Similarities In Brutal Slayings
Monday, August 11th, 1969
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 11 – Authorities widened their search today for someone “involved in a personal way” with starlet Sharon Tate and four other persons brutally murdered in the aftermath of a party at a rambling Bel Air estate.
Even as police pressed their search for one, two or possibly three killers, a couple in the Silverlake district 15 miles away were found stabbed in a double murder strikingly similar in several respects to the slayings of Miss Tate and her friends Saturday.
In both cases words were scrawled in blood in the homes. In the Tate murder, the word “pigs” was written in blood on the front door. In the Silverlake slayings, the words “death to pigs” were left in blood on the refrigerator door in the kitchen. The man at Silverlake had the word “war” carved on his chest.
Police assigned to the Tate case were seeking a second suspect today for questioning, but said as many as three persons could be involved in the bizarre murders.
The name of the unidentified suspect came up during police questioning of William E. Garretson, 19, a caretaker at the home who lived in a guest house. He was the only person alive when detectives arrived at the scene Saturday.
Garretson underwent an hourlong polygraph test Sunday. Although “police said they were not “entirely satisfied” with his answers, a spokesman said “if we can get some physical evidence checked out, we will probably release him today.” He did not elaborate.
Police had not established a motive for the intruder or intruders who apparently cut the telephone lines into the home sometime after 10 p.m. Friday, then murdered the five occupants with knives and guns.
— Miss Tate, 26, wife of film director Roman Polanski, eight months pregnant with a baby boy, died of multiple stab wounds of the chest and back. Polanski flew here Sunday from Europe and immediately went into seclusion.
— Abigail Folger, 26, San Francisco, heiress to the Folger coffee fortune, described as a “rich hippie” who attended seance sessions, died of stab wounds in the chest.
— Jay Sebring, 35, innovator of hair styling for men, once Miss Tate’s fiance, died of multiple stab wounds of the body.
— Voityck Frokowsky, 37, worked with Polanski as an actor and writer in Polish films, died of stab wounds of the body and limbs and a gunshot wound in the back.
— Steven Parent, 18, a friend of Garretson who left home in suburban El Monte Friday to visit him, died of multiple gunshot wounds of the chest.
Garretson’s attorney, Barry Tarlow, said Garretson sat up reading until 6 a.m. Saturday but heard no unusual sounds from the main house, separated from the guest house by a swimming pool and shrubbery.
“There was a party at the house the night of the killings,” Tarlow said. “From the investigation made by my office, our best guess is that whoever did it was involved in a personal way with these people who were killed.”
Attention today turned to the second suspect sought by police.
Homicide Det. Lt. Robert Helder said, “We are looking for an individual. We don’t have any definite information that he was involved. His name came up in conversation with Garretson.”
The motive for the strange slayings was a mystery. There were no signs anything was stolen from the home, which sits at the end of a long driveway in exclusive Benedict Canyon.
Contrary to earlier reports, Helder said there was no evidence that the crime was a ritualistic murder.
Autopsies on the victims showed there was no evidence of sexual molestation, no mutilation of the bodies. Police said there were no narcotics in the home, no alcoholic beverages on the tables, no signs of an unusually violent struggle.
“We have a weird homicide with two bodies inside and two bodies outside,” said Helder.
“We don’t have anybody that we can talk to. We’re trying to piece the thing together with the small amount of physical evidence we have.”