August 11, 1969
Seven Found Murdered in
Two Bizarre L.A. Cases
LOS ANGELES (AP) Police pushed a manhunt today for a suspect in the bizarre killings of actress Sharon Tate and four others five miles from where a couple was found slain later in a similar style.
"There is a similarity, but whether it's the same suspect or a copycat we just don't know," said Police Sgt. Bryce Houchin.
At the scene of the second slayings, Inspector K. J. McCauley said, "I don't see any connection between this murder and the others. They're too widely removed. I just don't see any connection.
The man and woman were stabbed many times in their Hollywood home, Houchin said, the man's head wrapped in a sheet, the woman's in a nightgown. In the slayings at Miss Tate's home Saturday, one victim's head was covered with a cloth.
The latest victims were identified as Leno A. LaBianca, 44, reportedly owner of a small local supermarket chain, and his wife Rosemary, 38. Police said their bodies were discovered in nightclothes Sunday night by Mrs. LaBianca's son by a previous marriage, Frank Struthers, 14.
Houchin said the two were "stabbed numerous times and their throats were slit."
McCauley said the word "death" was written in an undisclosed substance on the living room wall. Other officers earlier said the words "death to pigs" were scrawled in blood on a refrigerator door.
Slain besides Miss Tate, whose husband is film director Roman Polanski, were:
Abigail Folger, 26, heiress to the Folger's coffee family.
Jay Sebring, 35, a hair stylist once Miss Tate's fiance and a friend of Polanski.
Voityck Frokowski, 37, actor and writer.
Steve Parent, 18, son of a construction supervisor and friend of the caretaker at Miss Tate's home.
Detective Lt. Robert Helder said the suspect in the movie star's death might be driving a fire-engine red Ferrari sports car owned by Polanski and used occasionally by his wife. Police haven't been able to locate the auto.
The lieutenant wouldn't identify the suspect, other than to say he was mentioned "in conversation" by William Garretson, a 19-year-old caretaker arrested in a guest cottage behind Miss Tate's $200,000 tomato-red rented home in fashionable Bel Air where the slayings were discovered Saturday morning.
Helder said Garretson was being given a lie detector test and might be released. There was no physical evidence in the youth's living quarters to connect him to the crime, the detective said.
Polanski and his associates told newsmen before the director flew home from London to claim his wife's body that they were convinced Garretson is innocent.
"If he weren't innocent he would have split gone away instead of hanging around there," said one of Polanski's friends. Police said the victims had been dead about 12 hours when found.
Coroner Thomas Noguchi said Miss Tate died of stab wounds in the chest and back which penetrated vital organs. He said three of the other victims died of multiple stab wounds and massive hemorrhaging and the youngest died of several gunshot wounds along with numerous stab wounds.
Helder, who appeared with Noguchi at a news conference, said he didn't feel the second suspect was a "maniac" because the slayings looked planned. "Mainly because of cut telephone wires," Helder said, the killings appeared to be premeditated. "I don't feel we have a maniac running round. It was a planned type of situation."
But Helder conceded that "this is one of the weird homicides... We don't have anybody we can talk to. We're trying to piece it together."
"It almost looked lake a ritual," said Sgt. Stan Klerman after viewing the death scene. But Helder said any ritual involved wasn't ceremonial or religious.
He said there was no evidence of a wild party, liquor or narcotics. "We could find no signs of a great violent struggle," he added.
Scene of Star's Death
Police stand guard at the hilltop home in Los Angeles' Bel Air district of actress Sharon Tate, where she and four other persons were found murdered Saturday. The sheet-covered body of one of the victims is in background.