Is Manso sitting on a bombshell?

Based on his comments on CourtTV,  sure looks like it.

Peter Manso, the Provincetown author of a critically-acclaimed biography of Marlon Brando and a recent screed about the town that went over in some corners of P'town like a Jerry Falwell costume at a Halloween party, is working on another book -- this one about Christa Worthington's murder and the trial of Chris McCowen

Speaking on CourtTV after Friday's session, Manso said the prosecution faces two difficult hurdles -- proving that McGowen raped Worthington before killing her, and pinning an approximate time that McCowen had intercourse with Worthington, as indicated by the presence of his sperm in her vagina. If the sperm was 36 to 48 hours old when Worthington died -- dating back to the Thursday of McCowen's weekly trash stop at Worthington's house -- this would effectively rule out McCowen as a suspect (to which I would add a third major hurdle for the prosecution -- lack of an apparent motive). Putting a narrow time frame on the evidence, however, could prove difficult in and of itself.

Manso also pointed out that McCowen was a drug informant and had met with police less than two days after Worthington was found dead.

This wasn't news, since it was first reported last July based on a motion filed in court by Robert George, McCowen's defense attorney (that it took so long for this to surface,  however, more than four years after Worthington's death, remains surprising to me).

But here is what Manso said that caught my attention. What follows is a transcript of his remarks, as broadcast by CourtTV.

Jeremy Frazier, the man McCowen alleges killed Worthington, "is a dope dealer out of Wellfleet," Manso said. "So is McCowen. This is a story which involves dope and it also involves complicity with the police (emphasis added). Thirty-six hours after the discovery of Christa's body, Chris McCowen was meeting with two Wellfleet cops and a member of the Cape and Islands' Drug Task Force, that's Massachusetts state police, for a regularly scheduled meeting. He was a snitch, he was a drug snitch, they were squeezing him.

"There is a record, I'm told, I'm told, that um ... I've gotta be careful here, please understand this, because this is a very, how shall I say .... very rich area for investigation. There's no question that McCowen was friends with Frazier, they ran together, they were into rap music, they did dope together. I think Frazier's a big question mark in this whole case, in this whole investigation, and I don't think it's been satisfactorily looked into ... and I'm not the only one."

" ... complicity with the police ..." -- a damning allegation, and made on national television to boot. But complicity in what sense? The FBI's unholy relationship with Whitey Bulger comes to mind.

I've never spoken with Manso and have seen him in person only once, in the courtroom on Friday where he dutifully took notes and scrutinized just about everyone in court. But he exudes the confidence and caginess of a writer possessed of a potential bombshell. Manso also said on CourtTV that skepticism abounds on the Lower Cape about McCowen's guilt. I was vaguely aware of this and had  attributed it to white guilt and political correctness in one of the most liberal stretches of the bluest of states. I'm beginning to wonder if there's more to it than that.

I also came away from Manso's CourtTV appearance thinking that he said more than intended, had talked it away as writers say. Was that unease I sensed when Manso was done, regret that he may have unintentionally prompted Dominick Dunne to parachute in for Vanity Fair and crack the case before Manso can publish his book?

Some of the people commenting on this site have compared the mystery surrounding Worthington's death to the murders involving Tony Costa, a P'town man convicted of killing four women in 1969. The late Leo Damore wrote a book about the Costa case titled "In His Garden." Damore also wrote what I consider the definitive account of the death of Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick, a book called "Senatorial Privilege: The Chappaquiddick Cover-Up," which alleged that Sen. Edward Kennedy concocted a cover story of Kopechne driving off the bridge alone. Problem was, fellow party-goer and older cousin Joe Gargan wouldn't go along for the ride, according to Damore, leaving Kennedy with no choice but to inform police of his role in the accident, albeit eight to nine hours later.

Regardless of how the McCowen trial plays out in court, we may have to wait for Manso's book to find out what really happened to Christa Worthington. At least this time the delay is unlikely to take nearly 20 years as with "Senatorial Privilege," a book published in 1988 about a fatal accident in 1969, the same year as the Costa murders.

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