‘Sharon Was Hanged as She Died’
Saturday, August 22nd, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 22 – Pregnant actress Sharon Tate was not only stabbed 16 times, but was hanged by the neck from a ceiling beam by the murderers who invaded her Benedict Canyon home last August.
Los Angeles County Coroner Dr. Thomas T. Noguchi, testifying in the trial of hippie cult leader Charles Manson and three of his girl followers, shocked the crowded courtroom Friday when he identified two abrasions on a blown-up picture of the actress’ face as “rope burns”.
“From the appearance of the abrasions,” the Coroner said, “…it is consistent with…the decedent was hanged.”
Interrupted by objections from defense attorney Irving Kanarek, representing Manson, Dr. Noguchi didn’t elaborate. However, it was indicated later that in addition to the abrasions on the left cheek of the actress, rope burns also encircled her neck. A rope had been found tied around her neck, thrown over a ceiling beam in the living room of the home, then tied around the neck
of Hollywood hairstylist Jay Sebring, another victim.
Dr. Noguchi, who said he personally conducted the three-hour autopsy, testified the body contained no post-mortem wounds, indicating she had been hanged before or as she was dying of the stab wounds.
Using a life-sized drawing of the 26-year-old actress’ body to indicate where the 16 stab wounds and two cuts were located, Dr. Noguchi testified that her death was caused by “multiple stab wounds of the chest and back, penetrating the heart, lungs and liver and causing massive hemorrhage.”
Manson, sitting at the counsel table scowling and rubbing his beard, stared first at the seven-man five woman jury, then at the Japanese-born pathologist as he continued his detailed testimony. The three girls — Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel — sat silently, almost immobile. Only once, when the coroner discussed one of the seven autopsy pictures of the actress’ body, did one of them — Miss Atkins — move. Her body shook, as though she had been startled.
Of the 16 stab wounds and two cuts, Dr. Noguchi said five “by themselves…would have been fatal.” Three others, he said, were potentially fatal wounds.
Four four-inch deep stab wounds in the chest, which penetrated the heart and lungs, and a five-inch deep stab wound in the upper abdomen which penetrated the liver, Dr. Noguchi said, were fatal wounds. Three of eight stab wounds in the actress’ back which pierced her lungs, the doctor termed, “potentially fatal.” She also had been stabbed in the upper right “and upper left arms, and I in the back of the right thigh, and had two sharp cuts on her left forearm.
The actress, Dr. Noguchi testified, was eight months pregnant with a baby boy “in the normal state of development.” There had been no injury to the baby, he said, but he estimated it lived “no more than 10 or 15 minutes after the maternal death occurred…only as long as circulation existed.”
Coffee heiress Abigail Folger, whose autopsy Dr. Noguchi supervised, died, he said, of “a stab wound of the aorta — the large blood vessel from the heart.”
Nine autopsy photographs of Miss Folger, whose body was found on the lawn of the Tate home, were introduced, but no further testimony was presented.
Dr. Noguchi will continue his testimony Monday morning.
Earlier Los Angeles Police Sgt. Michael J. McGann, in charge of police investigation at the Tate home, told the court marijuana, hashish, cocaine and MDA (a synthetic hallucinogenic drug) were found in the Tate home and in the car belonging to Sebring after the murders.
Seventy-six grams of marijuana were found in a sack in a living room cabinet at the home, and 36 grams of hashish were found in a night stand in the front bedroom of the home, believed used by Miss Folger and Polish playboy Voityck Frykowski. Also in the nightstand, McGann said officers found 10 capsules of MDA. One gram of cocaine, 7.8 grams of loose marijuana and a two-inch marijuana roach were all found in Sebring’s car, parked in the driveway.
Under cross-examination, McGann said that police had found a knife in an overstuffed chair in the living room, but that chemical analysis indicated it had no blood on it. The knife, prosecutors have charged, was lost by Miss Atkins in the frenzy of murder.
Before the trial began Friday, Superior Court Judge Charles Older, together with Manson’s attorney and representatives from the County Counsel’s office, inspected the accused murderer’s jail accommodations. The unexpected visit followed Manson’s motion to stop the sheriff’s office from harassing him in jail.
The long-haired hippie leader, on the stand for the second day, told the judge that a screen that is put up between him and his attorney and visitors is unjustified.
“We have no human communications with the screen there,” his attorney charged. “It’s a fundamental denial of the right to prepare for this trial.”
Manson claimed the screen was part of “creeping security.”
“The security is like smog that builds up on the outside – security builds up on the inside.
“I’m accused of eight capital offenses and there are 15 civil suits against me. They’ve got so much piled up against me I’ve lost track.”
The 35-year-old guru told Judge Older the screen had been put up because of “lies” told to guards by other prisoners. “They put a guy named Peterson in with me. He’d been an informer in a penitentiary I was in, but I never held anything against him. He asked me for some LSD and I gave him a piece of candy and told him to go on a trip. He went to The Man.”
Manson said he has been placed in “lock-up” — a loss of privileges — because someone passed him a newspaper, “and the guards called it illegal communication.” On other occasions, he said, he was thrown into solitary because “they accused me of giving a black man a cigarette — and again later because I talked to him.”
Manson’s hearing will resume again Monday at 9 a.m., before the regular trial opens.
By MARY NEISWENDER