What the killers did after murdering Sharon Tate and her friends

Sharon Tate photographed by Alan Pappe, 1968

Just after midnight on Saturday, August 9, 1969, four members of the Manson Family drove to 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon, Bel Air, Los Angeles. They were sent there by Charles Manson to kill everybody at the property, steal at least $600, and make the murders look as though they’d been committed by black militants (like the Black Panthers). If they didn’t succeed, they were told by Charlie to go on to other properties, until they created a bloodbath and got enough money.

At Cielo Drive, Charles ‘Tex’ Watson, Susan ‘Sadie’ Atkins, Patricia ‘Katie’ Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian scaled the fence and approached the property.

The first person killed was Stephen Parent, guest of the caretaker.

Then, the killers entered the home where Watson announced that he was ‘the Devil’ and there to do the Devil’s Business. He then killed Jay Sebring, a stylist and business owner, and the former boyfriend of Sharon Tate. Jay was shot, kicked and stabbed until he lay still.

Then the killers chased Wojciech Frykowski and Abigail Folger, houseguests of Ms. Tate’s, outside where they stabbed them to death.

Image for post
Image for post
Victims of the Manson Family at Cielo Drive: Wojciech Frykowski, Sharon Tate, Stephen Parent, Jay Sebring and Abigail Folger

Finally, Tex Watson stabbed Sharon, who was 8-months pregnant. Just before the killers departed, Susan Atkins ran back inside, daubed a towel in Sharon’s blood and used the towel to write the word ‘PIG’ on the front door. The word was supposed to connect the murders at Cielo Drive with the murder two weeks before of musician Gary Hinman, killed by members of the Family in Topanga Canyon. One member of the Family, Bobby Beausoleil, was in jail the night of the Cielo Drive murders on suspicion of killing Hinman and Charlie sent the killers out this night to create a copycat killing that would get Beausoleil out of jail (Beausoleil knew too much about Charlie), as well as to create the murder and mayhem that he believed would ignite Helter Skelter: the race war that would put him into global power.

At Cielo Drive, all but Linda Kasabian committed murder. Linda saw the activities but in fear for her life and the life of others, did not run and seek help. She also lent her own knife to Susan Atkins, when Susan lost hers in the melee. Once the victims were all dead, they returned to the car with Linda behind the wheel. In the killers’ own words:

“When I realized I didn’t have my own knife, we talked it over and decided it was not worth the risk to go back.” — Susan Atkins, from Child of Satan, Child of God (written with Bob Slosser) ©1977 Logos International

Image for post
Image for post
Susan Denise Atkins, aka Sexy Sadie

“Linda turned off Benedict Canyon… looking for a place where we could wash. Finally we saw an exposed hose.“ ”— Will You Die For Me? by Charles Watson and Chaplain Ray Hoekstra ©1978 Fleming H. Revell

“We found a very dark house and there appeared to be nobody home. Tex found the hose. We… took it out into the street and started washing ourselves off.” — Official Court Transcript: December 1969 Grand Jury Testimony of Susan Atkins

“As we poured the water over ourselves, drenching our hair and clothes, a man and woman suddenly appeared at their door in bathrobes, asking us what we were doing. I put on my Texas accent, saying we had just been walking and needed a drink.” — Will You Die For Me? by Charles Watson and Chaplain Ray Hoekstra ©1978 Fleming H. Revell

Image for post
Image for post
Charles Denton Watson, aka Tex

“The woman was yelling something about, ‘My husband belongs to the Los Angeles Police Department…’ Tex… said, ‘Gee, I’m sorry, I didn’t think you were home. We were just walking around and wanted a drink of water. We didn’t mean to wake you up or disturb you.’ And the man looked down the street and said, ‘Is that your car?’ And Tex said, ‘No, I told you we were just walking.’ The man said, ‘I know that is your car. You better get in and get going’… She said to get the license number and she… started calling us filthy hippies and tramps and calling us girls sluts and prostitutes… Tex told us girls to get into the car, so we walked to the car and got in the car.” — Official Court Transcript: December 1969 Grand Jury Testimony of Susan Atkins

“The man was right behind us and he… started to put his hand in the car to reach for the keys and Tex blocked him, grabbed his hand.” — Official Court Transcript: July 1970 trial testimony of Linda Kasabian

Image for post
Image for post
Linda Kasabian later turned state’s witness and testified against Manson, Atkins, Krenwinkel and another defendant during the 1970 Tate/LaBianca murder trial

“I managed to crank up the glass and drive off, leaving him shouting after us in the middle of the road. For some reason it never occurred to any of us to try to kill him — he didn’t live on Cielo Drive.” — Will You Die For Me? by Charles Watson and Chaplain Ray ©1978 Fleming H. Revell

If this man had called the police, he could have described the lunatics washing themselves with his garden hose at 1am and identified their vehicle. The manhunt to find the killers wouldn’t have taken three months and perhaps the Family wouldn’t have killed three more people.

Meanwhile, the killers continued up the road. Watson, Krenwinkel and Atkins were covered in blood and began disrobing. They brought articles to clothing to change into, and handed the bloodied garments to Kasabian along with their weapons.

“We tossed the clothes over an embankment off Mulholland Drive… and Linda threw out the knives one by one as we rode along… I flung the gun away myself, with my left hand while I was driving.” — Will You Die For Me? by Charles Watson and Chaplain Ray Hoekstra ©1978 Fleming H. Revell

“We stopped at a gas station… I think it was located on Sunset Boulevard… Filled up the car with gas and went into the bathroom and checked for any other blood spots. In my fight with Frykowski I had opened the sores that I had on my feet and my feet were bleeding and very sore… We stopped two or three times. Linda threw away all the bloody clothes over the side of the hill along with the weapons at different intervals… As we drove off and all the way out to the ranch, I noticed there was blood on the car, and I hoped nobody had seen it.” — Official Court Transcript: December 1969 Grand Jury Testimony of Susan Atkins

“Once we got down into the Valley we stopped for gas (we paid for it out of the $70 we stole from Abigail Folger) and took turns going into the rest rooms to check for blood spots. Linda drove the rest of the way home.” — Will You Die For Me? by Charles Watson and Chaplain Ray Hoekstra ©1978 Fleming H. Revell

Image for post
Image for post
The killers at Cielo Drive: Charles ‘Tex’ Watson, Patricia ‘Katie’ Krenwinkel, Susan ‘Sadie’ Atkins along with Linda Kasabian who testified against them in court

“We were so much one with each other that we really didn’t need too many words spoken… We probably got back to the ranch somewhere around 2:00 o’clock.” — Official Court Transcript: December 1969 Grand Jury Testimony of Susan Atkins

“Charlie was waiting for us on the boardwalk of the old movie set, dancing around naked… in the moonlight. His first words were: “What’re you doing home so early?” — Will You Die For Me? by Charles Watson and Chaplain Ray Hoekstra ©1978 Fleming H. Revell

“Sadie was the first one out of the car. She was beaming with excitement… saying, ‘Oh, Charlie, we did it… I took my life for you!’ ‘Girl,’ I said, taking her arms from around my neck, ‘what you did, you did for yourself! What you’ve done is lock me to you.’ I pulled away from her and walked toward the car. Tex was getting out and favoring his leg. My first thought was he had been wounded, but he had only bruised his foot while kicking one of the victims. He was glassy-eyed and grinning, and while not as high as Sadie, he was not suffering from remorse.” — Charles Manson quoted in Manson: In His Own Words as told to Nuel Emmons ©1986 Grove Press

“I said, ‘Charlie, they were so young.’ All he really ever said after that was, ‘Don’t tell anyone’.” — Patricia Krenwinkel from the program “Turning Point” ©1994 American Broadcast Company (ABC)

Image for post
Image for post
Patricia ‘Katie’ Krenwinkel at a 1970 pretrial hearing

“Charlie told us to go into the kitchen, get a sponge, wipe the blood off, and he also instructed Katie and I to go all through the car and wipe off the blood spots.” — Official Court Transcript: July 1970 trial testimony of Linda Kasabian

“We went into the bunkhouse and Tex began to tell Charlie about the night… I did hear Charlie ask, ‘Did you go to the next house?’ ‘No,’ Tex said. Charlie became agitated… ‘Man,’ he said sharply, ‘I told you to go to every house on that street. Now we’ll have to go back.’ Tex was also angry, but I couldn’t hear everything he said. I heard a phrase something like ‘it was crazy… everything went wild…’” — Child of Satan, Child of God by Susan Atkins with Bob Slosser ©1977 Logos International

“I told him what had happened — it had been messy, like he wanted, lots of panic, everybody dead. Sadie told him my line about the devil, and he grinned, pleased… Then he looked each of us in the eye solemnly. ‘Do you have any remorse?’ he demanded. ‘No,’ we each replied. ‘Okay,’ he said gently. ‘Go to sleep and don’t tell anyone.’ As the girls wandered off, he called me back. ‘Was it really Helter Skelter?’ he asked. ‘Yeah, it was sure Helter Skelter.’” — Will You Die For Me? by Charles Watson and Chaplain Ray Hoekstra ©1978 Fleming H. Revell

In the pre-dawn hours, Charlie lay awake.

He told Tex where to go, what to do and said to make it gruesome. He told the girls to leave something witchy.

All of this was to link this crime scene to Topanga Canyon, so the police would think someone else killed Hinman other than Bobby Beausoleil. Bobby would be freed and wouldn’t snitch on Manson. He wasn’t going back to prison that day.

But Charlie knew that some of his orders had not been followed. The killers didn’t get $600. They didn’t go to other homes until they got that money. Presumably, he also knew already that not everybody (Linda) got their hands dirty. (excerpted from The Manson Family: More to the Story)

Image for post
Image for post
The cover of The Manson Family: More to the Story published June 2019 from Swann Publications

“My only concern was whether it resembled the Hinman killing. Would the police now have reason to believe that Bobby was not the slayer of Hinman? And were the kids, loaded with drugs, clever enough to avoid leaving prints or evidence of their identities? Knowing Sadie and Tex, and their flair for dramatic exaggeration, I doubted the slayings went down as they had described. Most importantly, did they leave a trail that would lead to the ranch? Concern for clues compelled me to get in the Ford and head for Bel Air. I took another member of our circle with me.

Returning to the scene of any crime is risky business, so instead of turning up Cielo Drive, we drove past and looked up the hill to see if there was any activity that might indicate the police had arrived. Everything was quiet. We parked the car a short distance away and walked to the premises. We entered the grounds by climbing over the fence, as the kids had done. As Sadie and Tex had said, the first victim’s car was off the driveway a short distance from the gate…. I carefully wiped the car clean of possible finger prints without disturbing the body of the boy who lay dead inside.

Approaching a house where you know there are dead bodies has a spine-chilling effect, and I think if I had been alone, I might have forgotten about continuing any further. My partner probably felt the same way, but neither of us spoke and we did go on to see the whole gory mess. Tex and Sadie’s description had been accurate. What I was seeing was not a scene from a movie or some horrible acid fantasy, but real people who would never see the morning’s sun. I’d had thoughts of creating a scene more in keeping with a black-against-white retaliation, but in looking around, I lost the heart to carry out my plans. The two of us took towels and wiped every place a fingerprint could have been left. I then placed the towel I was using over the head of the man inside the room.” — Charles Manson quoted in Manson: In His Own Words as told to Nuel Emmons ©1986 Grove Press

We do not know who the other member of the Family was, who accompanied Manson that night to Cielo Drive. Charlie explained that they left a pair of eyeglasses at the scene, a meaningless clue that would throw off the police investigation. But he didn’t leave any clues that would link this crime scene to that of Gary Hinman’s murder. He didn’t leave evidence that would point to the Black Panthers.

Years later, Manson explained:

“I’m lazy… I’ll do whatever I can to not do anything. When I do nothing, I survive. I just don’t want to take responsibility. The mistake I made is I didn’t go with them. Tex was scared… A mama’s boy… oh, they made a mess of it the first night. If I’d been there, it would have been a much better scene.” — Charles Manson quoted in “Charles Manson Today: The Final Confessions of a Psychopath” by Erik Hedegaard ©November 2013 Rolling Stone magazine

Yet Charlie claimed that he WAS there — at least after the fact. So, why didn’t he ‘fix’ the scene? Why didn’t he make it more obvious that black people committed these murders? And if this scene was so botched, why then did he send the same damn people out again the next night?

Image for post
Image for post
Charles Manson, aka Charlie was arrested in November 1969 and charged with the Tate/LaBianca murders

You can read more about the Helter Skelter murders here:

And more about the trial here:

Written by

Author of the “More to the Story” true crime nonfiction series. https://www.mansonfamily.net/

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store