To nearly everyone else in the world, psychopathic serial killing former cult leader Charles Manson was an inhuman monster whose death Sunday deserved a national celebration, but Debra Tate had a different reaction.
Manson, who was serving nine consecutive life sentences, led the cult known as “The Manson Family,” the darkest example of the drugged-out “counterculture” of the late-1960s. In August of 1969, Manson and his cult members brutally murdered:
- Actress Sharon Tate, who was nearly nine months pregnant with the unborn child of her husband, director Roman Polanski;
- Abigail Folger, heiress to the Folger’s coffee fortune;
- Folger’s boyfriend, Wojciech Frykowski;
- celebrity hair stylist Jay Sebring;
- Steven Parent, a friend of the Polanski-Tate estate’s caretaker; and
- Gateway Ranch Markets supermarket magnate Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary.
Debra Tate, the sister of Sharon Tate, said she received a call shortly after 11:30 p.m. EST Sunday from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to notify her of Manson’s death. But rather than celebrate, she told New York Daily News her first reaction was to pray:
"I said a prayer, shed a tear, stuck a flower under my cross in my bedroom and emailed Roman (Polanski)."
In 2009, Debra had the same reaction when another member of the Manson Family, Susan Atkins, died of cancer. She said:
"My cross in my bedroom still has the flowers that I slipped into Jesus’s feet when Susan died. I cried a tear and I asked for forgiveness on her soul. I’ll do the same thing when Charlie dies."
Other Manson Family members Charles “Tex” Watson and Patricia Krenwinkel remain in prison, each sentenced to life behind bars, while Leslie Van Houten has been recommended for parole.