5 Killed as ‘Symbol’, Cultist Member Says
Wednesday, December 3rd, 1969
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 3 – A weird hippie band called “the Manson Family” burst into the Sharon Tate estate and brutally killed five persons because the home was a “symbol of rejection” to the cult’s leader, a member of the family has told police.
Susan Denise Atkins, jailed as a suspect in the murders, said in a statement released by her court-appointed attorney that members of the cult were held in almost hypnotic control by their leader, Charles Manson, 34.
“We belong to him, not ourselves,” the attractive, 21-year-old girl said at her arraignment on a murder charge Tuesday.
She said Manson, a slight, fierce-eyed musician called “Jesus” by his followers was “a very beautiful man.”
A Los Angeles policeman, who insisted his name be withheld, said the group is under suspicion for at least four more murders in addition to the Tate case and the slayings of a middle-aged couple.
He said investigations are being pursued into 11 senseless slayings in the Los Angeles area since the beginning of this year.
Miss Atkins said through her lawyer she went, to the Tate home under an insane, almost hypnotic spell from Manson. “I was told to go, and I went.” She said Manson had visited the Benedict Canyon estate leased by the actress when Doris Day’s son, Terry Melcher, lived there.
Manson had reportedly gone to the home to ask Melcher for help in making a record. Melcher rejected the request.
Miss Atkins said Manson became convinced the house was a “symbol of rejection” and ordered the murders of its occupants, not caring who lived there at the time.
She said Leno LaBianca, a wealthy market owner, and his wife, Rosemary, were murdered a day later because their home was selected by Manson “at random.” She told her attorney he had other houses selected as well.
Miss Atkins was arraigned on charges of slaying Gary Hinman, 34, whose body was found in his Topanga Canyon home in July. He had been slabbed to death.
Included in the series of “senseless” unsolved slayings this year in the Los Angeles area was that of Marina Habe, 17, daughter of screenwriter Hans Habe. She was found stabbed to death Jan. 1 in the Santa Monica Mountains after being abducted from the driveway of her mother’s home. The brutal stabbing deaths of two young women and a man since the Habe slaying also remain unsolved.
A county grand jury was presented evidence expected to result in indictment of four or five more persons in addition to the three already arrested in connection with the Tate case and the Labianca deaths.
Ten persons were in custody in jails across the country.