Police Scan Tate Photos For Clues
Thursday, August 21st, 1969
Aug. 21 – Police are exploring the possibility that one victim of the Benedict Canyon mass murder may have photographed the killer or killers at some interval before the crime, it was learned Wednesday.
Polish playboy Voityck Frokowsky, 37, a gifted amateur photographer, frequently took pictures of friends, acquaintances and even strangers during parties and informal gatherings.
Police have confiscated Frokowsky’s negatives. Contact prints made from them figure prominently in the present investigation.
Some of Frokowsky’s photos, it is known, were snapped in the hilltop home above Laurel Canyon where he lived with coffee heiress Abigail (Gibby) Folger, another of the five victims.
Others were taken at the rented Tate-Polanski estate in Benedict Canyon, scene of the slaughter early Aug. 9, say witnesses who have viewed the pictures.
Friends of the victims have identified faces in the photos and supplied police with names and information about the subjects.
Numerous persons recognizable in the contact prints have been questioned. All have been released as far as is known.
What the questioning produced is not precisely known.
However, an actor pictured in one group photo told The Times he had supplied investigators with information about others photographed which he thought had been “very helpful to the police.”
He declined to say what it was or what names he provided detectives.
Another actor photographed by Frokowsky said the faces of movie celebrities appear among the pictures.
He said he had viewed about 20 proof sheets or contact prints, each of which bore numerous pictures.
The second actor said he was a friend of Frokowsky but that the latter had photographed him at the suggestion of Roman Polanski, husband of slain actress Sharon Tate.
“I knew Roman in Europe, and when he learned I was coming to this country, he suggested that Voityck take still photos of me,” the actor said.
He explained that, until recently, he had been living abroad, but is now seeking movie roles here and needed quality photographs of himself for promotion purposes.
The actor said he was questioned at great length and that officers had expressed “great interest” in him.
He left the implication that he thought police once may have considered him a suspect because his face appeared among Frokowsky’s negatives.
It is believed that a substantial number of the pictures appearing on the proof sheets being shown by police were taken by Frokowsky.
The second actor said he got the impression, while being questioned, that detectives were cross-checking names obtained from a “phone book” found in the Tate-Polanski residence against photos.
Police in a clarifying statement disclosed Wednesday that more than 200 persons have been interviewed during the investigation “and many remain to be interviewed.”
“We have the names of many individuals we would want to interview and some of them are in different jurisdictions. We have made inquiries of the authorities in those jurisdictions requesting assistance in locating those persons…At this time we have no warrants for the arrest of anyone.”
Detectives declined to amplify the printed statement.
Frokowsky and Miss Folger moved into the Benedict Canyon estate temporarily four months ago when director Roman Polanski and his wife, Miss Tate, left for Europe.
Miss Tate returned home about a month ago ahead of her husband to await the birth of their baby.
While living at the Tate-Polanski home, Miss Folger continued to maintain her own hilltop home. A friend said she and Frokowsky were planning to return to it Aug. 10 — the day after the mass murder.
Slain besides Frokowsky, Miss Folger and Miss Tate were wealthy hair stylist Jay Sebring and an 18-year-old El Monte youth, Steven Parent.
The police investigation has focused largely on the narcotics aspects of the case.
By JERRY COHEN