The Topanga Canyon Murder of Gary Hinman

Scott A. Weiss
9 min readOct 12, 2022


Manson Family murder victim Gary Hinman’s house at 964 Old Topanga Canyon Road

The following is an excerpt from “Terror in the Canyon: Mayhem, Madness and Murder in the Summer of ‘69” about the Manson Family and the murders they committed, including that of Gary Hinman, a bagpipe musician/music teacher and sometime friend of the Family, in his Topanga Canyon home.

On August 8, 1969, Det. Sgt. Paul J. Whiteley and Deputy Charles Guenther, both of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, filed a supplemental homicide report containing their investigative notes on the murder of music teacher Gary Hinman, who had been found dead in his Topanga Canyon home a week prior. The report reads, verbatim:

On 8–1–69, approximately 10:00 a.m., an autopsy was performed by Dr. Katsuyama. Two stab wounds were observed in the victim’s white T-shirt and chest, approximately 18 inches and 20 inches below the crest of the head on the midline. These wounds were 1 ½ inches in length and approximately ¼-inch in width. A wound was also observed from the rear of the left ear to midway along the cheekbone, approximately five inches long and ¼-inch deep, severing the ear in half. No signs of wounds were apparent about the arms or hands.

The undersigned and Latent Prints Deputy White returned to the location, broke the seal and entered. This is an isolated home, two-story, built on the side of a steep hill, facing west. The next neighbor is approximately 75 yards south. A small dirt parking area with accommodations for approximately three cars is at the base of the home on Old Topanga Canyon Road. A 1960 black and white Metropolitan, license INL 949, was observed parked, facing west. There two stairways to location rising approximately 60 feet from the roadway. A bedroom with two doors is on the first level with a third stairway leading to a porch on the south side of the building. This door was locked at the time the responding deputies arrived. The porch has another door facing south which has a broken lock and was the entrance made by the responding deputies.

Found in a small end table was a letter dated 10–5–67, addressed to Robert Kenneth Beausoleil.

A doorway leading from the porch to a small library room approximately 20 feet long and four feet wide was observed; forced open by breaking the lock. The undersigned entered the home into a hallway up two steps to the living room. The lights do not work in this room. A white sheet was nailed across the doorway entering from the hallway. On the north wall, above where victim was lying, was painted “Politically Piggy” (this was later determined by Criminalist Turney to be blood). A wooden coffee table located seven inches west of the victim’s hips was observed and on the bottom portion (F. Turney) was observed human blood running downward. No other blood was observed in the living room except where victim was lying.

The north wall of the house where the words “Political Piggy” were painted in blood

In the hallway, three drops of human blood (F. Turney) approximately ⅛-inch in diameter were observed.

In the kitchen, a chrome breakfast table was observed broken with the east legs folded under. Beneath the table was found the checkbook of V/Hinman and a brown wooden musical instrument, flute-like in appearance; also on black case without trumpet. A continuing search of the kitchen revealed minute human blood spots (F. Turney) across the front of the icebox, the cupboards on the east wall and extending to the ceiling and the headboard at the north wall where it joins the ceiling. Minute human blood spots (F. Turney) were also found on the curtain covering the window on the north wall. On a drawer at the east side of the kitchen was observed a declining jagged indentation approximately 8 inches in length, pointing toward a small hole in a cupboard underneath the sink. The damage in the drawer and the hole beneath the sink appeared to have been made by a bullet. This damage did not appear to be recent.

At approximately 12:15 a.m., the undersigned spoke with MIKE ERWIN who was accompanied by GLEN GIARDINELLI, and JOHN NIX. He told officers that the victim drove a 1965 Fiat station wagon, cream in color, with a Toyota-type engine that stuck out the front of the grille at an angle. Upon checking property in the residence, undersigned determined the license number to be OYX 833. Mr. Erwin added that victim also had a Volkswagen bus, white over maroon with a white Thunderbird painted on the side.

Vehicle registration found in the residence determined the license to be PGE 388. These vehicles were missing from location.

While at location, undersigned received a telephone call from Mr. ROBERT HINMAN, father of victim, from Ft. Collins, Colorado. Mr. Hinman stated his son had been in Colorado approximately one month ago and at that time he had given his son $1,050 in checks and cash for a pending pilgrimage to Japan.

Undersigned then spoke with RICHARD DEHR, MC-28, 992 Topanga Canyon Road, a neighbor of victim who related that he had not seen victim for approximately two weeks but knew the victim owned two vehicles (the Volkswagen and Fiat), and that victim had continued traffic and many people at the house all the time.

An all-points bulletin was issued for the victim’s vehicles requesting that occupants be held for questioning.

On 8–2–69 at 10:45 a.m., the undersigned contacted Mr. GLEN KRELL. Mr. Krell stated that he had last seen the victim on Friday, 7–25–69, in the afternoon hours at which time he accompanied the victim in the victim’s car (Fiat) to Los Angeles to obtain a passport for his coming trip. Mr. Krell stated they arrived late and did not obtain a passport at which time the victim returned him to his business. Mr. Krell added that victim did not always have money and occasionally borrowed from him. He added that the last evening he saw the victim he appeared nervous and distraught.

Undersigned contacted JOAN FARLEY, a member of the victim’s religious group and friend of victim, who stated she contacted RICHARD SEGAL, who is presently in Japan, who stated he called the victim’s residence on 7–27–69 and a woman answered the phone and stated Gary was enroute to Colorado where his father had been injured in an automobile accident.

On 8–5–69, undersigned contacted MARIE JANISSE, who met the undersigned at West Hollywood Station. Miss Janisse stated she saw the victim on 7–22–69 at the Corral Bar in the accompaniment of a male white, late 20’s light beard and brown wooly hair, approximately 5’9”, 150. Miss Janisse further stated that when she refused the person admittance, he became enraged and caused a scene.

Deputy Pattish drew a sketch from the description given by Miss Janisse.

On 8–6–69, approximately 9:50 a.m., undersigned received information from Officer Ganns of the San Luis Obispo Highway Patrol Office relating he had recovered the aforementioned Fiat with one occupant by the name of ROBERT KENNETH BEAUSOLEIL, MC-20, who also gave the name of Jason Daniels. Officer Ganns stated that S/Beausoleil told him he had purchased the car from three male Negros in Los Angeles for $200 in cash and then displayed the pink slip which was signed on the reverse side, Gary Hinman, with the date 7–18–69 (vehicle was seen with victim 7–25–69). Suspect was booked at San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office.

At approximately 8:15 p.m., the undersigned with Print Deputy Jordon went to the impound lot, Jim’s Garage, 31 Higuera, San Luis Obispo; where pictures were taken and a search of the vehicle was made. In the tire well beneath the matting was found a five-inch hunting knife with a one ½-inch width blade in a leather scabbard. (Subsequent analysis of wounds and blade were held with Dr. Stuart indicating the wounds could be compatible with the found knife.)

The vehicle was checked for prints with negative results. No evidence of blood was observed in the vehicle.

Undersigned proceeded to the San Luis Obispo County Jail and interrogated suspect at 9:57 p.m. Suspect was advised of his Constitutional rights per SH-AD-477. To Question 5, suspect answered, ‘Yes.’ To Question 6, ‘I think so.’ To Question 7, ‘No, I want to know what this is all about.’ Suspect asked the undersigned who was dead and was told the victim’s name.

After approximately 20 minutes of conversation, suspect told officers he knew it was Gary Hinman that died because he heard it on the police radio when he was arrested. Conversation with the California Highway Patrol Officer revealed no mention of homicide occurred on the radio, and the suspect was originally booked for suspect of stolen auto.

Bobby Beausoleil booking photo (August 7, 1969)

Suspect was asked who the three Negros were from he bought the victim’s vehicle. Suspect stated the California Highway Patrol Officer lied; that he did not buy the car and did not make that statement. Suspect was then asked about the hunting knife found in the tire well. Suspect stated the knife was his and he put it there after being stopped by the police in Santa Barbara. Suspect was told the knife had blood on it and he replied, ‘I don’t know about that.’

Suspect related that on 7–25–69, he, in the accompaniment of two females, hitchhiked a ride to the victim’s residence. Further that he had the evidence held knife on him at this time. He stated upon entering location, victim was in the bathroom bleeding heavily from a cut on the ear and face. The victim stated he got jumped by Negros in Santa Monica over politics (no blood in car). Suspect further stated he told victim to lie down in the living room and described victim wearing a white T-shirt and blue Levi’s. Further that the victim’s head was directly underneath a shrine on the wall. He stated he attempted to stop the bleeding and with a needle and possible dental floss attempted to suture the wound. Due to the victim’s serious condition, he and the two girls stayed overnight and he slept in the chair adjacent to victim. He related on 7–26–69, the victim gave him the key to the Fiat and the pink slip for an indefinite time.

Suspect was asked his destination when he was arrested and he stated San Francisco. Suspect was asked if victim loaned him the car to go to San Francisco and suspect replied, ‘No, not to come this far.’

The suspect further stated that while attempting to suture the victim’s ear he took black tape and placed it over the wound to hold the flesh together. (No used tape was found on the victim or anywhere at location. A roll of black tape was found on the bookcase shelf above victim.) Suspect further stated he attempted the suturing of the ear while victim was lying on the floor. Suspect stated in the evening hours of 7–26–69, he left victim lying in the front room covered with a green blanket and locked the door upon leaving.

Suspect further stated that victim had told him he wanted to go to Colorado. (Victim had paid $550 for a trip to Japan on 8–6–69 and had been preparing for a large religious parade the following Sunday, 7–27–69.)

Suspect stated the following day he called the victim’s residence and there was no answer and he thought victim had gone to Colorado. (Victim’s father contacted and stated no trip had been planned by victim to Colorado.)

Suspect was asked for the names of the two females who accompanied him to the victim’s residence. Suspect refused, stating, ‘I’ll talk to you, but I want to see an attorney before I involve anyone else.’

In the suspect’s property was a pink slip to the above impound vehicle, signed by Gary Hinman and dated 7–18–69. The suspect was transported to Los Angeles and subsequently booked on the above charge.



Scott A. Weiss

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