Monday, July 18, 2016

Does an hour or three make a difference?

Readers may remember our post from the 2015 Tour titled "Benedict Canyon and the Surrounding Areas: Report on Strange Sounds, Gunshots, Indications of Violence, Related by Persons who were in Hearing Distance of the Polanski Residence on the Night of 8-8-69 and the Morning of 8-9-69"

It got me to thinking about the witnesses who heard the "Strange Sounds, Gunshots & Indications of Violence" and the timeline involved. Why are there such wide discrepancies? In the case of Mr. & Mrs. Seymour Kott it's unclear to me exactly when they think they heard what they heard.

Helter Skelter page 24:
At 10070 Cielo, Mr. and Mrs. Seymour Kott had already gone to bed, their dinner guests having left about midnight, when Mrs. Kott heard, in close sequence, what sounded like three or four gunshots. They seemed to have come from the direction of the gate of 10050. She did not check the time but later guessed it to be between 12:30 and 1 a.m. Hearing nothing further, Mrs. Kott went to sleep.
An interview Seymour Kott gave to NBC the weekend of the murders:
REPORTER:    What is your name, sir?

KOTT:    My name is Seymour Kott.

REPORTER::    How do you spell that last name?

KOTT:    K-o-t-t.

REPORTER:    Did you hear anything unusual, uh, the Friday, or the, on Saturday morning?

KOTT:    Yes, I -- there was a little more traffic than usual.

REPORTER:    Did they have many parties, or did they have many parties, uh, at the Polanski house?

KOTT:    Uh, well, I understand there have been quite a few parties.Since we moved here, we’ve only been here a few weeks, there have been no parties.

I met uh, Sharon, uh em, -- the Folger girl, Abigail Folger. I introduced myself to her. And the day I met her, she told me that there was going to be a party that evening. But uh, it must’ve been very quiet because we didn’t hear anything. In fact, we heard some cats meowing and it probably was a cat right. But that was down in the canyon.

REPORTER:    What about the bell on the gate? Do you hear that when it opens and closes?

KOTT:    Yes, every time the gate opens or closes, the bell rings.

REPORTER:    So you didn’t hear any activity after midnight?

KOTT:   None, what-so-ever.

REPORTER:   Now, as far as these parties are concerned, did it have anything to do with the occult, or uh, anything unusual like that?

KOTT:    I, uh, certainly wouldn’t know that, since I wasn’t a participant.

REPORTER:    Thank you, sir. Thank you very much.

KOTT:    You’re welcome.

Compare the above to this Mary Neiswender article Published August 27, 1969 (thanks to
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 27 – The slaughter of actress Sharon Tate and four others at her secluded Benedict Canyon home took place at "2 or 2:30 – no earlier," a neighbor who heard the shots and the screams of one of the victims said Tuesday in an exclusive interview.

The neighbor, from whose home you "can overhear normal conversation" on the grounds of the murder house, asked anonymity because of "possible problems."

Miss Tate, wife of movie director Roman Polanski and one of the stars in "Valley of the Dolls," was slain along with three of her jet-set friends - coffee heiress Abigail Folger, Hollywood hair stylist Jay Sebring, Polish would-be film maker Voityck Frokowski - and 18-year-old Steven Parent of El Monte, who had been visiting the caretaker of the estate, William Garretson.

On the night of the murder, Aug. 8-9, there were two parties going on in the exclusive section of Cielo Drive, the neighbor recalled.

One was at the home next door to the murder house, where a foursome - similar to the ill-fated gathering - had been invited.

"I stayed up late that night," the car-witness said "I was in bed reading and had snapped off the light and just dozed off. Something woke me almost immediately. I reached over and had just turned the light on when I heard a loud shot, a woman's scream, then another shot."

The second shot, he said seemed more muffled than the first - "the first seemed louder."

"At first I thought I was dreaming, but then I heard other noises, so I figured the party was still going on. I paid no attention…what the noises were didn't register. I know all I thought was that the party was still on.

"There's a lot of screaming and yelling in this neighborhood on weekends," he said. You get sort of used to it. It's like living near a freeway - pretty soon you don't hear the cars driving by."

What woke him up, he doesn't know, but he stayed awake long enough after the shots and screams to hear cars driving down the road.

"Where they were coming from, I don't know," he said. "There was a lot of traffic that night - like every weekend night."

The next morning the screaming of the maid at the murder scene brought the previous night's sounds into perspective.

"If I had looked out the window," he said, "I could have seen the murderers cutting the phone wires."

(The telephone wires leading to the home had been cut at the pole just outside the electronic gates of the estate. Police have said that the wires could have been cut either before or after the murders.)

Ever since the Polish-born film director moved into the home "maybe seven or eight months ago," the neighbor said; there was a lot of traffic - both on foot and in cars - going to the home.

"There was a lot of liquor delivered and a lot of air freight - and scripts from the studios, too. Reason I know," he said, "is that they'd always stop at our place to ask how you get into the estate, and I'd always have to show them the way."

The last vehicle he noticed going to the house before the murders, he claimed, was a white delivery truck, whose driver asked directions about 6:30 that evening.

From his home, he said, "you can't miss anything that is done" at the PoIanski home.

"I overheard the conversation between the detective and the telephone man as they were trying to get some clues from the way the wires were cut. But that's not the case," he said, "as far as the guest house is concerned – where the caretaker lived. You can't hear anything that's happening, in front when you're in the guest house."

This, he said he determined from previous with the caretaker and the house's owner, Rudy Altabelli, who both lived in the guest house. At the time of the murder Altabelli was in Europe.

But from his home he said, if your listen closely you can hear the chatter of guests, the music and "even the tinkle of cocktail glasses."

Although he admits he never met the blonde actress personally, they would wave "as neighbors" when she would drive by.

The home, in which he has been an occasional visitor, he described as "looking like a remodeled New England barn."

Since the murder no one but police and a few personal friends of the movie director have been allowed entrance.

A guard stands at the electronic gate leading to the house, taking down names of visitors, but allowing no one inside. The belongings of the Polanskis, the neighbor said, have been removed, but otherwise the house remains as it was found the day following the killings.

"Except." the guard adds, "the blood has dried."


What Mr. Kott said to Neiswender completely contradicts what he said to the NBC reporter, doesn't it? He tells NBC he heard no activity What.So.Ev.Er immediately after the murders, but later tells Neiswender he heard the shots and the screams no earlier than 2:00 - 2:30.

This can't sit well with TLB scholars. Especially considering that Seymour wanted to remain anonymous in Neiswender’s article. That's only logical conclusion a discerning mind can arrive at as to why Kott didn’t tell NBC he or his wife heard shots - is that he later embellished his story to Neiswender.

Prosecutors tend to bring forth evidence that works for their timeline and throw away those that don't work. Did Bugliosi actually ever do an interview with Mr. or Mrs. Kott? I don't know, but if he did, it's quite possible that in separate interviews they gave conflicting timelines to the DA's office OR, they both said something like "I heard screams no earlier than 2-2:30" At which point Bugliosi could have said to Mrs. Kott - who admittedly had been drinking and unsure, "Could it have been closer to 12:30A?" And Mrs. Kott replied "It could have been" which, if coached correctly before taking the stand, Bugliosi knows her reply will be "Around 12:30A" and unless a good defense attorney cross-examines her with, "Well, could it have been closer to 2:30" her testimony of 12:30 stands.

But the mere fact that Bugliosi uses this in his book to manipulate his readers into supporting his timeline (for me) is telling when clearly, Mr. Kott said "no earlier than 2-2:30" because now you have one of four 12:30 timeline witnesses discredited. Did Bugliosi know about Mary Neiswender's article?

Also interviewed by NBC the same weekend as Mr. Kott was Maureen Serot, the step-daughter of Ray Asin:
REPORTER:    What’s your name, Miss?

MAUREEN SEROT:   Maureen Serot.

REPORTER:   How do you spell that last name?

MAUREEN SEROT:    S-e-r-o-t.

REPORTER:    Where you home the night, uh, the murders, here?

MAUREEN SEROT:    No, I got home about 1 o’clock.

REPORTER:    Did you notice anything unusual?

MAUREEN SEROT:    The lights weren’t on. And usually the gate light is on, at least.

REPORTER:    Why would you take note of that?

MAUREEN SEROT:    It’s always been on, as long as we lived here, it’s usually the main light. Because you can’t see the gate or anything, without that on.

REPORTER:    Did you hear the bell on the gate closing, uh, at any time at all?

MAUREEN SEROT:    Not -- Saturday, Friday night.

REPORTER:   How about the people that were involved, were you acquainted with them?

MAUREEN SEROT:    Well, I had met Bill, the young guy they arrested, a couple times, walking the dogs. And my step father had met Sharon Tate a couple times.

REPORTER:    But you’ve never been in the house, uh --

MAUREEN SEROT:    Not since they’ve lived there

REPORTER:    Had you been in prior to that?


REPORTER:    Would you say it was a good setting for a murder?

MAUREEN SEROT:    Yeah. It was a -- it’s a big spooky type of house at night.

REPORTER:    Thank you very much.
So, Maureen Serot told NBC that on the night of the murders she arrived home around 1am and noticed the light at the gate was off and that was unusual. But she didn’t hear anything afterwards.

There are basically 5 Witnesses to the 12:30 timeline:

Garretson and a radio-clock: Considering Garretson's story changed even within the time of his arrest and release, and now, doesn't even remotely resemble his LAPD interrogation I think we could suspect whether he was correct in his estimation of when Steve left.

Mr & Mrs. Seymour Kott (see above)

Tim Ireland who said the screams were around 12:40

Rudy Weber who Bugliosi said encountered the group at 1:00 AM when they stopped to hose off.

Maureen Serot who noticed that the light at the gate was off at 1:00 AM

Verses the 2:30-4:00 timeline:

Emmett Steele (9951 Beverly Grove Dr.) who was awakened by the barking of one of his hunting dogs. He estimated the time to be between 2 and 3am.

14-year-old Carlos Gill,  who had a clear eye-view to the house and sound would travel right to his window who said it was 4:00 AM.

Robert Bullington and Eric Karlson, two security patrol trained to mark the time who both said 4:11am

Mr & Mrs. Seymour Kott: It's interesting that in HS Bugliosi uses Mrs. Kott as an important reference to his 12:30 timeline, but later in the book doesn't list her as a witness to support his timeline at trial. She did not testify.

At the trial Bugliosi wrote in HS: After Kasabian left the stand, I called a series of witnesses  whose detailed testimony either supported or corroborated her account. These included: Tim Ireland... Rudy Weber... John Swartz...

Do you find it telling that Mr and Mrs Kott were NOT called to testify? In two interviews they support both timelines. Bugliosi doesn't call them to the stand, but he features Mrs. Kott 's words in the first chapter of Helter Skelter?

As a SPOOKY side note, Maureen Serot went to the same high school as Patricia Krenwinkel and was a year behind her. ooo-EEE-ooo

*** A special shout out to Cielo and Cindy Lee for input on this post!