Did Charles Manson get a funeral
50 Years of the Manson Bloodbath: Sharon Tate pleaded for the life of her unborn child
It was a barbaric series of murders: the sect leader Charles Manson incited his followers to blood orgies, 50 years ago they killed the US actress Sharon Tate. Today tourists make a pilgrimage to the crime scenes.
The narrow Cielo Drive meanders steeply through the hills above the luxury Beverly Hills district. The villa area with palm trees and canyons offers a magnificent view over Los Angeles. 10050 Cielo Drive is also one of the most notorious addresses in the film metropolis: on the night of August 9, 1969, the heavily pregnant actress Sharon Tate, three friends of director Roman Polanski's wife and a student of members of the so-called "Manson Family" were brutally murdered here .
"This is where they parked their 1959 Ford, ran up the steep street and cut the phone lines," says tour operator Scott Michaels behind the wheel of his minibus on the "Helter Skelter" tour. It takes almost four hours to drive to the crime scenes of one of the worst murder series in the USA, in the footsteps of the cult leader Charles Manson and his young followers, who spread fear 50 years ago. Seven people died in two nightly attacks.
"This case has it all: monsters and movie stars"
Michaels has been leading the "Helter Skelter" tour for 13 years. His arms are covered with tattoos, and the number 1969 can be seen in bright colors. With the round anniversary, the interest increased, says the 56-year-old, who has long been enthusiastic about the dark side of Los Angeles. "This case has everything: monsters and movie stars, it was pure terror. People were afraid to go to bed in the evening."
"The idea that Manson could manipulate young people in this way and incite them to kill is so tragic and sad," says Deborah Stauder. You once wanted to see the scenes of horror with your own eyes, says the 51-year-old American. Despite great fear of flying, she traveled from the east coast to California especially for the "Helter Skelter" tour, says the mother of two. "I've always wished that Sharon Tate and her friends had escaped the killers."
The tour is for adults only, no cruel details are left out. The murderers have their own say. Michaels plays sound recordings of interviews and process recordings. Tate desperately pleaded with her to keep her baby alive, the convicted Susan Atkins can be heard saying in a low voice. Others tell of how they stabbed their victims dozens of times with knives and used their blood to write words like "Pig" and "Death to Pigs" on walls and doors.
"Dance of the Vampires" was Sharon Tate's breakthrough
The pretty Sharon Tate was at the beginning of her career. The 26-year-old with long blond hair had starred in films such as "The Black 13" and "The Naked Facts" when Roman Polanski brought her in front of the camera for the horror comedy "Dance of the Vampires". In January 1968, the director married the young star in London. A year later they rented the ranch house on Cielo Drive. Before that, the music producer Terry Melcher lived there, with whom Charles Manson had tried unsuccessfully to record a record as a singer and composer.
Sharon Tate: The American actress was married to star director Roman Polanski. (Archive picture) (Source: - / UPI / dpa)
Polanski was filming in London when, on the night of the crime, three women and a man with bayonets, pistols and knives broke into the villa. Tate, who is eight months pregnant, had a visit from her ex-boyfriend, star hairdresser Jay Sebring, that evening. Cruelly mutilated and with a string around her neck, the actress was found next morning next to Sebring's body. The coffee company heiress Abigail Folger and her Polish friend had also been brutally murdered. The next night the Manson gang slaughtered businessmen Leno and Rosemary La Bianca.
Manson himself is said to never have killed
The City of Angels was terrified for three months until Manson and four young members of his hippie sect were arrested. During the nine-month trial, Manson claimed never to have killed himself. In fact, he was not present in the bloodshed, but prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi portrayed him as a monster and mastermind, followed by the young followers like "mindless robots", dependent on drugs and his ideology.
Manson's occult messages consisted of quotations from the Bible and the Beatles. With the murders, he wanted to instigate a racial war between blacks and whites, in order to stand out as a leader himself in the end. He named his ideology "Helter Skelter" (in German roughly: "Head overhead") after the Beatles song of the same name. He allowed himself to be worshiped as Satan or Jesus and sent very young girls from his sect to buy and ultimately to murder.
Manson died behind bars a few years ago
In 1971 Manson was sentenced to death for incitement to the bloody acts, which was later commuted to life imprisonment. He never showed remorse in public. After almost five decades behind bars, he died in 2017 at the age of 83. Tex Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie van Houten - now 73, 71 and 69 years old - have repeatedly regretted their actions. You are serving a life sentence. Susan Atkins made 13 petitions for clemency before she died of cancer in prison in 2009 at the age of 61.
The house on Cielo Drive rented by Tate and Polanski was demolished in 1994 and replaced by a larger villa, the house number changed to 10066. Today a TV producer lives there, as Michaels tells on the "Helter Skelter" tour.
A young woman wears a T-shirt with Manson's image
The 28-year-old Lauren Kershner listens eagerly to every word of the tour operator. As a young girl, she wanted to learn everything about the Manson cult, says the musician from the neighboring state of Oregon. She has darkly made-up eyes and wears a black shirt with a Manson image and the words "Helter Skelter" on it. "He had so much power over people," says the young woman. "If Sharon Tate were still alive today, she might not have become so famous. It's kind of sad," muses the American.
Tour guide Michaels, who made a documentary about the Manson murders, was most recently a consultant on Quentin Tarantino's film "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood". Margot Robbie plays Sharon Tate, Leonardo DiCaprio a worn-out western star, Brad Pitt his stunt double and friend: "The case has always been notorious, but now a young generation will see Tarantino's work and it will make film history with it."
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