The Manson Family, led by Charles Manson, wreaked havoc in California in the months of July and August in 1969. They committed multiple heinous murders, with Charles talking about an impending race war. NBC News’ ‘Dateline: The Summer of Manson’ delves into the murders and how Charles controlled his followers, eventually leading to the slayings. Barbara Hoyt was part of Charles’ Family but quit later. However, the Family didn’t make her life easy. So, if you’re curious to know more about Barbara, here’s what we know.
Who Was Barbara Hoyt?
Barbara was born in December 1951. When she was 17-years-old in April 1969, she fought with her dad and stormed out of the house, walking to Spahn Ranch in California. At the time, Charles and his followers resided there. Barbara met Charles on the first night. Regarding what happened that day, she said, “They had dinner, and everybody sat on the floor. We passed around casseroles and salads. You’d take three or four bites and pass them on. Everybody ate with the same utensils out of the same bowls. After the meal, the group shared a couple of joints.”
Barbara then heard Charles sing a song. It made her feel loved and accepted. She said of Charles, “He was God. He was the devil. Everyone aspired to be like him or be with him. He offered an explanation of why the world is as it is. His sources were Scientology and a few others. He said we would have to die to ourselves and give up all knowledge. Everyone considered Charlie a pure soul.”
However, just months later, some members of the Manson Family would go on to commit unspeakable acts of violence at different locations. On August 9, 1969, pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others were killed by cult members, and Barbara remembered how one of them had asked her to bring three pairs of dark clothing before that. But by the time she did so, the group had left. Barbara began suspecting something was up when some of the other members of the Family were keen to watch the news reporting surrounding the murders at Sharon’s residence.
Barbara said, “One of them said, ‘The Soul sure picked a good one.’ They called Charlie that sometimes—the Soul. Then they started laughing. I felt inferior like I hadn’t evolved as far as they had.” She had later heard Sadie (Susan Atkins), one of the members, talk to Ruth Moorehouse about being part of the killings at Sharon’s house. Soon after that, Barbara left the Family with another woman.
Eventually, the authorities caught up to Charles and the rest, and Barbara became a vital cog since her testimony was crucial. While she was in two minds about taking the stand, the Family offered to pay for her to fly out to Hawaii. There, Barbara said Ruth fed her a hamburger laced with 10 LSD tabs to prevent her from testifying. Thankfully, Barbara survived the poisoning attempt and did take the stand, helping put the ones responsible behind bars.
How Did Barbara Hoyt Die?
Apart from this, Barbara Hoyt also remembered waking up to the screams of Shorty Shea, the ranch hand, as the others killed him behind the ranch. Eventually, after putting everything behind her, Barbara finished high school and then went on to get her nursing degree. She also formed an unlikely bond with Sharon Tate’s sister, Debra, because both testified at Charles’ parole hearings. Barbara worked as a registered nurse for many years before retiring. It has been reported that she died on December 3, 2017, at the age of around 66, of kidney failure.