Academic study of crimes goes by the wayside when you visit the locations where events actually occurred. The physical layouts of crime scenes can often give the interested observer valuable insights into how those crimes went down, often even providing glimpses into the minds of the perpetrators. The walk that the killers took to the Roman Polanski residence on the night of August 8-9, 1969 is a good example of this.
After driving from Spahn's Movie Ranch to Cielo Drive that night the car containing Charles "Tex" Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Linda Kasabian initially drove up the spur roadway up to the cul-de-sac ending at the gate of 10050. There, Watson got out of of car and shimmied up the utility pole supporting the phone lines into the property and cut those lines before backing the car back down to Cielo Drive proper and parking on the downhill side of the turnoff. Then the group walked back up the gate and around it to enter the property and kill everybody there except caretaker William Garretson.
I've been to Cielo Drive on several occasions, but I've always driven up to the top. Although I was unable to attend this year's MF Blog Tour I suggested to Matt that a reprise of the walk up the hill to the gate at the former 10050 address might make for an interesting post.
The walk video shows how narrow the roadway leading up to Cielo really is. (The last time I visited the gate, on the 2015 MF Blog Tour, I had to back my own vehicle down the hill as there was no room at the top to turn around.) It also shows how dark and isolated the area is still today, even though there are now more lit-up residences on the street and there was a fuller moon on the Tour walk than on the night of the murders. It is dark and lonely, and occasional glimpses of the lights shining down in Los Angeles only serve to accentuate the remoteness and isolation. The repetitive call of a bird emphasizes the indifference of nature to the madness of man.
What was going through the minds of the Tate assailants on the night of their visit as they made that same walk up the hill? Pumped up on adrenaline and (for some) speed, the heat of the night, the paranoia and awareness of violence brought on by the knowledge of the previous weeks' incidents involving the murder of Gary Hinman and the presumed murder of Bernard Crowe, the pandemonium and pressure of getting ready to flee the city and go to the desert -- not to mention the uncertainty of not knowing what they would have to do once they go onto the property -- it must have been an intense experience indeed.
The Tour walk up Cielo could only hint at that experience.
The Tate killers parked at the bottom of the Cielo Drive side cul-de-sac at the location of the arrow at the upper left then walked up the narrow roadway to the gate of the property of their unsuspecting victims, indicated by the arrow on the right.
The moon phases on the night of the Tour walk and the night of the murders.
To views of the current gate on the way up:
The base of Cielo looking up. The car was parked to the left of where I'm (Matt) standing to take the photo:
This is the base of Cielo Dr. Beind the person walking, on the other side of the bush is where the car was parked. The perspective shows how narrow Cielo is: