The Process Church of the Final Judgment
For years, the Manson legend has him connected to one degree or another to The Process Church of the Final Judgment. Most stories have them crossing paths in San Francisco in 1967. Manson lived on the same street that The Process had it's local chapter (two blocks apart at 636 and 407). Given Manson's philosophical leanings, it's easy to imagine him engaging Processeans in debates or even lifting ideas from them. Manson did have a Scientology background and The Process was formed by two former Scientologists (Robert and MaryAnne deGrimston). Note: Robert's true surname is Moore or Moor.
Some History on The Process:
The deGrimstons met in the early 1960s and worked in the London branch of Scientology. Eventually, the two split from Scientology and set up a psycho-therapy group in the Mayfair section of London. By late 1965, the 30-member group had taken on a religious aspect. The group then decided to move to a more tropical locale and eventually settled in the Yucatan area of Mexico and named the place Xtul in August 1966. Members began identifying with various religious figures. MaryAnne went with Jehovah. For some reason (at least partially legal), the group returned to Mayfair in late 1966.
Satan was by added to The Process in Xtul. Next Lucifer joined (and was the one Robert identified with). Later, Christ was added by the group.
Note that Bainbridge says the group traveled through the United States during their Xtul period and met with Anton LaVey of the Church of Satan. Supposedly, this is how Satan was added to the lineup. LaVey's group was actually little more than a publicity stunt and was only in the early stages of formation during 1966. The Satanic Bible wasn't published until 1969. It seems unlikely the small Process encountered the tiny Satanic group at this point.
The Process has been described in most books as black-robed Satanists roaming the streets of San Francisco. Manson formed the Family in San Francisco around the same time. Due to some similar beliefs, writers have implied a connection between the two groups and have played up the satanic angle of The Process.
The 1967 Period:
So, was Manson connected to The Process? Ed Sanders ("The Family") probably did more to further the belief of such a relationship than anyone. Sanders was sued by the group and had to remove material from future editions of his book. The loss of the lawsuit is a strong indicator that he had no backing proof of a connection.
Manson was released from prison and traveled to San Francisco in late March 1967. He and his initial "family" were living on Cole Street in San Francisco from April to July 1967. In July, the Family was in San Jose. Manson's July 21, 1967 driver's license gave a Santa Barbara address. At the end of July, they were in Mendocino. Their August address was Santa Barbara. In early September 1967, Manson, Fromme and Brunner were in Manhattan Beach (where Krenwinkel joined up). In mid-September, they traveled to Washington and Oregon. At the beginning of October, they were in Nevada. Then they returned to San Francisco for about ten days before moving on to Sacramento where they obtained their first bus. In mid-September, they bought items for the bus in Sacramento. Around November 7, 1967, the group returned to San Francisco briefly (adding Atkins to their numbers). Also in November, Manson had his parole transferred to Los Angeles. On about November 10, they all headed to Santa Barbara (for a couple of days) and then to Los Angeles. Further travels at the end of the year included the Mojave Desert, Texas, New Mexico and Alabama. Then back to Topanga and away to Arizona. 1967 saw a lot of traveling.
Sanders' book states an advance party for The Process arrived in San Francisco in November 1967 at the same time that the Family was leaving for Los Angeles. His book states the deGrimstons were in the Far East and Turkey in the second half of 1967, also. Sanders further states that the New Orleans group of Processans left that city for California in early 1968. They had problems in San Francisco and moved south to Los Angeles in early March 1968. Reportedly, the U.S. Immigration office in Los Angeles tried to have The Process deported in May 1968. This would further indicate they were in Los Angeles at this time. Around June 1968, the deGrimstons moved on to New York.
It would seem the odds were greatly against Manson meeting The Process in San Francisco. Although they both lived on Cole Street, it was at different times. Most writers attempt to connect the two groups during the San Francisco days since this was the period Manson was forming his philosophy. By the time The Family moved to Los Angeles, there were quite a few members. Manson had already attracted a large group with his beliefs. If he encountered The Process in Los Angeles, it was after his philosophy and followers were in place.
The 1968 Period:
Most people would agree that Vincent Bugliosi's book ("Helter Skelter") is the most important on Manson. He had a slew of professional detectives gathering information for him during the trial. His chapter February 1970 reveals he had begun to research The Process based on a newspaper story rather than an eye-witness. So, Gregg Jakobson became one of Bugliosi's important sources on this topic. Jakobson, who met Manson in May 1968, is widely acknowledged as having spent a great deal of time philosophizing with Manson. It's long been known that had police revealed the refrigerator writing "Healter Skelter" then Gregg could have broken the case immediately. According to Bugliosi, Jakobson had never heard Manson mention The Process. Even further, Gregg had never even heard of the group. If Manson was connected to The Process during the Spring of 1968, it would seem he would have mentioned them frequently to Jakobson, of all people.
The same chapter reveals Bugliosi also questioned Paul Watkins on The Process. Like Gregg, Paul had never heard of the group although Manson did reveal to him that he had studied Scientology. Watkins' own book, which told many tales, never mentions the group. Also, Watkins seems to have met Manson in mid-March 1968. Again, if Manson was interfacing with The Process at this time, it's likely Watkins would have heard about it.
Bugliosi's Eplilogue states that Manson's possible link to The Process, while "fascinating" is also "tenuous." The Process spent at least several months in San Francisco (two blocks from Manson's previous residence) and deGrimston even attended a seminar at the Esalen Institute (Manson and victim Abigail Folger attended Esalen much later in August 1969). The Process was also in Los Angeles in May and June of 1968. The Family was also in the city during these periods... along with several million other people. If there was a Manson connection to The Process, it was likely during this period. Bugliosi states he found "no evidence" of any meeting. By this time, Manson had a large following around him and none have ever reported any knowledge of The Process. Jakobson and Watkins were both fresh to Manson and neither heard him mention The Process. Also at this point, the Family moved in with Dennis Wilson.
During one of their conversations, Bugliosi asked Manson if he knew deGrimston and Charlie denied it. When asked about the more common name Robert Moore, Manson stated "You're looking at him. Moore and I are one and the same." But would deGrimston have actually been using his old name (Robert Moore) during 1967/68? If the Manson statement is true, why would he only know deGrimston under his lesser known name? Even Ed Sanders states the couple only used the name "Moore" (Moor) when traveling incognito.
Two representatives of The Process later visited Bugliosi to deny any connection. Interestingly, they also visited Manson in jail after which he would no longer discuss the group. In the end, Bugliosi states he found "no evidence" of any contact between The Family and The Process. As a side note, Manson did contribute an article to the Process magazine "Death" after the arrests.
Statements by The Family:
Manson's autobiography ("Manson in His Own Words") fails to mention The Process though he speaks and admits to many other less-than-popularly-acceptable situations including the Spiral Staircase. Note that Nikolas Schreck ("The Manson File") reveals a rumor that deGrimston also spent time at the Spiral Staircase along with the claim that Manson sent Bruce Davis to visit Process headquarters in London. On the contrary, Bugliosi states Davis was working in Scientology's London headquarters.
Susan Atkins autobiography ("Child of Satan, Child of God") admits to her involvement with the Church of Satan founder, Anton LaVey, but makes no mention of The Process.
An interview with Tex Watson, on his website, states that he never heard Manson mention The Process. He offers the possibility that Manson encountered the group in prison prior to his March 1967 release. Due to the chronology of the group, this seems extremely unlikely. The Process had probably not even been to the United States, let alone spread far enough to be active in American prisons. While various prison documents show Manson had an interest in Scientology in the early 1960s, they make no mention of him expressing an interest in The Process.
As previously mentioned, Paul Watkins' book makes no mention of The Process.
Many works on Manson have little original research and simply repeat the same stories over and over. For example, Maury Terry ("The Ultimate Evil") largely drew from Sanders legally-defeated material. It probably should be mentioned that Terry did so only after The Process had disbanded. The Process connection has been oft repeated but never proven. The Manson legend/myth has flourished in the media and he's everyone's favorite icon for evil. An out-of-the-ordinary cult connection is just the sort of material every tabloid dreams of. So, the story has grown and been repeated but not a single person has ever come forward to cash in with an eye-witness account. Plus, the chronology of events essentially rules out the possibility of a San Francisco meeting.
Robert deGrimston is now a business consultant in New York. MaryAnne's branch of The Process went on to found The Best Friends Animal Society which is one of the world's best known animal sanctuaries. She now lives at the group's sanctuary in Utah with her husband Gabriel DePeyer. The group raised nearly $20 million in 2003 alone.