The Stable Manager of Spahn Ranch

Ruby Pearl got to know the Manson Family before their arrests

Scott A. Weiss
8 min readJul 31, 2022


Ruby Pearl talks with reporter Jim Newsom about her experiences with the Hippie clan she called “The Family”.

This article originally appeared in the Valley Times newspaper on December 2, 1969 and is included in the compilation book “Terror in the Canyon: Mayhem, Madness and Murder in the Summer of ‘69.” It was written by Jim Newsom, Bruce Swenson and Bill Milton

A tiny woman horse wrangler said she doesn’t fear for her life and proceeded to tell a tale of terror and death that went beyond the stretch of any imagination. She is Ruby Pearl, stable manager of Spahn Movie Ranch, the alleged home for more than a year of a Hippie “clan” police said was involved in mass murders. Mrs. Pearl has worked the ranch for her blind employer, George Spahn, 80, for 15 years.

Within 30 minutes after the news broke that police had charged residents of a “Hippie type commune” that had once resided on the famed old William S. Hart western set and stable with murder, this newspaper had a reporter-photographer on the scene.

What police couldn’t (or wouldn’t) talk about, Mrs. Pearl discussed freely.

“I took two of them into town the other day and if they wanted to get me they would of, I suppose,” she said.

As the police net closes and more suspects are charged, there will be 12 large question marks:

Who killed five (and a baby) at the Tate residence; a market owner and his wife; Gary Hinman; a girl known only as “Sheri,” and a Hippie youth known only as “Zero”? Where is stunt rider and actor Ron Shea?

The role each plays in the web of mystery is partly developed by the woman wrangler who lived around the Hippie clan for more than a year.

“That’s ‘Tex,’ all right,” she said as she looked at the Los Angeles Police Department photo of Charles D. Watson, 24, who will be extradited from Texas to face five counts of murder (a figure that may be increased).

“He worked here as a mechanic for a while. He was a nice, quiet man.

“And that’s Patty… yes, that’s her,” Mrs. Pearl said, as she looked at the picture of 21-year-old Patricia Krenwinkel. Even as she spoke, police in Mobile, Ala., were arresting the young woman.



Scott A. Weiss

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