How A Mysterious Gold Prospector Deprogrammed Members Of The Manson Family

Scott A. Weiss
22 min readAug 23, 2021
Paul Crockett (L) and Charles Manson (R). Image credit: Gary Richardson

Inside the house at Barker Ranch, situated high in the Panamint Mountains above Death Valley some twenty miles from any sign of civilization, Paul Crockett sat at the little table near the kitchen, smoking a Pall Mall down to the nub. Next to him, Brooks Poston and Paul Watkins, his proteges, sat in their chairs, their eyes fixed on the front door, anxiously awaiting their fate.

The front door busted open and wild-eyed Charles Manson, all 5'2" of him, stood in the doorway, breathing heavy, intense, his glazed fixed on the old prospector. “So, you’re the man who’s been turning my people against me,” he said as he moved closer to Crockett, sticking his neck out in his direction as he spoke. “The thing I want to know is how you been doin’ that?”

Crockett looked up at him. “I haven’t turned anyone against you, Charlie.”

Charlie chuckled. “Really? Then what’s all this crap about them asking to be released from their agreements with me?”

Crockett dabbed his cigarette out in the ashtray. “If they asked for that, it wasn’t because I told them to.”

“They ain’t never said nothin’ about agreements before they met you,” Charlie continued. “They don’t do nothin’ without asking me first, dig? They know better than that.”

Panamint Mountains, Death Valley, CA (image courtesy David Frey)

In March of 1969, when two ambitious gold prospectors arrived in Golar Canyon, a desolate, almost impassable stretch of earth carved deep into the Panamint Mountains in the southern-most section of Death Valley, they had no idea they were about to cross paths with one of America’s most notorious criminals.

By that time, Paul Crockett, the expedition leader, had already lived many lives. Now in his mid-40’s, he’d flown combat missions as a flight navigator over the Pacific during World War II, operated his own bicycle repair shop in his native Carlsbad, New Mexico, and taken up gold prospecting as both a personal hobby and a potential revenue generating operation. Most importantly, he’d studied metaphysics under the tutelage of his mentor, Doc Bailey, a “new age” doctor of sorts…

Scott A. Weiss

Author, freelance writer and self-employed recruiter. Bylines in the Daily Beast, Seattle Times, Classic Rock Magazine, LouderSound.


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