The Autopsy of the Manson Murder Victims

Read about the savagery committed on Sharon Tate and the others by members of the bloodthirsty cult

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The front door at 10050 Cielo Drive, home of actress Sharon Tate, was discovered the morning after the murders. The killers left the word ‘PIG’ in Sharon’s blood.

During a two-night shocking and savage crime spree, members of the Manson Family murdered seven people. Five were killed at Cielo Drive, an upscale home in Benedict Canyon. They included 18-year old Steven Parent (a guest of the property caretaker), 35-year old Jay Sebring (a notable men’s hairstylist), 25-year old Abigail Folger (heiress to the Folgers coffee fortune, a social worker), 32-year old Wojciech Frykowski (a Polish emigree, and Folger’s boyfriend) and Sharon Tate, 26-year old star of stage and screen, who rented the home in question with her husband, film director Roman Polanski. Ms. Tate was eight months pregnant with her first child at the time she was killed. Her baby died in utero, moments after Sharon’s heart stopped beating. While the baby (later named Paul Tate Polanski, who was was laid to rest with his mother in her grave) was not officially counted as a murder victim, no doubt he could have lived if medical assistance had been immediately provided. In today’s criminal justice system, the killers would have been charged with his death as well as the others.

The killings were committed by members of a ‘hippie cult’, a group of anti-establishment runaways and drop-outs who followed the teachings of a criminal ex-convict, sociopath Charles Manson. The women believed they were killing the victims to start Helter Skelter, a race war that Manson had prophesized. One man also participated in these two nights of murder: Charles ‘Tex’ Watson. Watson did not believe in Helter Skelter and had his own motivations for committing the crimes. He was Charlie’s chief assassin, and while the women contributed, it was Watson who committed the fatal injuries of each of the victims.

The night after the Cielo Drive killings, two more homeowners were targeted by the Family. This time, Charlie went with the killers to make sure they did as he ordered. He tied up the victims (44-year old Leno LaBianca, a grocery store owner and his 38-year old wife Rosemary, a dress store proprietor). Charlie then left the scene, while the killers committed their savage acts. Again, both Leno and Rosemary’s fatal wounds were committed by Watson.

The following was written during early stages of my book, The Manson Family: More to the Story (published 2019 by Swann Publications) but I elected to omit this section from the final print.

I am choosing not to include photographs of the autopsied bodies but am including the coroner’s details. The autopsies of the Cielo Drive victims were performed by Los Angeles County Chief Coroner Thomas Noguchi.

Steven Earl Parent

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18-year old high school graduate who encountered the killers as they approached the Tate property. Parent was shot and stabbed in his car. He did not know the other residents or the killers.

Steven Parent received three gunshot wounds. Two were considered fatal, perforating his left lung, trachea and aorta, leaving two hemothoraxes (a collection of blood in the space between the chest wall and the lung). The third bullet, which was nonfatal, struck the left side of his face and did not exit. Parent also had one ‘incised’ wound on his left hand. He weighed 162 pounds and was 6’ and ½ inch tall. There was no evidence of spermatozoa, ruling out that his encounter with Garretson was sexual. He had a blood alcohol level, at the time of autopsy, of 0.02 from the beer he drank before his death. His body, post-autopsy, was collected by his father Wilfred.

Jay Sebring

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The 35-year old stylist was engaged to Sharon Tate several years before but when she married director Roman Polanski instead, Jay remained a close friend. He tried to protect her the night of the murders and was brutally killed for his efforts.

A rope had been tied around his neck at the time his body was discovered. That rope was cut at the scene, but the length around his neck remained in place while the body was transported for autopsy. Jay had suffered seven stab wounds, at least three of which would be fatal along with one defensive wound. All were penetrating wounds (not slash or surface). He also had been shot once, with the wound classified as fatal. The bullet, which was fragmented, was recovered during autopsy between his rib cage and shirt. No gunpowder or residue was present, indicating that Sebring had not been shot at close range. He was stabbed four times from the front, three from the back including one wound that would be considered fatal penetrating into the left lung, once superficially in the left shoulder and additional slicing wounds on his left hands. He also had several contusions on his face from blunt force trauma. As a result, his face was swollen, dark, with breakage of capillaries beneath the skin. His official toxicology report showed blood, urine and bile ‘absent’ of narcotics, but there were trace levels of cocaine found in the blood below the legally-required amount. Jay Sebring was 5’6” and weighed 122 pounds. His father, Bernard Kummer of Detroit, was listed as his next of kin.

Abigail Anne Folger

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Heiress to the Folger’s coffee fortune, the socialite was also a social worker. Folger and her boyfriend were staying at the Tate residence during the summer of 1969. Abigail was stabbed to death on the lawn, two days before her 26th birthday.

Abigail Folger had suffered twenty-eight stab wounds, twenty-one of which were noted in the official autopsy. This included four to her face, five to her neck, four to her anterior chest and another eight wounds throughout her body. Her blood alcohol was determined to be 0.05 percent, however the coroner stated this was likely not her blood alcohol level at time of death. Her toxicology tests were absent barbiturates, Doriden, Soma, Phenacetin, Meprobamate, Quaalude, Codeine and Morphine, but her urine tested 2.4 milligrams of MDMA. When autopsied, there were fly eggs discovered in the hair at the back of her head, where she had laid in death on the lawn throughout the night. She weighed 125 pounds and was 5’4” in height. Her cause of death was listed as ‘stab wound of aorta’. Her next of kin was her father, Peter.

Sharon Marie Tate

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The actress was 26-years old and nearly nine months pregnant on August 9th, when the killers invaded her home. She was the last to die there, crying for her mother and begging for the life of her unborn baby.

Sharon Tate had a total of 16 stab wounds plus two incised stab wounds on her left forearm. Her toxicology reports were absent narcotics and ethanol. The autopsy report oddly claimed that Sharon was “entertaining a mixed group of 4 young people at/in her luxurious avant garde, ranch-estate type home.” She was listed as 5’6” and 136 pounds.

Wojciech Frykowski

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Polish-born friend of Polanski’s, a screenwriter and early financial donor for Roman’s films. Wojciech, age 32, met heiress Abigail Folger in 1967. He was beaten, shot twice and stabbed dozens of times. He left behind a teenaged son in Poland.

Wojciech Frykowki’s autopsy report listed his first name as ‘Voityck’ and last name as ‘Frokowski’. Coroner noted a total of 51 stab wounds, seven were considered fatal. There were thirteen lacerations across the top of his head caused, in the coroner’s opinion, by blunt force with the butt of a revolver. Frykowski was also shot twice (only one bullet wound was noted in the homicide report). The “additional gunshot wound not described in autopsy report is a through and through gunshot wound in left leg, direction from left to right, slightly back to front.” Both bullets were recovered by the coroner. Wojciech also had several defensive wounds on his arms and hands. The fatal wound was concluded as one to the center portion of his upper chest, one-inch approximately in length which penetrated the left lung. The coroner also noted that there were “a number of stab wounds that appear to show yellowish, pinkish fatty tissue… wounds may have been caused during dying process, where, if it is postmortem, could be shortly, very shortly, after the heart stopped.” This indicates that perhaps those last stabbings Tex Watson inflicted upon Frykowski, as he, Atkins and Krenwinkel departed the property, might have been either postmortem or occurred as the victim was within seconds of death. He weighed 175 pounds and was 5’8 ½ inches tall. His urine tested positive (0.6 milligrams) for MDMA.

No autopsy report has ever been publicly released on the infant Sharon carried.

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The LaBianca’s were autopsied by Coroner D.M. Katsuyama.

Pasqualino ‘Leno’ Antonio LaBianca

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A 46-year old grocer, Leno also served his country during World War II. He and his second wife Rosemary lived in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. Leno was tied up, stabbed to death and his corpse mutilated by his killers.

Katsuyama’s report shows that Leno received ten stab wounds, penetrating his right carotid artery, trachea, small bowel and colon. He also received fourteen tine punctures (seven stabs from a bifurcated fork placed in his abdomen). He had no defensive wounds, since his hands were bound behind his back during his assault, but ‘skin slippage’ was noted on his wrists, indicating that he tried to free himself from the leather thong that bound his hands. The coroner determined that the knife left punctured in Leno’s throat was the weapon used in both his and Rosemary’s homicides (this was false — the weapon was a bayonet. After Leno’s death a knife found in the LaBianca kitchen was put into his throat by the killers). Mr. LaBianca was 5’11” and 230 pounds at time of death and his toxicology tests were clean.

Rosemary LaBianca

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Wife of Leno, 38-year old Rosemary owned a successful dress shop. She was stabbed in her bedroom, after listening to her husband murdered.

Rosemary suffered forty-one stab wounds. Eight of those wounds were major and potentially fatal including one just nine inches below the crown of her head, penetrating the cervical spinal cord, one on her posterior left chest which penetrated her left lung, another posterior left chest wound, a posterior right chest wound which penetrated her right lung, an anterior left chest wound also penetrating the lung. The coroner noted that all of Rosemary’s major wounds were from the same trajectory: downward at approximately a 20-degree angle (she was stabbed by Tex Watson, holding a bayonet — he was several inches taller than the victim). Rosemary did have some defensive wounds, as well.

Half of Rosemary’s stab wounds were to her lower back and buttocks. They were deemed non-major because it was determined during the autopsy that the victim was already deceased when these wounds were inflicted. These were the wounds made by Leslie Van Houten (forced to stab the victim by Watson, who had been told by Charles Manson to make sure everyone got ‘their hands dirty). Rosemary’s cause of death was listed as ‘multiple stab wounds to neck and trunk causing massive hemorrhage’. She weighed 128 pounds and was 5’6” in height. Her toxicology test was only for ethanol, and was negative.

Eight lives, so mercilessly snuffed out during a 24-hour period in time. It took more than three months for the crimes to be solved by law enforcement, and another two years for all of the perpetrators to be tried, convicted and sentenced.

Charles ‘Tex’ Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten remain behind bars today, more than 51 years after the Tate/LaBianca murders.

Susan Atkins died in 2009 of brain cancer.

Charles Manson died in 2017, also of cancer.

You can learn more about the Family and their crimes by visiting

Written by

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

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