On November 19th, 2017, notorious cult leader Charles Manson died at 83 years old while in police custody. And Manson’s name is back in the news today after a court ruled that his remains will be left to his grandson, Jason Freeman. Manson was serving several life sentences at the time of his death for ordering the killing of seven people in 1969. And while Manson is still a household name, relatively little is ever said about the majority of his victims.
Manson’s most famous victim was actress Sharon Tate, then-wife of director Roman Polanski. Four of Manson’s followers murdered Tate in her Los Angeles home on August 9th, 1969. She was 26 years old and eight months pregnant. Tate was best known for her role in the 1967 movie Valley of the Dolls. At the time of her death, Tate was taking a break from acting to prepare for the birth of her son.
Manson’s followers killed four other people at Tate’s home that night: Wojciech Frykowski, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, and Steven Parent. Frykowski, Sebring, and Folger were friends of Tate. Parent was a teenager who happened to be there that night because he was visiting an employee who lived on the grounds, but not in the main house.
Sebring, a celebrity hairstylist, had dated Tate before she married Polanski.
Folger was the daughter of Folger Coffee chairman, Peter Folger, and she was dating Frykowski, a writer. In an interview with People, Tate’s sister said that Folger loved to read and that Frykowski liked to fly kites in the front yard of Tate’s home.
The night following the murders at the Tate-Polanski home, Manson’s followers then murdered wealthy grocery store owners Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in Los Feliz, California. Leno LaBianca was a father of four from a previous marriage, and his ex-wife has often petitioned the courts to ensure that his murderers never go free.
The Manson Family allegedly intended for the police to believe that the Black Panthers had committed all seven murders, hoping to incite a race war.
If anything, we can use Manson’s death as an opportunity to remember his victims, and our thoughts are with their families and loved ones while they — and the nation — relives this tragedy.