Sharon Tate Murder: Forty-Eight Years Later, Manson and His 'Family' Still Haunt Us

Actress Sharon Tate at London Airport
Actress Sharon Tate in 1966.Hulton Deutsch / Corbis via Getty Images

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By Corky Siemaszko

Forty-eight years ago, four of Charles Manson’s followers barged into a rented Los Angeles-area mansion and went on a killing spree aimed at igniting an apocalyptic race war that their deranged leader dubbed “Helter Skelter” after The Beatles song.

The best known of their victims was actress Sharon Tate, who was married to director Roman Polanski and eight-months pregnant when she was murdered.

Actress Sharon Tate in 1966.Hulton Deutsch / Corbis via Getty Images

Slain with her in the wee hours of August 9, 1969 were hairdresser Jay Sebring, Polish screenwriter Wojciech Frykowski, and his lover, coffee heiress Abigail Folger. An 18-year-old named Steven Parent, who had been visiting the caretaker of the Benedict Canyon property, was killed earlier in the driveway.

Two more people, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, would die at the hands of Manson’s minions before the Manson-directed massacre was over.

This is where Manson and his family members are now:

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CHARLES MANSON — Now 82, the ringleader of the killer cult remains unrepentant as he serves nine life sentences at Corcoran State Prison in California. He has been denied parole a dozen times and will be 92 when — and if — he goes before the board again in 2027. But he still appears to be able to enchant women. Two years ago, he and 26-year-old Afton Elaine Burton, also known as "Star," got a marriage license. It expired before they could tie the knot.

Charles Manson is escorted to his arraignment on conspiracy-murder charges in connection with the Sharon Tate murder case in 1969 in Los Angeles.AP

SUSAN ATKINS — She was the third member of the twisted sorority that was "Charlie's Girls," and the first member of the cult to die behind bars in 2009. She was 61. Once known as "Sexy Sadie," she married twice after she was jailed and her second husband represented her at several of her 18 parole board hearings. She was denied an exit every time.

LESLIE VAN HOUTEN — At 19, she was the youngest of Manson’s fanatical followers and was convicted for her role in the LaBianca murders. While serving a life sentence, she became a model prisoner and apologized for her crimes, saying she was “deeply ashamed.” But in July 2016, California Gov. Jerry Brown denied her parole for the 20th time. Now 67, she gets another shot at freedom when she goes before the parole board again on Sept. 6.

Three co-defendants in the Sharon Tate murder case, from left, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten, laugh as they walk to court in Los Angeles for sentencing on March 29, 1971.AP file

PATRICIA KRENWINKEL — Nicknamed “Big Patty,” she was part of the foursome that broke into the home Tate had rented and prosecutors said she stabbed Folger so many times police initially thought her white nightgown was red. Krenwinkel, who is now 69, also became a model prisoner behind bars. She is the longest-incarcerated female prisoner in the California penal system — a sorry streak that is unlikely to end when she comes up for parole next year. She has been previously denied parole 13 times.

CHARLES “TEX” WATSON — One of Manson's henchmen, Watson is now 71 and has been serving a life sentence. Behind bars, Watson became an ordained minister and fathered four children during conjugal visits. When California ended that perk in 1996 for prisoners serving life sentences, Watson's wife left him for another man.

Charles "Tex" Watson was granted a continuance on his plea to seven counts of murder and a charge of conspiracy to murder in the Tate-LaBianca killings on April 13, 1971.Wally Fong / AP file

BRUCE DAVIS — Once considered Manson's "right hand man," Davis is 74 and imprisoned at the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo. Like Watson, he too became a preacher behind bars.

LYNETTE “SQUEAKY” FROMME — She was a member of the cult but never charged with the murders. In 1975, Fromme was nabbed while trying to assassinate President Gerald Ford. Now 68, she served 34 years in prison before she was paroled in 2009.

Manson family member Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, at pre-trial hearings in Los Angeles.AP file

LINDA KASABIAN — She was the getaway driver for the murder spree. Horrified, Kasabian later abandoned her cohorts and was granted immunity after testifying against Manson and his followers. She is 68.

BOBBY BEAUSOLEIL — Nicknamed "Cupid" because of his good looks, Beausoleil is serving a life sentence for stabbing to death Gary Hinman in July 1969. Manson claimed Hinman owed him money and sliced off part of his ear with a sword. Then he ordered Beausoleil to finish him off. Now 69, Beausoleil is serving his sentence at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville.

MARY BRUNNER — She was one the first members of the Manson Family and bore the cult leader a son named Valentine Michael. Although she played no role in the murders, Brunner was busted in 1971 for robbing a gun store as part of a scheme to bust Manson out of jail. She was wounded in a shootout with cops. Now 73, she was paroled in 1977.

STEVE “CLEM” GROGAN — Manson called Grogan "Scramblehead" because he was so dim. Sentenced at first to death for his role in the murders, Grogan got life instead after a judge deemed him "too stupid and too hopped on drugs"to have staged the slaughter. He was sprung from prison in 1985. He is 66.