The Tate murders, conducted by members of the Manson Family, took place 50 years ago on August 8, 1969.
Some facts . . .
actress Sharon Tate, wife of Roman Polanksi and 8.5 months pregnant;
Tate’s friend and former lover Jay Sebring, a noted hairstylist;
Polanski's friend and aspiring screenwriter Wojciech Frykowski;
Frykowski's lover, heiress Abigail Folger;
Steven Parent, 18, a student who had been visiting the property's caretaker who lived in the property's guest house.
Polanski was in Italy at the time, having just completed a film.
The murders were carried out by followers of cult leader Charles Manson (1934-2017), who had ordered Tex Watson and other members of The Family, as the group called themselves, to go to the rented house in an exclusive area of Los Angeles. Manson was familiar with the house because its previous tenant, music producer Terry Melcher, had earlier considered and then decided against giving Manson a recording contract.
Participating in the gruesome and horrific butchery of the victims were Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian.
Tate's blood was used to write the word PIG on the home's front door.
The night after murdering Sharon Tate and her friends, the Manson Family stabbed Leno and Rosemary LaBianca to death. Taking part in the murders were Charles Manson, Tex Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel, Leslie Van Houten and Susan Atkins.
Leno and Rosemary LaBianca
Manson, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Charles “Tex” Watson were convicted of all seven murders: five on Aug. 8 at the home of filmmaker Roman Polanski and his wife, actress Sharon Tate, and two on Aug. 9 at the home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.
Susan Atkins was convicted of the five murders on Aug. 8. During the Aug. 9 murders, she remained in the car.
Leslie Van Houten was convicted of the two murders on Aug. 9.
Steve “Clem” Grogan also remained in the car during the two murders on Aug. 9. He was convicted of the murder later that month of ranch hand Donald “Shorty” Shea.
Linda Kasabian was charged in all seven murders but was granted immunity in exchange for testimony.
Manson died in prison from cardiac arrest resulting from respiratory failure and colon cancer on November 19.
Visible in the above photographs is the swastika Manson carved into his forehead whilst being tried.
Manson, age 76, June 2011
Susan Atkins (1948 – 2009):
Becoming a born-again Christian in 1974, Atkins went on to write a memoir (“Child of Satan, Child of God”) and to denounce Manson. After being routinely denied parole, she died at a women’s prison in Chowchilla in 2009. She was 61 and had been diagnosed a year earlier with brain cancer. At the time of her death, she was California's longest-serving female inmate
Her last word was reported to be “Amen”.
Krenwinkel (1947- )was a 19-year-old secretary from Los Angeles when she met Manson at a party and quickly fell in love with him. During her trial she said that during the murderous spree at Tate’s home, she chased down Abigail Ann Folger, an heiress of the coffee fortune. “We fought on the grass,” she testified. “I remember stabbing her, stabbing and stabbing.” Krenwinkel also admitted to helping to kill the LaBiancas the following night. Now 71 years old, she has been in a women’s prison in Riverside County for 49 years, longer than any other woman in California. Krenwinkel has been denied parole more than 13 times.
Leslie van Houten:
Van Houten showed little remorse in the courtroom for her actions, admitting to wiping away fingerprints and burning her clothing. She even testified that she took chocolate milk and cheese from the refrigerator before leaving the crime scene. Decades later, Van Houten is calm and articulate, regarded as a model prisoner at the women’s prison in Corona, Calif. She has expressed regrets for taking part in the murders and claimed to have been mentally ill at the time, a condition she said was exacerbated by her use of LSD. “I believed that he was Jesus Christ,” Van Houten said of Manson. “I bought into it lock, stock and barrel.”
On January 30, 2019, during her 22nd parole hearing Van Houten was recommended for parole for the third time. However in June 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom overruled the parole board's recommendation, claiming the 69-year-old Van Houten was still a "danger to society" and that she had "potential for future violence".
Charles “Tex” Watson:
Tried separately from the others, Watson was convicted in October 1971 and is currently incarcerated at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione. Now 73, he is said to have fathered four children from conjugal visits in prison, and he started a prison ministry.
He was denied parole for the 17th time in 2016, and will be eligible for another hearing in 2021.
Twenty years old at the time of the murders, Kasabian was charged in all seven killings but was given immunity and became the prosecution’s star witness. She said that she had kept watch on both nights and that she had not participated in the crimes. Raised in New Hampshire, she had moved to Los Angeles to live with the man she married. She said she joined Manson’s clan in the summer of 1969 because she felt rejected by her husband. In her testimony, Kasabian said Manson was the devil and that she did not report him to the police because she feared for the safety of her daughter. After the trial, she returned to New Hampshire. Today she is 70.
"You know, a long time ago being crazy meant something.
Nowadays everybody's crazy."
- Charles Manson