Caitlin Gallagher
Updated November 21, 2017 11:41 am
Evening Standard/Getty Images

Roman Polanski is an infamous figure in his own right, but the filmmaker has a devastating connection to one of the most notorious people in modern history, Charles Manson. With Manson’s recent death on November 19th, people will be remembering the crimes he committed through his cult — and how the most well-known Manson Family crime directly impacted Polanski.

As NBC News reported, Polanski has been living in Europe since 1978. He fled the U.S. after he pled guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old, Samantha Geimer. Polanski served 42 days in jail, but he left the country due to fear that his plea bargain would be overruled and he’d be sentenced to more significant jail time. As the Los Angeles Times reported, three more women have accused Polanski of sexual assault and rape with the latest allegation revealed in October 2017.

However, Polanski’s connection to Manson occurred nearly a decade before he left the country, when members of Manson’s cult murdered Polanski’s pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, along with four other people. Neither Polanski nor Manson was present at the murders, but their lives will forever be intertwined because of this harrowing event that occurred via Manson’s orders.

On August 9th, 1969, Mason sent four of his followers — Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Charles “Tex” Watson — to 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon, Los Angeles, which was being rented by Tate and Polanski. Tate was nearly nine months pregnant and Polanski was in London scouting film locations, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Polanski and Tate had been married for 20 months.

The home had been chosen as a target because Manson was reportedly rejected by a music producer who had previously lived there. But, according to Manson’s orders, the inhabitants didn’t matter, and the Manson Family brutally killed Tate and her friends who were over at her house that night — writer Wojciech Frykowski, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, and celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring. They also killed Steven Parent, who was visiting a friend on Polanski’s estate.

Time described the grisly murder scene, which is haunting to this day. Tate was found naked with one of her breasts slashed off and an “X” cut on her pregnant belly. She had been stabbed 16 times and the Family wrote the word “PIG” on the front door in her blood.

Although he didn’t commit the crimes himself, Manson convinced his followers to do the heinous deeds on his bidding. He was found guilty in 1971 and spent the rest of his life in prison until he died on November 19th.

In a 2013 interview with Spiegel, Polanski said:

Polanski is a polarizing figure with multiple accusations of sexual assault. But the Manson Family’s killing of his wife and unborn child will forever mark a moment when the world had empathy for the director.