The Tate Murders

A Tragic and Infamous Story

August 8, 1969: The night of the Tate murders, members of the Manson Family, enter the home of director Roman Polanski and his wife, actress Sharon Tate. Tate, who is 8 months pregnant, is brutally murdered along with four other people.

This is a chronological record of the events leading up to the murders, the murders themselves, as well as the aftermath.

The Saga Begins: Dennis Wilson and Charles Manson

The saga begins with Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson, who had befriended Charles Manson. While on the way to the Santa Monica Mountains to take an acid trip, Wilson picked up two hitchhikers, Ella Jo Bailey and Patricia Krenwinkel. Wilson encountered one of the girls again a month later and, rather than giving her a lift, he invited her to his mansion on 14400 Sunset Boulevard. Wilson told her about his involvement with the Maharishi, and she told him she too had a guru, a guy named Charlie.

Later that evening, Wilson went to a recording session. When he returned home in the early morning hours, he was surprised to see a stranger exiting the back door. Wilson asked the man if he intended to cause him any harm. The stranger, Charles Manson, fell to his knees and kissed Wilson’s feet, and responded, “Do I look like I’m going to hurt you, brother?”

Wilson became infatuated with Manson’s charisma, and Manson and the girls spent the summer at Wilson’s home. Wilson had no complaints, the girls cleaned his house, ran errands and prepared dinner every night. The Manson girls even did garbage runs in Wilson’s Rolls-Royce. Dean Moorehouse, a former minister who introduced his teenage daughter to Manson, stayed in Wilson’s guest house, and did odd jobs and chores at the mansion.

In the evening, the girls fulfilled a different role: they gave Wilson the necessary sexual entertainment, but that caused quite a few problems. Some of the girls had sexually transmitted diseases, so Wilson took them all to a clinic to be treated. Susan Atkins had problems with her teeth, and Wilson paid her dentist bill.

Through his relationship with Dennis Wilson, Manson was able to network with prominent figures in the music business, including Neil Young, with whom he had several jamming sessions. Dennis Wilson, who once said, “Charlie didn’t have a musical bone in his whole body,” did record and release one of Manson’s songs, “Never Learn Not to Love.”

Wilson also introduced Manson to another noteworthy person, Charles Watson, who went by the nickname “Tex”. One day, Dennis Wilson was hitchhiking, when a young man gave him a ride. Out of appreciation, Wilson invited him back to his mansion, where the man met Charles Manson. The two quickly became friends. Little did Wilson know, the young man, Charles ‘Tex’ Watson, would later become infamous for the mass murder of Sharon Tate and her houseguests.

Manson and his clan ended up costing Wilson a small fortune; most of the money went to car repair bills, clothes, food, and penicillin shots. One of Manson’s associates reportedly wrecked Wilson’s uninsured Ferrari. When Wilson had had enough of Manson and his antics, he simply moved out of his house.

When Manson left Wilson’s home, he took one of Wilson’s gold records with him, which he and Catherine Gillies later traded for permission to stay at Myers’ ranch. After the infamous murders in the summer of ’69, Wilson said, “I’m the luckiest guy in the world, because I got off only losing my money.”

Terry Melcher and Charles Manson

In 1968, Charles Manson met music producer Terry Melcher at Dennis Wilson’s place. Melcher and the Beach Boys had a strong bond and worked closely together. Melcher paid a visit to his close pals, Dennis Wilson and Gregg Jakobson, and while there he encountered Charles Manson, who was strumming on his guitar and singing his tunes. Later that day, Wilson and Manson gave Melcher a ride back home. Melcher lived in a house in Benedict Canyon with his girlfriend, Hollywood actress Candice Bergen. The address of the house was 10050 Cielo Drive.

Jakobson, who worked as a talent scout, was a friend and associate of Melcher. He temporarily lived at Dennis Wilson’s house, and during this period, became close friends with Manson and Watson. Melcher went to Europe for a couple of months, and Jakobson was responsible for looking after the property at 10050 Cielo Drive. During his testimony, Jakobson described Watson as a “puppy dog” who followed him around. Watson tagged along with Jakobson and frequently visited the home at 10050 Cielo Drive with him.

Charles ‘Tex’ Watson was no stranger to the home at 10050 Cielo Drive — the site of the infamous Tate Murders, as he had been there numerous times before.

Jakobson was a regular guest at Spahn Ranch, which served as the hub of activity for Manson. Jakobson was impressed by Manson’s musical talents and attempted to convince producer Terry Melcher to collaborate with Manson on a project. Roughly one year after he encountered Manson, Melcher agreed to have him audition and visited Spahn Ranch.

Melcher was not impressed with Manson’s music and was searching for a way to politely reject recording him. When Melcher asked Manson if he was part of a union, Manson replied no. Melcher then explained that he wouldn’t be able to enter a professional studio without union membership; however, Manson refused to join one, as it would limit his freedom.

During his second visit to Spahn Ranch, Manson, Jakobson, and Melcher got into a heated argument; Manson was cursing and yelling at them. A short time later, Melcher and Bergen abruptly moved out of Cielo Drive. According to Bergen, something spooked Melcher, “Terry wanted to record an album with Charles Manson, then he got spooked, and suddenly we were moving. I was like, in a few months? He said ‘No, tomorrow.’

Sharon Tate and Charles Manson

On February 12, 1969, Roman Polanski and his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, signed a lease for the house on 10050 Cielo Drive. They moved in three days later. On March 23, 1969, a stranger arrived at Cielo Drive. Sharon Tate’s personal photographer, Hatami, went over to him and asked why he was there. The man replied that he was looking for Terry Melcher.

Hatami informed him that Melcher had moved out of the house, and told him that the property was, in fact, the Polanski residence. He then suggested that the man check the guesthouse, Rudi Altobelli’s place, and told him that maybe the people he was looking for were back there. Just before the visitor turned toward the guesthouse, Sharon came to the door and asked Hatami who it was.

Hatami told Sharon that the man was looking for Terry Melcher. At that moment, Sharon and the stranger faced each other. It was later revealed that the man who visited Cielo Drive that day was Charles Manson.

The following events took place between the time Manson visited the Polanski residence on March 23, 1969 and the evening of August 8, 1969, when Watson took the girls out on a murder mission to Cielo Drive. At first glance, the events may seem unrelated, but upon closer inspection, it becomes apparent that they are all interconnected and ultimately led to the tragedy at 10050 Cielo Drive.

The Bernard Crowe Shooting

July, 1969. Looking for cash, Charles ‘Tex’ Watson contacted his former girlfriend, Luella, and proposed a plan; he said the family had $100 and were looking to buy a kilo of marijuana, but their supplier would only sell them 25 kilos for $2,500. Watson suggested to Luella that she could resell the extra 24 kilos for $125 a kilo and make a profit. Since marijuana was scarce during this time, Luella couldn’t resist the offer.

However, Watson had no intention of actually purchasing the marijuana; instead, he intended to take Luella to an apartment, where the supposed transaction would take place, tell her to wait outside, go out through the back door, where TJ Walleman would wait in a car with the engine running, and speed off with the money. But things didn’t go according to plan.

Luella arrived at the scene with Bernard “Lotsapoppa” Crowe, a black drug dealer, and two of his associates. Crowe provided the funds for the transaction and insisted that he and his companions come along. They drove to the apartment and, after some negotiation, Watson persuaded Luella and the men to wait outside. Watson took Crowe’s money, entered the apartment, and then ran out the back door. He jumped into a car with TJ, and they drove away quickly.

When they returned to Spahn Ranch, Watson revealed the money to Manson. Just then, the phone rang; it was Crowe, who was enraged and demanded his money back, threatening to kill everyone at the ranch. Manson told Crowe that Watson had left the ranch weeks ago, and that he (Manson) had nothing to do with the drug exchange. However, Crowe did not believe him.

Manson sent Watson up into the hills with a sleeping bag, and told him he would take care of it. Manson and TJ went to Crowe’s. Manson shot and killed Crowe—or so he thought. Crowe actually played dead. It wasn’t until the Tate/LaBianca trial that Manson found out Crowe was still alive—when he walked into the courtroom.

The next day, a news bulletin reported that someone had discarded the corpse of a Black Panther member near U.C.L.A. Manson assumed this was Crowe’s body. As rumors spread that Crowe was a Panther, Manson became fearful of retribution.

Soon after, the first ‘Manson murder’ occurred; Bobby Beausoleil killed Gary Hinman and left a bloody pawprint on the wall along with the words “Political Piggy” written in Hinman’s blood, in an effort to make the authorities believe that the Black Panthers were responsible.

The Gary Hinman Murder

“Beausoleil. That’s French. My name is French. It means Beautiful Sun.”

On July 25, 1969, Bobby Beausoleil, Susan Atkins, and Mary Brunner paid Gary Hinman a visit. According to Beausoleil, Gary had sold him 1,000 tabs of bad mescaline, and he wanted his money back. When Beausoleil asked for the money, Gary replied that he had no money to give. The trio then proceeded to hold him captive for several days, severely beating and torturing him in the process.

At some point, Charles Manson and Bruce Davis stopped by, with Manson brandishing a sword and striking Gary in the head, slicing his face and left ear, while Davis pointed a gun at him. Atkins and Brunner then tried to stitch up Gary’s face with a needle and dental floss.

The ordeal ended when Beausoleil stabbed Gary twice in the chest. Though he did not die immediately, Gary began making gurgling noises, prompting Atkins and Brunner to suffocate him with a pillow. After Gary’s death, Beausoleil wrote the words “Political Piggy” and drew a paw print on the wall in Gary’s blood, in an attempt to make the authorities believe that the Black Panthers had committed the murder.

They took Gary’s cars and bagpipes and went off. A couple of days after the murder, the California Highway Patrol found Beausoleil sleeping in Hinman’s Fiat station wagon. Beausoleil, unaware that the vehicle had been flagged, informed the police officer that he had bought the car from three African-American men.

Beausoleil was booked for suspected car theft at the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office. When officers searched the car, they found the murder weapon, a 5-inch hunting knife, in the tire well of the vehicle. It wouldn’t be long before he was charged with murder. Beausoleil was arrested on August 6, and two days later, on August 8, 1969, Manson found out about it.

August 8, 1969: Sharon Tate’s Last Day Alive

On August 8, 1969, Sharon Tate’s last day alive, the eight-and-a-half-month pregnant actress had a telephone conversation with her husband, who was away overseas. During the conversation, they argued over Polanski’s continual delay in returning home. Tate mentioned that she had been planning a birthday party for him and warned him that if he hadn’t returned by then, she would be forced to leave him.

Around noon, Sharon had lunch by the pool with her actress colleagues, Joanna Pettet and Barbara Lewis. Tate discussed her tumultuous marriage with Polanski and told her friends that if he did not change his behavior after the baby was born, she would have no choice but to divorce him. Around 3 pm, Frykowski and Folger joined Tate and her companions. Shortly thereafter, Tate went inside to take a nap around 3:30 pm.

At the end of the afternoon, Debra Tate, Sharon’s younger sister, called to ask if she could come by to pick up a saddle that Sharon had purchased for her in Europe. However, Sharon declined and told her sister to come get the saddle at a later date.

In the evening, around 6 pm, Jay Sebring, Sharon Tate’s ex-boyfriend, arrived to check on the pregnant actress. Earlier in the afternoon, Abigail Folger had purchased a new bicycle. At 6:30 pm, Dennis Herst, the son of the bike shop owner, delivered the bike to the Cielo Drive residence.

Later on that evening, Tate and her friends reportedly went out for a late dinner at El Coyote. Around 10 pm, Abigail Folger’s mother called to confirm that Abigail would be flying to San Francisco the following day; her mother had planned a birthday party for her on August 11th.

August 8, 1969: Manson Family Headquarters

August 8, 1969, was not a good day for Charles Manson. He had skipped town for a few days following his involvement in the Hinman murder. At around 2 pm, Manson returned to Spahn Ranch, only to find out that his friend Bobby Beausoleil had been arrested for the Hinman murder. Manson was seething with rage after learning the news.

Manson, already stressed out after he had shot Bernard Crowe, a black drug dealer, had transformed Spahn Ranch into a heavily fortified encampment, complete with rifles, machine guns, and armed patrols. Rumors circulated that Crowe was a Black Panther, and Manson was in fear of retaliation.

The stress was building up. First, the deal with Melcher fell through, then the Crowe shooting, followed by the Hinman murder, and now his friend had been arrested for the Hinman murder. But his day would become even worse.

Later that afternoon, Manson gave Mary Brunner and Sandra Good a couple of stolen credit cards and asked them to go to a department store and purchase some supplies.

Good, who was almost eight months pregnant at the time, and Brunner, the mother of Manson’s son, went to the department store and used the stolen credit cards. However, they were caught. The two girls fled from the store, and after a car chase, they were apprehended and taken to jail. Things started to unravel.

On the night of August 8, 1969, Manson and Watson had a private conversation. According to Watson, Manson told him to “take some of the girls and go to that house where Melcher used to live” and to “totally destroy everyone inside, as gruesome as you can”, and to “leave a sign, something witchy”.

August 8/9, 1969: The Tate Murders

Charles Watson took Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian, and Patricia Krenwinkel to Cielo Drive. When they arrived at the entrance of the Cielo Drive property, Watson climbed a telephone pole near the gate and cut the phone line to the house. At this point, it was past midnight.

The residence at 10050 Cielo Drive was covered in darkness as the headlights of an approaching vehicle grew closer and closer. Watson instructed the women to hide in the nearby bushes, before he stepped out and ordered the driver to stop. The car was being driven by eighteen-year-old student Steven Parent, who had been visiting the property’s caretaker, William Garretson, who lived in the guest house.

Parent pleaded for his life, to no avail. Watson first lunged at Parent with a knife, giving him a defensive slash wound on the palm of his hand, slashing the strap of his wristwatch. Then Watson raised his gun and without hesitation, fired four shots into Parent’s body. Parent died instantly.

The sound of the gunshots ricocheted across the valley, echoing off the canyon walls. It appeared that no one inside the house was alarmed by the four gunshots. Sounds are often distorted in the canyons, sounds audible a mile away can be indistinguishable at a hundred feet.

The group proceeded to the main house. Watson instructed Kasabian to keep watch down by the gate, while he cut the screen of a window and entered through it into the dining room. He then opened the front door to let Atkins and Krenwinkel into the house. Inside, they crept through the hallway into the living room.

They found Frykowski sleeping on the living room couch. Frykowski, who was coming off a ten-day mescaline trip, woke up and, in his groggy state, mistakenly thought the three people hovering over him were friends of Tate and asked them what time it was.

Watson kicked Frykowski in the head and pointed a gun at him. When the terrified man asked Watson who he was and what he was doing there, Watson replied: “I’m the devil, and I’m here to do the devil’s business.”

Atkins, armed with a Buck knife, silently crept through the house. Atkins passed by Abigail Folger’s bedroom. Abigail thought Atkins was a friend of Sharon and, looking up from her book, smiled and waved to her, Atkins smiled and waved back. Atkins continued her search and found Tate and Sebring in Tate’s bedroom. Showing no mercy, she forced Tate, Sebring, and Folger to the living room at knifepoint.

Watson tied Tate, Sebring, and Folger together by their necks with a rope and slung the remaining piece of rope up over one of the living room’s ceiling beams. Tate cried, but Watson told her to shut up in a tone that left no room for argument. Sebring, horrified by the rough treatment of the pregnant Tate, stepped forward to intervene; Watson then shot Sebring twice and stabbed him seven times, his body slumped to the floor in a pool of blood. Sebring died defending the woman he loved.

Watson told Krenwinkel to turn off the lights, prompting a wave of fear to pass through the victims. He then asked if they had any money, to which Folger replied that she had some cash and credit cards in her wallet. Atkins took her to her bedroom and retrieved her wallet, containing a mere seventy dollars. Watson asked if this was all she had and Folger, sobbing, confirmed that it was. Watson then ominously declared, “Prepare to die.”

Watson told Atkins to kill Frykowski, whose hands were bound with a towel. In a desperate attempt to save himself, Frykowski managed to free himself and fiercely struggled with Susan Atkins. She wildly stabbed at his legs with a Buck knife and during the fray, Atkins lost her knife. Taking advantage of this moment, Frykowski managed to break free, and fled through the front door.

Watson quickly ran after Frykowski and, in a fit of rage, hit him over the head with the butt of the gun. The force of the blow was so great that it broke the butt of the gun in half. Watson then shot Frykowski twice, before repeatedly stabbing him in a vicious and frenzied attack.

Folger took advantage of the chaos and tried to escape. Krenwinkel struggled to stop Folger, and the two started fighting. Watson came to Krenwinkel’s aid and stabbed Folger in the stomach. Meanwhile, Frykowski, barely alive, struggled across the lawn.

Watson went over to Frykowski and stabbed him to death. Frykowski was stabbed 51 times. Folger, still alive, staggered out of the bedroom door to the pool area. Krenwinkel ran after Folger, caught her, stabbed her, and tackled her to the ground. Watson joined Krenwinkel, and they stabbed Folger 28 times.

Pregnant Tate was the Last to Die

Back in the house, Tate pleaded to be allowed to live long enough to have her baby, and even offered herself as a hostage in an attempt to save the life of her unborn child.

Susan Atkins held Tate in a headlock, and told Tate as she begged, “Look, bitch, I don’t care about you. I don’t care if you are having a baby. You are going to die, and I don’t feel a thing about it.” Watson stabbed Tate while Atkins held her down. Tate was stabbed 16 times. Watson later recalled that as he stabbed Tate, she cried and begged for her mother.

“She was pleading to me and pleading to me, but I didn’t even have a moment of hesitation. I took a knife and just slit a big slit across her face. And I just kept cutting her and carving on the body and started stabbing her in the chest— I’d say maybe 15 cuts and stabs. She was crying and saying, “Oh mother, oh mother.” She said, “Just let my baby live. You can kill me, but let my baby live.”

Atkins picked up the towel that had bound Frykowski’s hands and dipped it in Tate’s blood. For a moment, she thought of cutting the baby out of Tate’s womb, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. Instead, Atkins used the blood-soaked towel to write the word “pig” on the front door before making her way out. As a final desecration, Atkins left a bloody footprint at the entrance of the residence, a grim reminder of her horrible actions.

Sharon’s baby died in the womb. Sharon was buried with her unborn son cradled in her arms.

There were several dogs present at the time of the murders in the Cielo Drive house, most notably Sharon Tate’s Dog Prudence. Polanski had bought puppy Prudence after Frykowski had accidentally run over and killed Sharon’s beloved Yorkshire terrier Sappy on the driveway of Cielo Drive.

The morning after the murders, the police had found Prudence hiding in a closet. The dogs were taken to a shelter by the police. Sharon Tate’s mother and sister adopted Prudence, giving her a loving home for the remaining years of her life. Unfortunately, 10 years after Sharon was tragically murdered, Prudence was killed in a car accident. Debra Tate, Sharon’s sister, had accidentally run over Prudence in the driveway of her parent’s house.

“Oh geez, do I have to tell this? I’ve been told that people want to know what happened to Prudence. Ok, I’ll tell you. I accidentally ran over Prudence in my parent’s driveway and killed her. It was awful! I was leaving after a visit, backing out of the driveway and I didn’t realize that she’d run outside. I was twenty six when this happened so it was ten years after Sharon died. So now you know –Prudence is with Sharon”.

The LaBianca Murders

On August 9, 1969, the country was rocked by the shocking news of the gruesome Tate murders. Leno LaBianca had an appointment with his family that fateful day, as they wanted to buy him out of the family business due to their suspicions that he had stolen a whopping $200,000 from the grocery chain. However, instead of going to the meeting, the LaBiancas, accompanied by Rosemary’s daughter Suzan, drove to Lake Isabella to pick up Rosemary’s son, Frank, who was enjoying a week-long holiday with a friend.

Frank was having such a good time that the LaBiancas decided to let him stay another day. Around 9 p.m., Leno, Rosemary, and Suzan left Lake Isabella and drove back to Los Angeles. When they arrived in the city around 1 a.m., they dropped Suzan off at her apartment before stopping at a newspaper stand. Leno, who was a familiar face to the vendor, collected a copy of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. The vendor and Leno briefly discussed the recent Tate murders. After arriving home, Rosemary retired to the bedroom, while Leno fell asleep on the couch reading the newspaper.

In the early morning hours of August 10, 1969, Charles Manson and Tex Watson entered the LaBianca residence, located at 3301 Waverly Drive. They woke Leno at gunpoint and tied his hands behind his back with leather thongs. They asked if anyone else was in the house, to which Leno replied his wife was in the bedroom. Manson then grabbed Rosemary and set her down with her husband.

Manson reassured the unsuspecting couple that they would not be harmed and were only being robbed. Watson took Rosemary back to the bedroom, where he placed a pillowcase over her head, wound a lamp cord tightly around her neck, and gagged her. Watson returned to the living room and placed a pillowcase over Leno’s head. After collecting all the cash and valuables in the house, Manson left; Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel then entered the home to finish the job.

Watson, under the influence of a potent combination of LSD and amphetamines, plunged a bayonet into Leno’s throat, while his terrified wife, Rosemary, screamed and thrashed around the room. Watson left Leno’s lifeless body convulsing in a pool of blood to find Rosemary desperately struggling with the cord of a lamp still tightly wrapped around her neck. Watson and his accomplices viciously stabbed Rosemary a staggering 41 times.

When Watson returned to the living room, Leno was still alive, but barely. Watson resumed stabbing him, and Krenwinkel joined in, carving the word “WAR” into Leno’s stomach. She then stabbed him several times and left a carving fork protruding from his abdomen and a steak knife protruding from his throat. Krenwinkel then wrote chilling messages on the walls and refrigerator with Leno’s blood.

After the murders, Watson, Krenwinkel, and Van Houten stayed in the home for a while; they indulged in some cheese and gulped down some milk, played with the couple’s dogs, and had a shower before hitching a ride back to Spahn Ranch.

The Spahn Ranch Raid

On the morning of August 16, 1969, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department launched a raid on the infamous Spahn Ranch, located at 12000 Santa Susana Pass Road. At the time, it was the largest police raid in California’s history. The ranch was raided on charges unrelated to the Tate-LaBianca murders. Due to the presence of stolen cars and car parts, Spahn Ranch had attracted the attention of law enforcement. Unbeknownst to them, they had the perpetrators of the heinous Tate/LaBianca murders within reach.

Charles Manson was found hiding beneath the building marked Saloon, lying face down in the dirt between the foundation timbers. Upon crawling out and standing up, a stolen credit card fell out of his pocket. Manson, along with most of the family members, were arrested and booked at the Malibu police station. However, Manson and the rest of the family were released on a technicality.

From the search warrant:

“At the location, a possible member of the “Satan Slaves” named Summers was acting as a look-out for the group staying at Spahn Ranch. Summers informed Deputy Samuel J. Olmstead, #2504, that they were expecting an attack from the “Black Panthers” and that several of the people at the ranch were armed.”

The Donald Shea Murder

Manson suspected one of the ranch hands had snitched on them, triggering the raid. The ranch hand in question, Donald Shea, aka “Shorty,” was a stuntman who worked at Spahn Ranch. Shorty actually stood 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighed over 200 pounds.

In late August 1969, Charles Manson, Tex Watson, Steve Grogan, and Bruce Davis asked Shea to come with them to acquire some auto parts. Shea had been planning to help George Spahn remove the Family from the Spahn Ranch when their brushes with the law grew out of control.

After Watson gave a sign, Grogan viciously hit Shea over the head with a pipe wrench, and Watson cruelly stabbed him several times. Showing immense strength and courage, Shea managed to escape from the car. However, the group surrounded him and brutally stabbed him to death.

Grogan later said that it took all of them to take down Shea. His remains were discovered in December 1977 after Steve Grogan agreed to tell authorities the location of the body. Grogan was granted parole in exchange for his cooperation.

From the police report:

“Some time late in August I went to Spahn’s Movie Ranch about 11:30 P.M. Shorty had been drinking and asked if he could come over to my house and stay because he didn’t like being around these weird hippies. I told Shorty I didn’t have room at my house for him and got into my car and started to leave, when I observed a blue car pull into the ranch with Charles Manson, Tex Watson, Bill Vance, Bruce Davis and Clem Tufts jumped out of the car very fast and spread out along the boardwalk.”

“I thought it was strange as they never moved very fast. I didn’t stop. I continued driving out of the ranch and never saw Shorty again. After Charlie was arrested I went to the County Jail with Dawn Quant to visit Charles Manson. I asked Charlie, ‘Where is Shorty’s body, Charlie?’ We want to bury him properly.’ Charlie answered, “Ask the Black Panthers.”

Startling Confession

In October 1969, Susan Atkins was taken into custody by the Los Angeles Police Department for her part in the murder of Gary Hinman. Although the perpetrators of the Tate-LaBianca murders had yet to be identified at the time, Atkins made a startling confession to two of her cellmates while in jail.

She bragged about her involvement in the Tate massacre, claiming she had killed Tate, tasted her blood, and written the word “Pig” on the front door of the property with Tate’s own blood. It wasn’t long before the people responsible for the murders were apprehended.

Charles Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, Leslie Van Houten, Bruce Davis, Bobby Beausoleil, Steve Grogan and Charles Manson were tried and convicted of the murders that occurred in California in 1969. Initially, those who had participated in the Tate-LaBianca murders were sentenced to death; however, once California briefly abolished the death penalty, those sentences were changed to life in prison.

Linda Kasabian and Mary Brunner received immunity after becoming witnesses for the prosecution. During the trial, the prosecution argued that Manson was the mastermind behind the ‘Helter Skelter’ murders and that his followers had acted under his influence.

Charles Manson and Susan Atkins both died in prison. Krenwinkel and Van Houten are both still serving their sentences, although both have been recommended for parole. Beausoleil, Davis, and Charles “Tex” Watson, the main perpetrator in the murders, are still serving their life sentences. Grogan is the only “Manson Family member” who has been convicted of murder and subsequently released from prison.