From the Archives: Manson Indicted With 5 Others in Tate Murders

The front page of the Los Angeles Times on Dec. 9, 1969
The front page of The Times on Dec. 9, 1969, when Charles Manson and five others were indicted for the murder of actress Sharon Tate and others.

This article appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Dec. 9, 1969.

Charles Manson, 35, and five members of his hippie clan were indicted Monday for the August slaughter of actress Sharon Tate and six other persons.

After two days of listening to evidence presented by Dep. Dist. Attys. Aaron H. Stovitz and Vincent T. Bugliosi, the County Grand Jury returned the indictments before Superior Judge William B. Keene late Monday afternoon.

Indicted along with Manson, who refers to himself variously as “Jesus,” “God” and “Satan,” were:

— Susan Atkins, 21, formerly of San Jose and known to the Manson “Family” as Sadie Glutz. Her story to a jail cellmate late last month reportedly clinched police suspicions about the hippie cult. She provided the grand jury with incriminating evidence against all six suspects, including herself.


— Charles (Tex) Watson, 24, former high school honor student and star athlete, now in jail in McKinney, Tex., his hometown. He has said he will fight extradition.

Woman Fighting Extradition

— Patricia Krenwinkel, 21, seized last week in Alabama where her divorced mother lives. Her father, an insurance agent, resides in Inglewood. She is fighting extradition.

— Linda Kasabian, 20, seized in her hometown of Milford, N.H., last week. Five months pregnant, she returned to Los Angeles voluntarily.

— Leslie Sankston, 19, arrested in October when officers raided the cult’s Death Valley commune during the roundup of an auto theft ring. She was brought to Los Angeles Nov. 25, along with four other young female clan members, as a material witness.

Manson, Watson, Miss Atkins, Miss Krenwinkel and Mrs. Kasabian were indicted on seven counts of murder and one of conspiracy.

Each of the murder counts represents a separate victim — Miss Tate and the four slain along with her at the actress’ Benedict Canyon estate Aug. 9, and Leno La Bianca, 44, and his wife, Rosemary, 38, killed a day later in their Los Feliz residence.

Charles Manson
(Los Angeles Times)

Miss Sankston also was indicted on a conspiracy charge, but only two murder counts were lodged against her. They involve the slaying of La Bianca, wealthy supermarket owner, and his wife.

The 21-member jury heard 22 witnesses before adjourning Monday afternoon. Sixteen witnesses testified Monday, but the most telling evidence emerged from the story Miss Atkins reportedly repeated at Friday’s opening session.

The overt acts listed in the conspiracy count indicate jurors put high credence in the story which her attorney, Richard Caballero, had said she would tell the panel.

It listed four such acts. They were:

— That Watson, Miss Atkins, Mrs. Kasabian and Miss Krenwinkel traveled from the clan’s earlier encampment at a Chatsworth movie ranch to the Tate estate the night of Aug. 8.

— That Watson, Miss Atkins and Miss Krenwinkel entered the Tate home.

— That on Aug. 10, all the suspects traveled from the ranch to the La Bianca home.

— That Manson, Watson, Miss Krenwinkel and Miss Sankston entered the La Bianca home.

Miss Atkins reportedly testified that Manson tied up the La Biancas but left before they were murdered and that Mrs. Kasabian remained outside both the Tate and La Bianca homes. Miss Atkins claims she remained outside the La Bianca home, but admits entering the Tate mansion.

Asked if Miss Atkins’ testimony was the cornerstone of the prosecution’s case, Bugliosi replied:

“I wouldn’t say it was the cornerstone, but I would say it constitutes quite a few bricks.”

No Immunity

He said, however, that no offers of immunity have been tendered any of the suspects.

But it is believed that such an offer might be made to Mrs. Kasabian if she were to agree to testify for the prosecution, since she presumably is the least culpable. This is because, according to Miss. Atkins, she was in neither murder house.

It also is thought Miss Atkins may have saved her own life by testifying before the grand jury. Conceivably, authorities could permit her to plead guilty to a lesser degree of murder.

Arraignment Set

Miss Atkins, Mrs. Kasabian and Miss Sankston, the three in custody here, will be arraigned Wednesday in Judge Keene’s court.

The district attorney’s office already has begun extradition proceedings against Miss Krenwinkel and Watson, both of whom are suspected of taking the most active roles in both sets of murders.

Bugliosi said Manson would be brought here “as soon as possible, likely three or four days,” from Inyo County. He is being held there on the auto theft charges.

He said the district attorney’s office would “resist” any defense attempt to sever the La Bianca and Tate cases, “since a common thread runs through both.” He said his office also would seek to try all suspects in a single trial.

Police believe that Manson, and possibly others indicted Monday, are involved in at least three other murders all masterminded by the longhaired cult leader.

Testimony last week during the trial of a man accused of murdering musician Gary Hinman, 24, last July indicated Manson had given the orders for the victim’s execution. Miss Atkins was awaiting trial for the Hinman murder when she admitted her role and that of the others in the Tate crime to a cellmate.

The district attorney decided Monday morning not to seek an indictment against Steve Grogan, 24, alias Garth or Gary Tufts, who had been implicated by Miss Atkins in the La Bianca killings. Prosecutors concluded he had left the scene with Manson and the others before the murders and possibly had no knowledge of them. He now is in jail in Inyo County on the auto theft charges.

Bugliosi said he doubted if the suspects would be brought to trial “before next spring,” his estimate being based on the assumption that most would use legal delays available to them.

The leader of a motorcycle gang, who fumed and swore at newsmen as he arrived to testify, was the chief witness at Monday’s jury session. Once inside the jury room, however, Daniel de Carlo, slight and dark-eyed, proved a cooperative witness, according to Stovitz and Bugliosi.

De Carlo lived for a time with Manson’s cult at the movie ranch in Chatsworth.

No Part in Slayings

Stovitz said de Carlo “had no part” in the murders.

But it is understood de Carlo supplied detectives with information about both slaughters.

Three of the so-called material witnesses brought here with Miss Sankston from Inyo County Nov. 25 also testified Monday.

Nancy Pittman, 20, Rachel Morse, 18, and Diane Bluestein, 16, reportedly told jurors they had no knowledge of the murders. They will be returned to Independence for trial on the auto theft charges.

Sharon Tate Estate Placed at $45,000

Actress Sharon Tate left an estate of $45,000 and an undisclosed sum in personal property, documents filed in Santa Monica Superior Court disclosed Monday.

The father of the slain film star, retired Army Lt. Col. Paul Tate, petitioned the court for letters of administration. Miss Tate is believed to have died without a will.