Official Site of Speaker, Historian and Author Sean Munger

Earth, Haunted Places, History

Earth: Gary Hinman death house (Manson murders), Santa Monica, California.

This house, located on Old Topanga Canyon Road in Santa Monica, California–in the hills above Los Angeles–looks peaceful and beautiful now. But 44 years ago today, on July 27, 1969, it was the scene of one of the most brutal and depraved murders in American history, all the more horrific for having lit the fuse to an almost mind-boggling paroxysm of violence, the likes of which has seldom been seen before or since.

In 1969 this was the home of Buddhist musician Gary Hinman. The house was much smaller then–what you see in this picture was added on, I think, in the 1980s. During the summer of 1969 Hinman fell into the orbit of the strange cult surrounding Charles Manson, a short-statured, sexually frustrated ex-convict who had already spent half his life in prison, who dreamed of being a singer and songwriter, and who had vivid violent fantasies about bloody race wars and messages inciting revolution that were supposedly hidden in Beatles albums.

Gary Hinman had some sort of falling-out with the Manson family, the exact nature of which remains unclear even 44 years later. Drugs may have been involved. But on July 25, 1969, several members of the Manson family came to this house demanding that Hinman give them certain things, including title to his cars that were parked in the driveway of this house. When he refused, they attacked him. One of his attackers was an attractive guy named Bobby Beausoliel, a musician, who was simply too cute to seem like a vicious killer. Beausoliel stabbed Hinman in the chest, and ordered his girlfriends–including Susan Atkins, who spent the rest of her life in prison–to torture Hinman until he relented.

Poor Gary Hinman lingered for two days, lying on the floor of this house, bleeding, crying for mercy and reciting Buddhist prayers. When the Manson gang got impatient that he hadn’t died yet, Charlie himself appeared, wielding a Samurai sword. Manson sliced and diced what was left of Hinman, badly cutting his ear–a wound that one of the girls sewed up with dental floss. (EWWW!) Manson’s torture was no more effective than Beausoliel’s. Hinman refused to give them anything. In the afternoon–44 years ago today, July 27–the girls finally killed him.

But they weren’t done yet. Hoping to frame militant Black Panthers for the crime, the girls wrote on a door panel in blood with a faux paw print and the words “POLITICAL PIGGY.” These words were similar to those that would be left in blood at the home of movie director Roman Polanski less than two weeks later–a horrific crime that was, as I argued in a history class last fall, at least arguably one that met the definition of genocide.

As of today, July 27, 2013, Charles Manson is still alive, and still in prison. So is Bobby Beausoliel. Susan Atkins, who seems to have inflicted the fatal blow on Gary Hinman, died in prison a few years ago. Many of her friends are still in jail. And this house–this haunted place–still exists, peeking out of the trees in the sunshine, still trying to erase its horrific past after almost half a century.

Who remembers Gary Hinman, other than as one name in a long line of names of people whose lives were destroyed in the most awful fashion imaginable? As someone married to a Buddhist–which Hinman was–I hope that, despite the horror of his death in this house, he was able to find peace in the afterlife.


The involvement of drugs in the Hinman murder appears to be controversial. I’m going back to the sources to research that issue.


I researched the drug issue. According to Ed Sanders in The Family, page 179, Gary Hinman and a partner cooked up mescaline in this house (the original version of this blog erroneously stated it was MDA). That appears to be historical fact. Some members of the Manson family claim that the motive for this slaying initially had to do with drugs. That is not known for certain, and given the savagery of his slaying, I tend to disbelieve it. While Hinman was involved in drugs, and mescaline may have been tangentially related to his contact with his killers, it is doubtful it was the primary motive (and I never stated that it was).


  1. jeff guss

    Gary had produced a bad batch of Mescaline that Charlie had sold to some bikers and they wanted their money back. Other theory is that Charlie somehow believed Gary had come into an inheritance.

  2. Gerry

    Wow! I used to rent the house next door to this house. I remember one night right around Halloween of 1979 I was reading “Helter Skelter” and I got to the chapter about the murder of Gary Hinman. It mentioned his address as being 9 — something or other Old Topanga Road. I walked down the wooden steps to Old Topanga Road and over to the mailbox next door and sure enough it was the same address. That was really weird. Especially on a windy night just before Halloween. I was thinking the ghost of Gary Hinman was haunting that place. Or maybe the evil spirits of the Mason Gang were still lurking about. Whew!

    • Animal Mother

      Wow, that’s one creepy experience. I like the imagery of a windy night.

      • Kc

        That kind of stuff makes the hair on your neck stand up….you can just feel weird presents in some places. Spirits linger or demons but something to it in haunted places or houses of murder.

  3. Thomas G

    Hi, Gary had sold Bobby a batch of drugs that Bobby delivered some Biker Gang. The Biker Gang paid Gary $1000.00 for it. The drugs that Gary sold them were bad and they wanted there $1000.00 back. So, Bobby took Susan and Mary with him to Gary’s house to get the money back for the Gang. When they got there, Gary said he did not have the money as he had already spent it. A fight broke out between Bobby and Gary….Gary enventually agreed to sign over one of his cars to make up for the money lost. About that time Manson showed up and Bruce Davis….Manson assualted Gary with a sword and cut half his ear off….which was not needed as he and Bobby had already made an agreement for the money. At that point, the line was crossed and Gary had to be killed so he would not go to the police. Bobby killed him a day later. Very interesting note…..had Manson not have showed up and attacked Gary…..Gary would not have been killed by Bobby….then Bobby would not have gotten arrested…there would have been no need for the Tate/Labianca copy cat murders to get Bobby out of jail…..Which means they might have not happened.

  4. Patrick

    Question- did Gary Hinman have a VW Bus?
    There is an old VW bus in Topanga Cyn close to Hinmans house. Wonder if the family got rid of it?

  5. Ralph Oldershaw

    Nam myoho renge Kyo.

    • Todd

      Gary did have a red VW bus. I think a 1958 microbus. Susan Atkins’ accounts are full of lies. She helped kill Gary, Frykowski and Sharon Tate. God didn’t stop you from bringing the knife down on any of them like she claims in her book. I’m glad she’s dead, but really it’s unfair Manson still sits alive with all of his needs met when he ruined all of these people’s lives. He robbed these kids of their youth. Sharon had to die in complete fear over her unborn baby, and she had to watch them murder her best friends. Even if Manson and Bobbie killed Gary Susan and Mary were there, that makes them an accomplice. Sewing a person’s ear back on with floss is torture. We’ll never know the full truth because they all lie. Manson is nothing but a skid mark of humanity.

  6. Tempe

    I hate it when people write about things and don’t have their facts straight.The girls did not torture or kill Hinman.Bobby, Susan and Mary went to Gary’s because Manson had told them Gary had inherited money and Manson wanted that money.So, when the 3 of them demanded money from Gary he told them he had none.Frustrated at being unable to get money he thought Gary had, Bobby called on Manson.He came with Bruce and slashed Gary’s face.When the 2 of them left the girls planned to sew up Gary’s face but didn’t do it.Realizing they couldn’t leave him in that condition as he might go to the police, Bobby stabbed him.When he didn’t die quickly Bobby smothered him with a pillow.They left in one of Gary’s cars which they had forced Gary to sign over to them.They left paw prints in blood to make the police think it was the work of revolutionaries.Gary might be alive today if he had shot them when he was able to grab the gun but he handed the gun to them saying he didn’t believe in violence.Why he wasn’t shot instead of stabbed is has not been explained.

  7. Tempe

    I must add this: Bobby said in an interview that Gary had sold bad drugs and so he had to try to appease the people who had received the drugs.He went to Gary’s hoping to get the money back and failing that, to give Gary’s cars to the people who got burned.But Susan only knew or so she said in her bio that Manson had said Gary inherited money.Perhaps both versions are true.Also in the interview Bobby claims he sewed up Gary’s face and that it was Susan who smothered Gary.Bobby also said Manson never came to the house but Susan said he did.Bobby says the gun jammed which must be why he stabbed Gary instead of shooting him.So, now the reason is known.But as for other facts, the exact truth will never be known for not even those involved can agree on what happened.

  8. CarolO

    I guess when you’re done reading all the replies, you can just about guess that no one knows what happened “for sure” since the ones who went to prison were all liars and Hinman was dead. Hard for me to believe that it took Hinman two days to die when killing him is what they went there for. Terrible way for him to die just as the deaths of those who were yet to come in the following two weeks. Hard to believe such a beautiful and scenic home could be the result of such brutality. Hope they all RIP.

  9. CarolO

    To add: It was 12 years and two murder trials after the death of Hinman before Bobby said one word about drugs being the reason for this attack. Why did it take him 12 years to mention that if it was true? In addition, Susan Atkins, prior to her death and finally relieving all the details of these murders said she had never heard any mention of drugs associated to Gary Hinman. Sounds to me like the victim is being blamed for his own death.

  10. rshep

    Hey, Tempe //. To say I hate it when people don’t get there facts straight is ridiculous. They just read another version of what someone wrote. No one was there except the killers and they can’t keep anything true among themselves. Nobody will ever know the true facts.

  11. Paul Hermsen

    Gary Hinman was related to me from what i understood he recived 5k and manson wanted it so he was killed over it but little did everyone know it was sitting in the bank

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