Monday, December 5, 2016

A Look At the Evidence #3: The Death of Steven Parent (Who told it best?)

The official narrative says that Charles Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian arrived at Cielo Drive at approximately midnight on August 9, 1969. Watson cut the telephone line and then the murderers drove their car back down Cielo Drive, parked and walked back up to the gate of the Polanski residence.

The Testimony

Here is what the witnesses have to say about the events that followed.


Bugliosi: What happened next?
Atkins: Then he told us to get our changes of clothes and we all walked back up the hill and walked to this fence.
Q: Now, when you say "this fence," I see the word "gate" on the diagram. Did you walk up to the gate?
A: We walked up to the gate but we didn't want to touch it or go over it because we thought there may be an alarm system or electricity running through it.
Q: Is there a fence adjacent to this gate?
A: Yes, there is.
Q: On the left and right? 
A: Left.
Q: Left of where I am pointing now but it would have been to your right?
A: That is correct.
Q: South on this diagram; is that correct, assuming that this is north?
A: Uh-huh.
Q: What happened after you approached the fence?
A: I was told to go over first so I threw my changes of clothes over the fence and held the knife between my teeth and climbed over and got my pants caught on part of the fence and had to kind of boost myself up and lift from where I was caught off of the fence and fell into bushes on the other side of the fence and I was followed by the other three people.
Q: You say "other three people," you mean Tex, Patricia Krenwinkel  and Linda Kasabian?
A: Right.
Q: What happened next?
A: Then we were going to move forward in this direction.
Q: Toward the residence?
A: Toward the residence, and we saw lights coming from, apparently, this car.
Q: You say "this car." Are you referring to a little rectangle here that has "Parent's two-door Rambler, MPX 308"?
A: Right.
Q: Was this car in motion, would you say?
A: I didn't actually see the car, I just saw the headlights.
Q: Did the car appear to be in motion? 
A: Yes, it did.
Q: What happened next?
A: Tex told us girls to lie down and be still and not make a sound. He went out of sight.
Q: Did all three of you girls lie down and stay silent?
A: Yes.
Q: What happened next?
A: Tex went out of my sight and I heard him say, "Halt."
Q: Did you hear any voice other than that?
A: Yes, I heard a voice say –
Q: Was it a male voice?
A: Yes, it was. 
Q: Man or boy?
A: It was a male voice.
Q: What did the male voice say?
A: "Please don't hurt me, I won't say anything." And I heard a gunshot and I heard another gunshot and another one and another one.
Q: You heard four gunshots?
A: Yes.
Q: What happened next?
A: Tex came back to us and told us to come on. I saw him go to the car, which was not parked here. At the time, it was over here. [Referring to a diagram.]
Q: It was parked closer to the gate than it is right now on the diagram?
A: Yes, he reached inside, turned off the lights, and then proceeded to push the car to where it is parked here.
Q: On the diagram?
A: Yes. Susan Atkins Grand Jury Testimony (Kindle Locations 411-414). Kindle Edition.

Kasabian at Tate/LaBianca:

Q. What happened after you, Katie, Sadie, and Tex walked up the hill?
A. We climbed over --- we climbed over a fence and then a light started coming towards us and Tex told us to get back and sit down.

MR.KANAREK: Your Honor, I must object to what Tex said as to Mr. Manson, your Honor.
THE COURT: Overruled, subject to the same conditions as I have indicated previously. Are you able to go on, Mrs. Kasabian?

A. Yes I am. And a car pulled up in front of us and Tex leaped forward with a gun in his hand and stuck his hand with the gun at the man's head. And the man said, "Please don't hurt me, I won't say anything." And Tex shot him 4 times.
Q. Linda, you say when you saw the headlights coming, this was after you climbed over the fence?
A. Yes.
Q. And Tex told you to keep down when the headlights were coming?
A. Yes.

MR.KANAREK: Leading and suggestive, your Honor. [He’s actually wrong yet again. It is leading but not objectionable. Why?]
MR.BUGLIOSI: This is for clarification, your Honor. I believe she already testified to this. [He’s right.]
THE COURT: Overruled.

Q. Did you actually see Tex point the gun inside the window of the car and shoot the man?
A. Yes, I saw it clearly.
Q. About how far away were you from Tex at the time he shot the driver of the car?
A. Just a few feet.
Q. Was the driver's side of the car --- were you on the driver's side of the car or were you on the passenger side of the car?
A. The driver's side.
Q. Did you notice anyone else in the car other than the driver?
A. No.
Q. Did you see the driver?
A. Yes.
Q. After Tex shot the driver 4-times, what was the next thing that happened?
A. The man just slumped over. I saw that, and then Tex put his head in the car and turned the ignition off.
Q. Did the man slump to his left or to his right, if you recall?
A. Towards the passenger side to his right.
Q. Okay, what is the next thing that happened?
A. Tex put his hand in the car and turned the ignition off. He may have taken the keys out, I don't know. And then he pushed the car back a few feet and then we all proceeded towards the house.

Q. Now, did you climb directly over the gate, or how did you get over the gate?
A. We climbed a small embankment.
Q. You climbed over the embankment to the right of the gate?
A. Yes.
Q. All four of you?
A: Yes

Kasabian at Watson:

Q: What is the next thing that happened?
A: Let's see, we climbed up a small embankment, climbed through some barbed wire which was part of a fence, part of the gate.

Q: Once you, Tex, Katie and Sadie went over the front gate of the Tate residence, what is the next thing that happened?
A: Almost immediately after we all got through the fence some headlights started coming toward us and Tex sort of said, you know, "Get down," which we did and the car came right up to us and Tex had a gun in his hand and there was a man in the car and I saw his face, he wore glasses, and he said something about, "Please don't hurt me. I won't say anything." And Tex just shot him in the head four times.
Q: Where were you in relation to this car?
A: Right there, right -- the car was right here and I was five feet from it or something.
Q: Was the driver of the car fairly close to you?
A: Yeah.
Q: You were on the driver's side of the car then?
A: Yes.
Q: Just a couple of feet away?
A: Yes.
Q: And you saw Tex shoot this man?
A: Yes.
THE COURT: I think she said five feet away; is that right?
THE WITNESS: I don't know the exact feet.
MR. BUGLIOSI: I think I said a few feet away.

What does the physical evidence tell us?

The Embankment

Although Atkins’ testimony is a little confusing, the embankment is to the right of the gate. The image above shows the embankment the killers climbed to scale the fence. You can see, here, why they chose to climb the embankment. It is higher then the fence.

This image is the view from the embankment just at the fence looking directly towards the gate button inside the gate. The button is barely visible on the edge of the wall extending from the light pole near the pillar at the end of the wall. The gate is to the left, out of the picture. This is a pretty good representation of what Atkins and Kasabian could have seen (of course it was dark) immediately after crossing the fence from the embankment.

(This image was taken well after the crimes when barbed wire was added to the top of the gate.)

The view reveals two important pieces of information relevent to the event. The wall that ends at the gate button extends some distance from the embankment (to the right) out into the drive. The traffic lane is quite narrow here. It is a ‘choke point’ and the perfect location for an ambush. The wall appears to be at least ten feet in length given the width of the traffic lane. It appears to be about five feet tall at least at the pillar given the position of the gate button. If the foliage was present that night Steven Parent’s car would have been completely obscurred by the wall from this location unless he actually reached the gate button as the killers reached this location. We know that didn’t happen.

The wall can be seen in this image as well.

The wall is located just behind the gate and appears as a solid dark area ending at the lighter vertical line (the pillar). This image suggests that the area in front of the wall from this angle is the logical ‘landing zone’ after the killers climbed the fence. It provides perfect cover and is the ‘natural’ path.

This is another view of the wall, this time from inside the gate looking out. The car to the right suggests the width of the traffic lane at this point. The figures suggest the height of the wall and again it appears to be about ten feet in length. The wall is past the debre where four of the six figures are standing. (One has to wonder what these guys, except the one on the wall, are doing.)

This diagram was constructed by me from an arial view of the property probably taken either late on the 9th of August or perhaps even on the 10th or later. One police car stands guard. Steven Parent’s car has been removed and the investigators are gone. My ‘car’ symbol may be a little small given the size of the police car but its close enough for what I am trying to illustrate.

I assumed Steven Parent parked his car at location #1. It made sense to me. He would have been largely ‘out of view’ of the main house at that location and still in the common parking area with the other cars. Those cars likely would have drawn him to that location. It also seemed to line up with the damaged fence (where the blue lines meet the fence) on a fairly natural arc. He could have parked more to the left and next to the Firebird. He also could have parked at car location #6 and backed straight back into the fence. This location (#6) would also put his car completely out of sight from the house.

The other blue lines represent two paths Steven Parent could have taken to the gate. Again, precision is not necessary although the lines are probably pretty close.

The red lines represent two possible paths the killers took after crossing the fence reflecting the fact they either had to enter the driveway in front of the wall (between the gate and the wall) or behind the wall. 

“XXX” is the general area where Watson and the rest would have been had they immediately seen SP’s headlights after climbing over the fence as Kasabian claimed at the Watson trial. That is about the location in the picture above that looks towards the wall. This is clearly more then a ‘few feet’ from any possible location for Steven Parent's car. Therefore, if Kasabian is right about the distance, they were not at XXX.

“X” and “XX” mark two other locations where Atkins, Kasabian and Krenwinkel could have been located when Watson confronted Steven Parent. From these you can identify a myriad of other locations along the two routes. These locations (“X” and “XX”) however, put the three women close to Watson’s possible location. 

The yellow triangle is a representation of SP’s headlights and the yellow arc shows how they would have moved from top to bottom as he made his turn towards the gate. In order to avoid being exposed by the headlights Watson, Krenwinkel, Atkins and Kasabian had to be somewhere in front of the wall near “X”.

Car location #2 places Steven Parent at the gate button. I believe the physical evidence makes it unlikely he was there when Watson confronted him. Why? Looking at the photo above from (thank you, by the way) from inside the gate looking out and the first photo, above, there doesn’t appear to be any room for Watson to stand next to the driver’s side door and attack Parent. The wall is higher and wider at the end where it forms the pillar about 5-6 feet tall and about two to three feet wide. The button is beyond the pillar closer to the gate but near the pillar. His car would be at most about 1-1.5 feet from the button (if not closer) and the pillar so he could reach it without getting out of the car. The pillar and the gate button, then would largely block access to the driver’s side window unless Parent was further from the wall and planned to exit the car to open the gate. Steven Parent would have also been stopped at that point rendering the command ‘Halt!’ rather meaningless.

Car loacation #3 assumes Watson stopped Steven Parent just before he approached the gate button. Watson would be at “A” approaching either from the “XX” or “X”. Location #3 seems to be the most likely scenario, especially if he approached from the cover of the wall from “X”. Steven Parent would have seen nothing until Watson stepped out from behind the wall. He would not have reached the button (and thus it would also be harder to push the button really fast and 'run'). An approach from “XX” would have exposed Watson to Steven Parent’s lights well before he reached the car.

Car loaction #4 assumes Watson intercepted Parent before he reached the button by an alternative route. This second route was chosen because it is as close as Parent can be to the retaining wall, bushes and trees along the drive to the right. The image from shows there were garbage cans and other debre (a wagon wheel?) lined and piled up behind the wall along that side of the drive. These are also visible in the diagram. The witnesses do not mention these items or climbing through or around them in their testimony. This suggests they were not in area “XX”.

Location #4 is actually close to where Steven Parent's Rambler was found the next morning. Given location #4 is also blocked from view from the street by the wall it is unlikely this was the route Steven Parent took if the killers (or Watson) did, in fact, push the car back up the drive and behind the wall out of sight where it came to rest. They wouldn’t have had to do that if he approached by this route. The configuration of the car’s wheels could suggest someone pushed the car and turned the wheels sharply to the left to steer it back behind the wall.

Under any scenario, there is, however, no location where Atkins and Kasabian could have been within 'a few feet' of Watson and actually observed the murder of Steven Parent from cover. To be within a few feet they have to be standing or crouching right next to Watson at either “A” or “B”.

The logical place for Atkins, Kasabian and Krenwinkel to have been located is either behind the wall at “X” or up on the embankment “XXX”. The problem with both of these locations is you likely can’t see the confrontation from either location, if you are crouching or ‘sitting down’, especially at night.

Between “XXX” and “X” I believe the better location is at “X”-behind the wall. At “XXX” they would not have seen Steven Parent’s car, especially at night. They also may not have been able to hear anything spoken unless one or both participants spoke loudly. Steven Parent, at least, did not, by witness testimony.

Conversely, if the three murderesses were sitting or crouched down near “X” and Watson confronted Steven Parent at “A” (car location #3) they still would not have been able to see him attack Steven Parent with a knife or stick the gun in the window and fire four times. At “X” they likely would have heard a good deal but would have seen very little.

……which is precisely what one of our two witnesses claimed.

Kasabian places herself within ‘a few feet’ of Watson and actually sees the attack. Even thenher testimony is not accurate. She doesn’t see the knife blow.

A:Tex told us girls to lie down and be still and not make a sound. He went out of sight.
Q: Did all three of you girls lie down and stay silent?
A: Yes.
Q: What happened next?
A: Tex went out of my sight and I heard him say, "Halt."
A: *****And I heard a gunshot and I heard another gunshot and another one and another one.
Q: You heard four gunshots?
A: Yes.
Q: What happened next?
A: Tex came back to us and told us to come on.

Atkins saw nothing, including the use of a knife but she heard the gunshots and the conversation. Her story makes sense based upon the physical evidence. It describes precisely what she could see and hear from near location “X” if she was hiding as instructed and Watson confronted Steven Parent at location #3 or “A”. In the midst of the attack Steven Parent may have cried out after being slashed with the knife if he had time but there would likely be no telltale sound that would alert Atkins to a knife attack.

Kasabian TLB:
Q. Did you actually see Tex point the gun inside the window of the car and shoot the man?
A. Yes, I saw it clearly.
Q. About how far away were you from Tex at the time he shot the driver of the car?
A. Just a few feet.

Kasabian at Watson:
Q: You were on the driver's side of the car then?
A: Yes.
Q: Just a couple of feet away?
A: Yes.
Q: And you saw Tex shoot this man?
A: Yes.

Kasabian claims she saw the whole thing from ‘a few feet away’. Then why didn’t she see Watson attack Steven Parent with a knife? The logical answer is that she, like Atkins, can’t describe that event because she didn't see it. How could she have later testified that she saw the young man wearing glasses in the car, slumped to the passenger side? The same way Atkins did. When she came up next to the car either before or when Watson (maybe with her help) pushed it backwards. This is the same way Atkins saw and coldly decribed Steven Parent’s body in her testimony.

That fence…..

Steven’s car caused the damage to the fence pictured below. The police concluded that the damage occurred as Steven was fleeing the scene trying to escape his attackers.

First Tate Homocide Investigation Progress Report:
Officers noted that the split-rail fence which runs to the north of the garage area was broken, and that scrape marks appeared, on the curb directly in front of the split-rail fence. The scrape marks and the break in the split-rail fence appeared fresh. A search of the undercarriage of Parent's car revealed similar scrape marks and concrete transfer. The rear bumper of the car also showed white paint transfer similar to that as on the split-rail fence.
The second theory is that as Parent left the Garretson residence he observed either part or all of the above-described crimes. He ran for his car, which was parked somewhere in the paved parking area of the property. He entered the car, backed it up at a high rate of speed, struck the curb and knocked down the split-rail fence previously described. He then turned the car in a westerly direction, and in an attempt to evade his pursuers turned the car at an odd angle toward the gate. At this point, he was caught and killed.”

Others have explained the fence by assuming Steven Parent was either a little tipsy from his one beer or just careless and backed into the fence while leaving. I even read one comment somewhere where the author suggested Steven and Garretson must have smoked some pot together. You can’t, however, explain the fence with just this assumtion. You have to make other assumptions. 

You have to assume Steven Parent decided not to go back and tell Garretson. You have to assume this happened either because Steven figured either he’d never see him again or that Steven would call him the next day and explain. But he’s 100’ feet away. Why not just stroll on back and fess up?

You also have to assume Steven failed to tell the people in the house because he wanted to avoid a confrontation or was intimidated like any teenager. This one I can buy and clearly he didn’t because no one was ‘alert’ when Watson entered the home.

There is another possibility but it also requires a lot of assumptions. If Steven’s car was parked at either location #1 or #6 and he was attacked while starting his car and trying to escape (by someone wielding a knife) it may have happened exactly like the Homocide Report states. But again, you have to make assumptions. Neither witness describes the attack on Steven Parent happening this way and no one subsequent to the trials did either. It is an intriguing idea, however-especially given the blood evidence- Watson runs out of the house to help someone stop Steven Parent from getting away, everyone counts heads and makes a dash for the doors when the guy with the gun is gone. This scenario does make the use of the gun, contrary to Manson's orders more of a panic situation. But this scenario has to assume everything in the official narrative is wrong. Atkins lied and Kasabian simply parroted Atkins.  As we will see, the later part of this assumption is possible.

Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.

The fence, to me remains a mystery. I see no simple explanation that does not involve a host of assumptions. 

And about that knife….

Watson attacked Steven Parent with a knife. The autopsy report confirms a defensive wound.  Remember, neither witness saw this incident happen. We know it did but where did Watson get the knife?

Kasabian TLB:

Q. Were there any knives or guns in the car, Linda?
A. Yes, there was.
Q. How many knives and how many guns?
A. There were 3 knives and one gun.
Q. Did Tex then drive off?
A. Yes.
Q. Were there any knives in the car at that point?
A. Yes.
Q. How many?
A. Two knives and the gun.
Q. What about the knife which you brought to the ranch, the folding Buck knife?
A. That wasn't there. That was the knife Katie --- excuse me, Sadie --- left behind.
Q. You may continue, Linda. You drove off and what happened?
A. Then Tex told me to wipe off the prints from the knives.
Q. The two knives?
A. From the knives, the two knives. Yes.

Kasabian Watson:
Q: Were there any knives or guns in the car?
A: Yes.
Q: How many knives were in the car?
A: Three.
Q: One was the knife that you had; is that correct?
A: Yes.
Q: And there were two other knives in the car?
A: Yes.
Q: And who had those two knives?
A: Sadie and Katie.
Q: Did you see any knife on Tex's person?
A: No.
Q: What is the next thing that happened?
A: I don't know, we were driving up hills, up and down, winding, and then he told me to throw the knives out and I did.
Q: You say the knives. Are you referring to the two knives that were in the car?
A: Yes.
Q: You started out with three knives that night.
A: Yes.
Q: And you ended up with two knives?
A: Right.

Kasabian consistently says there were three knives when they arrived at Cielo Drive and two knives when they left. She reports throwing two knives out of the car. There is no fourth knife and Watson does not have a knife.

A fourth knife doesn’t make sense. Why would Watson order two of three murder weapons wiped for prints and thrown out the window and keep his own knife? In case the police pulled them over? A keepsake? 

Q: Did you and the others take anything with you when you left the Spahn Ranch on the evening of August the 8th, 1969?
A: There was a rope in the back seat of the car when I got in there. There was a set of bolt cutters in the back seat of the car. Tex had a gun. I had a knife.  Linda had a knife. Katie had a knife, and to my best knowledge I believe Tex had a knife. You will see why I am not sure whether he had or not, but it makes sense that he did.
Q: All three of you girls had a knife; is that correct?
A: Yes. 

Q: What happened when you reached Mulholland Drive? 
A: All we did was drive along and all of the weapons except for one weapon, I believe it was my knife, was handed to Linda who was sitting up in the front seat along with the gun and we drove along the road until we came to what looked like an embankment going down like a cliff with a mountain on one side and a cliff on the other.

Q: To your knowledge, then, she threw the bloody clothing –
A: Yes.
Q: -- away?
A: Yes.
Q: And what else, again?
A: All of the weapons except for one  knife.
Q: The gun and the knives?
A: Yes, I knew on the way down the hill that I had lost a knife. Susan Atkins Grand Jury Testimony (Kindle Locations 679-680). Kindle Edition.

Atkins is less clear whether Watson had a knife. She is admittedly unsure and bases her belief on what makes sense- in other words what follows: Watson wields a knife during the crime and she sees it. She does place all of the weapons in Kasabian’s hands before they were thrown from the car but never identifies how many knives Kasabian had before she threw them from the car.

Krenwinkel, per Kasabian, borrows Kasabian’s knife later in the story after the murder of Steven Parent. I suppose you could assume from this that Watson borrowed Krenwinkel’s knife before they climbed over the fence or just after, thus disarming her for some unexplained reason. Perhaps it was in response to seeing the headlights of Steven’s car and Manson’s possible admonition to not use the gun. But then Watson didn’t hesitate to use the gun. And neither witness apparently saw Watson borrow Krenwinkel’s knife.

Borrowing Krenwinkel's knife is only one of two ways Watson could have attacked Steven Parent with a knife. The other is if Watson had a fourth knife and Kasabian is wrong about the number of knives she threw out of the car. (I am relying primarily on the testimony of these two witnesses but in Watson's book, I Will Die For You he also identifies only three knives and never mentions having a fourth or borrowing a knife. He does admit attacking Steven Parent with a knife.)

From the testimony of the witnesses alone Watson didn't and couldn't have attacked Steven Parent with a knife. So who did? Kasabian, perhaps, standing 'a few feet' from Watson? She could see the entire assault if she was standing at "A". And she does go out of her way to disarm herself later in the story.

In the end this event takes another jab at Kasabian's credibility. The physical evidence does not appear to support her statements. Maybe to be more fair I should say the physical evidence more closely supports Atkins' testimony.

Returning a moment to the jury instruction: 

In evaluating a witness's testimony, you may consider anything that reasonably tends to prove or disprove the truth or accuracy of that testimony. Among the factors that you may consider are:

How well could the witness see, hear, or otherwise perceive the things about which the witness testified?

How reasonable is the testimony when you consider all the other evidence in the case?

Did other evidence prove or disprove any fact about which the witness testified?
Has the witness engaged in other conduct that reflects on his or her believability?

Was the witness promised immunity or leniency in exchange for his or her testimony?

Do not automatically reject testimony just because of inconsistencies or conflicts. Consider whether the differences are important or not. People sometimes honestly forget things or make mistakes about what they remember. Also, two people may witness the same event yet see or hear it differently.

 If you decide that a witness deliberately lied about something significant in this case, you should consider not believing anything that witness says. Or, if you think the witness lied about some things, but told the truth about others, you may simply accept the part that you think is true and ignore the rest.

Our natural tendency when confronted with Atkins as a witness is to disbeleive her. We should. She changes her story. Her lack of true remorse or feelings for her victims is readily apparent not only in 1969-71 but in the ways she decribes them in her first book, Child of Satan, Child of God.

Her only concern is for herself. This becomes quite evident in her second book written 40+ years after the crimes, TheMyth of Helter Skelter. Here her goals are clearly to take one last jab at Bugliosi and his book and set out her arguments for the unfairness of her circumstances when compared to Kasabian. By the way in that book she mentions her victims by name a total of 54 times. 49 of these are Sharon Tate. Of course she is also trying to prove she didn’t stab Sharon Tate. Voytek Frykowski gets two mentions and the rest, one.

That said, as to the murder of Steven Parent, Atkins’ testimony is closer to the objective evidence, again, then Kasabian. She tells the tale ‘best’.


St Circumstance said...

Dreath this was a very detailed and interesting series of posts...

I cannot add anything to it lol but I have two observations to make about some of the related content of the post.

1. Even from the pictures it is hard to tell how narrow the street is winding up to the gate at Cielo. I was never inside- but when I went up to the gate there were cars parked on street. There was so little room that we couldn't turn around to leave. We literally backed all the way down Cielo to the intersection. I imagine the area just inside the gate leading up driveway was not much wider...

2. Susans second book was just as you describe it, although I did find it a little more believable than some of her earlier accounts of things. What is more interesting to me than Susan's second book though was her second husband. Talk about blurring lines. I am absolutely amazed at what he was able to accomplish in life coming from where he started, and even more stunned at what it was that finally motivated him to chase his full potential. If there is anything at all that should push you to the ultimate limits inside yourself its to lust over a jailed murderer....

But I digress. This was painstakingly detailed and thorough Dreath. Very Well Done!!

Dreath said...

Thanks, Saint

starviego said...

"The fence, to me remains a mystery. I see no simple explanation that does not involve a host of assumptions."

From the looks of it Parent must have smacked that fence pretty hard. Did the intruders ever mention hearing the noise of this collision?

Dreath said...

Startiego said: "Did the intruders ever mention hearing the noise of this collision?"

No and it had to have been kind of loud given he also ran his undercarriage over the cement curb:

"Officers noted that the split-rail fence which runs to the north of the garage area was broken, and that scrape marks appeared, on the curb directly in front of the split-rail fence. The scrape marks and the break in the split-rail fence appeared fresh. A search of the undercarriage of Parent's car revealed similar scrape marks and concrete transfer. The rear bumper of the car also showed white paint transfer similar to that as on the split-rail fence." 1st Homicide Report.

But then again, timing is everything- Parent seems to arrive near the gate button just when they get there too. If he hit it, stopped, got out and said 'Shit!'- looked at the damage, pondered what to do, decided to split and got back in and drove off it may have happened when they were still walking up the hill- ah assumptions.

AstroCreep said...

I still find it interesting that Tex (after just killing his first victim) had the presence of mind to turn off the car, put it in neutral, and push the car back away from the gate. Not to sound morbid, but likely Steven Parent was gurgling and aspirating all while Tex (calm and cool headed) went about the task at hand. It wasn't a part of "the plan" and yet he executed flawlessly.

As well, a .22 caliber pistol isn't quiet. In a busy, loud city, I could understand 4 rapid gunshots being masked by other noises or someone thinking "maybe it's firecrackers". But up in a secluded canyon a few hundred feet from the front door of the victims is something completely different. If I were Tex, I'd be pretty worried the victims heard the gunshots and would be on alert.

Either Tex did a LOT more mental preparation, or maybe this wasn't his first rodeo.

ColScott said...

FAO: Dreath

(this is off topic because the way my ex BF Matt has things set up people never know about comments on older posts. This is in reference to something on last actual posting ((French Delusions do not count))0

It is my understanding that committing perjury in a capital case is in itself a capital offense. It has been my understanding for decades of researching this and from the time I was an imaginary disbarred attorney from Hawthorne California. Since you are a lawman are you in fact saying I am wrong? I would hate to be wrong but love to know the truth.

Dreath said...

Col Scott,

Wrong? Sort of- how's that for a lawyer answer. Here is a link:

(I don't know how to make it actually a click and link thing.)

Like I said you are right under California Penal Code section 128 if the perjury results in a conviction and an execution or an innocent person. I don't know what happens if any condition is missing: the innocent gets 'life'. I believe this is the only way to get death.

PS: If I comment somewhere I always click the 'follow up' button below- ok, I found that about three posts ago and have done it since.

Dreath said...

AstroCreep said: "I still find it interesting that Tex (after just killing his first victim) had the presence of mind to turn off the car, put it in neutral, and push the car back away from the gate. "

I actually went over to a 'classic car showroom" about this as I had an issue with the car being found in second gear pushed backwards. They had a 65 Rambler parked out front (or so I was told when I stopped- I just saw the Rambler). I wanted to find out if it was possible to push an automatic transmission car circa 1966 backwards in second gear.

Answer I got: Yes, and it still is. In fact they looked at me like I was from another planet. Now, what was cool about that car was sitting in the driver's seat (which the owner allowed me to do). I am convinced but can't prove from that, that the car could not be at the gate button given the window.

I also found it unlikely (in my opinion- no science) that the knife blow and the gunshots did not happen at precisely or nearly precisely the same time. Steven's arm had to be raised in a defensive position when both occurred- which makes me question how that could happen from one assailant.

starviego said...

Is the white vehicle shown in the photo on this thread

supposed to be Parent's Rambler? Is this the same vehicle seen in the fourth photo on this thread (the one where you can only see the trunk/rear of the car)?

Dreath said...


It seems it should be the same car. I can't imagine who else would be there. said...

It's the same car

Tuckerp said...

About the knife: Patty said she didn't have a knife, and ask Linda for hers. So Tex had a knife and a gun when he approached Steve Parent. And he cut the screen after the murder. When he used the knife, on Parent I can only assume before he shot him. He may have knifed Parents hand that was protecting his head, so he could shoot there.
The location of Parents car: I would think it was right where the button and pillar are. In the photo taken from the embankment at the gate,( looking at the the light pole, pillar button area). Look on the other side of the driveway. The landscape comes out into the drive way, narrowing the drive in that one spot more then anywhere. Could be why Tex moved the car out of the way. It would be in the way to come on in, and more so leaving. This spot is the only spot that the car would be in the way.
Also would explain why the gun shots where not louder. If the gun was inside the car window when fired, most the sound would be inside the car. And outside the window was Tex's body and the pillar. So the sound was absorbed mostly there in that location, and the remainder of the sound possibly travel down the side of the hill behind the main house, toward the guest house. Bypassing making any noise inside the main house.
I've read a lot on this case, but have never commented before. Thank you all for sharing what you do.

Matt said...

AstroCreep said...

Either Tex did a LOT more mental preparation, or maybe this wasn't his first rodeo.

There's a third choice (although I lean towards he had previous experience). Psychopathic people feel no empathy or guilt.

Dreath said...

Welcome aboard Tuckerp.

Mr. Humphrat said...

Thanks Dreath for another great post. Again I have to study the words and photos carefully to educate myself about the layout there-so many misconceptions in my mind about that. For some reason I didn't know about that little wall and the debris by it. I pictured the girls hiding in some bushes.
One note: as opposed to most commenters on this site I've never felt a lack of remorse from Susan Atkins, at least once she had a few years to clear her mind of the drugs and the influence of the group. I didn't read her last book though.

St Circumstance said...

I don't think she got any more remorseful I just think she got a little more honest with herself and believable personally :)

But not much lol

Robert C said...

For a long time, as a side interest, I've wondered about the scenario that payed out between Tex, the women and Parent. Of particular interest, how Parent's car hit that fence like that prior to his murder. It just didn't add up to me nor did the knife and gunshots regarding exactly what happened.

In these photos (link), of which many if not all of you have already seen, there are more pics to supplement those in Dreath's good write-up. We can see the supposed final resting place of Parent's car, the damaged fence in the background in one or two pics, the gate and fence, etc. -- overall they helped give me a better 'spatial' sense of distances and the area of encounter.

I concocted a dubious theory that Tex approached Parent as he was driving out and used his knife first to keep it quiet. Parent lifts his left arm in a defensive position and receives a knife wound. In his shock and panic he puts the car in reverse and does some fuzzy maneuvering that results in hitting the fence. In the excitement Tex either runs after him or waits for Parent, still in obvious panic, to drive back down whereupon Tex uses the gun this time. There's only one hit to the head and that's the cheek, not cranium. The rest are in the arm and chest area.

There's also a possibility that one of the women did the initial knife attack resulting in Parent's wild car maneuvering and then Tex decides he better take care of it. Somehow the car winds up in the position we see in the pic (if it hasn't been moved by the police to drive further in themselves).

Or we can accept the 'normal' scenario that somehow Parent's driving skills failed him and he hit that fence pretty hard maneuvering around to get out prior to the encounters, then Tex makes an initial attempt with the knife followed by the gun shots (the other way around wouldn't make any sense).

But I have serious doubts with this last one -- being of roughly Parent's age group myself I remember if anyone had a car at that age, which was rare, they (car) were well taken care of, even fawned over, and I don't recall seeing any autopsy reports of excessive alcohol or drugs (although he may not have been tested for everything). Also, using the knife and then the gun, all in one fluid motion, unless there was a struggle between the two, seems kind of funny to me. I mean, if Tex intends to knock the guy off and isn't too worried about the noise then why bother with the knife ?

Well, just my foggy morning ramblings .....

Dreath said...

Robert C,

Thanks for the link. If I had remembered that I would have 'borrowed' some of these images. The hearse leaving Cielo illustrates how narrow that space is near the short wall at the button (and part of why I don't think it happened there).

The two about 2/3 down of the officers talking shows the short wall fairly well. They also show the fence damage just above the head of the officer on the left. Given that view.....

If they pushed the car backwards to avoid being seen from the road they did a crummy job. Those pix are from near the road and you can see the car, worse the car at an odd angle/location.

Also if the fence damage is there wouldn't they have seen Parent's headlights a lot sooner then 'as he approached'.

I'm not sure your theory is any more dubious then some others. Atkins didn't see anything so where the attack occurred is really unknown to her. Watson 'disappeared'. Maybe he began the attack over there and it was a moving attack.

I have also had a hard time reconciling the autopsy report given the location of the wounds and the watch (on the back seat) with one attacker. But that's just me and I'm no medical examiner.

His blood alcohol was .02 at 162lbs that's one drink but post mortem blood alcohol tests are not very reliable hours after death if the temperature is high.

The car was a graduation present so I agree with you on that part 100%.

And thanks to all for the kind comments.

Mr. Humphrat said...

Thanks Robert C for the link. Interesting photos. Can you or anyone tell me about the third photo under the heading of Telephone Polls? The man's hand is coming in from the right and touching a wire. Where would that pole be located?
thanks again.

Dreath said...

Mr. Humphrat,

I believe that is the same gentleman (who seems to be on a ladder or something) at the same location as in the fourth photo in the post. said...

Mike McGann

Mr. Humphrat said...

got it thanks.

Tuckerp said...

Its not hard to get lead in different directions. When those who where there keep telling the same story and changing it.
Linda testified that after Parent was murdered, Katie ask for her knife, and she gave it to her. This was at Parents car and before entry of the home. Tex was cutting the screen.
Linda says in the current affair interview that Sadie came out of the house, and said she lost her knife ( which was found later where it had fell into a chair cushion) And ask Linda for her knife, so she gave it to her.
How can she be so right about everything, when she contradicts herself. How did Linda give her knife to Katie, and then a minute or two later give her knife to Sadie?

Dreath said...


Here's little more fuel for your fire.

Kasabian claimed at trial that she climbed the fence with the knife with the taped handle and gave that knife to Krenwinkel when Krenwinkel approached her at Parent's car just before the murders began.

Atkins on at least on occasion when she first discussed the murders claimed she climbed the fence with the knife with the taped handle and kept it until she lost it- although she was not completely sure which knife she lost- she never mentions Kasabian and claims after Parent's murder Kasabian was nowhere to be found until they returned to the car to leave.

Tuckerp said...

Geez, I hear ya. Its possible that when Parent was backing up he caught a glimpse of the gang coming over the wall. Distracting him just long enough to think "What is that? Is that somebody or people climbing over the fence" Crash into fence, oops!
It may explain also why he said "I won't tell anybody"

Zelda Formaldehyde said...

Tuckerp, you're hitting on something I've basically always thought: when Steve got back to his car after leaving the guesthouse, he had to have heard the killers down by the gate. It must have taken them at least a full minute for all four of them to climb over the fence on the embankment. And as the killers have consistently have said, they saw the headlights of Steve's car almost immediately after scaling the fence.
So what happened? I think Steve got to his car, heard some kind of activity down at the gate, got somewhat panicked (he was really in an unfamiliar place he shouldn't have been), threw the car into reverse, from likely either position 1 or 6, hit the fence in his panic and continued on towards the gate. As well, I've always thought what is known about his words seemed a little 'prepared', as if he was expecting to engage someone based on the activity he heard of Tex and the girls as they were scaling the fence. Four people scaling a fence is going to cause an amount of noise, especially in the dead of night, and Steve heard it to some degree.
"I'm your friend".
"Don't hurt me".
"I won't tell anybody".
Seems a little prepared for me, but he was scared.
Otherwise, it's kind of strange that Linda said she saw the shooting of Steve, but it could be because she decided to watch Tex and his actions, while Susan decided to bury her head and not make an effort to watch. I don't necessarily find anything sinister about the testimony any of them gave, only that Linda may have been closest to Tex and was able to look around the wall to see Tex shoot Steve, whereas the other two were further back and not in a position to actually see the shooting. I never thought any interpretation was wrong, just a result of general human inconsistencies.

Tuckerp said...

Z F I agree. This from the first progress report about Parent.

" Parent has an arrest record as a juvenile for burglary. The chief object of attack
during the five burglaries he was caught at was electronic equipment.
He served two years in the California Youth Authority program. He was
described as having both sadistic and homosexual tendencies by a
probation officer."

Sadistic doesn't fit a fine groom clean cut all American looking young man we see. Busted on five burglaries. I believe this is in part shores up has you put it "prepared" .

Not that any of what I posted from the progress report is to diminish the memory of the young Mr Parent in any way. He had his entire future ahead of him. And fell victim to a horrific event. Just trying to understand exactly what could have been going through Parents mind at the time. I think "prepared" really is the best word to describe it.

Mr. Humphrat said...

Reading the progress report on Parent makes me think selling a clock radio to a random acquaintance at midnight might fit his personality.

grimtraveller said...

Dreath said...

Atkins......never mentions Kasabian and claims after Parent's murder Kasabian was nowhere to be found until they returned to the car to leave

She does in "Child of Satan...." though. She mentions her a few times after the Parent murder ~ twice inside the house.

Mr. Humphrat said...

I pictured the girls hiding in some bushes

For a while, so did I. Maybe it's because Tex said he told them to get into the bushes.
In "Child of Satan...." Susan says that she flattened herself to the ground which explains why she heard rather than saw. But it's not contradictory for Linda to say she saw Tex shoot parent. Neither is it particularly odd that no one saw Tex go at Steven Parent with a knife. He says he had one in his left hand and as has been pointed out, he cut the window screen and stabbed Jay Sebring. I know he was a lying hyena at his trial but for what it's worth, he says Charlie handed him a gun and a knife. Wherever the knife was on him and however he got it, he had one. Thinking about it, no one recalls him shooting Wogiciech Frykowski, yet even if no one saw it, they "should" have heard it.
But no one did.
I think that Bugliosi tried to bring order to a situation in which order played very little part. It was more jazz {improvised} than pop {repetitive and rehearsed} but lawyers need as much concrete solidity as is possible, hence all the sounds heard that were brought into the equation, the Parent clock time, the arrival time of the killers even though it was patently obvious not one of them had the slightest idea of any time.
It's really rare for two people's stories to match at every point, even when they're friends. Even a number of biblical narratives that relate the same incidents have discrepancies and they're supposed to be true. In a way, Kasabian's actions could be strangely consistent with that of someone who has seen, actually seen, a murder, especially by someone she's made love with. When she ran away from Spahn, she claims she did not know the LaBiancas had been killed. The Saladin Nader incident told her that killing was on the agenda, but if it's true that she did not find out about the LaBianca deaths until October, then she ran away primarily because of Cielo. That's where she saw killing take place.

Dreath said...


I tend not to put much stock in what was written in the books not for the usually stated reason-they want to get out of jail so they follow the 'party line'-but because of the way eye witness memory works.

Tuckerp said: " He [Parent] was described as having both sadistic and homosexual tendencies by a
probation officer."- from the Homicide Report

Steven Parent's sexual orientation has been debated quite a bit. I personally don't believe the claim (not that it matters one lick). I've found no evidence of any sadism and have to wonder how a 'probation officer' is qualified to diagnose that. From what I have found Steven likely broke into a number of schools around El Monte and stole a bunch of minor electronics, a TV, some clarinet reeds, a small amount of change, some ice cream bars, etc. He likely spent his sophomore and junior years in detention- he doesn't appear in the HS yearbook those two years. Nothing to support 'sadistic'.

Here is what his prom-date, Tina Hather, posted at Find A Grave:

"Steve, it is nearing the 40th anniversary since you were taken from my life. I think of you often and have fond memories of my senior prom and staying out all night. God had a plan for each of us, taking you and leaving me behind to carry on with my life. I often wonder if we would have gotten married and had children and grandchildren and where life would have taken us. Love always, Tina"

grimtraveller said...

Dreath said...

I tend not to put much stock in what was written in the books not for the usually stated reason-they want to get out of jail so they follow the 'party line'-but because of the way eye witness memory works

Yeah, I can dig that, especially in this series of gripping posts where you've been examining the evidence.
I can't really ignore what has been said by the killers subsequent to incarceration because then, that really only leaves a mono~dimensional reading of matters which is kind of unsatisfactory. Also, it's hard to ignore, for example, Tex saying that he lied at his trial, which he wasn't saying until he'd been in the slammer for 8 years. If he lied at his trial, did he lie about Charlie telling him to kill, given that was a major part of his testimony ?
That said, taking into account their post incarceration stuff is also fraught with danger and apparent contradiction and doesn't necessarily make anything much clearer. I love the puzzles and putting bits together.

Steven Parent's sexual orientation has been debated quite a bit. I personally don't believe the claim. I've found no evidence of any sadism and have to wonder how a 'probation officer' is qualified to diagnose that

I agree. It's a one off statement with nothing I've ever seen that remotely backs it up or expands on it. The probation officer is never named either.
It probably happens in a number of cases but this one just happens to have so much about it that could mean anything, something or nothing at all {glasses, Sadie shitting, Parent's report etc}.

Mr. Humphrat said...

Dreath, thanks for sharing Tina Hather's posting on Steve's site. It's nice to see a little tribute to him and add some dimension from someone who loved him.

Dreath said...

You are welcome Mr. Humphrat.

I was once going to do a post about Steven and collected a number of comments there about him in his younger days. Unfortunately, when I reached out to some people, including Mr. Gerrold, they did not respond.

You can find them there in the 2009 timeframe.

Dreath said...

Grim said....

"Yeah, I can dig that, especially in this series of gripping posts where you've been examining the evidence."

Thank you. Means a lot.

Doc Sierra said...

I visited the cul de sac and the gate in 1983, I don't remember any barbed wire. That doesn't mean it wasn't there, I just don't remember seeing any but, I would bet money that it wasn't on the top of that gate when I was there in 1983.....

Dreath said...


The images in the post claim to be from "the seventies". I have seen others with barbed wire above the actual gate that seem to be from the same timeframe (yellowish background). I certainly can't confirm the shot- I 'borrowed' it.

I found the perspective of the shot interesting. I had never seen that angle before.

The distance suggested to me the killers were not there when they saw Steven's headlights. It's too far away. The angel suggested you couldn't see the parking area from there.

It also suggested to me that if Steven had actually reached the gate button there was insufficient room for Watson to attack him there (versus ten feet further back).

And that said to me: the women couldn't see the attack as they were likely behind that short wall. But again, to me.

Doc Sierra said...

Great post Dreath. My only point was that the barbed wire may have been installed in 1983 or after.....

Nonymous said...

What I don't understand is did Tex Watson have a knife in one hand and a gun in other hand? I have never been able to figure out this part of the night because I'm not sure how this worked. No one who was there remembers Tex Watson having a knife. But a knife wound ended up on Parent's body somehow . . .

Dreath said...


Here is what Watson says in his book: "The driver of the car had to stop and roll down his window to push the button for the automatic gate, and as he did so I stepped forward out of the shadows, gun in right hand, knife in left, commanding him to halt."

I personally have a problem with the 'books' because of the way eye witness testimony is 'altered' with the passage of time. I am sure many here will disagree with me.

And 'no' neither of the witnesses closer to the event mention a knife: Atkins at the grand jury in December 1969 or to her lawyers on December 1st and Kasabian in July 1970. Even Bugliosi finds this odd in his book: "Yet neither Susan nor Linda saw Tex with a knife at this point, nor did either recall the stabbing."

Parent had a defensive knife wound on his left palm from between his middle and ring finger to his wrist that severed his watch hurling it into the back seat.