More Manson Mysteries in Inyo County

With much written on the subject of the Charles Manson Family and the killings in Southern California, Mammoth Police Sgt. Paul Dostie believes that the story of the Manson Family activities in the Eastern Sierra remains mostly untold.

The first Manson Family forays to Inyo County are reported to be in the fall of 1968, a year before the Barker Ranch raids. Family members were reported to be staying in the Olancha area.

In November of 1968, 82 year old Olancha resident Karl Stubbs was found badly beaten in front of his house. He died soon after, but before he passed, newspaper reports from 1969 indicate Stubbs told deputies that he was assaulted by two young men and two young women who were laughing and giggling throughout the assault. The article states that Stubbs had let the group into his house to give them a glass of water. The house was also ransacked and $40-50 taken.

No killer was ever charged in this case, but a former Inyo County Sheriff Deputy that we spoke to said that for years after that crime, Deputies thought that Karl Stubbs was killed by Manson Family members.

Another possible Manson slaying in the Eastern Sierra, was a man named Fillipo Tennerelli. Tennerelli was found dead in a hotel in Bishop in October of 1969 of a shotgun blast to the head. The death was ruled a suicide at the time, but some highway patrol officers became suspicious of the official cause of death when weeks after the death of Tennerelli, they found his car over the edge of Father Crowley Point, in the Panamint Valley and on the way to Barker Ranch. CHP reports from 1969 say that officers found quite a bit of blood inside the vehicle. More blood was found on the outside of the Volkswagen, leading investigating officers to suspect foul play.

In January of this year, Deborah Tate, the sister of Manson murder victim Sharon Tate, called the Bishop Police to ask about Tennerelli. Bishop Police Chief Kathleen Sheehan reports that Bishop Detectives took a fresh look at the forty year old case, and have so far not found anything to indicate that the case was anything but a suicide. While investigations have not found evidence of murder, Chief Sheehan says that unanswered questions remain. Police have re-opened the case and left it open. Sheehan says that officers are ready to move if anything new comes up.

While these cases may never pan out, Dostie believes that he has found additional support for the possibility of buried bodies at the Barker Ranch. Former Inyo Sheriff Officer John R. Little recently contacted Dostie to tell him that around 1974, Inyo Under Sheriff Jack Gardiner directed him to go to the Barker Ranch to locate 4 grave sites within 100/150 yards from the main house. At that time they were looking for the body of Family murder victim Shorty Shea, who later turned up buried in Southern California at the Spahn Ranch.

Why would the Undersheriff think there were four bodies at the Barker? Dostie believes that its possible Family member Dianne Snake Lake may have told him that information. Jack Gardiner and his wife adopted Lake after the criminal trials and helped her return to normal life. The former Manson Family member, raised in other cults and given by her parents to the Family, ended up graduating from Big Pine High School. Lake credits the Gardiners for saving her life, Dostie says. He also thinks Lake may have said something to Gardiner.

Sgt. Dostie believes there is still more to the story. With his dog Buster searching for graves at the Barker Ranch, plus additional research, Dostie may end up bringing this chapter of the saga back from obscurity.

4 Responses to More Manson Mysteries in Inyo County

  1. bo simms April 22, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    my dad was friends with carl stubbs, and tex needs to be charged 46 years later and it still affects my dad. he used to watch Lawrence welk with stubbs in his olancha home. being that he lived across the road.

  2. Jay July 2, 2013 at 11:01 am #

    Absolutely ridiculous, that’s what the latest dig at Barker was. They had evidence of bodies but yet the Park Superintendent who was bucking for a promotion would not allow them to dig down very far at all. She knew they would find some bodies and it would decrease her chance for her promotion.
    To me, logic like hers is akin to being a accessory after the fact. If they do eventually find a body in the same exact spot they dug before, then this superintendent should be occupying the prison cell right next to scum bag Tex.

  3. Wayne Deja June 1, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

    wile coyote…..I went out to the Barker Ranch just after the dig and search…and your correct…,especially the “limited depth”…The one that confuses me is the obvious murder of Fillipo Tennerelli,ruled a “suicide” at the time …when his vehicle was found in Death Valley…over a steep cliff…. with BLOOD inside the vehicle..and his body found in Bishop….HUH ?..Recently read these cases might re-open AGAIN because of some type of telephone conversations being released,or found,or something,between Charles Manson and Tex Watson.I joke with a local Inyo Sheriff Investigator I know…and when I see him again,I’m going to tell him to get his shovel ,brim hat and sunglasses ready for ANOTHER Barker Ranch dig.

  4. wile coyote June 1, 2013 at 10:00 am #

    update: ground was searched using Buster but limited to certain areas and depth, results proved negative…..


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