The capture and conviction of Charles Manson took over one and a half years to complete. Within this time period many law enforcement officers and forensics professionals put in countless numbers of hours collecting, preserving and testing the physical evidence they found. In addition, the forensics practices used in this case as well as the police investigation techniques serve as a valuable lesson for those in these fields today. In this paper we will look at some of the crimes that were committed by the Manson Family, the mishandled investigation that followed and the forensic techniques used to aid (and sometimes hinder the efforts) in obtaining convictions against those involved.
The first five murders, later to be called the "Tate" murders, occurred in a house high above the city of Los Angeles. One victim (Steven Parent) was found in his car outside the house and he had been shot four times and stabbed once. Another two victims (Abigail Folger and Voytek Frykowski) were found on the back lawn of the Tate estate. Coroner's reports would later indicate that Abigail had been stabbed twenty-eight times and Voytek was shot twice, struck over the head thirteen times and stabbed
Fifty-one times. The remaining two bodies (Sharon (Tate) Polanski and Jay Sebring) were found inside the house tied together by a rope around their necks, which was hung over a rafter in the ceiling. Sharon, who was eight months pregnant at the time, had died from multiple stab wounds to the chest and back, totaling sixteen. Jay, who was found with Sharon, had been stabbed seven times and shot once. He died of exsanguination, which is bleeding to death and neither of the victims had actually died from hanging. The next two victims,...
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...oved that Manson, although not a direct participant, had ordered the Tate-LaBianca killings" (Terry 606). He was present at the LaBianca scene, only long enough to tie up the victims. He then walked outside and told his followers to "kill them." All of the defendants were sentenced to death, which was later commuted to life when California's laws were changed. Although he has come up for parole several times already there is little doubt as to whether he will remain in prison.
1. Bailey, A. Charles Manson - Murder and 'Family' Man. World Wide Web ; 1995
2. Bugliosi V, Gentry C. Helter Skelter. 16th ed. New York, NY: Bantam Books; 1974 : 3-664
3. Sanders E. The Family. 1st ed. Toronto, Canada: Clarke, Irwin & Company; 1971: 21-412
4. Terry M. The Ultimate Evil. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Bantam Books; 1989: 497-640
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