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San Francisco Chronicle

December 2, 1969 - front page

Actress' Death

Bizarre 'Nomads' Held in Slaying


United Press

Los Angeles A man and two women described as members of a nomadic desert commune were identified yesterday as suspects in the bizarre murders of actress haron !ate and four other persons August 9" #olice $hief %dward Da&is told newsmen that the suspects were part of a 'ro&ing band of hippies' who also allegedly (illed a middle-aged couple one day later across town from the lu)urious home of *iss !ate in +enedict $anyon" ,arrants were issued for $harles D" ,atson, 2-, now in custody in *c.inney, !e)", and two women suspects" #atricia .ernwin(el, 21, was arrested yesterday in *obile, Ala", and Linda .asabian, age un(nown, is being hunted in /ew *e)ico" ,atson was ta(en into custody unday night" heriff !om *ontgomery of $ollin county at *c.inney said, '0ou could (inda say he wal(ed in and ga&e himself up"' !he suspect was described in !e)as as clean-sha&en and neat, although Los Angeles police said he was long-haired and bearded while li&ing in the desert commune" Da&is said it is e)pected that four or fi&e other persons will be indicted for the murders ne)t wee(" !he other suspects are said to be in custody in 1nyo county, where 26 young men and women accused of li&ing a ro&ing life of thie&ery were rounded up by a sheriff2s posse" Da&is confirmed that the !ate murders were lin(ed to the slayings of a wealthy owner of a small grocery chain and his wife in the il&erla(e district of Los Angeles a day later" !here were gruesome similarities between the two cases" !he word 'pig' was smeared in blood on the front door of the !ate residence" !he words 'death to pigs' were written in blood on a refrigerator door at the home of Leon and 3osemary La +ianca" !he word 'war' was car&ed on La +ianca2s chest" Da&is said members of the commune were li&ing at the pawn mo&ie ranch, and abandoned mo&ie set northwest of Los Angeles, at the time of the murders" !hen they mo&ed to the +ar(er ranch in Death 4alley" RAIDERS Deputies said the group seemed to operate as an updated 1ndian-type raiding party 5 tra&eling in dune buggies, li&ing in abandoned mining shac(s, stealing as they went" !hey roamed by night and posted loo(outs e6uipped with wal(ie-tal(ies during the day" !he men wore shoulder-length hair" At the time of the raids, some of the girls were clad only in bi(ini bottoms and others were nude"

heriff2s deputies, guided by a spotter plane, pic(ed up 17 youths near +adwater 8ctober 19" i) more women and fi&e more men were arrested 8ctober 12 in a raid on the same camp" !wo babies were ta(en to 1nyo county hospital for treatment for malnutrition" At the time, the suspects were boo(ed on suspicion of auto theft, recei&ing stolen property, possession of a sawed-off shotgun and contributing to the delin6uency of a minor" Da&is said the names of additional suspects in custody in 1nyo county, site of Death 4alley, will be gi&en to the county grand :ury sometime before December 9" MYS ERY !he moti&e for the slayings remains a mystery" Da&is said the &ictims did not (now the suspects, although e&idence indicated that the (illers had &isited the home leased by *iss !ate and her husband, 3oman #olans(i, before the (illings" '1t had all the earmar(s of premeditation,' Da&is said" ;e said all the suspects were members of what could be called a 'commune,' and the group might ha&e been a religious one, 'depending on your definition of religion"' !he !ate slayings appeared to be the outcome of a weird religious rite, police in&estigators said during the initial stages of the in&estigation" Later, they dropped that theory" 1n addition to *iss !ate, 26, who was eight months pregnant, the &ictims were Abigail <olger, 26, an <rancisco, heiress to the <olger coffee fortune= >ay ebring, ?7, ;ollywood inno&ator of hair styling for men and once *iss !ate2s fiance= 4oityc( <ro(ows(y, ?@, who wor(ed with #olans(i in #olish films, and te&en %arl #arent, 1A, of suburban %l *onte, who had been &isiting a careta(er at the estate"