Police Investigations of the Manson Murders
The departments working on the two investigations were the Los Angeles Sheriffs Office and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). This would later play a very important role in the investigation in the year and a half due to mass miscommunication between the two departments concerning the two crime scenes.
Lack of communication between the two law enforcement entities put both cases in jeopardy several times during the investigations.
The word "PIG" was printed on the door at the Tate scene.
The word "Death to Pigs" waswritten in the victim's own blood at the LaBianca scene.
For example, the word "PIG" was printed on the door at the Tate scene and the detectives from the LASO approached LAPD detectives and told them of the writing of the words "Death to Pigs" in the victim's own blood at the LaBianca scene.
When presented with possible evidence that the two crimes might be linked, Los Angles Police Department (LAPD) inspector K.J. McCauley told reporters
"I don't see any connection between this murder (Tate) and the others. They're too widely removed. I just don't see any connection".
This was the official stance taken by the LAPD and the detectives proceeded to work solely on their own cases.
In addition to the communication problems, the officers also encountered emotional, political, and mental stress from the shear senselessness of the crimes. One of Charles Manson's most faithful followers would later say:
"We wanted to do a crime that the world would have to stand up and take notice" - Susan Atkins.
As the first officers observed the horrific scene gradually unfold, they began to lose focus of their procedural duties and there were also several mistakes made in the preservation and collection of evidence.
| Officer Granado obtained forty-five blood samples from the Tate scene (above) and failed to run subtypes on twenty-one of those. Two days later at the LaBianca scene he would take no subtypes.|
After arriving and securing the
scene, officers proceeded to assess the extent of the damage. What they found
was shocking. A scene of a massacre like no-one had ever seen before.
making the grizzly discoveries the officers became less strict on their adherence
to procedure and more intent on finding the killer or killers. The officers got
sheets from the linen closet and covered the bodies. One week later the blue sheet
that was used to cover Abigail
Folger on the lawn would still be there. Although placing the sheets on the
bodies was not a good idea, not transferring them to the lab with the bodies was
worse. Police officers, being the first to arrive at the scene of a crime, must
follow strict procedures in an effort to protect any shred of evidence that may
be needed to obtain a conviction.
LAPD officers made several mistakes that
could have seriously damaged the prosecution's case. For example,
Officer DeRosa, while he was escorting a possible suspect, down the driveway of
the Tate estate noticed that there was blood on the button that opened the electric
gate. According to Bugliosi in his book "Helter
Skelter", "Officer DeRosa, who was charged with securing and protecting
the scene until investigating officers arrived, pressed the button himself,
successfully opening the gate but also creating a superimposure that obliterated
any print that may have been there". Fingerprints would be a problem area
for police throughout the investigations.