David Baker (AKA Karate Dave)

(aka David Lipsett, David William Lipsett, Karate Dave, Charley, Charles Ellis)

David Baker

To the Family, Baker was known as Karate Dave

David Baker was born on August 3, 1946 and was from Vallejo California, a city in the San Francisco Bay Area. Baker was a Vietnam Veteran and expert in Karate and Martial Arts, which is why the family referred to him as Karate Dave. Baker hung around the Family for a few months from around April to July of 1969, and was arrested with the family in Inyo County, on the way to the Barker Ranch.  This placed him on Lieutenant Deemer’s list of known Manson associates, which also noted that his identifying marks were numerous bullet wounds and scars. According to Paul Watson, Karate Dave was described as heavy duty recruit, not to be messed with.

“Karate Dave was another heavy-duty recruit who joined us during that period (Gresham time span). He was twenty-six, a Vietnam vet, and tough as nails. He had a plastic elbow (a vestige of his battlefield experience) and carried himself with an air of cold and utter confidence. Dave wasn’t big (five-nine, 160 pounds) but was built like a gymnast. While he seemed to like Charlie, he never tried to ingratiate himself. He was in it strictly for the goodies—all the women he could handle and what promised to be some excitement.”  ….

It is not clear how exactly David Baker wound up with the family but in a book titledManson: the life and times of Charles Manson by Investigative Journalist Jeff Guinn, Charlie said that he’d met someone who was a karate expert and would come out to the Spahn Ranch to teach them how to fight hand-to-hand. Baker was also said, by Danny DeCarlo, in an interview for Ed Sanders book,The Family, to be the source of the 1952 Continental Bakery Hostess Twinkie truck that the Manson Family used.

“He bought the bread truck off of one Dave Lipsett, a friend of Manson.  DeCarlo traded some stolen motorcycle parts, including an engine, for the Twinkie truck.”

David Baker was also arrested with family members on another occasion in Antelope Valley, the western tip of the Mojave Desert. According toMy Life with Charles Manson by Paul Watkins, the group was pulled over in a big heavy-duty Dodge ambulance-weapons-carrier Charlie had ordered Watkins to hot-wire the night before; the highway patrol unit spotted it for having no rear license plate, and when closely inspected by police, was discovered to be stolen. Arrested at the scene were Dave, Nancy Pitman, Paul Watkins, Sandra Good, Ruth Ann Moorehouse, Catherine Gillies, Bo Rosenberg, Sherry Cooper, Susan Atkins, and Patricia Krenwinkel.

The charges against the occupants of the stolen vehicle were dismissed as it was determined  that the vehicle was stolen multiple times and police couldn’t locate the current owner, so all prisoners were released. According to Watson, when he returned to Spahn Ranch, he saw David already there and that he had escaped the jail through a window.

“When I got back to Spahn’s, the girls were there. So was Dave; he had climbed out the bathroom window in Mojave during a court recess and had escaped the same night. A week later, Dave left the Family, and I never saw him again.


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