Myopic Man Tate Slayer?
Thursday, October 23rd, 1969
Los Angeles, Oct. 23 – There is only one suspect in the mass killings of actress Sharon Tate and four others. He is believed to be an extremely near-sighted man, and the Los Angeles police have found his eyeglasses, the Star-News has learned.
Deducing from that clue ― the first significant “breakthrough” in the sensational multiple murder case ― homicide investigates now believe that the slayer has a readily noticeable face.
His appearance includes the feature that his left ear is approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch higher than his right ear.
Police say that the murderer abandoned his eyeglasses ― or had them knocked off his face ― at the scene of the Aug 9 massacre in Bel Air. In addition to Miss Tate, the slaughtered were socialite coffee heiress Abigail Folger, hair stylist Jay Sebring, screenwriter Voyteck Frykowski and Stephen Parent, 18, of El Monte.
Nationally, the police have not specified the exact spot “at the crime scene” where the eyeglasses were found. In approaches to Pasadena optometrists, however, the homicide sleuths have reported that the physical evidence was found by Patent’s car. His body was in it.
The teen-ager was apparently the last of the five victims to be slain, as he was evidently attempting to flee the bloodbath in the tomato red, $200,000 mansion and estate of Miss Tate, pregnant wife of producer-director, Roman Polanski.
The importance of the discovered eyeglasses was accented last Friday at a news conference by Lt. R.J. Helder and Asst. Chief of Police Robert A. Houghton, both of the Los Angeles force.
“If this particular piece of evidence can be traced, it will point us in the direction of the killers, (sic),” said Helder, chief investigator in the Tate murders. Neither he nor Houghton disclosed the nature of the evidence at the Oct. 17 session.
The ‘Star-News, however, in learning that the major clue is the killer’s eyeglasses, also ascertained that the police have suspected that it was only one homicidal maniac ― not several – who wreaked the crimes.
Description of Glasses
A month before last Friday’s disclosure that new evidence had been found, the Los Angeles police in reference to the eye glasses notified optometrists around the nation as follows:
A series of five murders were committed in this city: The assailant left a pair of glasses at the crime scene prior to his departure. This department is in possession of these glasses and is of the opinion that the murderer has replaced them since the killing, or will attempt to in the near future.
Every reference to the suspect is singular, not plural
The police sent that notice to most of the 15,000 optometrists in the country, beseeching their assistance “in furnishing the department information on all persons who have ordered glasses of the following prescription since Aug. 9”
Right Eye ― 300-25×160
Left Eye ― 375 Sphere
Plastic Lenses amber
A.O. Manhattan frame
46-21 5 1/2
“There isn’t an optometrist in the country who wouldn’t recall making up a pair of glasses like that,” a Pasadena doctor told the Star News. “Only 1 person in 100 would need that combination. He couldn’t see six feet in front of his face without glasses like that.”
The Pasadena optometrist said that, like some 60 others in the San Gabriel Valley, he checked his records for a lead to the client ― with negative results. The same upshot was reported by the approximately, 300 members of the Los Angeles County Optometric Society, largest in the state.
U.S. Wide Search
The California Optometric Association, with 2,968 members also was approached by the police.
Police said they also notified the American Optometric Association, representing some 15,000 eye doctors nationally. From St Louis, their spokesman said the group had not been formally contacted.
It was a different story in Chicago, however, where the managing editor of The Optometric Weekly told the Star News he had received notice from the Los Angeles police about the glasses and had run it verbatim in his issue of Oct., 9.
“It went to our 14,000 readers,” said Roy P. Stealy. It also went to the 15,000 or so readers of the Eye, Ear, Nose & Throat Monthly, which also printed it.”
Stealy said that while his publication had been instrumental in the apprehension via eye glasses-on-the-scene of Leopold and Loeb in a Chicago of the past, and while FBI agents constantly contact optometrists for clues in modern era crimes involving spectacles, The Optometric Weekly has not yet had response from anyone who may have made the Tate killer’s lenses.
For their part, the Los Angeles police said Wednesday night that the five specialist on the five-person murder are “pretty busy” and are handling “lots of crank calls” and were not available to say whether they had received word from anyone who might have made the glasses worn by a killer.
By CARTER BARBER