Police Refuse to Confirm Possible Murder Gun Find
Sunday, December 21st, 1969
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 21 – Police officials yesterday refused to confirm or deny a report indicating the gun believed used in the slayings of three of the five victims in the Tate murder case had been found.
A Los Angeles newspaper said the long barreled .22-caliber handgun reportedly was located earlier this week in the area where a television news team Monday found clothing which police reportedly have established was worn by the suspected killers.
But officers were noncommittal on the subject of the gun and declined comment on results of laboratory tests on the clothing, probably in deference to the “gag rule” imposed in the case last week by Superior Court Judge William B. Keene.
Susan Denise Atkins, a member of the hate-oriented band or nomadic hippies charged with the murder of seven persons during two nights of murder, led officers to the location, in a ravine off Mulholland Drive, where the clothing, and presumably the handgun, were found.
Officers scoured the area without success, but the television news team, searching independently, found the clothing near the spot Miss Atkins had indicated it should be. The find included three black T-shirts, one white T-shirt and three pairs of black jeans, all stained with what appeared to be dried blood.
Prior to imposition of the gag-rule decree by Judge Keene, homicide officers revealed police had found a piece of the handle from the murder weapon at the Tate home, 10050 Cielo Drive, last Aug. 9.
The newspaper story reported the piece reportedly fits the weapon found this week and said ballistics experts have been attempting to establish whether markings within the barrel correspond to marks on bullets taken from the bodies of Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowsky and Steven Parent.
Sebring, a well-known hair stylist, and Frykowski, a Polish playboy, were stabbed and shot to death. Parent, a friend of the caretaker at the Benedict Canyon estate, was shot while attempting to leave the property in his car.
Actress Sharon Tate and coffee heiress Abigail Folger were stabbed, but were not shot.
Charles M. Manson, leader of the hippie group, and four of his followers are charged with conspiracy and murder in the killings at the Tate mansion, and with Leslie Van Houten, of murdering Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, the following day.
The LaBiancas were killed in their Los Feliz area home. Both were repeatedly stabbed, but were not shot.