Tate Neighbor Heard Shots, Screams in Murder House About 2 in Morning
Wednesday, August 27th, 1969
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 27 – The slaughter of actress Sharon Tate and four others at her secluded Benedict Canyon home took place at “2 or 2:30 – no earlier,” a neighbor who heard the shots and the screams of one of the victims said Tuesday in an exclusive interview.
The neighbor, from whose home you “can overhear normal conversation” on the grounds of the murder house, asked anonymity because of “possible problems.”
Miss Tate, wife of movie director Roman Polanski and one of the stars in “Valley of the Dolls,” was slain along with three of her jet-set friends — coffee heiress Abigail Folger, Hollywood hair stylist Jay Sebring, Polish would-be film maker Voityck Frokowski — and 18-year-old Steven Parent of El Monte, who had been visiting the caretaker of the estate, William Garretson.
On the night of the murder, Aug. 8-9, there were two parties going on in the exclusive section of Cielo Drive, the neighbor recalled.
One was at the home next door to the murder house, where a foursome — similar to the ill-fated gathering — had been invited.
“I stayed up late that night,” the ear-witness said “I was in bed reading and had snapped off the light and just dozed off. Something woke me almost immediately. I reached over and had just turned the light on when I heard a loud shot, a woman’s scream, then another shot.”
The second shot, he said seemed more muffled than the first — “the first seemed louder.”
“At first I thought I was dreaming, but then I heard other noises, so I figured the party was still going on. I paid no attention…what the noises were didn’t register. I know all I thought was that the party was still on.
“There’s a lot of screaming and yelling in this neighborhood on weekends,” he said. You get sort of used to it. It’s like living near a freeway — pretty soon you don’t hear the cars driving by.”
What woke him up, he doesn’t know, but he stayed awake long enough after the shots and screams to hear cars driving down the road.
“Where they were coming from, I don’t know,” he said. “There was a lot of traffic that night — like every weekend night.”
The next morning the screaming of the maid at the murder scene brought the previous night’s sounds into perspective.
“If I had looked out the window,” he said, “I could have seen the murderers cutting the phone wires.”
(The telephone wires leading to the home had been cut at the pole just outside the electronic gates of the estate. Police have said that the wires could have been cut either before or after the murders.)
Ever since the Polish-born film director moved into the home “maybe seven or eight months ago,” the neighbor said; there was a lot of traffic — both on foot and in cars — going to the home.
“There was a lot of liquor delivered and a lot of air freight — and scripts from the studios, too. Reason I know,” he said, “is that they’d always stop at our place to ask how you get into the estate, and I’d always have to show them the way.”
The last vehicle he noticed going to the house before the murders, he claimed, was a white delivery truck, whose driver asked directions about 6:30 that evening.
From his home, he said, “you can’t miss anything that is done” at the Polanski home.
“I overheard the conversation between the detective and the telephone man as they were trying to get some clues from the way the wires were cut. But that’s not the case,” he said, “as far as the guest house is concerned – where the caretaker lived. You can’t hear anything that’s happening in front when you’re in the guest house.”
This, he said he determined from previous visits with the caretaker and the house’s owner, Rudy Altabelli, who both lived in the guest house. At the time of the murder Altabelli was in Europe.
But from his home he said, if you listen closely you can hear the chatter of guests, the music and “even the tinkle of cocktail glasses.”
Although he admits he never met the blonde actress personally, they would wave “as neighbors” when she would drive by.
The home, in which he has been an occasional visitor, he described as “looking like a remodeled New England barn.”
Since the murder no one but police and a few personal friends of the movie director have been allowed entrance.
A guard stands at the electronic gate leading to the house, taking down names of visitors, but allowing no one inside. The belongings of the Polanskis, the neighbor said, have been removed, but otherwise the house remains as it was found the day following the killings.
“Except,” the guard adds, “the blood has dried.”
By MARY NEISWENDER
The part about not being able to hear the main house from the guesthouse starts with a bit of a non sequiter…
It was just after MIDNIGHT THAT THE MURDERS TOOK PLACE NOT 2AM TILL 2 30AM
the time is wrong from the neighbor. The clock radio was an electric one and was plugged in when Parent demonstrated it to garretson in the guest house. He set it to the correct time before unplugging it while trying to sell it to Garretson.. When Parent placed the unsold clock radio on the car seat as he was leaving the residence, the clock read approx 12 20 AM. which means the murders occurred about 10 minutes later/
You hear gun shots and screams but don’t call the police. It’s just a party!!!
The accuracy of the official timeline is contingent on the Bugliosi narrative from Helter Skelter. None of the killers really knew what time they went to Cielo when they were initially questioned. Susan Atkins and Linda Kasabian’s has no conception of time. Both of them were led by Bugliosi to estimate their arrival time at Cielo. Rudy Weber initially was unclear as to what time Tex, Susan, Pat and Linda had shown up at his house to use his hose to wash up but Bugliosi was very intent that Weber settle on it having been 1am. That means that the killers had to have killed everyone by at least 12:50am to get to Weber’s by 1am IF THAT’S WHAT HAPPENED. But that’s not really giving them much time to commit the murders in my opinion if Steve Parent’s clock was accurate. I personally don’t think that the time on the clock is that significant because we can only assune that Parent had it synced up to the actual time when he showed it to Parent. I don’t think Parent went up there to sell a clock to William Garretson either, but that’s beside the point. The clock isn’t reliable evidence when it comes to establishing the time frame for the murders at Cielo, which may very well have occurred a little later than what has been confirmed. And Rudy Weber may have not been correct when he said the gang showed up at his place at 1am either, because he initially never mentioned an exact time in his first interviews. It wasn’t until Bugliosi “led him” to say 1am that he named 1am as their arrival time at his house, and that’s probably because it was very important to Bugliosi that they narrow things down to a specific time based on the radio alarm clock. However, nobody (including Garretson) could ever be certain of the exact time that everything happened. Although 2 to 2:30 am might be too late to have heard shots, it’s possible that shots fired as late as 1am might have occurred because there’s no concrete or irrefutable evidence to prove that it happened earlier.
It’s also likely that Manson (either alone or with one or two others), returned to the crime scene to stage things in a certain way to be discovered, and he probably confronted Garretson at that time too. Ear witnesseses that think they heard sounds coming from the house at 3:30 or 4 am may very well have heard whatever might have happened at Cielo later.
(I meant that “when Parent showed the clock to Garretson”-not himself)
I think it’s highly likely that Manson (possibly with one or 2 cohorts) returned to the scene and confronted Garretson when there too, which neighbors may have heard between 3:30 and 4am.
Serena- David Gerrold got a call from Steven Parent at 11:30pm. He was quite sure of the time. Steven told him he was leaving, and would be at his place in 25 minutes. That all fits with the Bug’s timeline.
My God, that poor kid. The worst damn timing ever.
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