Manson at Tate Home in March ’69, Trial Told
Wednesday, October 21st, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 21 – Hippie leader Charles Manson was at the Tate murder house five months before the tragedy, a witness said in Los Angeles today.
Rudolph Altobelli, owner of the Benedict Canyon home and who lived in a guest house at the rear of the estate, told a Superior Court jury today that Manson knocked on his door between 8 and 9 p.m. March 24, 1969. An earlier witness testified that a man who “looked like” the long-haired defendant had been at the home around noon of the same day.
Altobelli, tugging at a lock of his curly hair, identified Manson, who was brought from a holding cell where he is being kept during the trial, as the one with whom he talked.
Manson, clean shaven for the first time since – shortly after his arrest almost a year ago, stood staring at Altobelli, his lower lip extended and his hands shoved deep in the pockets of his jail uniform. Attorney Irving Kanarek told Judge Charles Older his client had deliberately shaved off his beard. Kanarek was silenced by the judge before he could explain anything further.
Altobelli testified that he met Manson at the home of “beachboy” Dennis Wilson with whom Manson was living at the time. The witness, who described himself as a personal manager, said the meeting occurred in “late mid or early summer of ’69 or ’68 — I’m not sure.” He later said be felt it was in 1968.
Altobelli said he was going to Rome on March 24, 1969, because two of his clients were making a movie there, and that be was going to make the trip with actress Sharon Tate who also was planning to make a movie.
“It was about 8 or 9 p.m. the day before I left,” Altobelli said, “and I was showering when I heard my dog Christopher barking. Charles Manson was at the door. I asked what he wanted and he started to introduce himself and I said, ‘I know who you are, Charlie.’
“I asked him if he was alone and he said ‘Yes,’ and said he was looking for Terry Melcher. Melcher, son of Doris Day, rented the home from May, 1966 until Jan., 1969.
“I said Terry didn’t live there anymore and he said he knew that but wanted to know where he lived now. I said Terry was living in Malibu at his mother’s house, and told Charlie I would like to talk to him further but was going to Rome. He said ‘Why?’ and I said I had a couple of clients making a movie. He said he was going to make a movie and a record, and I told him I understood he was talented.”
Altobelli said he was irritated with Manson for stopping at the main house and told him “he shouldn’t have” because it disturbed his tenants. Altobelli quoted Manson as saying he “would like to come back and talk some more.” Altobelli said he told Manson he would be gone for a year and then Manson left.
Tuesday, Miss Tate’s personal photographer testified that a man who “looked like” Charles Manson was at the Tate home four months before the massacre.
Iranian-born Shahrokh Hatami testified he knew the murdered actress and her movie-producer husband Roman Polanski “very well” and was at the house “two times a week, at least.”
He was at the Benedict Canyon home in late March of 1969, he explained, photographing the actress for a television show as she packed for a trip to Rome.
“Sharon was home alone,” Hatami testified, adding Polanski had gone to a Rio de Janeiro film festival. “Sharon and I had taken him to the airport.”
Hatami said he was looking out of a living room window “when I saw a man enter the yard…He was hesitant — not very sure of where he was going — but at the same time walking very aggressively; he just came in not knocking or ringing a bell or anything.”
Hatami said he asked the man what he wanted and the man mentioned a name he’d never heard before.
Hatami said he asked the the man, “This is the Polanski residence” and suggested the people he was looking for might live in the “back house” (The caretaker’s house at the rear of the estate).
By MARY NEISWENDER