Today, August 9th, marks the 45th anniversary of one of the most infamous crimes in American history. On August 9, 1969, a young actress and mother-to-be was murdered, along with others at the hands of followers of an infamous cult leader.
On that date, members of the Manson family broke into the home of famed film director Roman Polanksi, and his wife, actress Sharon Tate, best-known for her role in the film "The Valley of the Dolls." The murderous crew embarked on a blood bath, murdering Tate, who was eight months pregnant at the time, along with several of her friends, and a friend of the home's teenage caretaker. Polanski was not at home at the time.
The brains behind the murder, Charles Manson, was a failed musician with a long criminal history. Manson had apparently ordered his followers to go to the home thinking that music producer Terry Melcher, the son of American screen icon Doris Day, was still living in the home. Melcher had previously severed his ties with Manson, who had tried to start a music career with Melcher's label. Melcher had moved out of the home, not long after ending his ties with Manson, along with his then-girlfriend, acclaimed actress Candace Bergin.
His followers did Manson's bidding, leading to a brutal murder that horrified (and at the same time, fascinated) the public. Many people have suggested that the day Sharon Tate and her friends were brutally murdered was the official end of the 1960s.
The next day, another brutal crime occurred at the hands of Manson followers, though this time Manson accompanied the followers. A Los Angeles couple was murdered in the same, brutal manner, sparking terror in residents of the area.
Eventually, the prison-based bragging of one of the murderers led to the arrest of all the killers. Although most of those involved were sentenced to death, those death sentences were overturned when California eliminated the death penalty. (The death penalty in the state has since been reinstated.)
Even forty-five years later, this tragic murder case still merits attention. Charles Manson himself has developed a cult following and still draws attention from behind prison walls.
Still, on the anniversary of this sad case, it is more important to remember the victims and the many lives that have been lost.