On This Day

charles manson
Associated Press
Charles Manson

On This Day: Manson Family Kills Sharon Tate, 4 Others

August 09, 2011 05:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
On Aug. 9, 1969, members of Charles Manson’s cult brutally murdered five people, including actress Sharon Tate, at her upscale Bel Air home.

Manson and Followers Murder Sharon Tate

Charles Manson was the leader of “the Family,” a cult-like group of mostly young women recruited from the streets of San Francisco. Manson preached that there would be an apocalyptic war between blacks and whites, after which the Family would rule the world. This prophecy was known as “Helter Skelter,” named after the Beatles song.

Manson believed that his followers could initiate Helter Skelter by committing murders themselves. On the afternoon of Aug. 8, Manson called his most devoted followers to announce, “Now is the time for Helter Skelter.”

Manson wanted to target the rich and famous in order to gain notoriety. In the early morning hours of Aug. 9, Manson and Family members Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, Linda Kasbian and Charles “Tex” Watson went to the home of actress Sharon Tate in the upscale Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles. Tate, the wife of director Roman Polanski, was at home that evening with three guests: coffee heiress Abigail Folger, Folger’s lover Voytek Frykowski, and internationally known hairstylist Jay Sebring.

Eighteen-year-old Steven Parent pulled into Tate’s driveway and was quickly shot dead. Over the next several hours, Manson watched as his followers dutifully killed the four people inside. The four victims received 102 stab wounds, and the word “PIG” was left scrawled in blood on the walls.

The most inhumane killing had to be of Sharon Tate, who despite pleading for the life of her unborn child was mercilessly stabbed in the stomach by Susan Atkins,” writes The Biography Channel.

Manson led his followers in a second murder the following night, randomly choosing a home and killing two people inside. The Family would commit other murders over the next two months, later claiming to have killed 35 people in all.

The Manson Family on Trial

Tate’s maid found the bodies the next day. Los Angeles police initially arrested Tate’s groundskeeper, who had remained unharmed throughout the horrific night, but soon released him.

In October, Manson and 23 of his followers were arrested on charges of arson and grand theft. A month later, Susan Atkins boasted about the stabbings to a fellow inmate. Investigators traced the Tate murders to the Manson Family. Manson, Atkins, Krenwinkel and Kasbian went on trial together.

On Jan. 25, 1971, Manson was convicted of first-degree murder for the deaths in which he orchestrated. His three co-defendants were also convicted of first-degree murder, and Watson was also convicted of the same crime in a separate trial.

They were each sentenced to death, but they were saved from the gas chamber when the California Supreme Court ruled in 1972 that the state’s death penalty law unconstitutional. Atkins died in prison in September 2009, while the other four remain in prison in California.

Most Recent Beyond The Headlines