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Five People Who Helped Get Justice for Manson's Victims

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Saluting those who worked toward a safer, more peaceful world

That murderer from almost 50 years ago died this week, but he's been talked about enough. Instead, we'd like to salute the memories of a few of the people whose obituaries noted that they played important roles in carrying out justice on behalf of his victims.

Richard Powell, who died earlier this year, was a longtime employee of the U.S. National Park Service, and it was as a ranger that he gathered evidence that led to the authorities finding and arresting Manson: "As a young ranger, his thorough investigation led to the discovery of the hideout of Charlie Manson, and the subsequent arrest of this notorious criminal. These actions have been chronicled in dozens of related books and articles and were a measure of his commitment to his work."

Aaron Stovitz was the original prosecutor in the Manson Family's trial, laying the groundwork for his successor to indict Manson: "During his tenure as head of the trials division in Downtown L.A. in the late 1960's, he prosecuted his most famous case, the murder trial of Charles Manson and accomplices."

Vincent Bugliosi was that successor, the deputy district attorney who took over the prosecution of the Manson Family case and worked untiringly to convince the jury to convict: "Determined to show the breadth of the Manson Family's reach, Bugliosi called 84 witnesses, most of them a parade of disaffected young people who joined up with Manson and fell under his sway. The trial became an exploration of the cult and its drug- and sex-fueled adoration of Manson whom members venerated as Jesus. [Bugliosi] introduced 290 pieces of evidence." The prosecutor went on to write "Helter Skelter," a true-crime book that followed the case.

Jeanne Byrne was a nurse who worked with Manson while he was in prison: "The role of psych nurse for the Correctional Medical Facility in Vacaville, California required Jeanne's characteristic patience and tolerance. In that facility, she was responsible for the care of convicted killer Charles Manson...'"

Tony Casas was a corrections officer who served as associate warden of San Quentin State Prison in the mid-1980s. During his tenure there, he thwarted a Manson escape attempt: "[A]s head of security operations he uncovered and thwarted an escape attempt by the infamous Charles Manson hours before it happened. Manson's followers were prepared to blow a hole out of the side of the prison that faced the San Francisco Bay and 'disappear' Manson amidst a flotilla of boats."

Our thanks goes out to these public servants, who helped make the world a lot safer.