Bernard Crowe (AKA Lotsapoppa)

The Story of Bernard “Lotsapoppa” Crowe 

Bernard Crowe

Bernard “Lotsapoppa” Crowe

Bernard Crowe was a marijuana dealer in Los Angeles who became involved with the Manson family only through a drug deal which, from the beginning, was intended to be a robbery by Charles “Tex” Watson through his former girlfriend, or ex-girlfriend, Luella; the family needed money and Tex would do anything the family needed.

On July 1, 1969, Watson hatched a plan to purchase a large amount of marijuana but he needed to borrow the cash from Luella. The deal was for 25 kilos of marijuana for $2,500 which Tex would allow Luella to keep three kilos for herself if she could come up with the cash to make the initial purchase and help him sell off the rest, before he skimmed some off the top himself of course. However, Tex would need to meet with a local dealer who would only deal with him personally and the lowest quantity he would supply was 25 kilos at a minimum.

Luella didn’t have the cash for such a transaction, but she knew someone who did and who would likely want the rest of the goods so that they could each effectively take their cuts, three kilos each for free, and supply the rest to the person she knew would have the money. His name was Bernard “Lotsapoppa” Crowe and he was a dealer Luella knew who could easily put up the cash in turn for the majority of drugs. Unknown to Luella, Tex had no intent of delivering and was planning to steal the cash.

In Tex Watson’s book “Will You Die for Me” he recalled:

“I called Luella… on July 1 and said that the Family had $100 and wanted to buy a kilo of grass, but our Mafia vending-machine connection would only sell 25 kilos at a throw, for a cool $2,500…. She called back and told me that she knew somebody who was interested in buying the extra kilos, but she needed to make some money out of the deal as well.”

Once Luella introduced Crow to Tex, Crow took one look at him and decided that he would be driving the two where they needed to go for the transaction and not only that, but he would be keeping Luella in his big black Cadillac with two body guards as ‘collateral’ until Tex returned with the goods. The group drove to a location and as Tex exited the vehicle and received the cash, he left to meet his dealer. He never returned.

In Tex Watson’s book “Will You Die for Me” he recalled:

“… it didn’t much matter to me what they did to Luella, as long as I got the money for Charlie. They gave me the cash and I went straight into the front of the apartment and straight out the back and T.J. and I were off to the ranch.”

By the time Tex arrived back to Spahn Ranch with the cash for Charlie, Crowe was already calling the Ranch looking for Tex and spoke to Charles Manson, who said he had no idea where Tex was and that he had fled the ranch weeks ago; Crowe countered that he did not believe it and if his cash was not immediately returned that he and his drug dealing crew would come down to the ranch and wipe the whole place out.

Manson decided to get the jump on the situation and left with family member Thomas Walleman, or “TJ” to go find Crowe with the intent to kill him. Walleman was the intended shooter and had a .22 Bluntline Revolver on him, the same gun which would later be used in the Tate and Labianca murders, however, when Manson and Walleman arrived, Walleman chickened out and Manson did the shooting after which the two men fled the scene, but not before stealing a leather jacket which would later be found on Manson during the Spahn Ranch raid.

“I had to shoot Lotsapoppa,” — Charles Manson

Manson believed he had killed Crowe, especially when he had heard the next day that the dumped body of a Black Panther member was found killed from a shooting. This is where the whole connection of Bernard “Lotsapoppa” Crowe and the Black Panther Party came from. Not only did Crowe recover from his injuries but he wasn’t a member of the Black Panthers; this was entirely assumed by Manson and his associates.

Los Angeles County ADA Vincent Bugliosi later called Crowe as a witness in the Manson Trial, which was the first time Manson realized he wasn’t dead. Bernard Crowe is considered further evidence that although Manson often removed himself from the killings and he himself was not physically present during the Tate and Labianca murders, he himself did in fact hold the ability and intent to kill. He was also heard bragging about what he believed was the killing of another ‘blackie” among family members at the ranch.

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