Charles Manson claimed up to 35 murders, but with only seven confirmed can we really trust this evil mastermind? The two-part series Manson Speaks: Inside the Mind of a Madman explores this haunting claim that links the Manson's Family to unsolved murders from that period. Here we look at what we do know in the Manson case, much of which took place in August 1969.
The first victims, guests at Roman Polanski’s Beverley Hills home, were murdered on the 9 August 1969. The group included Sharon Tate, the film director’s seven months pregnant wife.
Manson chose four of his most obedient comrades, Charles ‘Tex’ Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian, to carry out these heinous crimes. Kasabian acted as the getaway driver and was to become the star witness during the trial.
The victims, actress Sharon Tate, writer Wojciech Frykowski and his partner, coffee bean heiress, Abigail Folger, together with celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring, had all returned to the Polanski residence after dining out. Polanski himself was away in London shooting a film.
Manson himself took no part in the actual killings, but directed his murderous disciples to the address and instructed them to kill everyone. The first victim was 18-year-old Steven Parent who was a friend of Tate’s gardener. He was shot as he just happened to walk down the drive and noticed the intruders.
Linda Kasabian was horrified by the shooting of the boy. She remained outside to keep watch. When the other three broke into the house they herded the occupants into the living room and tied them up.
Jay Sebring was shot and brutally kicked as he tried to defend Ms Tate. During the terrifying fracas both Frykowski and Folger managed to escape from the house but were chased and stabbed to death. At the trial Kasabian described how she saw Frykowski staggering out of the house covered in blood and was horrified at the sight. She told him she was ‘sorry’, but despite her pleas to his attacker to stop, the victim was bludgeoned repeatedly. Folger herself having escaped from the house with terrible injuries was caught on the front lawn and stabbed 28 times.
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. Kasabian told of Atkins’ chilling words to Tate before she stabbed her: “Look bitch, I have no mercy for you. You’re going to die and you’d better get used to it”. Atkins then used Tate’s blood to write the word ‘PIG’ on the front door
Instead of this brutal massacre sating the pathological Manson, he instead criticised the murderers for being sloppy. The following night on the 10 August 1969, he took Family members Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten to the Los Feliz district address of wealthy supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary.
Manson went with his three accomplices to the house. After breaking in he tied the LaBiancas up and then returned to the car to tell Charles ‘Tex’ Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten to kill them.
Krenwinkel and Van Houten stayed with Rosemary LaBianca in her bedroom while Leno her husband was tied downstairs. She began to panic when she heard him screaming as Watson began to stab him to death. Krenwinkel then stabbed Mrs. LaBianca several times killing her. Van Houten stabbed her between 14 and 16 times, most likely after the victim was already dead.