I left my sister’s house one night . . . and life was good.
Then I woke up to another day and life had changed so very,
very dramatically as our world just fell apart and I
realized that it’s never ever going to be the same.
Patti August 9, 1969
“My God, Sharon’s been murdered.” Barely able to get the words out, my mother collapsed against the scarred door frame and then to her knees. I looked up from my favorite cartoon in time to see the first tear spill from her eyes.
Paralyzed by her emotion but not understanding it, I could only stare at her while the seconds passed, waiting for an explanation. Her lips fluttered, but there was no sound. Leaning forward, I strained to hear. Then, in a scarcely audible whisper, she said, “My baby’s dead.”
As if floating to me in delayed time and space, her words eventually reached my ears, forever altering the stability of my life.
The morning hours preceding that moment began as so many others had in my eleven years, with only Mom and me in the kitchen. My oldest sister, Sharon, moved out years ago, Dad, an army intelligence officer, was stationed in San Francisco, and my sister Debbie was hibernating in her room because despite how mature she felt, we were the enemy who reminded her she was only sixteen. Unlike my relationship with Sharon, I felt distanced from Debbie. She was too young to be a role model, and too old to be a friend.
With the clang of the last dish placed on the breakfast table, the phone rang. Assuming it was Sharon, I nudged my ear next to Mom’s. “Doris, have you talked to Sharon this morning?” the voice asked.
I felt Mom’s body stiffen. “Why?” she asked.
“Turn on the radio. They’re reporting some trouble in Benedict Canyon.”
“What kind of trouble?”
Thoughtful silence, then, “I’m not sure. I have to run.” The click of disconnection.
Just north of Beverly Hills, Benedict Canyon winds its way through the Santa Monica Mountains in a labyrinth of entangled and unmarked roads. A quarter of a mile before Benedict Canyon Road ascends the mountain, is Cielo Drive, a narrow road that abruptly climbs the hillside. Without the benefit of a street sign, Sharon’s cul-de-sac is an inconspicuous left turn off the main path. Though her address is 10050 Cielo, it is often confused as an outstretch of Bella Drive, the marked road directly opposite.
Always one to overreact with worry, Mom simultaneously turned on the radio and dialed Sharon’s number.
On the radio, a newscaster was mid-story: “Reports of a possible fire or landslide first came over the police-band radios at 8:30 this morning. Our correspondent at the site reports that at least three people have perished in this disaster on Bella Drive in the Benedict Canyon area.
The Sharon Tate Family's Account of Stardom, the Manson Murders, and a Crusade for Justice by Alisa Statman and Brie Tate. Copyright C 2012 by Alisa R. Statman and Brie Tate. Reprinted by permission of It Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
The card security code is an added safeguard for your credit/debit card purchases. Depending on the type of card you use, it is either a three- or four-digit number printed on the back or front of your credit/debit card, separate from your credit/debit card number. To make shopping at Book-of-the-Month Club®
even more secure, we require that you enter this number each time you make a credit/debit card purchase. Please note that your security code will not be stored with us even if you have saved your credit/debit card information.