Sharon Tate Body Photo Missing from Court Files

LOS ANGELES, Apr. 22 — A photograph showing the body of actress Sharon Tate is missing from the Superior Court files containing evidence in the Tate-LaBianca murder case, it had been disclosed today.

Representatives of the district attorney’s office said they don’t have the slightest idea what happened to the full color photo, but speculated it may have been stolen.

The photo, entered into evidence as a prosecution exhibit during the trial, was taken by a Los Angeles Police photographer on Aug. 9, 1969 when Miss Tate and four other persons were found slain at the actress’ home in Benedict Canyon.

It is a grisly photo, showing Miss Tate’s blood-splattered body sprawled near a sofa on the living room floor. It was shown to the jury several times during the marathon trial which ended in conviction and a death sentence for Charles Manson and three women members of his nomadic
cult.

Deputy District Atty. Stephen Kay, a co-prosecutor in the case, said the photo was discovered to be missing the day after the jury returned its death penalty verdict.

As best as anyone can remember, Kay said, the last time the photo was seen was March 26. On that day, the jury began its penalty phase deliberations and court clerk Gene Darrow sent all exhibits into the jury room.

The disappearance of the photo, it was learned, has prompted a special hearing.

Meanwhile, it was learned that Manson’s defense attorney, Irving Kanarek, was objecting to the insertion of another print of the photograph into the official file of evidence.

Trial Judge Charles Older has set a special hearing for April 27 to rule whether the new print is a true duplication of the missing one.

Kanarek was asked Monday to stipulate that it was, but he declined and asked for a hearing.
The file presumably will be referred to during appeals.

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