What You Need To Know About The Manson Family Murders After Watching ‘Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’

Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, heavily features the Manson murders that took place in 1969, with a twist, of course. 

It’s been 50 years since Sharon Tate was brutally murdered while eight and a half months pregnant, along with Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, Abigail Folger, and Steven Parent. The details of the murders, for many, are fuzzy. With Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’s creative re-telling, viewers have become re-fascinated in the gruesome deaths, and are interested in comparing the movie’s narrative to what actually happened back in 1969. 

Deputies Escorting Charles Manson | Bettmann, Getty Images
Deputies Escorting Charles Manson | Bettmann, Getty Images

Who were the Manson family murderers featured in ‘Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’ and what happened to them?

Charles Watson (played by Austin Butler in OUATIH), better known as Tex, actually was Manson’s right-hand man. According to Vanity Fair, he was the leader of the killings and announced “I am the devil. I am here to do the devil’s business” prior to murdering his victims. He was 23 at the time. 

On the evening of August 8, 1969, the Polanski/Tate residence was invaded. The next night, Watson and a few other Manson family members killed Rosemary and Leno LaBianca in their Los Angeles home.  

In Watson’s posse were Susan Atkins (played by Mikey Madison in the film) and Patricia Krenwinkel (played by Madisen Beaty). All three were eventually found guilty and sentenced to death. However, in 1972, the California Supreme Court invalidated the state’s death penalty statutes and the three were given life in prison with the possibility for parole. Today, Watson remains in Mule Creek prison near Sacramento. 

Atkins was 21 at the time of the murders. She lived at Spahn Ranch after dropping out of high school. During her time at the ranch, she began going by the name of Sadie Mae Glutz and gave birth to a child by the name of Zezozose Zadfrack Glutz, per Manson’s request (the baby was ultimately removed from Atkin’s care and adopted). 

After she was arrested for murdering Gary Hinman, Atkins was overheard telling inmates about stabbing Tate–how she tasted her blood and used it to spell the word “Pig” on the front door of her home. 

Atkins testified that she stabbed Tate repeatedly as she begged her to spare the life of her unborn baby. But she later retracted the confession. She died in jail in 2009.  

Krenwinkel was also 21 at the time of the murders. She testified that she stabbed Folger 28 times and, later, that she stabbed Rosemary.   

Krenwinkel is still in prison. In 2017, she was denied parole for the 14th time. “I wake up every day knowing that I’m a destroyer of the most precious thing, which is life; and I do that because that’s what I deserve, is to wake up every morning and know that,” she told Diane Sawyer in an interview 25 years later.