Thursday, April 30, 2020

Part 14: The Ultimate Evil...In Death's Valley

An Investigation into a
Dangerous Satanic Cult

Image result for images of THE ULTIMATE EVIL

By Maury Terry

In Death's Valley 
"It's a long trail of murders, and all that's gone down before is why we've come three thousand miles to be here today," I said quietly. "They're all dead. Radin, Sisman, the Carr brothers, and more. And all were linked to this setup before they went down. In that context, the Radin case wouldn't appear to be an isolated event." 

To one side, a file cabinet marked "Hillside Strangler" caught my eye. It was 11:15 A.M. on a sunny Monday, July 18, 1983, in the offices of Sheriff's Homicide in downtown Los Angeles' Hall of Justice. Around a back-room table, Detective Sergeants Carlos Avila and Willie Ahn listened and asked questions as we laid out the Radin scenario as we knew it to be. The husky, tanned Ted Gunderson, conservatively dressed in the manner of his former profession, had placed his mini-recorder between us. Avila and Ahn, who were working the Radin case, took longhand notes. 

"We're aware you didn't come all this way on a lark," Avila said, smiling. It was five weeks after Radin's body was found, and the forty-eight-year-old investigator knew well that the probe was a difficult one. "Tell us what you've got on this Manson II or Frank, if that's his name." 

"My prison people think he may have had a hand in this. And it makes sense that he would. He was their star shooter, he's from this area, and their so-called headquarters is supposed to be here, too." 

"Do you know where?" 

"Not exactly. I was just told it was somewhere in Venice." 

"That's a likely spot." Willie Ahn nodded. The dark-haired detective was middle-aged and of Asian descent. "Lots of strange characters there." 

"I think we want your help on all this as much as we hopefully can fill in a couple of blanks for you, at least in a background sense," I explained. 

For two hours, the various cases were discussed. The talk was of Hollywood films, drug deals; of Ronald Sisman, Berkowitz; of Christine Freund; of Arlis Perry's killing up the coast at Stanford. 

"So the NYPD never told you Radin and Sisman were buddies?" 

"No, and we were back there, too," Avila replied. 

"That doesn't surprise me. Well, Sisman was dealing coke and the dope came from Colombia through the Miami area, and you've got Miami links in this case. I know there's a lot of coke out of Miami, but there may be a round-robin. My prison people say the same cast of characters appear all over this picture in one way or another—and they haven't been shown to be wrong yet." 

"You said there was heroin, too?" Willie Ahn asked. 

"That may be somebody else's whom Radin knew. Maybe some organized crime link. Hawaii." 

"Sounds right. There's a lot of Asian heroin," Ahn answered. 

Ted pulled out a copy of Vinny's note on the Hawaiian operation and read off some addresses. 

"Yeah," Ahn said. "That hospital is real and so is that office complex." 

"That's what I mean," I interjected. "We've been dealing with confirmations up and down the line on this." 

I then gave the detectives a copy of Vinny's coded "jet set" prison notes. "These were written before Sisman's murder. I think you'll see a familiar name or two in there." 

"Yep." Avila nodded, and passed the paper to Ahn. 

"And he also saw a private photo of Radin with some woman. Here's her description." I showed Avila another letter. 

"That's Radin's ex, Toni Fillet," Avila said. "That fits her perfectly. And he saw a personal photo?" 

"Yeah. I saw Fillet's picture last year. I didn't think he was talking about her because of the hair color." 

"No, he's talking about her all right. Her hair comes out dark, but it's really blondish, like he says." 

"Well, he also says Berkowitz was at Radin's house once." 

"Is that so? That's interesting," Ahn replied. 

"We can't tell you who our suspects are," Avila said. "But there is a small circle of people in L.A. connected to this case. But we have no idea if any of them are in a cult." 

"It probably doesn't matter as far as your case goes," Ted remarked. 

"No, it really doesn't," Avila answered. "We've got to get somebody first and then worry about what their other connections may be." 

"There's a snuff film in here somewhere?" the soft-spoken Willie Ahn questioned. 

"Somewhere," I said. "But my people don't claim that's the only motive. And maybe they heard 'movies' and assumed it was the snuff tape but it was really The Cotton Club being referred to. That could be, too. But look, you've got drugs and big bucks all over this thing—and that's just like back in New York. And so is blowing somebody's head off—it's a favorite MO of theirs. And it's the same crew of people. And while you can have drugs without a cult, you will not have a cult without drugs." 

"I think they know that," Ted offered. "What with Manson and all, you guys have seen your bizarre killings and cults." 

"I don't know a lot about cults, but we do have 'em," Avila said. 

"These people do other things in the nine-to-five world," I said. "And we're into the executive suite here, not the lower levels. Radin wasn't even in the Westchester cult itself, although some big-money people are into this satanic stuff. We've already got links to Long Island money, and Radin dealt with the Westchester leaders and everybody did favors for everybody. I think we're suggesting, really, that there may have been a working alliance here like the informants said was set up in New York." 

"Radin might have known all about this headquarters here, and about this Manson II guy," Ted remarked. 

"But maybe not by name." Ahn agreed. 

"All this sounds familiar," I said. "Dope, big money, murder and upper-class links. We're just saying that when you look at suspects, you may very well be looking at cult-connected people and this Manson II, or Frank or whoever he is." 

"But we don't know that yet," Avila said. 

"I know. But you've got notes from prison there that are rather titillating, I'd say." 

"Right. They're interesting." 

I then asked the detectives if they'd found anyone named Dale who was associated with Radin. The answer was no. 

"How long did Radin know Bob Evans? He had a coke bust, didn't he?" I then asked. 

"Yeah, he did. A few years ago," Avila answered. "He supposedly didn't meet Radin until early this year. Elaine Jacobs knew both of them and she allegedly put them together. And she apparently didn't meet Radin herself until early this year. Or Evans either. But she got an attorney and has refused to speak with us." 

"So who says she didn't know Evans all that long—Evans?" 


"I see. And who was this 'circle of people' you mentioned?" 

"They were people Lanie Jacobs knew." 

"Young guys—thirties?" 


"Can you give us any names?" 

"No, we can't do that," Avila said. 

"Is it possible a couple of those people could have known Radin or anybody else, too?" I asked. 

"Sure." Willie Ahn nodded. 

"Has anybody been cleared?" Ted Gunderson asked. 

"Not a one." 

We were all playing a subtle game, and we knew it. The police couldn't give up sensitive information on a very active investigation; nor did we expect them to. Our aim was to learn as much as we could to ascertain whether the cult shadow fell over the Radin case. All the signs were there; plus Vinny's formal statement was made shortly before Radin's death. And we hoped we might help the investigation by alerting the detectives to the bigger picture. 

The police were very clear on their position. First, an arrest; then they'd try to determine if cult connections existed. 

"I wish I had more on this Manson II—but it's just the description, a possible first name and the fact that he was supposed to be in Torrance as of two years ago," I said. 

"We assume he's still around because he's lived in this area for years." 

"But we've also got the Florida drug links with Radin's friend Sisman and with Jacobs, too," Ted said. "Those are common denominators. And so is the fact that Radin was wasted, that the headquarters is here, and that letter in code from the can—when was that written?" 

"In 1981. About eighteen months before Radin literally went west." 

"This is all fine," Avila said. "But this cult thing has to be down the road." 

"Yes, we're with you there," I answered. "But don't you think Jacobs would have been incredibly stupid to have herself be the last person Radin was seen with? Hell, it'd be like setting herself up. Is it possible she was used, or just thought he was going to be leaned on—but it was murder instead?" 

"Yeah," Avila responded. "It's possible something else was going on, but sometimes people do dumb things, too. But I don't know since she's not talking to us." 

"Is she still alive?" 

"Yeah. She's still alive." 

"And Demond Wilson just lost that limo and a black car that was behind it?" Ted asked. 

"That's what he says," Avila replied. 

"We heard Jacobs had a kid by this Milan Bellechasses in Miami," I said. "If he's this coke king, do you think he'd set it up this way, putting the mother of his kid in the middle of it? I mean, if the coke rip-off happened and was the motive, Radin could have been offed on a street corner without involving Jacobs at all. So why go through this elaborate setup? A blessing may have been given, but I'd say 'local' on the actual setup." 

"That's a valid point," Gunderson agreed. "If there's bigtime organized crime or something they could have hit him anywhere—but to use a woman?" 

"And why here and not back in New York?" I cut in. "And why a disappearance? Who had something to gain by a disappearance rather than a straight-out hit?" 

"These are things we're looking at, too," Ahn said. "But sometimes logic goes out the window. But without a body there's no homicide investigation." 

"O.K., but Radin's secretary—this Lawson guy—says Radin got calls that week saying he's got a big mouth and using the name Mike Scalese. Shit, no mob guy's going to do that using an Italian name." 

"We have no evidence of any OC [organized crime] involvement," Avila agreed. 

"Who did Radin fear enough to ask Wilson to tail the limo that night?" I asked.

"He wasn't afraid of Jacobs herself," Avila said. "But he didn't trust her local or Florida connections, or Evans." 


"That canyon's pretty far out in God's country," Ted stated. "Would Jacobs' friends you mentioned know about it?" 

"I'd say that's a good possibility," Avila answered. 

"Well, that's pretty relevant, isn't it?" Ted asked. "We'd like to go there. Can you show us how to find it?" 

"Be glad to," Avila replied, and drew a detailed map for us. 

"Was he shot there or dumped?" I asked. 

"There, but we can't go into why we know that." 

"So they take a live guy sixty miles. Even in the middle of the night, that's risky. Jeez, they didn't want him found," I said. 

"What was the weapon?" Ted wanted to know. 

"Large-gauge shotgun," said Ahn. 

We had learned from sources in New York that Radin would sometimes drop from sight for a couple of weeks without telling anyone where he was. We mentioned that if someone used that knowledge, then someone who knew Radin or his quirks might have been involved. I also noted that the New York prison sources said Radin was warned not to travel to Los Angeles. 

"I've got that in writing," I said. 

"That's a pretty good pipeline," Avila answered. "But you don't mean the actual killers knew his habits?" 

"Not necessarily. But whoever set it up may have been able to find that out. Maybe they already knew it, or maybe they had someone in Radin's camp. And then a disappearance would work for someone's advantage, maybe for a reason beyond the fact that there's no homicide investigation without a body. At least that's how we see it. But who the hell knows?" 

"We'll have to wait and see," Avila said. 

It was time to go. The meeting was cordial, the detectives as helpful as possible under the circumstances. Police like to take information, not give it, so we had to do most of the talking. Nonetheless, we learned some valuable facts, some of which were hidden in what wasn't said. And besides Manson II, we named another individual—whose name we did know—as a suspect, and still another as a possible suspect. 

Ted rose, and I nodded at Georgiana, who, except for a few pleasant exchanges with the police, silently observed the session. 

"We don't want to complicate this," Ted said at the door. "Dope and Hollywood deals are legit motives, and our snuff film thing is probably secondary. But it could be the informants meant 'movies.' Regardless, we're on exactly the same path. We just think your actual triggermen are cult-connected and into an arrangement here like there was in New York." 

"We appreciate the information," Avila replied, and then we were gone, emerging into the hot afternoon in downtown L.A. Gunderson couldn't accompany us to the crime scene. He had a 3 P.M. flight to Denver to testify in a case there, but said he'd be back to have dinner with us the next night. 

"Then we can hit the canyon on Wednesday—how's that?" he asked. 

"We're leaving that morning and taking the coast highway up to Monterey; and Copco is inland. So we'll go up now and you can get there whenever you can, O.K.?" Ted consented, and we said goodbye. 

After changing into casual clothing back at the hotel, we found our way to Route 5, heading north. Beyond the San Fernando Valley the terrain turned stark and craggy as we climbed into the mountains. Passing Magic Mountain and the picturesque Pyramid Lake, we finally rolled on to the isolated Hungry Valley Road exit. 

With Avila's map in hand, we skirted the barrier at the end of Copco Canyon Road, bounced across the brush and slowly turned onto the suddenly visible dirt path. Three-tenths of a mile in, we spied the tall, thick shrub across the dried creek bed and stopped the gray Citation wagon. The late-day sun was searing; there wasn't a hint of breeze; and Glen Fischer's new hives stood but fifty yards from the car. The steady droning of thousands of bees was the only sound we heard. 

"This is the eeriest place in the world," Georgiana whispered. "And what a site for a cult to meet." 

"Yeah, I was thinking that, too. We'll get out of here as fast as we can and try not to disturb those damned bees." 

The sickly-sweet smell of death still lingered, and we crossed the creek bed to the shrub. Circling around it, we suddenly looked down at a large damp spot by the outer branches. It was where the body had festered for nearly a month. 

"I wasn't expecting to see this," Georgiana slowly said. 

"Yeah," I replied. "After him for so long and we finally  meet up like this in a barren inferno three thousand miles from home." 

"It's horrible. It's like he's still here," she said quietly, averting her eyes from the ground and staring apprehensively into the canyon, where the droning bees hummed a winged eulogy. 

"Yes, still here . . . only the dead can't die," I answered, and turned away, Radin's presence now a very real emotion. 

Scanning the immediate area, I noticed a small bush a few feet to the right of where the body had been. Some of its stems were freshly clipped. 

"The cops took something from here," I said, and dug into the branches. I came up with clumps of Radin's brown hair. "Here's how they knew he wasn't dumped. He got it at ground level right here." 

Georgiana cringed. 

For the next hour, ever mindful of the swarming bees, we searched the area, looking for the cult signs to which Vinny alerted me or for other evidence. There were numerous weathered, circular clay targets—mostly shattered—which we later established were no longer manufactured. We also found several duck-pheasant shotgun shell casings. 

"Target practice," I said. "With shotguns. So Radin got it with a shotgun in a place that was known by people who practiced with shotguns." 

Near our car, we found a broken tail light we later determined came from a 1974 Volkswagen. "Maybe them; maybe not. But two cars bumped here not long ago. No rust or corrosion." 

"Only somebody who knew this place could ever find it," Georgiana offered. "They sure didn't come up in that limousine or just stumble into here from the highway." 

"Right on both counts." 

Finally, we'd had enough. With the wafting scent of death, the humming bee chorus and the desolation, the canyon made us uneasy. We took some final photos and, dry and dusty, drove back to Marina Del Rey. The next day we relaxed, did some sightseeing and joined Ted Gunderson and his daughter for dinner at the Marina. 

"Bob Duffy and I will go up to the canyon tomorrow," Ted reported over a tender steak. "We work together now and then. He's good on these things. But you won't come?" 

"No more," I answered. "It's Highway One for us—going back to Big Sur, as Johnny Rivers sang it. Maybe you guys will be luckier, although we did all right. You've got to see it for yourself to get the idea of what they went through to get in there. They knew exactly where they were going." 

"Wish you were coming, but you folks are now on vacation." 

"Yes, sir. We'll be in Monterey tomorrow, Stanford on Thursday and into San Francisco that night. Then R and R till Monday morning." 

Or so I thought. 

"This is your case," Georgiana admonished back at the hotel. "I don't think it's fair to just take off and let them go up there alone tomorrow." 

"But we already saw it. They're good, and their own observations will be valuable. I wanted you to see Highway One— it's a great drive. And besides, you were afraid of the place." 

"We can check out, take everything with us and get over to the coast farther up; that's all. They volunteered to help, so I think you should go back. I'll be fine. It'll be four of us—and Ted has a gun." 

"Nobody's going to . . . O.K. O.K." 

I called Gunderson at 9 A.M., and by one o'clock we were back at the canyon. The same strong scent, the same stillness and the same droning bees greeted us. 

"Christ, this place is creepy," said Duffy. 

"The valley of death," Ted agreed. 

Duffy put his emotions aside and soon made an important discovery. In a patch of grass on the north bank of the dry creek, near where we'd parked our cars, he reached down and came up with a shiny 12-gauge, .00-Buck shotgun shell. It was about thirty yards from where Radin fell. It wasn't a typical target shell, it hadn't been there long and it wasn't a reload—it had been fired but once. 

Now, since Gunderson had managed to obtain a copy of the autopsy report, we could try to re-create the murder. The consensus was that Radin was pulled from a car, struggled briefly and—with buttons torn from his vest and shirt—ran for his life through the creek bed. One shot, fired from where Duffy found the shell, missed the fleeing millionaire in the dark. 

Desperately climbing the south bank of the creek, Radin sought the cover of the large, firlike shrub. But with his leather-soled Gucci loafers, he slipped on the sandy earth and fell on his back; one shoe landed beside him. 

Trying to get up again, he reached for a low branch. And his  killer caught him just as he found it. He was shot in the back of the head (not the face, as widely reported) and fell back dead on the spot, his left hand still grasping the branch. 

On the basis of the evidence we had, which didn't include crime-scene photos, we were reasonably certain Roy Radin was slain in that manner. Even for him, it was a horrid way to die. 

We were about to leave when I found it. On both excursions to the canyon I'd avoided crawling over the moist spot where Radin lay to forage through the grass beneath the dense branches of the shrub he'd held while dying. I don't know why I finally decided to do it. I can only remember thinking I'd never be there again and didn't ever want to wonder about it back in New York. So in I crawled. It was hidden in the grass near the base of the tangled shrub, about eight feet in from the outer branches. It had sunk about two inches into the sandy soil, apparently the result of a wash. 

It was a King James Bible. 

And it was deliberately folded open, bent at the spine so that its left-hand pages were beneath those on the right. To ensure that it remained open to the intended passage, the front cover and the first few hundred pages had been torn off. 

Peering through the branches on hands and knees and parting the grass which covered it, I looked at it lying there. I saw, in good condition, Isaiah, Chapter 22, staring back at me. Nervously, I began to read it. It sounded like a description of Radin's death canyon: 

The valley of vision . . . crying to the mountains . . . gathered together waters . . . ditch between two walls for the water. And there was more: . . . toss thee like a ball into a large country and there thou shalt die . . . And behold, joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh and drinking wine; let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die. 

I was staring into the face of homicidal madness. 

"Ted! Gi! Bob! Somebody get the hell over here with the goddamned camera. Quick!" 

"What do you have, amigo?" Ted called from the creek bed. 

"Just a minute, just a minute." 

Backing out to reach the camera, I crept back in and took the photos—of the Bible, the grass around it and then the shallow hole it had sunk into. Finally, I crawled from the dense foliage and held it aloft gingerly. The wash had packed caked dirt into it and damaged the spine. 

"Now—why the hell do you suppose this little treasure was hidden under the same tree our victim was grabbing sixty miles out here in the middle of god-blasted nowhere? I tend to doubt it fell from a passing 747." 

There were congratulations all around. 

"That damned Vinny—he told me," I said. "He told me a long time ago and he put it in a letter again. 'Look for a sign— you know what to look for.' Damn, and here I didn't want to come back to this stinking place. We'd have been over in Santa Barbara by now. You know what this thing means? It confirms everything; and this on top of all the other years of building evidence on evidence." 

"For all my years in this business, I'll tell you you're absolutely right." Gunderson beamed. "We all make a good team, buddy. Fucking cops can't even do a thorough crime-scene search." 

"Yeah, but we all missed it, too, Ted. We were about to leave now, and Gi and I were here on Monday and missed it. I just didn't want to grope through all that stuff. And I'm sure the cops didn't either. I'm just as guilty as them—maybe even worse, because I knew something might be here." 

"Not quite," Duffy said. "You did go in there. Screw the cops. God, I won't ever forget this one." He grinned. 

"Goddamned reporter, too." Ted laughed. "Not even a Bureau guy." 

"That's why I'm able to be open-minded," I answered. "Maybe we should keep looking around here—we might find Jimmy Hoffa. You FBI turkeys sure couldn't." 

After a quick lunch at a small roadside restaurant a few miles north of the canyon in tiny Gorman, our group split up. Gunderson and Duffy drove south to L.A. and we began our delayed journey to Monterey. 

Suddenly, being thrown off schedule didn't matter. Isaiah 22, which we read carefully in the restaurant parking Hot, seemed to describe a power struggle, with someone casting out another. But whether there was any relevance to that message, we didn't know. 

I'd kept the Bible, wanting to run some tests on it in New York before sending it to the L.A. police. But red blotches we thought might be bloodstains would turn out to be a dye, perhaps from a flower. 

The next morning, I called Avila from a Monterey motel room and told him of the discovery. He didn't know what to make of it. 

"You've got four witnesses willing to testify if it's ever needed, Carlos. And like we said the other day, it doesn't impact the motives you're looking at. It just not so subtly suggests that your actual perps were part of this cult setup. A three-thousand-mile net has now dropped over all these cases. But that may mean more to us in New York than to you." 

"Well, I can't deal with whether anybody's in a cult now— we told you that," Avila said. 

"No, but we can. At some point the paths may meet. I'll send this to you in a couple of weeks, along with the shotgun shell and some photos. And I'm not going to publish anything now. There's too much to lose by that." 

Two hours later, we dropped in to see Sergeant Kahn at the Santa Clara Sheriff's Department in downtown San Jose. As I took the prized Bible from a bag, chunks of dirt decorated the sheriff's conference table. 

"Sorry about that, but this may be as close as we've all come to Mr. Manson the second, the alleged engineer of Arlis' murder. It appears he may still be very much in business." I then briefed the startled Kahn on the developments in Los Angeles. 

Later, when the glow subsided, we pondered the implications of the Bible and the Radin murder. They were frightening. 

While we visited the Stanford church, drove down curling Lombard Street in San Francisco, toured Alcatraz, crossed the Golden Gate to shop in Sausalito and celebrated with a Saturday-night Chateaubriand dinner at the Mark Hopkins Hotel, Ted Gunderson went right to work in Los Angeles. 

We were confident there was at least some cult connection to the Radin murder, but we didn't know who pulled the trigger or why it was done. Vinny, who may have been confused on the films in question, mentioned the Moskowitz tape as a partial motive; and then there was the alleged coke rip-off and The Cotton Club movie deal. 

We were also specifically trying to identify Manson II, whom we strongly suspected had a hand in the murder. Initially, Ted Gunderson's job was to find suspects and see if they matched the Manson II profile. Back in New York, I was to work on motive. And like the police, I examined the drug scene and the film arrangements—the two major events in Radin's last months of life. 

Robert Evans, fifty-two, was a movie giant, although it was said the luster was tarnished after a 1981 conviction in New York for possession of several ounces of cocaine. Then, too, recent Evans projects such as Players and Popeye had turned more stomachs than heads. But before that, Evans was a skyrocket. As Paramount's head of production in the late sixties and early seventies, the native New Yorker and former actor had brought films such as Rosemary's Baby, Love Story, The Odd Couple and The Godfather into the studio's fold. 

Seeking the individual credit he couldn't garner with the studio, Evans became an independent producer. Working again with Roman Polanski, he produced Chinatown, a highly successful and widely acclaimed film which starred Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston. 

But then, after mixed reviews were sprinkled on his Black Sunday, a terrorism story filmed in Miami at Super Bowl X in 1976, the slide began. The Cotton Club, a gangster and music epic about Harlem's famous nightclub of the Roaring Twenties, was anointed as Evans' return from limbo. And Evans desperately wanted to own the film. "The whole inspiration is to own something," he told New York magazine. 

Accordingly, Evans shunned the studios and searched for private investors. He said he backed out of a potential deal with billionaire Adnan Khashoggi because the Arab asked for 55 percent of the film. Then, in the autumn of 1982, Evans linked up with brothers Ed and Fred Doumani, and their associate, Victor Sayyah. The Doumanis were sons of a Lebanese father who became a successful Las Vegas builder, and the brothers themselves built and operated that city's Tropicana Hotel and El Morocco Casino. Sayyah was a wealthy insurance executive from Denver. 

In January 1983, the Vegas contingent entered into a partnership arrangement with Evans after reading a Cotton Club  script prepared by Godfather author Mario Puzo. Evans' choice for a leading man—Richard Gere—didn't like Puzo's effort. Neither did Richard Sylbert, a production designer and longtime Evans adviser. Respecting Sylbert and cognizant of Gere's box office appeal, Evans redid the script himself—to no one's satisfaction. So in early March, he enlisted Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola, now an independent filmmaker, to rewrite the Puzo-Evans screenplay. 

On April 5, Coppola finished his first draft, which Evans took to Las Vegas a week or two later. The exact date is uncertain, but it was in mid-April. In Vegas, the Doumanis—who'd approved the original script—didn't like the rewrite. Significantly, although they remained in the project, they suspended further financing. And Evans was already into early production in New York. 

Here, stories begin conflicting. One version holds that only now did Elaine Jacobs introduce Radin and Evans, who was delving deep into his own pockets to keep The Cotton Club in business. But another account—that of people connected to Radin—alleges that Radin and Evans actually met through Jacobs at least two months earlier—in February at Le Cirque restaurant—and began their dealings then. Jacobs, according to this account, was romantically involved with Evans and also was helping him raise funds for The Cotton Club. 

If so, was Evans—by linking up with Radin—double dealing on the Las Vegas investors? 

Maybe not, because the Radin arrangement might have included a percentage of Evans' share only, and also was structured to encompass a studio in Puerto Rico and pre-production financing of two subsequent films—one of which was to be Jake Two, the sequel to Chinatown. (That film apparently would be made minus Roman Polanski, who skipped the United States after a late 1970s conviction for a close encounter of the first kind with a thirteen-year-old girl.) 

Regardless, Evans maintained that he barely knew Elaine Jacobs, telling New York magazine's Michael Daly: "If I knew who she really was, I would have run out of town." But Carol Johnston, a Radin friend who introduced the Long Island millionaire to Jacobs in early January 1983, told another story. Johnston said Jacobs revealed that she and Evans planned to marry and go into business together. 

There also are suggestions from two sources that Radin and Evans knew each other in New York several years before Jacobs brought them together in L.A. 

Evans and Radin signed that 45-45-10 contract on April 26, 1983, with Jose Alagria, representing Puerto Rican government interests, assigned the smaller figure. It was Radin who brought banker Alagria into the project after Alagria negotiated to obtain $35 million from his government to fund the deal. 

And it was Alagria who said he later told Radin that Evans would one day realize he'd lost control of his own enterprise. 

Now Radin's world began to tilt on its axis. In early April, before the movie contract was signed, Elaine Jacobs—who'd been promised a $50,000 finder's fee by Radin—accused him of having a hand in the theft of $ 1 million in cocaine and cash from her Sherman Oaks, California, home. 

Radin's secretary, Jonathan Lawson, and a woman friend of Radin, Anna Montenegro, both said they heard Jacobs accuse Radin of urging her own runner, Tally Rogers, to pull off the job. Lawson said he was present in Radin's Regency suite when Jacobs made the charges to the millionaire's face in early April. 

Montenegro, who knew Jacobs before Radin did, said she was at Jacobs' home the day before Radin disappeared and heard her make the same accusations to male acquaintances Montenegro described as "bodyguards," one of whom would soon emerge as an important figure in our investigation. Jacobs supposedly believed Radin used Rogers to engineer the heist because Radin was strapped for cash. 

According to Lawson and Sergeant Carlos Avila, Radin was indeed buying coke from Rogers—as much as $1,000 worth per week between January and April 1983. However, Radin paid Rogers with personal checks made out to Elaine Jacobs, some of which the police obtained. And, said Lawson, Radin stopped payment on a $4,000 April check after Jacobs accused him of the Tally Rogers conspiracy, which Radin vehemently denied. Rogers disappeared at that time, and police believe he set sail for the Midwest. 

Avila is not convinced the theft itself actually occurred. Others believe it did. 

Beyond Radin's alleged dope difficulties with Jacobs, there was another problem. She desired more than the $50,000 finder's fee Radin promised for putting him and Evans together on  The Cotton Club. She wanted a percentage of the entire package—and she wanted it from Radin's cut; not Evans'. 

Here, too, ambiguity reigns. Anna Montenegro reportedly told Radin that Jacobs already had been dealt a share of the three-way arrangement without Radin's knowledge. If so, the points certainly weren't Radin's or Jose Alagria's. 

Like careening locomotives rushing headlong on the same track, another Radin-Jacobs confrontation, this one over The Cotton Club, occurred in Evans' Manhattan town house on May 5, 1983—eight days before Radin's disappearance. At that moment, the Las Vegas financing was suspended and Radin, Evans and Alagria were signed at 45-45-10. 

Radin and Alagria had come to Evans' East Coast abode to hammer out the final details of their arrangement. And then, to Radin's surprise, Elaine Jacobs arrived from California. It was an interesting coincidence. 

She and Radin then argued wildly over her percentage demand, while a blase Evans lingered upstairs in the library. Chagrined, Radin charged up the stairs to talk to Evans. According to both Alagria and Evans, Evans, for unfathomable reasons, urged Radin to give in to Jacobs. But not Roy Radin. With Alagria in tow, he stormed from the town house. Outside, Alagria told Newsdays Steve Wick, Radin said he believed drug money was involved in The Cotton Club. 

Within days of the Manhattan-on-the-rocks episode, Alagria said, he received phone calls from Evans, Radin and Miami lawyer Frank Diaz, who said he represented both Jacobs and Evans. 

The messages were all the same: Evans was offering Radin $2 million to buy him out of the deal. 

Alagria said Evans encouraged him to persuade Radin to accept the buyout and then to deal with him. But Radin wouldn't budge. Alagria found Evans' comments fascinating. Not a week before, Alagria said, Evans had been in financial straits, saying he couldn't afford to post a performance bond required by the Puerto Rican government before it would construct a studio there, which was part of the agreement. 

So where did Evans suddenly find $2 million? 

Throughout this period, Evans continued his efforts to develop an acceptable Cotton Club script. The Las Vegas investors were still on hold, the Puerto Rican money had yet to change hands and technicians, support people and others were at work in Astoria Studios in Queens, where the film would be shot. The bills were piling up, and Evans still didn't have a workable screenplay for his all-important project. 

Radin, meanwhile, had but a day to simmer before flying back to L.A., where he signed into the Regency on Saturday, May 7. Radin confidants in New York had warned him not to return to California: Vinny's prison letter to me had been right on target. 

Radin went West to attend the bar mitzvah of Adam Buttons, son of entertainer-actor Red Buttons. In a remarkable irony, Buttons would deliver Radin's eulogy and say: "He had the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other, and was in a perpetual tug-of-war." 

In L.A., Radin also hoped to placate Jacobs—while not surrendering to her demands—and to iron out this now precarious movie deal. And it indeed was precarious. On Tuesday, May 10, Lawson said, he overheard an Evans phone call to Radin during which Evans again offered to buy out Radin's share. And again Radin refused, insisting he wasn't relinquishing his 45 percent. 

Now, too, anonymous warnings were telephoned to the Regency suite by someone attempting to leave the impression he was Mafia-connected. 

Time was running out for Roy Radin. 

On Thursday, May 12, Elaine Jacobs called the Regency and made arrangements to meet Radin for dinner the following evening. Anna Montenegro later arrived at the suite in a fearful state of mind. Visibly upset, she told Radin and Lawson that she'd been to Jacobs' house and Jacobs was railing about the alleged drug-cash theft to her "bodyguards." 

And so the stage was set for Friday, the thirteenth of May. As previously noted, Jacobs called for Radin that evening in a limousine. The car had been rented without a driver, and extra money paid for that variation from the norm. 

With Demond Wilson, who was accompanied by his secretary, waiting outside the Regency with a registered gun in a shoulder holster, Radin and Jacobs left for La Scala restaurant, which the nervous Radin selected because its layout and popularity offered a secure setting to resolve matters with Jacobs. 

As the limo drove from the Regency, another black car— apparently a Lincoln—also pulled out behind it. With Wilson bringing up the rear, he said, the lead cars swung onto Fairfax and then turned on Sunset Boulevard. There, Wilson said, both cars sped through a pair of red lights before turning left on Highland, leaving him lost in traffic. The cars were headed north—in the direction of Sherman Oaks and Route 5. Wilson and his secretary then went to La Scala, waited, and was reached there by Lawson at 11:30 P.M. He told Lawson he'd lost the limo and the follow car in traffic. 

Lawson said he didn't locate Wilson again for two days. He eventually found him at a Marina Del Rey condominium where he'd gone to hide, fearful of what he'd seen. But if Wilson was so petrified by what he'd witnessed involving his close friend Radin—why didn't he phone Lawson when Radin failed to appear at La Scala? Why did Lawson, instead, have to find him—both at La Scala and again two days later? 

Wilson knew Radin was concerned for his safety. According to Lawson, the prearranged plan was for Wilson to follow the limo and observe Radin from another table in the restaurant. Then Radin was either to come back to the Regency with Wilson or to call Lawson if the plan was changed. 

Ted Gunderson learned that an exhausted Lawson instructed the Regency desk clerk to phone him—in case he inadvertently fell asleep—if Radin didn't return by 11 P.M. 

Wilson had been in Radin's suite, armed, at about 6 P.M. before eventually going downstairs to assume a position outside the hotel. It was about 8:45 when Radin left with Jacobs. Lawson watched from the hotel lobby as the limo pulled away, and he also noticed another car pull out behind it. He didn't see Wilson's car, but Wilson may have been parked out of Lawson's line of vision. 

Shortly after Radin's body was found, Demond Wilson— whom Lawson said Radin would sometimes inexplicably drop from sight with—left Hollywood and became a traveling evangelist. Today, outside of acknowledging his former drug addiction problem, he refuses to speak to the press about his prior years in the entertainment business. In the summer of 1988, a national weekly newspaper would report that friends of Wilson said he was fearful that a hit man who was involved with a satanic cult was after him because of his knowledge of the Radin case. 

A week before I left for Los Angeles in July 1983, a prison note I received from Vinny contained a reference to "bodyguards" other than Jacobs'. Its context, which was apparently a comment about Wilson, was revealed to sheriff's investigators at that time. 

Meanwhile, on the night of Friday, the thirteenth of May, Jacobs later kept a prearranged social engagement at the apartment of a male friend. Evans said she also called him during the evening to say she and Radin had argued. This was the same story she told Lawson, who located her in Florida several days later. Incidentally, Jacobs' young son and a maid were flown to Miami shortly before Radin's disappearance. 

In fact, Gunderson discovered that Jacobs put her house at 3862 Sherwood Place in suburban Sherman Oaks on the market on May 12—the day before Radin vanished. And a few weeks later, before the body was found, a Lancer's moving van removed furnishings from the home. 

Jacobs, prior to May 12, also spoke to a neighbor about her future plans. "She said she was going to New York to be a producer or director," the neighbor told Gunderson. 

The Cotton Club would indeed be filming in New York. But where did Jacobs ever get the idea that she was going to be a producer? Certainly not from Radin or Jose Alagria. 

Subsequently detoured from the stages of Astoria Studios, Jacobs was thought to have flown to Miami in the early morning hours of May 14, shortly after Radin's aborted supper. When she called Lawson several days later she delivered conflicting versions of what happened. Denying she knew where Radin was, she first claimed they'd argued and he left the limo on Sunset Boulevard. Lawson challenged her, saying the limo hadn't stopped on Sunset. She then said it was she, not Radin, who left the car. 

In the meantime, Robert Evans went about the business of polishing an acceptable Cotton Club script, apparently resigned to the fact that his partner was among the missing. But even before Radin's disappearance became public, Lawson said, Evans never called back to see if Radin had reconsidered his $2 million buyout offer of Tuesday, May 10. And even after Radin's vanishing act reached the media, Lawson reported, he didn't hear from Evans then either. 

But Bob Evans was busy. He had it in mind to persuade the Las Vegas investors to lift their month-long suspension of funds and resume financing Bob Evans' film. While Roy Radin went to Caswell Canyon, Bob Evans went to Napa, California, north of San Francisco. 

There, for a period of ten days commencing Sunday, May 15, according to New York magazine, Evans labored in solitude with other Cotton Club principals at the estate of Francis Ford Coppola. Also in attendance were Richard Gere, actor-dancer Maurice Hines and Marilyn Matthews, a black actress Evans met several months earlier in New York. 

Matthews viewed The Cotton Club as an important employment opportunity for black performers. Therefore, New York reported, she was troubled when—about a week before the Napa meeting—Evans told her The Cotton Club wouldn't be made unless Coppola rewrote the script in two weeks. 

Why Evans allegedly made this comment is curious, because Alagria said the Puerto Rican government was preparing to announce the Evans-Radin agreement at a press conference which was to be scheduled soon. 

Regardless, on May 15 the clan gathered at Napa. Night and day they worked in seclusion, and by May 25 a script approved by both Evans and the recalcitrant Richard Gere was hammered out. The following weekend, May 27-28, Evans reportedly flew to Las Vegas with the rewritten screenplay. At first, the Doumanis and Sayyah were still displeased. But the next day they agreed to resume financing the film. An ecstatic Evans could now proceed into full production. 

About twelve days later, on June 10, beekeeper Glen Fischer finally located the missing Roy Radin in desolate Caswell Canyon. If not for Fischer, Radin might have decayed undiscovered for another six months or more. The Cotton Club hit the theaters eighteen months after Fischer's find—in December 1984—and was a critical and box office failure. 

Elaine Jacobs hired an attorney, who refused to allow the police to question her, which was her constitutional right. By early 1987 she was remarried and dividing her time between Miami and Colombia. Milan Bellechasses was said to be living in Colombia and operating a casino there. 

Frank Diaz, the Miami attorney who said he represented both Jacobs and Evans on the film deal with Radin, told Newsday that he met Evans through Jacobs, adding that Jacobs sought his help in raising funds for the film. Diaz said he was going to "kick in one and a half million dollars"—but after Radin's body was discovered, all bets were off. 

Diaz himself then went "off" somewhere. The attorney, who frequently defended Colombian drug suspects, was due in a Miami federal court in June 1985 to respond to obstruction of justice and fraud charges he was facing on matters not related to Radin. But the day before his scheduled court appearance, Diaz was kidnapped by two men described as gun-wielding Colombians. His exposure to Hollywood and the shoot-'em-up Cotton Club project may have affected Diaz: authorities believed he might have staged his own abduction. It would turn out that they were correct. Diaz was subsequently apprehended in Brazil, but he wasn't in custody for long. He escaped in 1987 while awaiting extradition to the United States. 

Robert Evans—whom Diaz termed "a friend" in his interview with Newsday—was questioned for several hours about the Radin case by Sheriff's Homicide investigators in L.A. According to Sergeant Avila, Evans acknowledged knowing Jacobs—labeling her a casual acquaintance—and also confirmed knowing Roy Radin. Evans denied having any information about what happened to Radin. 

And as the producer downplayed his relationship with Jacobs, he similarly characterized his association with Radin as inconsequential. But Avila noted that the signed, multi million dollar contract between the two elevated their interaction from the realm of the superficial. 

As of 1987, Evans was back working in an office on the Paramount lot. 

Finally, Radin's secretary, Jonathan Lawson, adios'd America in fear of his life (with police concurrence) and is now living secretly in Europe. Apparently, Lawson wasn't overreacting. He said that when Jacobs entered Radin's suite that final night, she suggested to Lawson that he drive to her house and return with some cocaine she'd stashed there. Jacobs, Lawson said, told him they could all enjoy the drugs when she and Radin returned from La Scala. Fearing a setup (Lawson said he remembered the "bodyguards" Anna Montenegro said were at Jacobs' house the day before) or an attempt to separate him from Radin, Lawson declined the offer. 

In late 1986, Sergeant Carlos Avila broad-brushed the status of the case. "Until it is solved, everyone connected to it remains under scrutiny." Which was another way of saying no one has been exonerated. 

I believed Roy Radin's murder was intended to serve the purposes of more than one master, and I believed I knew who they were. 

* * * 

But beyond the immediate "why" of Roy Radin's murder lurked the question of who the actual killers were. Gunderson and I searched for the cult connection, and the inquiry was lengthy. Concurrently, we sought to learn if the mysterious Manson II was involved. Simply put, we believed that whoever ordered the murder was acquainted with someone, perhaps Manson II, who was aligned with the L.A. headquarters of the Son of Sam "umbrella" cult. 

For want of a better word, we believed a "contract" to kill Roy Radin was taken by these cult elements. We thought the alliance mirrored that in New York. 

Curiously, this type of arrangement would also match one alleged to have occurred in the Manson case, which happened in the Radin scenario's backyard. 

Berkowitz, Vinny said, revealed that Manson II claimed the original Charles Manson "volunteered" to commit the Tate murders, at least, for someone else, and that a very real motive —beyond "Helter Skelter"—existed somewhere in the labyrinth of that investigation. 

The potential cross-connections were compelling. 

The Bible in the canyon clearly signaled a cult connection to the Radin killing—an obvious conclusion strongly bolstered by what we'd previously learned about Radin's life in New York. Effectively, the Bible's presence was a calling card, a sign of satanic triumph. I, and Queens DA John Santucci, had heard nearly two years earlier that certain symbols were usually left at the Sam cult's crime scenes. The Bible was one—a mockery of Christianity when put to that use. 

Gunderson and I agreed with the drug-movie slant of the police investigation, but we were just as certain of cult connivance somewhere. Almost certainly, one of the actual killers was cult-connected, and perhaps someone higher up the ladder was as well. 

If we could tie a Radin shooting suspect to the days of Sharon Tate et al., our belief that he could be Manson II would strengthen appreciably. We'd be looking to see if the suspect matched the physical description of Manson II that Vinny provided, which we already knew was identical to that of an individual observed at the Christine Freund murder scene in New York. 

Once into the original Manson circle, especially that of the social set, we'd also look for someone else who—perhaps having known Manson II from the late sixties—was also a player in the 1983 Radin case. In other words, we planned to go down and back up the ladder of time—looking for parallels in the lives of at least two particular people. 

The odds against us were immeasurable. But if we couldn't find and identify Manson II, then perhaps we'd find suggestions of another association of long standing between people connected to the Radin case. That, too, would be of great significance to the investigation. 

But who were the Radin shooting suspects? The police weren't cooperative, but well before I learned of Anna Montenegro's statement about the "bodyguards" at Jacobs' house the night before Radin vanished, Gunderson's own inquiry unearthed a fascinating lead. 

"His name is Bill, but I don't have the last name," Ted told me. "But he's directly affiliated with Jacobs and has been at her house a lot. I believe he was there the night before Radin got it. And he was driving a black Caddy—which is similar to the kind of car that followed the limo. He had told my source he was some sort of car dealer." 

"Do you have a description of this guy?" 

Ted indeed did, and incredibly, the description closely approximated the one Vinny provided of Manson II: about five feet ten, athletic build, sandy-brown hair, and age approximately mid-thirties in 1983. "Remember," Gunderson advised, "Manson II would be a hit man and he could change hair color and the like from time to time on different jobs. And you can bet he'd use aliases too." 

"I'm aware of that. But you apparently got this 'Bill' in his natural surroundings, and Berkowitz probably did also. This guy wouldn't need to alter his features among his own kind, but his real name would be another thing." 

Gunderson didn't have Bill's last name, so I phoned Willie Ahn to ask him about it and to see if the police themselves had located a black Cadillac. If so, I wanted to determine if they believed the follow car on the night of Radin's death had also been a Caddy. Other information suggested it might have been a Lincoln. The date of the call was October 6, 1983. 

"We know about Bill," Willie said. "He's very much a part of the Jacobs crowd. But I can't give you his last name. We're now trying to obtain warrants on two cars—one is his." 

Gunderson had struck paydirt. 

Ahn also told me, as Avila had previously, that the police  were pursuing the drug motive for the murder. I stressed my belief that the movie deal was of more relevance. 

"Look, Willie," I said, "it's become clear to Gunderson and me since July that the prison informant confused the snuff film with The Cotton Club. A movie is a movie and he told me he simply presumed it was the snuff flick when he heard a movie was the reason this went down. He was right on Radin's being warned to stay away from California; he was right about that 'bodyguard' business to the extent that there's some legitimate suspicion there; and that 1981 'jet-set' letter won't go away no matter how hard we try to discount it." 

"I'm not in disagreement with you," Ahn replied. "We've got a long way to go here. We haven't eliminated the movie angle yet." 

And then for a moment it didn't matter. Willie Ahn told me he was ill, and the prognosis wasn't encouraging. I hung up saddened. And I never did get to speak to Willie Ahn again. Within months, the personable homicide investigator died. 

It wasn't until June 6, 1984, that Carlos Avila released Bill's last name to me. It was Mentzer. After being stalled for eight months, our inquiry resumed. Gunderson, along with investigator Judy Hanson, journalists Dee Brown and Dave Balsiger, and others—including law enforcement contacts—assisted the probe, which I coordinated daily out of New York. As time passed, a remarkable picture of Mentzer developed. 

Mentzer had an arrest record. One of those incidents involved possession of a handgun which he threatened to use during an argument in a bar in one of the beach communities —either Marina Del Ray or Venice. Venice, which borders the Marina, was said to be the headquarters of the so-called Sam cult. Mentzer, we also learned, frequented a gym in Venice, and a television reporter advised us that there was talk of someone known as "Charlie Manson II" in the Venice area. Significantly, Mentzer also had been arrested in Torrance, California, just south of Los Angeles, during the same time period in 1981 that Vinny—in writing—had said Manson II was in that particular town. 

So we now had a man who was a suspect in the Radin case and matched the description of Manson II, used handguns in a menacing manner and was in the right towns at the right times. 

We also discovered that Mentzer and an individual named Bob Lowe had been arrested at Los Angeles International Airport shortly after the Radin killing and charged with possession of a large amount of cocaine. The case was subsequently dismissed, but Mentzer had hired a Miami attorney to represent him—an attorney who also was connected to Elaine Jacobs. 

Although we didn't know it, the detectives had been moving in the same direction and were able to establish a romantic involvement between Jacobs and Mentzer, further cementing the link between the two. Bob Lowe remained a mystery figure to us, but the police had privately connected him to a car that had been transferred to him from Elaine Jacobs via a middleman on May 13, 1983—the day of Radin's death. 

In an attempt to put Mentzer in Caswell Canyon, I asked Avila in June of 1984 if the suspect was familiar with it. 

"He or somebody else, a friend, knew about it," Avila said. 

"Would that friend happen to have been a target shooter?" 

"Yes, a shooter." 

"Do you think Mentzer was there the night Radin was killed?" 

"He quite possibly was there." 

"If he wasn't there himself, I'm certain he had a hand in the operation," I said. And Avila offered no denial—Mentzer was a suspect. 

But there was still much more to be learned. 

We next established that Mentzer had been a regular visitor to Miami, home of people tied to the Radin case. He also traveled to Houston—city of .44 revolver purchases and, authorities said, a metropolis with a known population of satanic cultists. Moreover, in 1979 Berkowitz referenced a restaurant in Houston in the context of occult activities. He named a particular establishment—one that was directly tied to OTO activities in New York. Mentzer, we learned, was affiliated with another Houston establishment that was opened to cater to those with occult interests. 

Bit by bit, the case against Mentzer was building. 

And then our sources put him right into the middle of Charles Manson's social set. 

Because of the sensitivities of an open investigation, the details provided here will be of necessity somewhat oblique. Mentzer, sources said, was a friend of Mama Cass Elliot, the singer with the Mamas and the Papas rock group. After the band split in the late sixties, Cass went on to a successful career as a solo artist before being found dead in a London hotel room in 1974, seemingly of natural causes. 

But Mentzer apparently had known Cass in Los Angeles in the 1968-1971 time frame, when, out of loneliness and vulnerability, much of which was due to her extreme overweight condition, she began to "collect" an unsavory entourage of hangers-on and dope dealers and entertain them in her home off Woodstock Road in the Hollywood Hills, near Mulholland Drive. 

Of Cass's associates, John Phillips, lead singer of the Mamas and the Papas, wrote in his 1986 book, Papa John: "At home, [Cass] was surrounded by losers and cruel users. . . . They were just hustlers, music industry leeches. If she came to visit us, she came alone, without her retinue. They were sometimes drugged-out, belligerent [dope] dealers, in leather with weapons, chains and cycles. . . . They were like muggers." 

Phillips went on: "They were part of a clique that hung around Cass in the hills or around the house that Terry Melcher sublet to Roman Polanski on Cielo Drive in Bel Air. Among them were Jay Sebring, who was a popular hairdresser to the stars; and Wojtek Frykowski, a longtime friend of Roman's from Poland; and the same boyfriend of Cass' who had been sought by Scotland Yard on suspicion of drug smuggling." 

Sebring, thirty-five, and Frykowski, thirty-two, would be among those slain by Charles Manson's hordes shortly after midnight on Saturday, August 9, 1969, in the Tate-Polanski home at 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon. 

This was the composition of the smaller Cass Elliot circle in that summer of 1969, and apparently in it, remarkably, was Bill Mentzer. Primarily through Frykowski, the Cass Elliot group was linked to the extended Roman Polanski circle, which included Phillips and his wife, singer-actress Michelle Phillips; actor Warren Beatty; Robert Evans; production designer and Evans confidant Richard Sylbert; actor Jack Nicholson and others. 

Additionally, Frykowski and his girlfriend, coffee heiress Abigail (Gibby) Folger, twenty-five, lived across the street from Mama Cass and knew her well—along with some of her "retinue," as Phillips phrased it. One of Mama Cass's boyfriends, Pic Dawson, whose father worked for the U.S. State Department, even lived in the Frykowski-Folger home in the summer of 1969, while Frykowski and Folger house-sat for the Polanski's on Cielo Drive. 

The climate was certainly favorable for Mentzer to have known Frykowski, Folger, and others in the circle, possibly including Evans. But did he? 

"He definitely knew Gibby Folger," a Los Angeles contact said. "I knew both of them then, and saw them together at lunch in a restaurant in Newport Beach with a couple of other people not long before the murders." 

I found support for that account by locating a person who claimed he shared the Mentzer-Folger table that day. "I was with them on that occasion," said the source, who was an undercover operative for the FBI. 

The source wasn't an FBI agent, but was recruited by the Bureau in the late sixties to infiltrate the anti-war and drug scenes in California. 

"Folger knew Mentzer," he said simply. 

This was explosive information. Mentzer allegedly knew one of the Tate victims and Berkowitz had said Manson II told the New York group that a real motive for the murders existed. Mentzer apparently would have been in a position to have known that. 

Frykowski was a narcotics user, as was Jay Sebring. Mescaline, LSD, cocaine and marijuana were among their sampled favorites. Author Ed Sanders reported that a man named Joel Rostau—murdered in New York in late 1970—made a coke and mescaline delivery to Sebring on Cielo Drive on the night of the murders. Rostau was the boyfriend of a Mrs. McCaffery, an employee of Sebring's who told Sanders about the visit. 

Frykowski was said to have been deeper into the drug scene than Sebring—to the extent of being closely allied with Mama Cass's crowd and doing some dealing for and with them. An artist friend of Frykowski's told police that Frykowski was offered an opportunity to wholesale the drug MDA (an amphetamine) in the L.A. area and that friction later developed between him and the dealers. 

Our own sources confirmed this arrangement. 

Beyond question, the dope distributors were part of Mama Cass's unsavory group of associates. And they also were regular visitors to 10050 Cielo Drive, where Frykowski entertained them while Polanski and Sharon Tate were abroad from March 1969 until Tate returned alone on July 20. Pregnant, she arrived in Los Angeles to prepare for the birth of her child. Polanski was scheduled to fly back on August 12. One of Mama Cass's dope-affiliated friends admitted to police that he was at Cielo Drive twice during the week of the murders, the last time on August 7—barely thirty hours before the slaughter. 

So Radin suspect Bill Mentzer allegedly appeared in this galaxy of stars as an associate of Abigail Folger and a friend of Mama Cass. And even if Mentzer turned out not to be Manson II, we were now certain that he was at least knowledgeable of that dangerous killer because—beyond his social links to Cielo Drive—we also obtained information which, if accurate, put Mentzer into the heart of the L.A. cult scene. 

The Los Angeles occult underground was, and remains, a maze of shadowy connections and subterranean byplay. As in New York, there are regular trade-offs with narcotics traffickers, and recent exposure of ritualistic child-abuse cases in southern California has brought to the surface indications of links between the satanic subculture and child pornography. 

There are numerous cult factions still operating in Los Angeles. In 1986, authorities familiar with the network noted that pockets of Druids, OTO, former Process elements and many others slithered beneath the landscape. As did the Chingon cult, whose current existence there was stipulated by two law enforcement officers and two former satanists themselves. 

These revelations supported the Vinny-Danny-Berkowitz information. which held that the Sam cult's overall headquarters was nestled in the L.A. environs. 

And where did Radin/Manson II suspect Bill Mentzer fit in? 

From four different sources, we learned of his occult ties, which appeared to remain constant through the mid-eighties. Investigator Judy Hanson, working on an unrelated matter, jotted down his license plate number several times while probing a case in 1982. Mentzer, she said, occasionally visited the home of a man known to be a member of a Los Angeles satanic coven. 

"This other guy used to go out late at night dressed totally in black—like the old Process costume—and he had occult symbols in his home," Hanson reported. "A neighbor of his told me that he belonged to a cult and was having some kind of difficulty with its leaders. While working this other case, which didn't involve a cult at all, I wrote down plate numbers of this individual's visitors—and Mentzer's car showed up a few times." 

This was more than a year before Roy Radin disappeared. Two other Los Angeles contacts also linked Mentzer to cult activity. One of them was involved in the occult, and the other, while not part of the Satan scene, described Mentzer's connections to it and correctly identified one of his daylight lines of business. Mentzer, it seemed, had his hand in various enterprises—including a rental car dealership, real estate, and frequent work as a professional bodyguard for some well-known L.A. residents, including Larry Flynt, the publisher of porndom's Hustler magazine. In his spare time, the evidence began to indicate, he may have worked as a hit man for various contractors—cultic and otherwise. 

Another informant, who knew Mentzer personally, linked him to a private social club in the L.A. area that was formed specifically to cater to mystical interests. Whether backroom activities there, said to include dope dealing and sadomasochistic sex, were those of the cult per se, we didn't know. But since the club also had a branch in Houston, we believed we probably had located a link to the headquarters of the Sam group. If not active behind the walls of the club itself, we strongly suspected that at least some of the club's organizers were part of the Sam operation. 

Mentzer was identified as being a club member, and the informant claimed that he was instrumental in obtaining occult paraphernalia for the establishment. Southern California police sources also stated that Mentzer was a "honcho" in the club. 

One major piece of the puzzle may have been put in place by both the FBI informant and another source. The federal contact placed Mentzer in the San Francisco area during the time period when Arlis Perry was murdered, although that alone wasn't sufficient to connect him to the killing. The other source hit closer to home by saying: "He and a couple of his friends used to like to go up to Stanford and hang around the campus occasionally." Still, the evidence wasn't substantial, and even Berkowitz, while claiming Manson II "engineered" the Perry killing, didn't specify whether he was actually in the Stanford church that night in October of 1974. 

But there was more. A Los Angeles man who once worked with Mentzer and whose information had proven to be entirely credible said: "There was a rumor, talk among the guys, that he'd done a murder. I had my own contacts in law enforcement, including someone in the intelligence community in the federal government. I asked if he'd ever heard of Mentzer. He said: 'Bill Mentzer? We have it that he did a hit in Son of Sam."

Los Angeles police sources subsequently confirmed in 1987 that information in their possession held that Mentzer was a member of "some kind of hit squad." 

By then, Gunderson and I knew what kind of "hit squad" it was. We also learned that Mentzer was considered a "prime suspect" in the Radin case. But by that time the police investigation of Radin's killing was effectively dead in the water, and had been for some time. Sergeant Carlos Avila, who headed the original inquiry with the late Willie Ahn, had assumed a new assignment in the sheriff's office. Avila had continued to resist the apparent cult link to the case—perhaps because the official crime-scene search failed to uncover the Bible and shotgun shell and because we alone had endeavored to trace Mentzer back to the Manson days. Avila, to his credit, came to regard the Cotton Club motive to be at least as likely as the initial belief that the killing was drug related. Gunderson and I had continued to maintain that the film deal was the prime reason for the hit. I'd also tried to explain to Avila that we didn't regard Radin's death as a "cult killing," merely that at least one of the suspects, apparently Mentzer, did have connections into the occult underground and may well be the Manson II we'd been hunting. 

Regardless, as of January 1, 1987, new investigators, Sergeants William Stoner and Charles Guenther, took responsibility for the case while Avila toiled at a temporary assignment for the Sheriff's Office at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. As a matter of routine, Guenther and Stoner read the existing Radin file to familiarize themselves with it and made a series of phone calls, trying to trace the history of a Cadillac that had once been owned by Elaine Jacobs and signed over to Bob Lowe—who was later arrested with Mentzer on cocaine charges at L.A. International Airport—on May 13, 1983, the day of Radin's disappearance. Stoner and Guenther suspected that Lowe might have received the Caddy as payment for a role in the Radin murder. 

Barely a week after the detectives began their inquiries, I was in Los Angeles to attend the Giants-Denver Super Bowl game on January 25. A few days after the game, on January  29, I met with Ted Gunderson and one of our informants on the case. Six months before, I'd come up with the names of about seven known associates of Mentzer but hadn't forwarded them to Avila because both Gunderson and I had grown frustrated by the lack of progress in the case and by a related conflict that had arisen with the detective. Gunderson and I lacked the authority to pursue Mentzer further, but we agreed to bypass the Sheriffs Office and provide the information we had to a deputy district attorney who was overseeing the case for the D.A. 

And so it was that I phoned Deputy District Attorney David Conn and arranged to see him later that afternoon. I told Conn that I would bring one of the informants with me. 

We arrived late, having been delayed by the afternoon rush hour's crunch of cars on the freeway. I introduced Conn to the informant, who described his association with Mentzer in the late sixties. I then emphasized to Conn that I was convinced Radin was killed over the Cotton Club financing, and that the purported drug ripoff was a small consideration. I also stated that Gunderson and I thought that more than one person was involved in ordering the hit—and I named the two people we believed were responsible. One of them, Elaine Jacobs, was already a police target. The other was more elusive, but Conn, and earlier Carlos Avila, had eyed him warily. 

I then provided Conn with the list of Mentzer associates I'd accumulated. Among them: Robert Lowe, Robert Deremer, Alex Lamota (Marti) and William Rider. I read a quote to Conn: "Mentzer, Lowe, Rider and Lamota [Marti] are the big four." 

Conn listened intently, and scribbled down notes as we talked. Before leaving, I told him I had completed a book that would include a section on the Radin case, and that it would be published—with considerable publicity—in June. The book in question was the original hardcover edition of The Ultimate Evil .

Leaving Conn's office at about 6:30 P.M., I had no idea that the meeting we had would emerge as significant nearly two years in the future. 

That, of course, left the matter of Charles Manson himself. The questions were two: Was Manson II telling the truth when he told the New York group that Charles Manson "volunteered" to kill the Tate victims for a real motive beyond the nightmarish Process-like Armageddon of Helter Skelter? 

And if so, who was Manson working for? 

But the investigation wouldn't tarry too long in the past. At the same time the Tate inquiry was underway, the Roy Radin cult probe was ready to leap back across the country to New York in 1985—in a vicious, conclusive manner. There were still more murders on the menu.

Part 1 Windswept House A VATICAN NOVEL....History as Prologue: End Signs

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