Roman Polanski after Sharon’s murder

H. Allegra Lansing
9 min readAug 25, 2020

what happened after his beautiful wife was killed by the Manson Family

On the morning of Saturday, August 9th, 1969, housekeeper Winifred Chapman arrived at 10050 Cielo Drive. Ms. Chapman noticed that the phone lines were down just outside the fence. Concerned but not worried, she walked onto the property grounds and continued into a back entrance of the house, not noticing that a dead teenager lay on the front seat of a car near the gate, and two more bodies lay upon the lawn. Winifred walked into the kitchen, picked up the phone, discovered that there was no dial tone and then, planning to inform her employer, she walked from the kitchen into the living room. There, she discovered a gruesome crime scene that likely haunted her the rest of her life: the dead body of 8-months pregnant Sharon alongside that of another man, with a towel over his head.

Winifred ran screaming from the house, back the way she came. This time she did see the victim in the car. She ran out through the gate and to a neighbor’s house, who called police.

It took almost an hour for law enforcement to arrive at the crime scene. Ms. Chapman was still in such a terrible state, hysterical and mentioning names that seemed foreign to the police questioning her: Polanski, Frykowski. Eventually, they were able to determine that the property was rented by 26-year old Sharon Tate, a film actress along with her husband, movie director Roman Polanski.

Roman was not there, reportedly overseas at the time. But somebody needed to identify the bodies and Winifred was so hysterical she was taken to a medical facility and given a sedative. That left the responsibility to Roman’s manager, Bill Tennant.

Tenant arrived just before noon, and was led by police to each body for identification. He didn’t know the man in the car but identified Wojciech Frykowski and Abigail Folger, the man and woman on the lawn, and Sharon Marie Tate, the female victim in the living room. He believed that the male victim inside the home was Sharon’s friend Jay Sebring…

H. Allegra Lansing

Author of the “More to the Story” true crime nonfiction series.