Paul Tate, a former Army intelligence officer whose daughter was murdered by the followers of Charles Manson, died on May 18 of congestive heart failure. He was 82.
Actress Sharon Tate was married to director Roman Polanski and eight months pregnant on Aug. 9, 1969 when she and four others (Abigail Folger, Voytek Frykowski, Jay Sebring and Stephen Parent) were killed inside a house she sublet from producer/songwriter Terry Melcher. Manson ordered some of his followers to break into 10050 Cielo Drive in Los Angeles and kill everyone inside.
The high profile case became the focus Paul Tate’s life. The former Army intelligence officer, who spent 23 years in the service, retired as a lieutenant colonel soon after his daughter’s death and launched his own investigation into the slayings. He even went undercover, masquerading as a hippie for four months to come up with leads in the case, but found nothing the police could use in court. Authorities continued their own investigation and arrested Manson on Oct. 12, 1969.
Tate was the first witness called to testify at the trial. Before entering the courtroom, however, he was thoroughly searched because the bailiffs were concerned he’d sneak in a weapon and kill the defendants. Manson was later convicted of masterminding the murders. His followers — Susan Atkins, Charles “Tex” Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten — were convicted of perpetrating them.
Tate’s quest for justice continued until his death. The Texas native and his wife Doris wrote numerous letters to California parole officials that argued against the release of the Manson “family.” In later years, Doris became a victim’s right advocate. She was the first member of a victim’s family to ever speak out at a parole hearing and make a victim’s impact statement in the state of California. When she died in 1992, their other daughters, Patti and Debra, took over the task of keeping Manson’s followers behind bars. Patti died in 2000.