Danny Galindo, a retired Los Angeles police detective who helped investigate the notorious Tate-LaBianca murders, died of a heart ailment Tuesday at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, his family said. He was 88.
"He was an important member of the Manson murders investigative team," said Vincent Bugliosi, who was the chief prosecutor in the case. Cult leader Charles Manson and several followers were sentenced to death (later reduced to life terms) in the 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tate, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca and five others.
Described by Bugliosi as amiable and hard-working, Galindo was a member of the LAPD's prestigious Robbery-Homicide Division when he was sent to the Tate house in Benedict Canyon, where the first five killings took place on the night of Aug. 8, 1969. As he told Los Angeles magazine last year, he took charge of the evidence being gathered and stayed to guard the house after the other investigators left the gruesome scene.
The next night he was filing reports at Parker Center downtown when he was called to the scene of two more murders, this time in the Los Feliz area. He was the first detective to arrive at the LaBianca residence and conducted a detailed search, according to Bugliosi's book about the murders, "Helter Skelter." Galindo later testified about the results of his search, including finding the word "WAR" carved into the abdomen of Leno LaBianca.
On the night of the LaBianca murders he was asked by a television reporter if the Tate and LaBianca murders were related and regretted his answer. "I told him, 'I think it's more of a copycat case.' I introduced that expression, and I've lived with it forever. It was a hell of a mistake on my part," he said in the Los Angeles magazine piece, "because it wasn't until much later that things would begin to fall into place."
Galindo was born in El Paso on May 4, 1921. He flew a fighter plane for the Army Air Forces during World War II and was awarded the Purple Heart and Flying Cross after he was shot down over Germany.
He joined the LAPD in 1946 and quickly became a detective. He retired from the department in 1977 after three decades in homicide. He later worked as an investigator for the State Bar of California before starting his own investigations firm.
He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Margie, a son, a daughter and a grandchild.