Written by Tingri Monahan and Lucia Lennox
Disclaimer: All of the fables and tales shared in this article are based on a largely unreliable selection of collected sources and experiences. It is Hollywood lore. Believe or don’t believe whatever you want… if you dare.
Sharon Tate’s House (10050 Cielo Drive)
Told By Tingri Monahan
Like most murder stories, this story begins with a psychotically predatory man. His name was Charles Manson. He established and became the leading figure of a hippie cult known as The Manson Family. His followers or “family members” were mostly poor teenage girls (barefoot dumpster divers) who wanted to reject a society that would not accept them. Manson and his followers lived in a commune on an old movie ranch, Spahn Ranch in Simi Valley (which has since burned down; coincidence? maybe not…). Manson sold his young and naive followers the quintessential hippie myth of the 1960s: free love, anti-establishment, and rejection of Hollywood opulence. He exploited the drug-happy sexually-free attitude of the era to physiologically and sexually manipulate his followers into believing that they could use brutal violence to change the system.
On the night of August 8th, 1969, four members of the Manson Family–Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Linda Kasabian–drove from Spahn Ranch to 10050 Cielo Drive, the home of famous actress Sharon Tate and her famous film director husband Roman Polanski (who was in Europe shooting on location). Shortly after midnight, they arrived and brutally murdered six people: Tate, who was 8 months pregnant; Jay Sebring, a celebrity hairdresser; Abigail Folger, a coffee heiress; her boyfriend Wojciech Frykowski, an aspiring screenwriter; and Steven Parent, an 18-year-old visiting the property’s caretaker. It is speculated that the four perpetrators were brainwashed by their cult leader Charles Manson and committed the murders under his influence. Of course, Manson denied that he ever brainwashed anyone. Instead, he stated: “These children that come at you with knives–they are your children. You taught them. I didn’t teach them. I just tried to help them stand up.” Essentially, he argued that it was society that made them murder, not him. Manipulative or not, Manson forced American society to look inward at the new generation that it was producing and to reflect on how a popular culture of war and violence encouraged violent behavior.
It is said that the Murder of Sharon Tate and her friends represented the tipping point of American culture. Occurring in 1969, the same year as Woodstock, it was the moment that the ’60s ended, the moment when calls for peace collided with violence. The dark side of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll was revealed. A decade-long acid trip turned sour. In the essay collection The White Album, Joan Didion writes, “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969” — the day that Sharon Tate was murdered at 10050 Cielo Drive. The murders also contributed to a phenomenon present at the end of the ’60s known as satanic panic: hippie culture had lost its magical flower power and pivoted to satanism. Didion comments that the murders represented “this mystical flirtation with the idea of ‘sin’—this sense that it was possible to go ‘too far.’” Charles Manson and his “family” embraced the image of Satan that the public was projecting onto them. When the Manson family murdered Sharon Tate, they painted “PIG” on the front door in her blood and left the same wall painting at the sites of their other murders.
Although since then the house that Sharon Tate lived in has been demolished and replaced by a new and arguably ugly mega mansion worth 85 million dollars (they even superstitiously changed the street number to 10066 instead of 10050), one can still visit the site and reflect on the 1969 cult murders that represented the moment that the “peace and love” of American culture boiled over.
Devil’s Gate Dam (La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011)
Told by Tingri Monahan
The infamous Devil’s Gate Dam originally earned its name because of the rock outcropping that resembles the face of a horned Satan who appears to be guarding the gate. Today, the spooky events that have transpired there have proved that the dam is much more than a mere rock formation. It all began before the dam was even built, with the first people who inhabited what is now Pasadena’s Arroyo Seco: The Tongva. The Tongva people living in the area believed that the running water sounded like laughter, which they claimed was the Coyote Spirit. This was the first instance of recognition of spiritual energy surrounding the site of the dam, but certainly not the last.
The Devil’s Gate Dam was built in the 1920s in order to control flooding. But soon the area mysteriously began to attract a strange group of occultists. Occult theory is an esoteric belief in the supernatural. Its practice includes magic, spells, rituals, and fraternizing with the deceased. Legend has it that in the 1940s, a group of occultists performed rituals at the Devil’s Gate Dam. The group included various notable figures such as L. Ron Hubbard, the future founder of The Church of Scientology, a cult-like star-studded religion that took Hollywood by a storm since its founding in the mid-50s, and Jack Parsons, a rocket engineer, chemist, and the founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) that happens (wink wink) to be extremely near the Devil’s Gate Dam. Parsons was also a believer in the philosophy Thelema, founded by Aleister Crowley, an occult religion that embraces human free will and teaches people that they should do whatever they want. Thelema is often associated with Satanism – o wonder Parsons and Hubbard chose a spot named after the Devil to perform their rituals! Their goal was to open a portal to hell and bring forth a “moon child,” which they hoped would embody an Antichrist figure.
Although no real portal to hell has been discovered, after these two figures and their group of Thelema occultists passed through, the Devil’s Gate Dam has been associated with some frightening events. Between 1956 and 1960, a total of four children have gone missing in the area. It began with friends Brenda Howell and Donald Baker in August 1956. A year later Tommy Bowman disappeared. Three years after, Bruce Kremen went missing at a YMCA campground. Thirteen years later, a serial killer by the name of Mack Ray Edwards was convicted of the murder of two of them and suspected of the murder of the other two. But who’s to say that Edwards wasn’t a follower of Parson’s and Hubbard’s mysterious satanic religion, or maybe even a reincarnation of “the moon child?” Or, it could just be a coincidence. We may never know.
Now, I am told that the Devil’s Gate Dam is covered in rainbow graffiti and serves as a common location for teenagers to have sex and do molly without being caught by their parents. But then again, what’s not haunted about that?
The Cecil Hotel (640 S Main St)
Told by Lucia Lennox
Since its opening in 1927, the Cecil Hotel has had a vicious reputation. Located in the heart of our beloved city in Downtown Los Angeles, the Cecil has captured the interest of many curious onlookers due to its dark past of murder, suicide, and mysterious tragedies. The Cecil Hotel opened in December of 1927 as an affordable housing complex, marketed towards tourists and travelers looking for a cheap place to stay in the land of dreams. The Cecil flourished through the 1940s, and with its grand lobby and accessible housing, it was a hub for travelers looking to live the Los Angeles lifestyle. As we know, the Cecil did not only draw the attention of tourists, but a darker energy as well. Soon after its opening, a string of tragic deaths began to erupt throughout the hotel, beginning in January of 1927 when a man named Percy Ormond Cook took his own life in his hotel room. Not only that, but between the years 1931 and 1938, three more men committed suicide in their hotel rooms, and the tragedies only grew from there. In 1944, a woman named Dorothy Jean Purcell gave birth to a child without knowing she had been pregnant, and threw the newborn baby out of the window, claiming she believed it was stillborn.
The horrific history of the Cecil Hotel also connects to murders that occurred outside of the hotel, causing many people to believe the hotel is a beacon of evil, drawing all the grime of the city into its grand lobby. In 1947, Elizabeth Short, also known as the Black Dahlia, visited the bar of the Cecil Hotel in the evening, and disappeared that night, shortly after her visit. Her body was found days later after she had been brutally murdered. Her killer was never formally charged with the crime. Not only is the mysterious Black Dahlia case tied to the infamous hotel, but so is a well-known Los Angeles serial murderer Richard Ramirez, popular by the name of the Night Stalker. In 1985, Richard Ramirez spent weeks on end at the Cecil Hotel, during which he went on a maniacal killing spree, murdering over 10 people. Though Ramirez caused murderous terror throughout the city during his stay, he did not kill any residents at the Cecil. The fact that the Cecil Hotel was a safe place for Ramirez to call home further enforced the idea that the hotel was home to evil spirits, drawing in people like Ramirez because of its spiritual welcomeness to such evil forces.
The negative energy plaguing the Cecil Hotel has been often credited to the fact that Skid Row is only a few blocks away from its main entrance. While it’s easy for the public to blame the Cecil’s tumultuous history on the less fortunate people of Downtown, there are many issues with claiming Skid Row is the cause of the Cecil’s evil presence. Not only is there no real reason for Skid Row to be the blame for the hotel’s evil tendencies, but Skid Row, and the people inhabiting it, are also victims of LA’s demons. In 1972, the city constructed a plan to keep Skid Row’s population in one centralized location, to prevent the sprawling poverty from showing up in areas where rich LA residents did not want to see it. It was called “The Blue Book Plan,” and was enforced to keep the impoverished people of Downtown in one area. According to the written plan: “That section would serve as a magnet to hold undesirable population elements in Skid Row, not against their will but of their own accord.” Basically, the plan was to keep drug abuse, dirt, and violence contained to the people already experiencing it, in order to preserve the illusion of a perfect, wealthy city for perfect, wealthy families to visit. The plan itself was incredibly dehumanizing and so is the blame put on Skid Row for the reputation of the Cecil Hotel. Poverty does not make people evil, so why would it have anything to do with the existence of evil in a historical hotel?
On a different note, many Los Angeles observers have claimed to see ghosts lurking in the windows of the hotel. Whether or not they actually witnessed the metaphysical world, the history of the hotel haunts it the way all history haunts the present.
The Cecil Hotel has captured the imagination of spectators from all over the world, but especially myself and my colleague, Tingri Monahan. We took the time one evening, after a night of dancing and smelly alleyways at a local downtown music venue, to check out the Cecil Hotel for ourselves. What we discovered was truly shocking! As we pulled up in front of the hotel, on Main street, we had to stop dead in the road because a ghost ran in front of our car! She was really cute, but we were horrified! Next time you are in Downtown and need a good spook, we totally recommend that you look from afar at the beautiful and haunting Cecil Hotel.
Los Feliz Murder Mansion (2475 Glendower Place)
Told by Lucia Lennox
As children, we were told of the eerie silence and history of the Los Feliz murder house, but were too young to hear the full story–so buckle up and get ready for the true and haunting story of the Los Feliz murder mansion. The beautiful yet notorious murder mansion rests nestled in the winding hills of Los Feliz and has stayed untouched since the 1960s, all because of one man. On the night of December 6, 1959, Dr. Harold Perrelson murdered his wife and his daughter, then killed himself, leaving the LA population in dumbfounded shock for decades, and even to this day. Nobody knows the motives behind Perrelson’s violence, and while suspicions around his mental health have arisen, no one really knows the true reason for his murder binge.
This article is not so much about the incident of December 6th, but what followed after. In 1960, only one year after the murders, Emily and Julian Enriquez bought the property and began moving in. Neighbors reported that they watched the Enriquez couple move in boxes of their belongings, but that they never actually stayed in the house overnight. Was it superstition? Guilt for moving into a house full of grief and death only a year after the incident? Or was it a supernatural entity keeping them from entering the house without the protection of daylight? And why would they buy the house so quickly after the violent event took place? Were they lovers of the macabre or just trying to get closer to the supernatural world? Either way, the house remained preserved as it was the night of the Perrelson murders, without any answers as to why. The Enriquezes owned the house up until the 1990s without ever staying a night or even changing the decor Perrelson put up. The house was passed on to their child Rudy Rodriguez in 1994, and quite similarly, Rudy never spent a night in the house or changed the decoration or furniture of the halls and rooms. It remains a house trapped in time, in its haunting history. Neighbors have even reported seeing through the window a 1950s-style television and a fake Christmas tree with wrapped presents underneath. Everything is covered in a thick layer of dust, all left over from the Perrelsons’ 1950s lives. While Rudy Rodriguez still owns the property, trespassers have often been seen visiting the house and one has reported it is truly haunted. While on entry, the trespasser claims they were bitten by a black widow–maybe an unlucky circumstance, karma, or a warning sign from beyond the grave as to not enter a house full of so much grief.
As a lover of haunted sights myself, I have visited the Los Feliz murder mansion, only gazing at it from afar, and even so, I could sense the weight the property holds. I do not endorse trespassing on the property, but if you are like me and are fascinated by the darkness of humanity, I recommend taking a gander along the street and soaking in the heaviness that hangs about the beautiful mansion.