NBC has reportedly ordered 13 episodes of a new drama titled Aquarius starring David Duchovny who plays a Los Angeles police sergeant investigating the Manson family. The TV series is set to be based on the true events leading up to the horrific murders committed by the Manson family in Los Angeles during the summer of 1969. The timing is perhaps right for the series, this year will mark the 45th anniversary of the famous murders that rocked tinsel town to the core. The Tate-LaBianca murders are considered the most horrific crimes in Hollywood history.
It is said to have all started when a group of misfits from mostly middle-class families converged together into a hippie commune on the coattails of a tumultuous crazy time of counter culture in America. It was the 60's and Charles Manson, a con man with a long prison record, had learned the ropes of cult manipulation and mind control to master a group of people under his dominion. He called this group of followers “the family.”
Manson and his followers traveled up and down the West Coast, sometimes in converted school buses, and stayed in a variety of places living a nomadic lifestyle. They eventually put down roots at the Spahn Ranch in the city of Chatsworth, just outside of Los Angeles. Manson, a struggling musician with stars in his eyes, hoping to make it in Hollywood made the rounds in Los Angeles partying with music producers like Terry Melcher, and with talent manager Rudi Altobelli and even with musicians like Beach Boy Dennis Wilson.
By the time his cult was well established, Manson already had a history of violent crimes and now had a large group of dedicated followers including Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten, Charles “Tex” Watson, Linda Kasabian and Patricia Krenwinkel. He was angry about being ignored by his Hollywood connections in the music industry. Dennis Wilson had kicked the family out of hanging out at his property, and Terry Melcher had blown off Manson’s music aspirations. Rudi Altobelli was lukewarm on Manson’s talent.
On March 23, 1969 Manson set out to visit the home of Terry Melcher at 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon where music producer, Melcher had once lived with actress Candice Bergen. Manson had been to this house before, but Melcher no longer lived there. The owner, talent manager Rudi Altobelli, lived in the guesthouse and had now rented the main house to Director Roman Polanski and Actress Sharon Tate.
When Manson arrived at Cielo Drive; he had approached Tate’s front door only to be intercepted by a photographer that was there for a shoot, asking him what he was doing on the property. The photographer told him that Melcher no longer lived there. Manson proceeded to the guesthouse to speak with Rudi, wanting to know Melcher’s whereabouts. Manson also recalled Altobelli was in the entertainment business and wanted to set up a meeting. Altobelli tried to brush Manson off, giving the excuse that he would be away in Europe for a year. Soon afterward, Tate had inquired about the creepy guy who came around the property, but Rudi explained he got rid of him.
On August 8th, 1969, Manson directed followers Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian to go back to the house on 10050 Cielo Drive, instructing them to brutally murder anyone at the property and to leave something “witchy” at the crime scene. Actress Sharon Tate, wife of director Roman Polanski who was out of town at the time, was still renting the house. Tate was eight ½ months pregnant and had friends spending the evening with her. Her best friend, celebrity hair stylist Jay Sebring, Folger Coffee heiress Abigail Folger and Folger’s boyfriend, screenwriter Wojciech Frykowski were all at the property during the night of August 8th. William Garretson was living in Rudi’s guesthouse as a groundskeeper, and he was in the guesthouse the entire time of the murders.
Watson climbed a telephone pole near the property and cut the phone line. He and the rest of the followers avoided the secured gate by climbing over some bushes and onto the property grounds. Before they made their way up the drive to the house, a car approached. Steven Parent, a friend of William Garretson the groundskeeper was leaving the property after visiting his friend. Watson pointed the gun, Parent begged for his life and Watson shot him to death.
Watson and the crew proceeded to the house and left Linda Kasabian outside as a lookout. Tex entered the Cielo Drive house through a screen window and unlocked the door for Atkins and Krenwinkel. They began their killing spree by waking Frykowski, who was asleep on the couch, by kicking him in the head. When Frykowski asked Tex who he was and what he wanted Tex replied, “I’m the devil, and I’m here to do the devil’s business.” The girls rounded up the other three house guests and tied up Sebring and Tate by their necks to each other. When Jay Sebring tried to protect Sharon Tate, he was shot and stabbed to death by Tex Watson. Frykowski was fighting Atkins and was able to make his way through the front door only to be finished off by Watson by being shot, hit on the head with a gun and stabbed 51 times. Sharon was stabbed 16 times while pleading for the life of her unborn child. Abigail Folger was stabbed 28 times after escaping through the back of the house by the pool, and finished off by Krenwinkel and Watson in the yard. When leaving the crime scene, Atkin’s wrote, “pig” with a towel mixed with blood on the front door. The next day, Sharon Tate’s housekeeper discovered the bodies.
The killing spree did not end on Cielo Drive. The following night, Charles Manson ordered family members Leslie Van Houton, Tex Watson, and Patricia Krenwinkel to murder Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, a wealthy couple that owned a chain of grocery stores. The victims were also strangers to the Manson family and randomly targeted. They were both stabbed to death multiple times. When leaving the crime scene, Krenwinkel wrote, “rise and death to pigs” on the walls and “Helter-skelter” on the refrigerator door all using the victim's blood.
Eventually, all parties involved in the actual murders were arrested and convicted with the exception of Kasabian. Linda Kasabian testified against the members of the family as a key witness and was spared of any sentencing. The death sentences of Manson, Atkins, Watson and Krenwinkel were commuted when the state of California overturned the death penalty. Susan Atkins passed away in 2009. Today, the surviving members that were convicted are all serving life and have been repeatedly denied parole.