Reminiscing With Crystal

Recently I was sitting and having lunch with Crystal Boultinghouse, Esq, and her associate Melanie Minas, Esq; one of Crystals clients was sitting with us also. We had been reminiscing back many years ago when I first met Crystal and how I felt she was going to be very successful in the world of DIVORCE. Once again, as is the case most of the time, I was right on the money on this one. Anyone going up against Ms. Boultinghouse will have found their match, or more likely, even a better lawyer than they feel they are. To underestimate Crystal Boultinghouse, you take that on at your own risk. Crystal will always be held in high regard by this writer, and I so respect her, sit and talk to her, she is a highly traveled and with international legal experience.

Well back to the point. Crystals client says to me wow, you have done a great deal in your life. At the time I was speaking of the days of when I was an apprentice embalmer as it gave me two things, a job and place to live, I have always been resourceful. This discussion caused me to reflect on the death of one of the Manson Girls, Susan Atkins.

Back in the 80s, I was a state prison guard at the California Institution for Women, and looking back at those days I should have stayed with CDC. I could have easily retired as a Deputy Warden as I was on the fast track, or as it was referred to back then I was on the bus.” Ruth Rushen was the Director of Corrections back in those days, and the warden of C.I.W. was Sylvia J. Johnson. There was no one who was a bigger fan and supporter than I was of Miss Johnson. Sylvia was a no-bullshit warden and a breath of fresh air when the crap hit the fan. The Deputy Warden Don Williamson of San Quentin fame was also a tough hombre and had a zero-tolerance for any inmate fun and games. Sylvia and Don always did it their way, and it was going to be fine, and if was not fine, heads would roll.

All these reflections of those times and people for me bring a constant smile to my face as I reflect on those days. I worked at C.I.M. (California Institution for Men) as well as C.R.C. (California Rehabilitation Center) it sounded different but was just as much a prison at every level. Every day was a circus and the monkeys that we referred to as Inmates” seldom let you down as to the fun and sometimes deadly games they could play. Some of these people had absolutely nothing to lose and were never going to see anything other than what was above in the sky and that wall or fence line.

One of my best days was when I was appointed to the Transportation Team. This was a very very serious assignment as we took inmates from a controlled environment, The Prison,” out into the community for medical issues, The Free World. This could be for surgery and or just routine examinations; the medical facilities at C.I.W. were at the lowest level one could expect. (When I was accepted to CDC as a guard back in the early ’80s, I was given my physical by a doctor who was so old he could hardly walk, and his vision seemed impaired. An inmate finished my physical exam. This was at C.I.W.) And of course, prison riots often stemmed from food and medical treatment back in those days, so it was important the Boys & Girls got taken care of. Most of our trips were out to Riverside General Hospital and occasionally to major medical centers for more complicated procedures. During major beatings and or stabbings (shanking) it was always a code-three run to R.G.H. Those too could be very dangerous for the guards as to the unplanned nature of the event or was it? The thoughts were always would there be a possible rescue attempt of the injured inmate? Those were the good old days!

Taking inmates out of any prison is a very dangerous proposition as for fear of a rescue attempt. And over the years State Prison Guards, aka Correctional Officers have paid the ultimate price with their lives in doing so. For myself, I always made myself very clear to the women and men I transported (inmates, killers, and thugs) that I would shoot and kill them as my last dying act in the event of an ambush. Oh, and if you knew me back, then I was as serious as a heart attack. We were armed with .38 revolvers (I carried an S&W .357, I had Sylvias blessing) and shotguns and we were dam well trained in their use! My partner Sondra White, Sgt. (ret. C.D.C.) and I treated inmates with all due respect, and they understood their positions, and we clearly understood ours. We were taking them out alive and breathing, and if all went well, we would return them the same way.

It was I, John J. Nazarian, C.O. and Sondra White, Sgt. that took Susan Atkins out to Riverside General Hospital for her first-ever visit outside the fences of C.I.W. it was in the 80s. This infamous killer of Manson fame was not a bad kid frankly, I had no problem with her, and at the time I recall she was very nervous having never been in the free world for more years then she could recall.

Lt. Brenda Lucas (ret.) and Deputy Warden Don Williamson were the people in charge of this little trip, and it all went down with no problems. Of course, the doctors and staff at R.G.H. were fascinated to have such a famous killer in their midst and for the folks in and around the waiting rooms and hallways, they had no idea who Susan was. Note: the inmates on these trips had no idea when or where they would be taken till literally 20-30 minutes before leaving, rescue attempts were a real threat back in those days.

In my time interacting with Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houghton, and Patricia Krenwinkle, I never had any issues with them. They were always very polite, and as they used to say back in those days, they were programmed to the institutional ways and practices. Susan was an attractive young lady, as was Leslie. Patricia was a bit more, I guess masculine in manner. (I recall she had some facial hair) However, again, they were the least of my worries in the performance of my duties at C.I.W.

When Susan Atkins died, I sent a card to her husband, expressing my condolences. Another encounter I had to deal with back in the day of the Manson Girls was Susans wedding to the so-called Texas Millionaire, a very silly event if there ever was one. I have more stories that I recall I will share with you as it is important for my grandkids that I get these stories into print. My interaction with Charlie, and we all remember Emily Harris? Of the SLA fame? I am sure she remembers me too, 1983, Ontario, California airport. And even more interesting, my relationship with Vincent Bugliosi, I had him on my show, American P.I. To think of my relationship with the Girls and now to call Vincent a good acquaintance, what a life! Hung out with Vincent and his wife at their home, a small, very quaint place here in Los Angeles.

Note: I have photos of myself with Susan as well as photos and documentation of my interaction with the three girls I have mentioned.

Letters from Vincent and photos too! As usual nothing but the truth on


By John Nazarian
Straight Talk with John J. Nazarian, Private Investigator
July 31, 2019
All Rights Reserved, do not reproduce in whole or in part without the express written consent of the author

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