‘It Was Horrible,’ Caretaker Relates
Saturday, August 16th, 1969
Los Angeles, Aug. 16 – William E. Garretson, the only person found alive after the massacre at actress Sharon Tate’s Benedict Canyon estate, yesterday described the murder scene as “horrible,” but could shed no light on the five slayings.
Talking with newsmen for the first time since his release from custody Monday, Garretson, 19, a caretaker at the estate, said he had stayed up until daybreak the night of the murders but heard nothing. He said one of the dogs he kept in the guest house where he stayed barked during the night but he was not alarmed.
He said, however, he became uneasy about dawn when he found the telephone in the cottage was dead, but he did not go outside to investigate. Police said phone lines to the estate had been ripped out.
Garretson’s attorney, Barry Tarlow, told newsmen he would not allow the youth to answer any questions about “sex or drugs” at the request of the police department.
Tarlow said he personally felt “sex and drugs” were the key points in the case. There have been reports that narcotics were found on the estate and in the car of men’s hair stylist Jay Sebring, one of the victims, but police would not confirm this.
Garretson was taken into custody last Saturday at his cottage on the estate after discovery of the brutal murders with ritualistic overtones.
In addition to Sebring and Miss Tate, 26, the eight-month-pregnant wife of Roman Polanski, director of the film “Rosemary’s Baby”; coffee heiress Abigail Folger; Voityck Frokowsky, a friend of Polanski; and Steven Parent, a friend of Garretson, were slaughtered. Polanski was in London at the time.
Garretson was released from custody Monday after undergoing extensive questioning and voluntarily taking a lie detector test.
Garretson said he “didn’t know what was coming off” when he was seized by police while asleep in his cottage.
He said police showed him the bodies of Miss Folger and Frokowsky on the lawn of the estate and he glimpsed Parent’s body in the victim’s car parked in the driveway but did not recognize his friend whose head had been disfigured by the gun blast that killed him.
“It was horrible,” Garretson stammered as he recalled the murder scene. “I was shocked.”
Garretson said he came home the night of the murders about 10p.m. and was visited by Parent about 11:45. Garretson said Parent left about 12:15 but he did not take him to the door nor see if he went directly to his car.
Garretson said he stayed up listening to “rock” music on his stereo and writing letters until daybreak, but heard nothing.
He said he tried to use the telephone to call for the time about dawn but found the telephone in the cottage dead. However, he did not investigate and went to sleep.
Police continued their policy of silence on progress of their investigation.