The Trail Went Cold – Episode 53 – Ronald Hughes

November 27, 1970. Ventura County, California. While representing Leslie Van Houten during the Manson Family’s murder trial, 35-year old attorney Ronald Hughes leaves to go on a camping trip. He never returns and his decomposed body is found wedged between two boulders in a gorge four months later. While the actual cause of death cannot be determined, rumours circulate about foul play, as Charles Manson had grown angry at Hughes and allegedly threatened him. Was Ronald Hughes’ death nothing more than a tragic accident, or was he an unconfirmed murder victim of the Manson Family? The first “Trail Went Cold” episode of 2018 chronicles the unexplained death of an aspiring attorney whose first and last case turned out to be one of the most famous murder trials of all time. Special thanks to listener Andrew Dodge for providing the opening narration for today’s episode.

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The Trail Went Cold is produced and edited by Magill Foote.

All music is composed by Vince Nitro.

One thought on “The Trail Went Cold – Episode 53 – Ronald Hughes

  • Two things:

    Ronald Hughes knew Manson and Family before the murders:

    Long Beach Press-Telegram, 3-29-71
    Hughes knew the communal “family” of Charles Manson months before Manson and three female codefendants were charged with murder and conspiracy.

    The body was not badly decomposed:

    LATimes, 3-30-71
    One of the men who found the body: “..the body was not decomposed, apparently because of the cold water.”

    LATimes, 3-31-71
    “Dep. Coroner Merle Peters said the cold water of Sespe Creek had “done a remarkable job of preserving the body..” “

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