Search for graves at Manson ranch

A RANCH where notorious US mass murderer Charles Manson hid after a 1969 killing spree is being revisited by scientists to hunt for undiscovered graves, decades after law enforcement officers first raided the site.

The dig was led yesterday by sheriff’s officials, with help from specialists in detecting disturbed soils and chemical markers that indicate likely grave sites.

The expedition to the secluded ranch in Ridgecrest, California, will take investigators into the Panamint Mountain range in Death Valley National Park.

For years, rumours have circulated about other possible Manson victims — hitchhikers who visited the ranch and were not seen again and runaways who drifted into the camp and then fell out of favour.

The decision to further investigate the site where Manson and his followers hid following the 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tatewife of film director Roman Polanski, and six others came after initial tests in February found at least two sites that could be graves. A group including two national lab researchers, a police investigator with a cadaver-sniffing dog, and an anthropologist with a magnetic resonance reader determined that there was enough evidence to contact the sheriff’s department.

After further soil sampling with inconsistent results, Sheriff Bill Lutze agreed to the exploratory excavation. The National Park Service has closed the ranch to the public for the duration of the dig. The searchers will use technology that was not available when Manson and his followers were arrested nearly 40 years ago.such as radar, magnetometers and portable gas-chromatograph and mass spectrometers that can detect chemical markers characteristic of bodies in decomposition, They will also use shovels, said Lutze.


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