He’s been called “the forgotten Manson victim.” In fact, up until writing this post, I did not realize Gary Allen Hinman was a real person, instead assuming his character on “Aquarius,” the 2015 NBC series which chronicles the time leading up to the heinous killings perpetrated by Charles Manson and his so-called “Family,” was fictional. In truth, Hinman played a rather prominent role in the events of the summer of 1969, when Manson unleashed terror across the City of Angels.
Not only is Hinman a largely forgotten victim, but he was actually the Family’s first. And depending on which narrative you believe, his slaying may have been the catalyst for Manson’s entire Helter Skelter campaign.
The 34-year-old Hinman was by all accounts a gentle soul. A UCLA Ph.D. student who taught music – and harvested mescaline – on the side, he lived in a ramshackle house in Topanga Canyon, where he regularly allowed friends to crash. One of those friends was drifter/actor Bobby Beausoleil, who stopped by Gary’s with fellow Manson cohorts Susan Atkins and Mary Brunner on July 25, 1969, a little over two weeks before the Tate-LaBianca murders were carried out.
To hear Beausoleil tell it, he visited Gary’s house that fateful day to retrieve money owed to him after Hinman sold him a bad batch of mescaline. But Gary had no money to give. So the trio proceeded to beat and rob him. At some point, Manson himself dropped by and severely cut Hinman’s ear with a samurai sword before making off with one of his cars. Gary was held hostage for a total of 48 hours before ultimately being stabbed and suffocated by Bobby and his friends. The trio then wrote “political piggy” on the wall in his blood. His body was not found until July 31.
Bobby was arrested for the crime on August 6 after police came upon him sleeping in Gary’s stolen car and subsequently found a knife covered in blood hidden in the tire well. Two nights later, Sharon Tate and four others were infamously killed at 10050 Cielo Dr. The following evening, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were murdered at their Los Feliz home. Some believe the mass killings were perpetrated by the Family in a misguided attempt to clear Bobby of Hinman’s death. And others assert Gary’s slaying was simply Manson’s inaugural crack at instigating his planned race wars. Either way, he was an important figure in the tragic tale who has largely been reduced to a footnote.