Six-Detective Team Probe Week End Murder Cases
Thursday, August 14th, 1969
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 14 – A crack six-man team of detectives yesterday continued probing two week end slayings of a total of seven persons, including film actress Sharon Tate.
Investigators of the Central Homicide Bureau coordinated information gathered from neighbors and friends of the victims, who included both Miss Tate and market owner Leno La Bianca. La Bianca died with his wife in a vicious knife-murder across town.
William E. Garretson, the 19-year-old caretaker for the actress’ Benedict Canyon estate, was cleared of suspicion yesterday.
Decline to Name Suspect
However, police were believed to still be talking to persons suggested to detectives by Garretson in the hours of interrogation after he was arrested Saturday.
Authorities have declined to name any possible new suspect or if an automobile also is being sought.
Despite similarities in the two murder cases, investigators said they were inclined to believe separate killers were responsible for the crimes, which were discovered 39 hours apart.
Police said there was little direct evidence the killings of actress Tate and four guests at her estate had any direct relationship with the murder of La Bianca 44 and his wife Rosemary 38.
The word “pig” was scrawled in blood on the front door of the estate owned by Miss Tate and her husband, director Roman Polanski, when a maid discovered the five bodies Saturday morning.
Use White Sheet
“Death to Pigs” was written in blood on the refrigerator door in La Bianca’s ranch-style Silverlake district home when his stepson Mark Struthers toured the house.
A white sheet had been fastened around La Bianca’s head. A cloth-like covering was wrapped about the head of hair stylist Jay Sebring at the scene of the other slayings.
The word “war” and a series of “Xs” carved onto La Bianca’s chest was not a repeat of the Hollywood Hills slayings that also took the life of Polish producer Voityck Frokowsky, Folger’s Coffee heiress Abigail Folger and Steven Earl Parent.
Some detectives theorized the killing of La Bianca and his wife as down by a “copy-cat” – someone in a weird way longing for publicity or else trying to sidetrack the investigation of the other crimes.
Work on Two Cases
The possibility that there could be a relationship was not dismissed from the double-barreled investigation by the team that was split into two parts.
Lt. Robert Helder, Sgt. Jess Buckles and Sgt. Michael J. McGann centered on the Benedict Canyon slayings while Lt. Paul LePage, Sgt. Gary L. Broda and Sgt. Phil Barone concentrated on the neighborhood surrounding the La Bianca house at 3301 Waverly Drive.
What additional evidence the six detectives uncovered remained a secret known only to a minority of the 47 members of the Homicide Bureau and top police officials.
Lt. Helder said release of information might jeopardize the case against any possible suspect picked up in the future in connection with any of the murders.
Police disclosed they were investigating several recent burglaries in the La Bianca neighborhood, one purportedly across the street the previous week.
The murder victims’ home also reportedly had been burglarized twice in the past year.