Polanski Caretaker Files Huge Claim Against City
Tuesday, August 26th, 1969
VAN NUYS, Aug. 26 – The only apparent survivor of a mass murder in which blonde actress Sharon Tate was one of the victims filed a $1,250,000 false arrest claim against the city yesterday.
William Garretson Jr., 19-year-old caretaker at the rented estate of Miss Tate and her husband film producer Roman Polanski, filed the claim late in the afternoon with City Clerk Rex E. Layton.
Garretson was the only person found alive on the sprawling estate on 10050 Cielo Drive last Aug. 9.
Bodies of five persons were strewn from the living room out to the lawn and in a nearby car.
The victims were Miss Tate, who was pregnant with her first child; men’s hair-stylist Jay Sebring; Abigail Folger, heiress to the Folger coffee fortune; Polish emigre Voityek Frokowsky, and 18-year-old Steven Earl Parent, a friend of Garretson.
Garretson claimed he was in the guest cottage some distance from the main home and although he was awake most of the night did not hear the death struggle in which the victims were slain with knives and guns.
He was taken into custody the same morning the bodies were discovered and held incommunicado until Aug. 15 while detectives grilled him.
Garretson’s claim against the city, the first step in filing court action, was by his mother Mary Garretson of Lancaster, Ohio.
It was filed by Atty Robert M. Cohn of Los Angeles.
Garretson, the claim purported, was arrested “without reasonable cause” and that he was “imprisoned and detained” falsely and against his will.
Police, the claim said, “failed to preserve the claimant’s persona and civil rights by exposing him to unwarranted notorious and undesirable publicity.”
Damages – $1,000,000 in general damages and $250,000 in punitive damages – were based on:
“Extreme anxiety and nervousness, emotional distress and mental suffering, anguish, fear, fright, shock, and terror, indignity, humiliation, embarrassment and injury to his reputation; and loss of undetermined present and future earnings.”
In addition to general and punitive damages, Garretson also is asking for compensation yet to be computed for his “unknown loss of earnings.”
The claim will be sent to the city attorney and City Council for action.