San Jose Girl Tells Of Bloody Murders In Los Angeles
Saturday, December 13th, 1969
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 13 – On the evening of Aug. 8 of this year there were two parties underway 20 miles apart in the mountains northwest of Los Angeles. One was made up of at society calls “swingers” and the second “hippies.”
The setting for the first was a $250,000 estate in a culled-sac of fashionable Benedict Canyon with a swimming pool, guest house, locked gate and sleek foreign sports cars.
The locale of the other was a rotting shack on an abandoned western movie set with mongrels slinking among the garbage and the “bug” bodies of Volkswagens stripped after being stolen from the streets of Hollywood.
The cast of main characters at each location was strikingly dissimiliar and – and yet in some ways the same. They were both drug-oriented and they spurned the world of the squares.
The hostess at Benedict Canyon was an almost unbelievably beautiful actress named Sharon Tate. Her companions were a men’s hair stylist who had been her fiance before her marriage to a Polish film director. An heiress to a coffee fortune whose brand name is a household word. A hanger-on in he jet set world. Also a kid who had the misfortune to be visiting the catetaker.
At the old Spahn Ranch, a tiny little man with piercing eyes held sway over a collection of LSD-hyped girls and a masculine young Texan. The host was Charles Manson, 35. He may never have heard of Sharon Tate but he had been at the in Benedict Canyon and the remembrance of his rejection the was enough to make him wish to exterminate its occupants, whoever they were.
Before that evening ended, the two parties joined.
Out of that union came a macabre death scene, A maid the next morning found Miss Tate’s pantie-clad body, lying in blood, a nylon rope looped from her head around that of karate expert Jay Sebring. She was eight and one-half months pregnant and the killer had inflicted knife wounds only in the upper part of her body.
On the lawn were the bodies of Abigail Folger and Voityck Frokowsky who had been living together at the Tate house while Sharon’s husband, Roman Polanski, was in London making a movie.
Slumped in the driver’s seat of a car in the driveway was the body of Stephen Parent, 18. Written on the door of the house in blood was the word, “Pig.”
What follows is a chronicle of the slayings of the five people at the Tate estate and that of a wealthy couple named LaBianca the next night.
The account comes almost entirely from a girl named Susan Denise Atkins, 21, a tall, dark-haired young woman from San Jose, Calif., who had been on drugs for three years and became the particular girlfriend of Manson who changed her name to Sadie Glutz. She has told a grand jury she was in the Tate home the night of the killings and she has been charged with murder:
Miss Atkins is trying to save her own skin. There is every reason to believe she would lie to do so. She claims in one breath she was under Manson’s hypnotic spell so that she had no self control but in the next carefully excludes herself from any specific act of killing.
She has incriminated a number of people who have not yet had the chance to tell their story. She may be striking back in revenge. But she was with the “Manson family” from its early days in San Francisco Haight-Ashbury District until the time they were rounded up in an old cabin in Death Valley last October.
What she says may be tailored to her advantage, but this is the story Susan Atkins, alias Sadie Glutz, told a grand jury – a rough outline of two absolutely senseless orgies of death.
According to Miss Atkins, Manson exercised supernatural powers over a clan of restless young people who became subservient to his every wish. So subservient that they would kill on his command.
Among the hippies at the Spahn Ranch that night were three girls and one man. The man was Charles “Tex” Watson, 24. He comes from the little farm town of Copeville, Tex., where in high school he played football, basketball and ran on the track team. Six feet, two inches tall with long brown hair, the folks back home scarcely recognized the boy who came back several months ago and scrounged around McKinney, Tex., until he was arrested on charges of murder in the Tate case.
One of the girls was Patricia Krenwinkel, 21, a Los Angeles native who had attended schools in California and Alabama, including Spring Hill College, a Jesuit-run school in Mobile. A mathematics instructor at the college recalls her as a “very attentive student who did her work and caused no trouble.” In jail in Mobile, she has denied any connection with the murders and is fighting extradition.
A second girl was Linda Louise Kasabian, nee Drouin, 20, a tiny, sandy-haired girl who is a mother of one child and five months pregnant with another. A native of Biddleford, Me., she left the “family” before the Death Valley roundup and surrendered to authorities in Concord, N.H., after she was charged with murder.
The third girl was Susan Atkins.
Miss Atkins says that Manson ordered them to go to the Benedict Canyon home, to kill everyone there and seal whatever money they could find.
Dressed in black, the four drove to the estate. Miss Atkins says Watson carried a .22 caliber pistol and the girls were armed with knives and bayonets.
According to Miss Atkins – and bear in mind this is her unsubstantiated story – this is what happened:
Watson climbed a telephone pole and cut the lines leading into the house. Manson had told them the location of a button opening the iron gates and Watson, Miss Atkins and Miss Krenwinkel crept onto the grounds, leaving Miss Kasabian outside as a lookout.
Parent, who had been visiting with 18-year-old caretaker William Garretson in a cottage about 75 feet from tho main house, was in his father’s car preparing to drive home. Miss Atkins said Watson shot the young man in the chest before he could get his car started.
Watson climbed through a window and unlocked the front door and the two girls entered. The house was quiet. There had been a party earlier but it had broken up. Miss Folger was in a bedroom reading a book. Sharon Tate was in bed in another room. Sebring was sitting in a chair talking with her. Frokowsky was asleep on a couch in the living room.
He awakened and looked up in surprise at the intruders.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“I’m the devil. I’m here to kill,” Mss Atkins quoted Watson as replying.
Watson ordered the 37-year-old Frokowsky, a friend of the absent Polanski, bound. The trio went into the other rooms and forced out Miss Tate, Sebring and Miss Folger at knifepoint. They were tied together with a nylon rope and Watson told them they were going to die.
Miss Atkins said Sebring screamed and Watson shot him. Frokowsky had managed to loosen his bonds and ran toward the front door where Watson hit him on the head with the gun, then shot and stabbed him. Miss, Folger also got loose, struggled with Miss Krenwinkel and was stabbed.
Miss Atkins said Watson ordered her to kill Sharon Tate but she refused. The actress pleaded with them: “Let me have my baby.” Miss Atkins said she held Sharon while Watson stabbed her.
It was she, Atkins said, who wrote the word “Pig” on the front door with a towel soaking with blood. As a last act, they tied the rope around Miss Tate’s head, looped it over a rafter and fastened it around Sebring’s neck.
They picked up Miss Kasabian and drove back to the Spahn Ranch and told Manson what had occurred. Miss Atkins said Manson criticized them for “sloppiness” and said he would personally lead another foray to demonstrate how it should be done and make sure they did not lose their “nerve.”
According to Miss Atkins, seven of them set out the next night. There were the original four plus Manson and two other hippie members of the family, Miss Leslie Van Houten, 20, also known as Leslie Sankston, and Steve Grogan, 23.
Manson selected the $50,000 home of Leno LaBianca, owner of a small supermarket chain, because it had an expensive car and a speedboat in the driveway.
Manson entered the home, confronted LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, at gunpoint and tied them up. Then, said Miss Atkins, he sent in Watson, Miss Krenwinkel and Miss Van Houton to rob them and kill them. They were stabbed to death with their own kitchen utensils. On the refrigerator door of the home was scrawled in blood, “Death to Pigs.”
With seven persons allegedly involved in the two slayings, a revolver left at the Tate home, footprints in pools of blood and the likelihood that other members of the “Manson family” learned of the episodes, it is the mark of their secrecy that it took the police more than three months to break the case.
It came when Miss Atkins, in jail on a charge of yet another murder, that of a one-time musician friend of Manson, told a cellmate a part of the story and the girl reported it to the guards at the Sybil Brand Institute.