo contacted Calo, “he told me not to worry, that the problem had been taken care of.”13
Di Carlo, among the first Mafia leaders to launder drug proceeds through the establishment banking system, is currently serving 25 years in prison for heroin trafficking.
“One day I may write the full story,” he told the Observer, “but the real killers will never be brought to justice because they are being protected by the Italian state, by members of the P2 Masonic lodge. They have massive power. They are made up of a mixture of politicians, bank presidents, the military, top security and so on. This is a case that they continue to open and close again and again but it will never be resolved.”14 Journalists who have written about P2 have also linked the lodge to not only the Mafia, but the CIA, Knights of Malta, MI5 and a number of neo-Nazi groups.
Two inquests into Calvi’s death were conducted. The first was presided over by London coroner Dr. David Paul in a marathon session lasting 10 hours and 20 minutes. In Mafia: Inside the Dark Heart, A.G.D. Maran writes of Dr. Simpson’s role in the inquest:
[Dr. Paul] kept the jury hearing evidence for nine hours, summed up for an hour and then asked the jury to be quick about their verdict, giving them incorrect instructions about the application of an open verdict. They voted by a majority for suicide, but it was no surprise that the verdict was overturned on appeal and a second inquest ordered. The main witness at the first inquest was the famous forensic pathologist Dr. Keith Simpson. These were the days of eminence-based rather than evidence-based medicine, when a famous medical expert’s opinion would be invariably believed. Simpson said that the death had occurred around 2 a.m. and the cause was asphixia due to hanging. He did not opine as to the probability of either murder or suicide, but from the way that he presented the evidence it seemed that he favored suicide. …
The second inquest lasted two weeks. … What was certain was that it would have been virtually impossible for Calvi himself to have reached that point on the scaffold, carrying 12 pounds of bricks, and to arrange his own hanging. Also, he could have saved himself all the discomfort by staying in Chelsea Cloisters and swallowing the hundreds of barbituate tablets that were in his luggage. …
Much of the evidence for murder rests on the virtual impossibility of his having hanged himself.15
Dr. Keith Simpson was not a good liar. He offered up transparently false and misleading testimony at least twice in his career.
Cass Elliot and Roberto Calvi lived worlds apart but shared two things in common: heroin and premature mortality. Cass’s fiancé Pic Dawson peddled the opiate; Roberto Calvi laundered profits from its distribution. They both died under very peculiar circumstances. The fix was in.
Dr. Simpson misrepresented the cause of death in both cases to draw attention away from sensitive subjects.
Drugs, for instance.
Many books have been written about the Manson murders, and there have been differences of opinion but on one point they all agree: the motive for the slayings involved drugs.
And Cass was at the center of it all. Pic Dawson, heroin addict and drug dealer, was the first suspect in the slaughter at 10050 Cielo Drive.
He sold drugs to Wojciech Frykowski and Jay Sebring, both of whom were murdered by the Manson family. Cass was a close friend of Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski. She lived across the road from victims Frykowski and Folger, socialized with both of them. She also knew Manson and his entourage.
Vincent Bugliosi has written about the Hollywood connections at length in Helter Skelter. He is also the author of Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John Kennedy — a revisionist account of the sniper fire in Dallas. Before the Manson murders, Bugliosi worked for the D.A.’s office in Los Angeles where he altered evidence to convict Sirhan Sirhan for the Robert Kennedy assassination, orchestrated by the CIA, a clutch of affluent right-wingers with ties to the John Birch Society and an assortment of neo-Nazi groups in Southern California.16
Helter Skelter is a cover-up, no less disingenuous than Dr. Simpson’s fat heart thesis and cooked testimony before the Calvi inquest.
The explanation for Cielo Drive and a litany of related homicides isn’t found in Bugliosi’s book.
Pic Dawson’s father was a State Dept. foreign attaché — a common synonym for CIA officer.
Manson murders blogger Phil Jayhan, among others, has traced multiple CIA connections after reading widely about the case and piecing together the essential leads. Jayhan notes that Jimi Hendrix, on more than one occasion, played live and recorded with the falsely-accused Arthur Lee, lead vocalist of Love, the rock band that has fallen on very hard times since the Manson murders. Love’s Gary Beausoleil was a member of the Manson cult and is serving a life term for Gary Hinman’s murder.
“Almost all of the rock stars of the late 1960s used to live in Laurel Canyon, including the band Love,” Jayhan writes. “Frank Zappa, who promoted the use of LSD through his record Freakout, lived in the Canyon even though he never took LSD himself. Frank Zappa’s father used to work at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds back east… Do you really believe that Jimi Hendrix died while choking on his vomit or Mama Cass Elliot choked on a ham sandwich? The logical explanation here is that the CIA hippies were the suppliers or promoters of the drugs to the rest of the crowd” – including Pic Dawson, who recruited Wojciech Frykowski, Gibby Folger’s paramour, as a front man to introduce the LA rock star scene to a drug called Methylenedioxyamphetamine, MDA for short, synthetic mescaline, a hallucinogenic compound with the street name “the love drug.”
MDA, like LSD, was spun off by the MKUltra mind control experiments, another weapon in the CHAOS bio-chemical arsenal. John Marks, in The Search for the Manchurian Candidate, a history of MKUltra, reports that professional New York City tennis player Harold Blauer died in 1953 during classified MDA experimentation overseen by the Agency’s Office of Scientific Intelligence.17 Blauer was completely unaware that he had been used as a guinea pig and for 22 years after his overdose the cause of death was covered up by the state of New York and the CIA.18
“Manson was also associated with Robert DeGrimston of the Process Church,” Jayhan writes. “In fact, they used the same alias, Robert Moor. DeGrimston was associated with Ron Stark, a CIA agent who supplied LSD to almost all of the youth in America during the late 1960s. Another strange unexplained occurrence that happened during the Manson trial is the fact that Steve Kay, who worked on Bugliosi’s prosecution team, used to date Sandra Good, one of the main Manson girls years earlier when they went to school together in San Diego. I think that the ‘Bug’ has a little explaining to do.”19
CIA/Mafia connections were responsible for much of the bloodletting connected to Laurel Canyon in the 1960s, including the Tate-LaBianca murders.
Anyone alive at the time heard of the carnage. But the motive has always been hazy.
During the Manson trial, Susan “Sadie Glutz” Atkins, the killer of Sharon Tate, testified that the motive was two-fold – payback for burning Manson follower Linda Kasabian on a $1,000 MDA deal, and to free Bobby “Cupid” Beausoleil, who recorded with Arthur Lee and sang backup on Zappa’s LP Freakout, from imprisonment by copying the torture-murder of Gary Hinman.20
The first motive for the murders, corroborated by a number of independent witnesses, connects directly to Pic Dawson, Mama Cass’s paramour and Frykowski’s MDA supplier. Per the coroner’s report, Frykowski and Folger both had MDA in their blood when they were killed (0.6 mg and 2.4 mg., respectively). Atkins, in volume 180, page 23,049 of the trial transcripts, recalls that Kasabian told her that she purchased the bad MDA at the Polanski-Tate residence. Dawson was the MDA supplier to this crowd and he frequented the house at the invitation of Frykowski and Folger, who house-sat while Polanski and Tate were off filming in Europe.21
Tex Watson and Linda Kasabian paired up in the months prior to the murders, according to Beausoleil.21 Kasabian scored the MDA from a partner of Dawson’s, Billy Doyle – another of Cass Elliot’s boyfriends (she was engaged to him for a brief period in 1969), and a familiar face at the Polanski household. If Watson and Kasabian sought payback, it was Dawson and Doyle who should have been taken out, not Sharon Tate and her houseguests.
What does Nixon aide Alexander Butterfield and his “obsession” with Cass Elliot have to do with any the above? A year after her apparent heart failure in London, Pentagon whistle-blower L. Fletcher Prouty told NPR’s Daniel Schorr that Butterfield had been” the CIA’s spy in the White House.”22 (The Nixon aide denied it, but Randall B. Woods’ Shadow Warrior: William Egan Colby and the CIA, argues convincingly that he was a CIA mole.)
It was Butterfield who suggested to Nixon at their very first meeting that a tape machine be set up in the Oval Office. Butterfield was also one of Crimes of Patriots author Jonathan Kwitny’s sources on CIA heroin trafficking and money laundering at the Nugan Hand Bank in Australia, so it is certain that he was privy to Agency involvement in the drug trade. Mae Brussell has gone so far as to suggest that Butterfield was instrumental in the founding of Nugan Hand.
It was Butterfield who directed the FBI to open a file on Cass Elliott. Her death on the very day that articles of impeachment against Nixon passed in the House is telling. Nixon, according to Alfred W. McCoy, in The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, lobbied Congress on behalf of PepsiCo for approval of a bottling plant near the Mekong River in Laos that served as a front for the importation of acetic anhydride — the key precursor in the production of heroin. The Pepsi plant did not produce one bottle of soft drink, but it was Air America’s primary cargo supplier of the opiate for import to the United States and elsewhere. (During this period, Nixon called for an escalation of the war in Laos.) Air America, of course, was a CIA front.
Cass’s fiancé Pic Dawson dealt heroin. He also sold MDA, the CIA mind control drug. The fact that he was the first dealer in Los Angeles to do so links him once again to the agency that had developed the drug as a bio-warfare weapon aimed at America’s “restless youth.”
Thus Butterfield’s “obsession” with Mama Cass Elliot. If anyone “knew where the bones were buried,” it was she. At a time when the CIA was cleaning house – and went so far as to drive Nixon from office, very deftly, without exposing his ties to scandals much deeper than illicit wiretaps, hush money and milk funds, including political assassinations and heroin importation – it was an opportune time for CIA/CHAOS agents to live and let Cass die – especially with Frank Church beginning to stick his big nose where it didn’t belong. Dr. Simpson, the famed forensic expert, delivered his diagnostic quack song-and-dance over her body, a role he would reprise when P2’s Roberto Calvi threatened to blow the whistle on the laundering of heroin profits at Banco Ambrosiano.
Vincent Bugliosi could be counted on to tie up loose ends with a perception management best-seller and movie made for television.
Nixon himself attempted to scuttle exposure of CHAOS and its role in the Manson case by declaring, in the midst of the trial and on national television, that the cult leader was “guilty.” Nixon was an attorney. He was completely aware that his widely-publicized statement could prejudice the jury, that the charges might well be dismissed as a result of his statement. On August 4, 1979 he was forced to retract:
Nixon Backs off From Calling Manson Guilty
WASHINGTON, Aug. 4 – President Nixon has backed away from an off-the-cuff comment that Charles Manson, the California hippie-cult leader, was guilty, directly or indirectly, of “eight murders without reason.”
While Air Force One circled Washington for nearly a half hour Monday night on a flight from Denver, Nixon drafted a statement that declared, “The last thing I would do is prejudice the legal rights of any person, in any circumstances.”
Hours earlier, Manson’s defense attorneys had asked a Los Angeles judge to declare a mistrial, alleging prejudicial publicity. The court denied the initial motion “without prejudice,” wanting to make certain what Nixon actually said.
Stopping in Denver en route back to the White House from a working holiday in San Clemente, Nixon went before newsmen prior to conferring in the Colorado capital with state law enforcement officials and said of Manson:
“Here is a man who was guilty, directly or indirectly, of eight murders without reason. Here is a man, yet, who, as far as the news media coverage was concerned, appeared to be rather a glamorous figure…”
Many reporters who heard Nixon, an attorney, were aware immediately that the chief executive had assumed Manson guilty before completion of his trial. Some thought they saw a quick facial reaction from Atty. Gen. John N. Mitchell, who was standing at the President’s side.
Fellow lawyer Mitchell, however, made no move to suggest that Nixon amend his impromptu remark. …
Tricky Dick’s attempt to undermine the Manson trial didn’t work out, but he needn’t have worried. The many CHAOS ties to Laurel Canyon’s colorful youth — Mama Cass Elliot, the fall of LOVE, the Manson murders, LSD, heroin, MDA, a long list of dead witnesses — never did make headlines, as his own “horror stories” eventually did.
Alex Butterfield could rest easy. Who was to know?
Are WE (the people) clear(ed)?
1. Mae Brussell: “Operation CHAOS: The CIAs War Against the Sixties Counter-Culture,” unpublished ms.
2. State Archives Administration of the German Democratic Republic, Brown Book: War and Nazi Criminals in West Germany, East Germany: Verlag Zeit im Bild, 1965, pp. 41-2.
3. Sara Scribner, “Love Hurts,” New Times (Los Angeles weekly), March 11, 1999, pp. 15-21.
5. Maury Terry, The Ultimate Evil: An Investigation into America’s Most Dangerous Satanic Cult, New York: Dolphin, 1987, pp. 494-95.
6. Ibid., pp. 495-96.
7. Donald von Wiedenman, “The Baron and The Pop Star” (1975), Hershey Bars & Nylons website.
8. Eddi Fiegel, Dream a Little Dream of Me: The Life of Cass Elliot Paperback, Chicago Review Press, 2005. Also see the Los Angeles Times, August 29, 1969 for details on the police questioning of Pic Dawson, then a suspect in the Tate-LaBianca murders. For information on Pic’s diplomat father, see the Find A Grave website, Memorial #44383182.
10. Paul Krassner in: Craig Karpel, ‘The Power of Positive Paranoia,” Oui, May 1975, p. 111.
11. “Ham and Wheeze,” January 19, 2007: http://www.snopes.com/music/artists/mamacass.asp
12. Jon Johnson, Make Your Own Kind of Music: A Career Retrospective of Cass Elliot, Hollywood: Music Archives Press, 1987, pp. 71-72.
13. Justin Penrose, “Mafia hitman reveals he was hired to kill God’s banker Roberto Calvi,” The Daily Mirror, May 12, 2012.
14. Tony Thompson, “Mafia boss breaks silence over Roberto Calvi killing,” The Observer, May 12, 2012. Also, Nick Mathiason, “Who Killed Calvi,” The Observer, December 6, 2003.
15. A.G.D. Maran, Mafia: Inside the Dark Heart, New York: Dunne/St. Martin’s Press, 2010.
Edward Jay Epstein is an investigative reporter, not an acclaimed medical authority, but had no trouble ruling out “suicide,” which would “require extraordinary activities from a sixty-two year old man, who was over-weight and suffered from vertigo. Despite the darkness, he would have had to find the scaffolding from the walkway along the river, which, since it was nearly submerged, could be seen only by leaning over the parapet wall at a strategic point.” Calvi would then have hoisted himself “over the parapet on the bridge,” descended “twelve feet down a nearly vertical iron ladder to the level of the temporary scaffolding. He then would have to step across the two and one-half feet gap onto the scaffolding’s rusty poles, which were arranged like monkey-bars in a children’s playground, and edge his way about 8 feet along them to tie the rope to the eyelet. …. “ For more, see: Edward Jay Epstein, “The first Calvi Mystery: Was his death suicide or murder”– http://edwardjayepstein.com/question_calvi.htm
16. cf., William Turner and John Christian, The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, one of the most exhaustively-investigated, accurate accounts of the assassination.
17. John Marks, The Search for the Manchurian Candidate, New York: Times Books, 1979, p.72n.
18. “Elizabeth Barrett, Individually and As Administratrix of The estate of Harold Blauer, Deceased, Plaintiff, v. United States of America, Defendant, Third-party Plaintiff-appellee, v. State of New York, Third-party Defendant-appellant, U.S. Court of Appeals, 1988-02-1988.
19. Phil Jayhan, “Re: The Charles Manson Murders: The Real Story,” August 21, 2011.
20. In Ed Sanders, The Family, New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, p. 257-58.
21. Ibid., p. 258.
22. Prouty quoted in “Alexander P. Butterfield,” Spartucus International website:
http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKbutterfield.htm . See Johnson re Butterfield and the FBI.