Remembering the victims of the Manson murders


After midnight Aug. 9, 1969, the nighttime quiet of Benedict Canyon was broken by screams and gunshots. When police arrived at a house on Cielo Drive, they found a chilling scene: On the lawn was a man’s body, stabbed, bludgeoned and shot; the body of a woman lay nearby. “PIG” was written in blood on the front door. Inside were the bodies of Sharon Tate, the pregnant actress who rented the house with husband Roman Polanski, and hairstylist Jay Sebring. A fifth body was found outside.

The next night, Aug. 10, police encountered another nauseating murder scene: Leno and Rosemary LaBianca had been stabbed to death in their Los Feliz home. “DEATH TO PIGS” was scrawled in blood on the wall; on the refrigerator was the misspelled title of a Beatles song: “HEALTER SKELTER.” The writings eventually helped police link the murders.

The Manson “family” was responsible for two other deaths in the summer of 1969, those of Gary Hinman and Donald “Shorty” Shea.


The victims:

Sharon Tate, 26: An actress best known for her role in “Valley of the Dolls,” she was married to film director Roman Polanski.

Jay Sebring, 35: A Hollywood hairdresser whose clients included Warren Beatty, he was a former boyfriend of Tate’s.

Voytek Frykowski, 32: A friend of Polanski’s, he came from a wealthy Polish family and was staying with Polanski and Tate.

Abigail Folger, 25: The heir to the Folgers coffee fortune, she was romantically involved with Frykowski and was an investor in Sebring’s salons.

Steven Parent, 18: Visiting the resident of a guest house on the Cielo Drive estate, he was the first victim of the murderers.

Leno LaBianca, 44, and Rosemary LaBianca, 38: The owners of a chain of Los Angeles grocery stores, their Los Feliz house was targeted by Charles Manson, who tied them up but left the killing to others.


Gary Hinman, 34: The musician was stabbed to death in his Old Topanga Canyon Road home in July 1969. The phrase “POLITICAL PIGGY” was scrawled in blood on his wall. Manson follower Bobby Beausoleil was arrested while driving Hinman’s Volkswagen bus and was later convicted of the crime.

Donald “Shorty” Shea, 35: A horse wrangler at the Spahn Movie Ranch near Chatsworth, he was killed in August 1969, after the Tate-LaBianca murders. It is believed that Manson’s followers killed him because they feared he was a police informant. His body was found eight years later.

Fifty years later, the Manson “family” murders remain seared into the collective memory of Los Angeles. The question, which persists to this day, is why?

July 28, 2019