Vernon Plumlee

Vernon Plumlee (aka Vern, Vern Edward Thompson, Arnold Edward)

Vernon Plumlee

Vernon Ray Dean Plumlee was born on either January 1, 1949 or February 14, 1950 (police records show both dates) in Carvallis, Oregon. He was a Manson Family member and is on record as being arrested at both Barker Ranch and Spahn Ranch raids.

Vernon Ray Dean Plumlee was born on either January 1, 1949 or February 14, 1950 (police records show both dates) in Carvallis, Oregon. He was a Manson Family member and is on record as being arrested at both Barker Ranch and Spahn Ranch raids.

According to a book by writer Ed Sanders, Plumlee was very much involved in the family’s many criminal activities and is believed to have participated in their late-night “creepy-crawls” where he would take-along a sawed-off shotgun. Plumlee first showed up at the Spahn Ranch in July of 1969 when he was hired by Ruby Pearl as a ranch hand. Plumlee was also AWOL (Absent without Leave) from the Marines and described his first meeting with Charles Manson in an October 1970 story by the Long Beach Independent:

“When I first met Charlie, he walked up and said ‘Let me run your life down’ and he did. It just kinda blew my mind. He said I had been in jail since I was 14; knew I was at McClaren (Juvenile) Hall; knew I was AWOL. I don’t know how he knew.” 

It is unknown how Charlie may have been aware of Vernon’s background, however, many of Charlie’s girls had access to Spahn Ranch owner George Spahn’s home where he ran his office from which could have led to documentation on Plumlee being found.

Vernon Ray likely had an evil-streak all his own being that after the Tate and Labianca murders were long over he was arrested in a burglary which involved a brutal stabbing. When he was arrested, police found him and his co-conspirator Robert Russell (also AWOL from the marines) held up in a motel room where they found a book on Satanism and Witchcraft.

According to a Long Beach Independent article Plumlee reportedly said to his victims:

“I’ve killed three times before; one more doesn’t matter.” Rivarola told police that as he lay on the floor pleading for help, Plumlee leaned over, kissed him on the forehead and said “that’s life.”

Plumlee and Russell both pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison time; Plumlee ended up doing seven years. During his time in prison prosecutors in the Manson case identified him as a witness and planned to use him during the trial, however, he escaped and was later recaptured.

During the Shorty Shea investigation Vernon told investigators Clem Tufts told him that Shorty Shea was killed. He also heard from other persons that Shorty had been killed and that Clem had cut off Shorty’s head with a sword.

Vernon also comes into play with some conspiracy theories, specifically the drug burn theory, as Plumlee was one of few people who have said he believed that the Family had received information that Sharon Tate was not going to be at Cielo Drive on the night of the murders and that she was previously known to the Family and that the motive for the killings involved LSD.

In a taped interview Plumlee said that Bill Vance told him that the Tate and the LaBianca murders were both committed as a result of an acid burn.

“I heard something to the effect that the LaBiancas were supposed to have sold to the Tates (Polanski and wife), the Tates were supposed to have sold to the family, and some people got uptight about it because it was a burn” Plumlee says Vance added “don’t worry about it though because they’ll never find out who did it.”

On another occasion Vernon, said that the motive for the Tate killings was to “take Frykowski. He said Manson and the group knew the Tate Polanski environment and had been hinted that Sharon Tate would not be at home that evening. Amazingly this claim actually checks out; according to a tribute from Sheila Wells, friend of Sharon Tate, she wrote in “Sharon Tate Remembered; Loving Tribute from Actress Sheila Wells”

“Early on the night she was murdered, my phone rang. It was Sharon. She asked me to come over. I told her I couldn’t, that I was having a few people in for dinner. Then she said, ‘Can I come over to your house?’ I said, sure, of course, come on over. But a little while later she called and said she wasn’t coming. She was too tired, she said. She’d decided just to go over to a local drive-in and get a hamburger, or go to a local Mexican restaurant. I told her that was silly. In the time it took her to drive to the restaurant she could come over to my place. And I asked her to spend the night. But Sharon said no. She had to do her hair. She thought she’d better stay home. She was lonely she said, she missed Roman and she was so tired. So she decided not to come.”

Manson said during the trial that the true motive had not arrived and that a serious scandal would follow if so happened, something that Straight Satan member Danny DeCarlo agreed to before he disappeared. After his parole, Plumlee worked as a welder and raised a family. It is believed that he went on to have a a relationship with Diane Von Ahn who was introduced to the Manson Family by Bill Vance.


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