• 2 or 3 Assailants Involved in Tate Slaying, Noguchi Says



2 or 3 Assailants Involved in Tate Slaying, Noguchi Says

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 20 – Actress Sharon Tate and four others were shot and stabbed to death at her Benedict Canyon home by more than one person, possibly two or three, County Coroner Thomas T. Noguchi said Friday.

Noguchi based his conclusion on a preliminary report from a team of behavioral scientists he appointed to study the Mass murder.

“It is very difficult to understand how one would be able to accomplish a mass killing,” the coroner told a news conference in his Hall of Justice office.

“Two, possibly…three. But the more the number it becomes there would be a certain group inhibition. It is rather difficult for them (a larger group) to accomplish the type of injury patterns found on the bodies.”

The coroner also said:
— Bizarre features of the crime suggest possible severe psychopathy of at least one of the killers.
— But, on the other hand, other details indicate someone was thinking clearly.
— Drugs may have been involved.
— Sex was not involved in the killings.

“One or more persons were suffering either paranoic tendencies or suffering from psychopathic characteristics and showed what we call overkill syndrome, more than enough to cause the deaths,” Noguchi said.

At the same time, he pointed out that Miss Tate’s palatial residence was invaded intentionally by someone who cut the telephone lines.

Noguchi considered it possible that the killers might have joined the group on the night of Aug. 8-9 without first intending to commit murder.

The coroner said autopsies disclosed drugs in the bloodstreams of some victims but declined to identify who had taken drugs, nor would he identify the drug or drugs.

The medical examiner said multiple stab rounds to some of the victims were symptomatic of an expression of “anger, revenge and frustration.”

But he said there were no signs of mutilation in the sense that pathologists define mutilation. He declined to say “at this time” whether any of the stab wounds were inflicted after death.

Noguchi said some of the theories considered by the medical panel, composed of Drs. Frederick J. Hacker, Robert Litman and Norman J. Farberow, were that:

— One of the killers was a woman.

— It was a death ritual.

Noguchi would not completely rule out the possibility that a woman was involved but he said he now considers it “unlikely.”

He agreed that a “possibility still exists” that the murders may have resulted from a death ritual which went too far and forced one or more persons into a drug-induced paranoia.

Robert Houghton, newly named assistant chief of police whose duties encompass the Detective Bureau, said later he agreed more than one person was involved in the murders.

“As far as whether they were male or female. I will make no statement on that,” he said when asked about Noguchi’s remarks. “I have no information on what they base their conclusion.”

Houghton agreed that drugs were involved in the murders but to discuss the implications of that conclusion.

He also said physical evidence indicates that there was a “state of high agitation or possible frenzy” at the scene.

Houghton said there is nothing new to report in the case other than that “hard, grinding police work” is continuing.

“It is a difficult case,” he said, “There are five victims and any police investigation must include a complete investigation of the backgrounds of all the victims.”

Besides Miss Tate, 26-year-old wife of film director Roman Polanski, police found the bodies of coffee heiress Abigail Folger, 26; Polish screen producer Voyteck Frykowski, 37; wealthy hair stylist Jay Sebring, 35, and Steven Parent, 18, of El Monte.

The five were shot, stabbed or throttled. “Pig” had been written in blood on the front door of the home. A bloodied nylon cord ran over a ceiling beam in the living room, connecting the bodies of Miss Tate and Sebring, whose head was covered with a black hood.

Polanski was in London at the time of the murders. A young caretaker, William F. Garretson, 19, was in a cottage on the grounds but told police he heard nothing. He was released after questioning. Garretson was a friend of young Parent.

Noguchi described the three-member medical report as an interim working document not yet ready for general publication.


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