Tate Neighbor Heard Shots, Screams in Murder House About 2 in Morning

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.”


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5 Responses to Tate Neighbor Heard Shots, Screams in Murder House About 2 in Morning

  1. Bob says:

    The part about not being able to hear the main house from the guesthouse starts with a bit of a non sequiter…

  2. Jeff says:

    Your wrong

  3. rocky says:

    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/

  4. Dennis says:

    You hear gun shots and screams but don’t call the police. It’s just a party!!!

  5. Thomas Horan says:

    According the police reports, the neighbor Kotts heard 4 shots “between 12:30 and 1:00 am.” According to other neighbors, they heard a loud argument and 3 gun shots “between 3:30 am and 4:00 am.” It’s no surprise the “news” papers print “information” that’s different from what actual witnesses actually told actual police at the actual time. If the first 4 shots came ‘between 2:00 and 2:30″ then where was Steven Parent between 12:15 (the time Garretson claimed he left) and 2:15? If the last 3 shots came “between 2:00 and 2:30” then what brouhaha did all those other neighbors hear at 3;30-4:00?

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