Mother was ‘screaming’: Relatives of Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring recall learning of Manson family murders

The last time Debra Tate ever saw her sister Sharon Tate alive, they were watching a major news event.

“We had a lovely barbecue day,” Debra Tate told ABC News. “We all piled in her bed to watch the moon walk … and that was the last time that any of us would ever see her.”

Terry ONeill/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Later that summer, the story of Sharon Tate would become its own major news event.

The 26-year-old actress — along with friends Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski and Jay Sebring — were victims of a deadly rampage led by cult leader Charles Manson and his followers, who came to be known as the Manson family.

The four were murdered in August 1969 in the secluded neighborhood of Benedict Canyon, the California home Tate rented with husband Roman Polanski.

Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
Coroner’s office personnel wheel the body of film actress Sharon Tate from her home in Bel Air, Calif., August 9, 1969, after she and four others were found murdered.

Steven Parent, a teenager who was visiting the home’s caretaker, was also killed.

One day later, Manson then led his followers to commit the killings of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca at their home across town.

“The world lost an amazing set of philanthropists,” Debra Tate said of her sister Sharon Tate and her friends. “They definitely would have been the movers and the shakers in this industry.”

ABC News
Debra Tate is the sister of actress Sharon Tate, who was killed in August 1969 by followers of Charles Manson.

Debra Tate was only 16 years old the day her mother answered the phone and heard the news.

“My mother is falling apart and screaming that Sharon was dead,” Debra Tate recalled. “It was just horrible. Mother was a basket case, complete and total basket case.”

Debra Tate said that day she watched TV coverage of the murders before the Los Angeles Police Department contacted her family about the murders.

Because she had been at the house previously that summer, Debra Tate said police…

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