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Category Archives: Interesting Places

Charlie and Me

Manson

No, I never met Charles Manson, one of the many things in life for which I’m grateful. However, he had an effect on my life. I grew up in the South. We never locked our doors. I’m not even sure we had a key. Neighbors looked after neighbors and crime was not a common occurrence. A different world.

Then, 1969 came along. With the Tate-Labianca murders, the American psyche changed and Woodstock died. Flower power took on an entirely different aura.

When it was discovered that a diminutive miscreant named Charles Manson and his so-called hippie Family were the culprits, it sent the chill even deeper into our collective bones. If this strange assortment of losers could wreak such havoc, who was safe? Then, Vincent Bugliosi’s wonderful book HELTER SKELTER came out and the real story was revealed. This group not only committed murders but they prepared for them by doing what Charlie called “creepy crawling.” They would break into people’s homes at night, creep around, maybe rearrange some furniture, and leave. This was training, Charlie-style. This is when I started locking my doors.

My encounter with “Charlie’s World” took place in 1975. I was doing my cardiology fellowship at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston. I came to California for the first time to run in San Francisco’s Bay to Breakers race and then on to Los Angeles to visit my friend Ben, who lived in Marina del Rey. I got in late at night and so the next morning Ben asked what I wanted to do on my first day in LA. The conversation went like this:

Me: Do you know where Benedict Canyon is?

Ben: Sure.

Me: That’s where I want to go.

Ben: Why?

Me: You’ll see.

And we were off. As we wound up into the canyon, Ben asked what I was looking for. My response: Just keep driving and I’ll know it when I see it. We soon came to Cielo Drive and told him to turn. We followed the road to its dead-end. Ben’s little orange Fiat was pointed at a high chain-link gate. I got out and walked to it, gripping the metal with my fingers. The property was only partially visible as was the house.

Tate Gate

Ben asked where we were and what this was. I pointed to the house and said, “Rght there is where Sharon Tate was murdered.”

I had to see it. I had read the stories in the newspapers and of course Bugliosi’s book, but it all read like fiction. It was hard to believe that something like that actually happened. I had to see concrete evidence. And here it was. The scene of the crime.

So Charlie died. Good riddance. I’m just sorry he wasn’t executed long ago. He wiggled through the system thanks to Rose Bird’s court briefly overturning the death penalty in California.

But in the end, Charlie succumbed. AMF.

Charles Manson

Charlie 2012

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Visine and Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy

visine-1

 

Visine is a useful medication. I use it all the time. When the Santa Ana’s blow in SoCal and the temperature rises, the humidity falls, and eyes dry out, Visine works very well. When used properly it is very safe and effective—-but, if used improperly, it can be a deadly poison.

Actually, anything can be deadly. The difference between a drug and a poison is simply a matter of dose. What can cure, can harm; what can harm, can kill. It’s really that simple.

The active, and dangerous, ingredient in Visine is tetrahydrozoline hydrochloride. If ingested in sufficient amounts, it can cause an elevation in blood pressure, a drop in heart rate, a reduction in body temperature, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, blurred vision, seizures, coma, and death, to name a few effects.

The case of Samantha Elizabeth Unger underlines this danger. Seems she poisoned her two children by adding the medication to their juice. And may have done so multiple times—-which could indicate that this is a case of Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy—a psychiatric disorder in which parents harm children in order to garner attention and sympathy. Odd, but not rare.

Recently on Crime and Science Radio, Jan Burke and I interviewed Beatrice Yorker, the Dean of the College of Health and Human Services at California State University, Los Angeles and a renowned expert in Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy. Take a listen and check out some of the links for more info on the fascinating topic.

 

 

Elmer Wayne Henley Up For Parole

You might not know the names Elmer Wayne Henley, David Brooks, or Dean Corll but this trio’s body count mimicked Gacy and Bundy. I first learned of them in 1973 when I moved to Houston to begin my Internal Medicine residency. Two months after my arrival, this story broke and consumed the local and national news media. It began when 17 year Henley shot and killed Dean Corll. But this was not just another murder. This was the end game for one of the most dangerous predators ever.

 

Elmer Wayne Henley

Henley met Corll when he was 15, introduced by another teen, David Brooks. What followed was the stuff of nightmares. Henley and Brooks became procurers for Corll. They would bring other teenage males to Corll’s home where they would be raped, tortured, and murdered. Corll had rigged up a “torture board,” to which his victims would be attached and assaulted, sometimes for several days. And I seem to remember that he had also rigged up some old bedsprings as an electrocution device. Regardless, before Henley killed him, Corll’s body count was around 30 victims, making him one of the most prolific serial killers ever.

 

Dean Corll

Now Elmer Wayne is up for parole.

Parole? I don’t think so. I mean he did end Dean Corll’s terror reign but I’m not sure all the “procurement” can be overlooked.

 

Mooresville: A Step Back in Time

Yesterday we drove over to Mooresville, along old Highway 20 between Huntsville and Decatur, AL. A step way back in time.

Mooresville was Alabama’s first incorporated town (1818) and is a year older than the state (1819). Its 50 or so residents live within its 0.1 square miles. The entire city is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. President Andrew Johnson lived here while he trained as a tailor.

Its streets are narrow and tree-lined with many of the trees well over 100 years old.

Most of its buildings and homes were constructed during the antebellum period including the post office, which opened in 1840. It is the oldest continually operating post office in the state.

The Limestone Bay Trading Company Restaurant is unique:

There are two churches:

The Old Brick Church, constructed in 1839:

The white clapboard Church of Christ where President James A. Garfield once preached:


There is even a Dance Hall (of sorts):

The homes here are of many styles:

If you make it to North Alabama stop by. It’s definitely worth a visit. And the US Space and Rocket Center Museum and Space Camp are maybe 5 miles away. Old and new virtually side by side.

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2011 in Interesting Places

 
 
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