Canadian Police Identify Suspect in Tate Murders
Monday, August 18th, 1969
Aug. 18 – A dragnet spread through Canada Sunday for a red-haired man Los Angeles police say is “wanted for murder” in the slaying of actress Sharon Tate and four other persons Aug. 9 in Benedict Canyon.
Named in a Royal Canadian Mounted Police broadcast as the prime suspect in the multiple murder was Thomas Steven Harrigan, 23.
Also sought were three men reported to be traveling with Harrigan. Los Angeles police asked Canadian authorities to hunt for the quartet. No charges are known to have been filed against them, but the RCMP broadcast said:
“Warrants are available from the Los Angeles Police Department.”
Three Los Angeles robbery and homicide squad officers were reported to have joined Vancouver narcotics officers in the search, centering in the Vancouver area where a roundup of known drug sellers has been under way.
Canadian officials, however, would not say whether they had any reason to believe the wanted men were in the city. No automobile was listed in the all-points bulletin, indicating that the men, like the Los Angeles policemen, might have gone to Canada by air.
Harrigan was identified as a “known narcotics addict” — indicating the police search for the mass murderer was moving into an investigation of narcotics aspects of the case. At least two close friends of the victims have told police they believed it was narcotics which brought the murderer to the home Miss Tate shared with her husband, director Roman Polanski, at the dead end of Cielo Drive.
One man, who said he gave the police the names of at least three persons he thought could have been suspects, told detectives that underworld types delivered narcotics to the home for the use of Voityck Frokowsky, 37, and Abigail Folger, 26, two of the victims.
The Frokowsky friend who told police of possible suspects — one of them a Hollywood actor — is not known to have mentioned the names of Harrigan or his purported traveling companions. Police would not say how their names came into the case.
The men sought in Canada were described in the police broadcast as “hippie-narcotics type.” Named as traveling with Harrigan were:
1 — Charles Tacot, age unknown. No further description is available.
2 — Harris (or Harrison) Dawson, 26, 5-foot-10, 160 pounds, Caucasian, with light brown hair and green eyes.
3 — William Doyle, 26 to 28, 5-foot-8, 165 pounds, with brown hair and eyes.
The “want” broadcast on Harrigan said he was 5-foot-7, with red, curly hair, freckles, and large, prominent teeth.
Canadian authorities said a search was underway for him in the vicinity of Edmonton, Alta., the Canadian province adjoining British Columbia on the east. There was no indication what made police believe he was headed in that direction.
Los Angeles police continued their refusal to release information about the case. They asked Canadian authorities to hunt for Harrigan and his three companions without putting out an all-points bulletin either in the Southland or the United States.
The RCMP also declined to give further details of the manhunt in Canada.
What is known of the pursuit came from the RCMP bulletin.
The bulletin informed Canadian law officers: “If located, advise immediately Royal Canadian Mounted Police Vancouver subdivision.”
There was no indication how the men entered Canada, but the bulletin was dated Aug. 14 — long enough after the murders for them to have driven there from the Los Angeles area. Police in Edmonton said they had had inquiries about the suspect from the LAPD.
Vancouver has been described as the major illicit narcotics marketplace in Canada, with large numbers of young people gathered on the beaches and in the skid row section providing a profitable clientele. Rich young Canadians mingle there with vagabond U.S. hippie-types who left San Francisco’s Haight – Ashbury when the crime rate there soared.
“There are 3,200 known addicts in Canada,” a Vancouver authority reported, “and 2,000 are in the Vancouver area.” However, Canadian authorities said they had no records for the four men listed in the RCMP bulletin. It was considered possible they were Los Angeles area men with links in the Vancouver narcotics underworld.
Harrigan is the first person listed by police as a suspect in the case since the release last Monday of William E. Garretson, the 19-year-old caretaker at the Tate-Polanski home. Police said the youth was arrested because he was the only survivor of the murders at the secluded estate of the actress and her director husband.
Garretson, who has returned to his home at Lancaster, Ohio, told The Times by telephone Sunday that he did not know any of the four men mentioned in the RCMP bulletin.
Killed with Miss Tate, Frokowsky and Miss Folger were Hollywood hair stylist Jay Sebring, 35, and 18-year-old Steven Parent, an acquaintance of Garretson.
The 26-year-old actress had been in Europe until a month ago, when she returned to the home to await the birth of her first child. Polanski, who had asked Frokowilcy to care for the home while they were away, remained in Europe, and was in London when he learned of the crime.
By DIAL TORGERSON