News Crew Claims Finding Clothing of Tate Killers
Tuesday, December 16th, 1969
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 16 – A television news crew yesterday found what may be clothing worn by the killer of actress Sharon Tate and four others.
The discovery was made at an undisclosed location near the actress’ rented estate in Benedict Canyon.
The news crew notified police of the find — three black T-shirts, one white T-shirt and three pairs of black jeans stained with what appeared to be blood.
Los Angeles Police Lt. Robert Helder, spearheading the Tate murder investigation, would neither confirm nor deny the report the clothing was found.
A station spokesman reported the news crew went to the Benedict Canyon estate and began traveling nearby streets in hopes they would find the clothing.
Susan Denise Atkins 21, a member of a nomadic, hate-oriented band and one of six persons charged with the Aug. 9 murders of Miss Tate and the others, said in a copyrighted news story in the Los Angeles Times last Sunday that the clothing was dumped in the hills near the home after the slaughter.
The six also are accused of the murders the following day of Los Feliz market owner Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary.
Miss Atkins, in the news article said the cult members donned the black clothing before they went to the Benedict Canyon estate. They also carried another change of black clothing and discarded the bloodstained sets after the killings, she said.
The stations spokesman said four police detectives had been sent to the scene where the news crew found the clothing, which was knotted together in a bundle.
Laboratory tests will have to be made before the stains can be identified.
Miss Atkins herself reportedly was released from Sybil Brand Institute for women, where she is being held without bail, to join law enforcement officials in the search for the clothing Sunday.
She was believed to have canvassed the area in a helicopter in an attempt to pinpoint the location where she claimed the clothing was dumped.
Earlier, detectives from five California cities and counties gathered in Los Angeles to check possible links between several murders in their jurisdictions and the Tate and LaBianca killings.
Some of the murders which authorities were checking were believed to be those blamed on San Francisco’s “Zodiac” killer.
The law enforcement officers met at Parker Center with Lt. Helder, who handled the Tate investigation, and Lt. Paul LePage, who spearheaded the LaBianca probe.
The “Zodiac killer” is a man who publicly boasted through notes and telephone calls to police and newspapers of his murders.
Bill Armstrong of the San Francisco Police Dept.’s homicide squad was the only investigator from the Bay City.
However, two detectives from the San Jose Police Dept. — Ron Utz and Don Edwards — conferred with local authorities, along with Earl Friend, sheriff’s homicide investigator from Mendocino county and Donald A. Townsend of the Sheriff’s Dept. in Napa County.
Under the leadership of 35-year-old Charles Milles Manson, the “Manson family” as it was called, roamed throughout California both before and after the murders.
It was believed the San Jose detectives were checking on the Aug. 2 fatal stabbings of Kathy Snoozy, 15, and Deborah Furlong, 14.
Barton Collins, San Jose chief of detectives has said members of Manson’s group might have been in the area about the time of the murders.
Miss Atkins is from San Jose.
Collins said she has been known to visit her family occasionally and bring her friends with her.
Miss Atkins is charged with the July 25 murder of musician Gary Hinman in Topanga Canyon besides the other seven killings.
Manson also allegedly ordered the Hinman slaying.
The Zodiac killer, who invariably starts off his notes or telephone calls with “This is Zodiac speaking,” has been blamed for at least five week end murders since July 4.
Four of the killings were in the Napa and Vallejo areas and the other was in San Francisco itself.
Police apparently came up empty handed in the week end search for the murder weapon and the clothes worn by the killers.
The only find was a rusty unloaded revolver, found in a gulch along Mulholland Drive, about two miles north of the Tate residence. The gun was not believed to be the one used in the Tate killing.
Police searchers, joined by 80 Explorer Scouts, searched ravines in the Santa Monica Mountains, but failed to find the gun used in the killings, the knives or the clothing.
They did find a hypodermic syringe and a locked box, contents undisclosed.
Superior Court Judge Kathleen Parker on Friday signed an order providing for the removal of Miss Atkins from Sybil Brand Institute for women between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Supervisor Warren M. Dorn urged that “maximum media coverage” he permitted at the Sharon Tate murder trial.
In a letter to presiding Superior Judge Joseph A. Warner, Dorn noted that the “atrocious senseless” crime “may have been committed by persons under the influence of dangerous drugs.”
He said testimony at the trial will presumably bring out the defendants’ use of drugs.
This, said the Supervisor, “would be of great educational value to young people” in showing “the absolute danger of using drugs.”
“Therefore, I urge the fullest possible coverage of the trials in order to relay to Los Angeles County’s citizens the evils and horrendous results of drug addiction,” Dorn added.