Several Suspects and Car Hunted in 5 Coast Killings
Sunday, August 10th, 1969
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 10 – The police were hunting tonight for several suspects in the murder of the actress Sharon Tate and four companions in an isolated hilltop home early yesterday. The police said the suspects’ names had been given to them by William Garretson, a 19-year-old caretaker who was arrested yesterday after being found asleep in a cottage adjacent to the ranch house rented by Miss Tate and her husband, Roman Polanski, the film director. Mr. Polanski, whose most recent film was “Rosemary’s Baby,” was in London yesterday and flew home today.
Mr. Garretson’s lawyer insisted that the youth was innocent, and the police said he could be released pending the results of a lie detector test.
Meanwhile, the county coroner, Thomas Noguchi, said at a news conference that the five victims were shot and stabbed to death some time between 10 P.M. Friday and 5 A.M. yesterday.
Miss Tate, a blonde who starred in “Valley of the Dolls,” was stabbed in the chest and back. Her body, clothed in bikini panties and a brassiere, was found next to the body of Jay Sebring, a noted hairdresser, who also suffered multiple stab wounds.
A nylon rope had been tied around the neck of Miss Tate, who was eight months pregnant. It was also tied around Mr. Sebring’s neck and had been thrown over a beam in the ranch house in a secluded hilly area of Los Angeles adjacent to Bel-Air and Beverly Hills.
A third victim, Abigail Folger, had also been stabbed. Her body was found sprawled on the lawn outside the house clad in a nightgown. Her friend, Voyteck Frykowski, had been stabbed and shot in the back. His body was found on the lawn about 50 feet from Miss Folger.
The fifth victim, Steven Parent, an 18-year-old youth from suburban El Monte, had been shot several times. He was found at the wheel of a car pointed toward the gate leading away from the house. He had told his parents that he was going to visit a friend in Beverly Hills and it was considered likely that he had been visiting Mr. Garretson.
The police said they had found no murder weapons, and would give out few details about the crime.
One indication that the slayings had been planned was the fact that telephone lines to the house had been cut outside the main gate some time after 10 P.M. Friday.
The violence of early yesterday struck a strange cast of characters. Mr. Polanski, who was in London at the time, is a compelling personality with a “bizarre imagination,” as one friend put it, and his films have often stressed the sinister and the supernatural.
He tended to attract an entourage of admirers, including many young people trying to make the grade in Hollywood, and they often crowded the hillside home in which his wife and friends were slain.
Friends who have attended parties in the house recall that many guests smoked marijuana and could generally be described as “very hip.” The police said yesterday no evidence of drugs was found on the premises.
Friends also said that the Polanskis occasionally met strangers on the street and brought them home for impromptu parties.
Mr. Sebring was a well known men’s hair stylist and a popular social figure in Hollywood who was once engaged to Miss Tate. He remained friends with the Polanskis after their marriage and was frequently at their home.
Mr. Frykowski had been a friend of Mr. Polanski since their student days in Poland. A fairly wealthy man, Mr. Frykowski raced sports cars and helped finance some of his friend’s earlist short movies.
He was considered “terribly attractive to women.” He was married several times in Poland. After leaving there he lived briefly in Paris and came to the United States about two years ago.
Mr. Frykowski lived in New York for about eight months, and it was there that he met Abigail Folger, a social figure and heiress to a coffee fortune. More than a year ago, he and Miss Folger moved to the West Coast and were reported to be virtually permanent house guests of the Polanskis.
“Gibby” Folger, as she was called, was described as “a nice young girl from Radcliffe who suddenly found herself in that new world of Hollywood.” Her father said she had been doing some form of social work in recent months.
Roman Polanski arrived at International Airport late today from London. Airline officials and the police escorted him away from newsmen.
But Gene Gutowski, a business partner and the best man at Mr. Polanski’s wedding to Miss Tate, read a statement that said Mr. Polanski talked with his wife by telephone late Friday night. He did not say what time.
The statement said Mr. Polanski wanted to make it clear that, although Mr. Sebring had been his wife’s former boyfriend, he was Mr. Polanski’s close personal friend, too.
The director wants to make certain everyone understands there was no rift between him and his wife, Mr. Gutowski said.
“Roman was with me when the terrible news arrived and he told me: ‘They have killed my wife and baby.’ He then broke down,” Mr. Gutowski added.
Roman Polanski is know to American audiences as a master of the grotesque; his films have been macabre tales, frighteningly told.
He first came to international attention as the director of “Knife in the Water,” which won the Venice Film Festival Critics Award of 1962. After its release in the United States, the film was nominated for an Oscar as the best foreign film of 1964.
The film, a subtle drama about a middle-aged man, his wife and a hitchhiker out on a boat with the two men struggling for the attentions of the woman, was given wide distribution in the United States.
But Mr. Polanski is presumably best known to American audiences as the director of “Rosemary’s Baby,” a modern witch story set in Manhattan.
For “Rosemary’s Baby,” released last year, Mr. Polanski wrote the screenplay from Ira Levin’s best seller, and then guided a cast that included Mia Farrow through what many critics regarded as a horrifying drama of witchcraft.
Mr. Polanski, who will be 36 years old next Monday, was born in Paris of Polish parents who took him back to Poland when he was 3.
During World War II, his parents were imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp and his mother died in a gas chamber. Some associates have said Mr. Polanski never got over the wartime horror and violence of his youth.
He decided early in life that the stage – and not an intended career as an electrician – was for him, and at the age of 12 he began appearing on children’s radio programs.
When he was 21, he entered the directors’ course at the Polish National Film Academy at Lodz, and began making motion pictures. One of the first to attract critical attention was “Two Men and a Wardrobe,” a short he made in 1958.
The sardonic film, which won several international awards, tells of two men who wander out of the ocean bearing a wardrobe trunk. They try to dispose of it in a nearby town, and finally unsuccessful, stumble back into the sea, still carrying the trunk.
Another Polanski film that won international accolades was “Repulsion,” his first in English. It told of the mental breakdown of a beautiful young woman, played by Catherine Deneuve, who was driven by fear and loathing of sex to commit savage murders.
“Repulsion” was widely hailed by critics in America, although some found it too horrible and shocking.
Contradicting the weird horror that pervades so many of his films, Mr. Polanski is know as cheery and good-natured. One interviewer described the director, who has sharp features, tousled hair and is only 5 feet 4 inches tall as “an imp – a merry-eyed, spirited extrovert, bubbling with energy and mischief.”
In a serious moment last spring, Mr. Polanski told another interviewer that the task of his art was “to disturb, to make people question themselves.”
“The older I grow, the less certain I am of things,” he said. “So I show people something so obviously impossible as witchcraft. And I say to them, ‘Are you certain it is not true?’ Very often, you know, we are victims of illusion. Things are not aways what they appear to be.”
Mr. Polanski owns a large house in a mews near Eaton Square in London, and he and his wife spent a great deal of time there. They were married in London in January, 1968.
He was divorced in 1961 from his first wife, Barbara Lass, a Polish film actress.
Although he retains his Polish passport, Mr. Polanski is at home all over Europe, speaking English, French, Polish, Italian and Russian fluently.
There is apparently no political reason why he does not live in Poland. When asked why he had not visited his homeland in several years, Mr. Polanski replied that it was his work that kept him moving, not his ideology.
“I have lost all interest in politics,” he said