|Editorial: Charles Manson is my dad? - Publication: Globe Magazine
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Imagine the anguish of being a 15-year-old boy and finding out you were adopted. Add to that the fact that your Mom was raped and, finally that the rapist was none other than sixties cult killer, Charles Manson -a rough deal?
That's exactly what happened to Matthew Roberts, or so he claims. A typical 35 year old musician from LA who one day got curious about who his natural parents were.
Are Roberts' claims simply the psychotic meanderings of another LA delusional hungry for publicity, or at least attention? Researching the details seems to reveal enough tangible evidence to take him seriously.
After tracing his natural mother via an adoption agency, Matt was awakened to the shocking reality that Manson could be his potential father.
According to Roberts, back in the spring of 67, against the backdrop of Vietnam, hippy liberalism, and the insidious mire of weed and acid, Matt's natural mom Terry was a sweet 17 year old from Wisconsin renting a Chicago apartment. Catastrophe was seemingly inevitable for the naove midwestern blow-in with little or no-one to guide her.
Following an acid fuelled love in with Charles Manson in that same year, Terry fell pregnant and eventually gave birth to Matthew on March 21, 1968. After being heavily dosed with acid via spiked lemonade, Terry was raped by Manson while others looked on. The orgy, she says went on for several days, and as a result she still suffers severe flashbacks and psychological problems.
While Terry admits that Manson wasn't the only person she had sex with at the love in, Matt's resemblance suggests otherwise, you can see the likeness in his brow, his eyes and nose.
"Charlie was released from his initial stay in Prison on March 21, 1967 and I was born March 22, 1968, " says Matt. "Manson then returned to jail in 1969 and hasn't been released since. That only leaves a small window of opportunity where he could have met my natural mom; by all accounts, timing couldn't have been more perfect."
Roberts began the arduous task of discovering his real parents at the age of 18 in 1986. After contacting his adoption authority, Lutheran Social Services, he was told that for a fee of fifty dollars he would receive non-identifiable information, and that for a further $350 fee a search would be conducted for three hours, with a further $60 applying thereafter. Despondent (and on a tight budget) he gave up.
With renewed curiosity at the age of 29 in 1997, Matthew resumed the search, learning his race, year of birth and finally of his natural mother, a fifty something woman named Terry from Wisconsin.
The communications process with Terry was painfully slow. Initially Matthew wrote letters, often waiting weeks for a response. Terry wrote back, eventually and Matthew learnt of his birth name, Laurence Emmanuel and confirmation of other details, such as when and where he was conceived, San Francisco, March 21, 1967.
"From the outset my adoption officer told me my natural mother suffered from a mental condition, though the first time we corresponded everything seemed normal," Matt said. "When we first spoke on the phone she talked Manson about watering her trees, tending her garden and looking after her cats. She just seemed like a peace loving, hippy chick, maybe a little eccentric."
A mutual confidence grew and communication progressed to telephone conversations. Secretive, awkward, and highly paranoid, Terry first spoke of surface details, then revealed more, baring her past wounds. "As I tried to find out who my father was she said I was the result of a rape. She also admitted that at the time she was just 17 and maybe she had confused male aggression and male vigor.
She added that she had hung out with Charles Manson and his followers prior to falling pregnant, and that she had indulged in drugs and free love. She also stated that she would only tell me my last name in person one day due to security reasons.
"From there, the whole process started driving me nuts, I started looking at pictures of her, and looking at pictures of Manson. I think there is a real resemblance I have my mother's height I don't have that 5"2 stature though there is a real resemblance in the nose and the eyes.
"I even had people in social circumstances casually call me Charlie, which really started to trip me out. In turn I continued to quiz Terry about the possibility and she in turn became increasingly mean and nasty, stating that all I cared about was how her clitoris was violated. It was obvious she had a lot of residual emotions based on that event. She kept changing her story and was increasingly upset about the process."
"She said when she was pregnant she used to survive on Saltine crackers and dance around the room. Maybe that's why I have taken so seriously to vegetarianism?"
Alarmed by his natural mother's seeming mental instability and paranoia, Matthew was initially dismissive of the notion that Manson may be his natural father. Yet his curiosity piqued when Terry said she had turned Charlie in to the FBI. "She was also extremely afraid of theses people and was very upset when she later learned that I had written to Manson in jail."
Roberts decided to write to Manson myself and ask him if he recalled the encounter. "I wrote to him and explained that I was adopted, that my mother said she participated in drugs and free love with you, that she named me Lawrence Alexander. I asked him was he in Chicago at that time and was it likely that he participated in this event."
He sent three letters in all. Manson responded to the first quickly, within a week of receiving it. Answers to the crucial questions were there, embellished with Manson's surreal and obtuse language, or scattered, running off on unexplained tangents.
"He addressed all the main questions. He also seemed to feel the need to explain himself. The letter opened with the words 'Lawrence Alexander aka Hey hey hey,' that's the name he said he had given me. I also told him about my music career and my ambitions for a recording contract.
Excerpts from Manson's initial response letter follow (original copies available)
"I got out of prison and came back and you're mom's father ran me off their property saying you bandit outlaw bike trash, stay out of my daughters life." Terry's father was a war veteran who fought in the battle of midway, who wasn't likely to be intimated by Charlie or any of his people (Matt explains).
"It wasn't that I didn't care, but it was free love and you paid the price. I did and I thank my father for he left me open for all men to be my father. I've learnt from lots of men and most men only learn from one. It has its goods and bads. Yes I've been in Cook County and didn't want to change your brain patterns."
Much of the initial letter touches on the recurring theme of Manson as a scorned star. In the late sixties he was another musician with hope and ambition, outside his cult he was just another wannabe aiming to land a recording deal. Rumor has it that everyone from the Beach boys to Axel Rose poached much of his early material, or so Matt says.
"Look into the massive vortex, you would and will do best to check out the song I wrote for you. Believe me soul is true, I seen you coming because I was once you coming, angel man child of god, child of Satan, I wrote you this song 'lyrics follow' I'll never say never to always, I all never say always to none. To seem is to dream my love cause one is one is one. Look inside yourself for your father, time to call time up from behind you, that illusion has been just a dream Hay (Sic) and now's where I will find you somewhere in the sunshine beam."
"Watch yourself Hank Williams was murdered for his music. You don't realize, if you get there is hundreds of millions of big money that comes into play. Go to the bank and they'll give you five grand, try to draw out five million and they'll pay fifty grand to put you in a nut ward and another fifty grand to make sure you never get out."
"You don't realize that people who have got the money aren't going to give it up. You think if you can do it, good, maybe you can make it. Ha Ha, I just did 33 years for being the best and they covered up my stuff to destroy me."
"He must have felt wronged in some way," says Roberts." Soon after he responded with another letter, which changed temperament and was decidedly meaner and more aggressive in tone. I think he was getting paranoid that I might be trying to exploit him for material gain or attain fame by association".
LETTER 2, PARAGRAPH 1
"Its almost clear that you would do anything to do what it is you want to do whatever it is you want to do, knowing you would only be looking at myself, what is called myself. You would never be content enough to play flute in god's band. The Guns and Roses and Marilyn Manson's of this world are only alive because they are in my shadow, my shadow and that of Hank Williams, who was murdered, as was Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Dennis Wilson. Who were all money slaves, I met a lot of people trying to make it, make it yourself and no one else, you are looking for a ride on someone else's tales and there is no one else. Don't ride on my coat tails, I was here before you and you are just a wheel and I don't even like wheels anymore. I don't give any lie any space."
This was the last correspondence received from Manson. The letter Matthew Roberts replied with was returned after being opened and resealed. Since this communication, Roberts has grappled with the notion of making any further efforts to communicate with his natural father, resigning himself to the fact that it may be better to let sleeping dogs lie.
Every time I go through this story I feel embarrassed and stupid."
I'm in a bizarre philosophical challenge, do I have to thanks my mother for being raped by my father? You have to look at good an evil in a different way
"Not knowing who your real parents are can cause real internal struggle it eats away at your inner self. I was adopted at a few weeks old; I was one of three children. My sister told me I was adopted when I was in the fifth grade.
My natural parents were good people, but they weren't very emotional, I wasn't that close to them. Raised in a family of three children. Born in Chicago, raised in Rockford Illinois. Lutheran Social Services, I wanted a relationship with someone I could connect to, something I didn't have with my natural parents."
"After that and seeing the lunatic emails, on Manson's website, with people asking him, 'dad can I still borrow the family helicopter,' I just realized I didn't want any part of it anymore.
Whether Manson is my father or not is insignificant, it's more a path of self-discovery. Hopefully one day we can do a DNA test to find out the truth.
Now playing in a band and working part time as a club DJ, Matthew Roberts is currently negotiating the rights to his story for a Forthcoming TV documentary.
Written by Craig Stephens
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