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LAPD probes possible Manson link to unsolved murders [Google+ Hangout]

October 19, 2012 | 11:22 am

Times crime reporter Richard Winton will join city editor Shelby Grad at 1 p.m. in a Google+ Hangout to discuss recordings Los Angeles police officials hope will bring closure to the families of victims in unsolved homicides.

Officials hope audiotapes recorded in 1969 between Manson follower Charles “Tex” Watson and his attorney could provide some answers in 12 open cases.

They stressed they don't know if the cases are connected to the Manson family, but the department is examining the deaths because they occurred near known Manson hangouts around the city.

PHOTOS: The Manson murders

Manson and his followers were convicted of killing eight people -- including actress Sharon Tate -- in a notorious plot to incite a race war that Manson believed was prophesied in the Beatles song “Helter Skelter.”

They also killed Gary Hinman, 34, a musician, and Donald “Shorty” Shea, a stuntman and a ranch hand at the Chatsworth ranch where Manson and his followers lived.

Some authors and former prosecutors who studied the case have long suspected that the Manson family was responsible for more killings.

ARCHIVE: Manson verdict front page

Last spring, a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge in Texas granted the LAPD's request to review eight cassette tapes containing hours of conversations between Watson and his late attorney. But Watson, who is serving a life sentence for his role in some Manson killings, has been fighting to limit the LAPD’s access to the tapes.

On Oct. 9, U.S. District Judge Richard A. Schell issued an order forbidding the LAPD and Texas authorities from taking the tapes until the Bankruptcy Court resolved Watson’s appeal.

“This court understands and respects the desire of the LAPD to seek access to the 42-year-old tapes, Schell wrote. “However, the LAPD has provided no explanation as to why this court should shortcut the usual procedure for determining a bankruptcy appeal of a previous ruling in Bankruptcy Court.”

Smith said the LAPD is frustrated with the delays. “The civil courts here are blocking a criminal investigation,” he said. “We don’t even have a date for when this will be resolved.”

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