Beatles Song Inspired Tate Murders, Says D.A.
Friday, July 24th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Jul. 24 – The state said today that Charles M. Manson, inspired by a song by the Beatles, ordered the murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others in order to start a “black – white revolution.”
“He believed the Beatles were speaking to him across the ocean,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Vincent Bugliosi said in his opening argument at the murder trial of Manson and three hippie – type followers.
The words “helter skelter” and “rise,” taken from a song lyric by the British singing group were found scrawled in blood on the walls of the home where a wealthy market owner and his wife were slain, Bugliosi said.
“The words meant the black man was rising up against the white establishment and murdering the entire white race,” Bugliosi said, “except for Manson and his followers who would go to the desert and live in the bottomless pit…a phrase he found in Revelations 9 of the Bible.”
“The evidence will show,” Bugliosi continued, “that Charles Manson hated black people but also hated whites whom he called pigs.”
Manson and three young women are charged with murder – conspiracy in the killings of Miss Tate and four visitors to her home last Aug. 9, and the so-called “copycat” slayings the next night of Mr. and Mrs. Leno LaBianca at their home.
Selection of six alternate jurors was completed earlier this week and at that time the prosecution promised a “bizarre…surprise” theory as to the motivation for the killings when it made its opening statements.
Bugliosi said the state would present evidence to show Manson was trying to “start the black-white revolution…he told his followers it would end with the black man winning.”
Further outlining the alleged motives, Bugliosi said Manson waited for the black man to start the revolution on his own but became impatient and told his followers last August “I’m going to have to show blackie how to do it.”
Manson hoped the physical evidence would show that blacks committed the murders and this would touch off a revolution, Bugliosi said.
Bugliosi’s even-toned arguments were interrupted repeatedly by defense objections on grounds it was “an improper opening statement.”
Bugliosi said the name of the song was “Helter Skelter.”
Manson, 35, appeared in court with a red cross on his forehead, framed by his dangling hair. A defense attorney later said Manson did it with two slashes of a razor blade, noting that Manson has in the past called himself “Christ” and “Jesus.”
Bugliosi accused the women of perpetrating the murders, but said the full impact of his statement was aimed at Manson — “a killer who cleverly masqueraded behind the pose of a hippie…a megalomaniac who coupled his insatiable thirst for power with a desire for violent death.” The state contends that the murders were carried out at Manson’s order but that he himself did not participate.
Bugliosi said the prosecution’s star witness, Linda Kasabian, 21, went along on the murder missions and will tell how Manson directed his followers who were “slavishly obedient to him.” He said Manson, as a member of the conspiracy, “is equally responsible and equally guilty.”
Bugliosi outlined the anticipated testimony of Mrs. Kasabian this way:
“She will testify, that on the evening of Aug. 8 Charles Manson instructed her to get a knife, a fresh change of clothes and go along with Charles Watson, Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel and do whatever Tex Watson told her to.”
At the Tate home, Bugliosi said, “Mrs. Kasabian was an eyewitness to the murder of Steven Parent by Charles Watson,” and “she will testify to seeing the murder of Wojiciech Frykowsky and Abigail Folger on the front lawn by Patricia Krenwinkel and Charles Watson.”
Although Miss Tate and Jay Sebring were slain inside the mansion. Mrs. Kasabian say she saw Susan Atkins come out of the house and say that she lost her knife,” Bugliosi said.
Mrs. Kasabian also will tell of throwing away knives and clothes on the way back to the Manson “family” ranch, of being questioned by Manson when they returned and of being told by Manson that they had been “too messy,” he said.
Watson, a Manson follower also charged with murder-conspiracy in the case, is in jail in Texas fighting extradition.
Bugliosi said Mrs. Kasabian will say that the following night she went with Manson and the same group along with another “family” member, Steve Grogan, to the neighborhood — some 10 miles from the Tate mansion — where the LaBiancas lived.
“Their mission, ladies and gentlemen, was murder,” Bugliosi told the seven-man, five-woman jury and the 12 alternates.
“On this night, in this vast, sprawling metropolis of over seven million people,” he said, “no one was safe from Manson’s lust for blood, death and murder.”
Manson’s attorney then objected and the judge ordered the comment stricken from the record.
The prosecutor said the killers chose the LaBianca home at random after trying other doors, including one at a church. He said Manson went into the LaBianca house then returned, told the others he had tied the victims’ hands and instructed them to go inside and murder them. Grogan was not charged in the LaBianca case because police said he slept in the car throughout.
Later that night, after the LaBiancas were fatally knifed, he said Manson told Mrs. Kasabian, Miss Atkins and Grogan to murder a man in his seaside apartment at suburban seaside Venice, a man Mrs. Kasabian previously knew.
Bugliosi said the young mother prevented a murder by “deliberately knocking on the wrong door.”
Manson’s attorney objected to this mention of a planned murder that never took place but was overruled.