Charlie gave Tex explicit instructions, as Tex reiterated in his 1978 book, "Will You Die For Me?',
"Just before he [Manson] went off to get the women, he handed me the .22 Buntline pistol he'd been given by old Randy Starr, but he said to use knives whenever possible, not the gun."
But Tex used the Buntline.
He used seven of the nine bullets of that nine bullet Buntline.
Four on Steve, two on Voytek and one on Jay.
One wonders why Tex found the need to shoot the young Steve Parent four times at close range unless he feared the kid would somehow be able to escape in that Rambler if he didn't insure that he couldn't.
One wonders why Tex only shot Voytek twice as he was like a Jason and Freddie Kruger combo once the stabbing began...he just wouldn't die and he was escaping.
But the question as to why Jay had to be shot at all and so soon after the round-up of the Tate house residents still lingers in the air like so much gunpowder smoke from Ned Buntline's namesake...
The blow-by-blow of the movements of everyone in the Tate house are speculative at best, as the truth in testimony from the killers has been unreliable and ever-changing; and, of course, the Tate victims cannot speak from their graves.
I know what you're thinking...you're thinking who cares who did what, when and where and you'd be right, but that doesn't deter me from inquiring after Jay's movements, or the lack thereof, and why Tex felt the need to use the Buntline on him at all when Jay didn't have the chance to escape by car like Steve or on foot like Voytek.
Can it be simply that Jay made Tex's work more difficult that night and offing him in short order was better than putting up with him or is there more to this story than meets the eye?
Many different versions - all vague - have been given by the perpetrators as to the reasons why Jay was gunned down. Pat, in one of her Parole Hearings stated "Yeah, he [Jay] fought with Tex." and Sadie in her December 5, 1969 Grand Jury testimony of the actions at the Tate house, recounted by the L.A. Times December 14, 1969, stated,
"But it seems that Tex tied the three of them - Sebring, Sharon and Miss Folger - together. Wound the rope around and around them, then threw it over the beam so I could pull it tight. And then, the way it flashes now, it was all panic. 'What's going on?' Jay Sebring said, and proceeded to advance on Tex. I don't know how he got loose. And Tex shot him, and he fell on the floor. I think he fell on his side, because I saw him lying on his side."
Tex, in "Will You Die For Me?", stated,
"Sharon hesitated at the entrance to the living room, and I leapt forward and grabbed her arm, jerking her in after Sadie and Sebring while I flipped off the hall light with my elbow. (Avoid fingerprints, my mind had clicked.) When Sebring turned back, protesting my roughness, I told him, as I had Frykowski, that if he said one more word he would die. "He means it," Frykowski warned from the sofa.
I had already tied Frykowski's hands behind him with one end of the rope we'd brought and now I dragged the rope over to Sebring and tied him, while Sadie tied a towel around Frykowski's wrists according to my instructions. I wrapped the rope around Sebring's neck and then slung it up over one of the rafters that ran across the room and supported a loft above the fireplace. When I started to tie the rope around Sharon's neck, Sebring struggled forward in the chair he was seated in beside the fireplace, shouting for me to be careful of her.
'I told you, 'One more word and you're dead,' ' I screamed and shot him."
But these various and time lapsed testimonies from the killers paint only part of the picture.
The picture, in my opinion, begins in the late afternoon hours at Cielo Drive when Jay first arrived to spend the evening with Sharon. In the First Tate Homicide Investigation Progress Report, events of that early evening concerning Jay's actions were reported as follows,
"Between 1830 and 1900 hours, Dennis Herst delivered a lightweight bicycle to the Cielo address. Abigail Folger purchased the bike at his father's store earlier in the afternoon. When Herst delivered the bicycle, Jay Sebring answered the door. He had a wine bottle in his hand and it appeared that he had been eating dinner."
So, regardless of the cocaine found by the LAPD in his Porsche, Jay, it can be surmised, had consumed wine at the Tate house prior to the foursome heading down to the El Coyote Mexican restaurant for dinner that night. After the 2200 hours phone call to Abigail from her Mother that night confirming her next day flight to San Francisco, the actions by the foursome at the Tate residence are not known. But it's a good guess that while Gibby and Voytek had taken their MDA, Jay most likely continued to drink wine while visiting with Sharon.
We have no way of knowing if/when Jay had taken any cocaine before arriving at Cielo but there is little doubt that Gibby, Voytek and Jay were under the influence of some drugs/alcohol as the foursome were also spotted by waitress Kathy Palmer in the El Coyote restaurant's bar for 15 to 20 minutes prior to sitting down for dinner. Although the Coroner reported no abnormal levels of alcohol intoxication in any of the victims, it may be fair to surmise that alcohol intoxication in Jay and MDA intoxication in Voytek could have been the reasons why neither man was able to get the jump on Tex and his Buntline.
Sadie realized that the Tate house was a house that "turned on" as she stated;
"I knew they 'turned on' just looking at the house. They hide it from society, but just looking at them, I knew they used narcotics."
And Sadie excused away the lack of Jay's reaction at being ordered from Sharon's bedroom by knife-point;
"I guess the three of them [Gibby, Sharon & Jay] went along so easily because they were pretty much terrified by what was going on."
But it may well have been Jay's alcohol consumption on top of the horror of the moment which incapacitated Jay from the first moment Sadie made herself known to him. Had he been sober, it's this writer's opinion, Jay would have been a man of action and Sadie would have found that Buck knife levelled at her own throat well before the trio ever set foot in the living room. And that living room would have been the last place Jay would have gone as I suspect that Jay would have skulked out of the poolside French doors with Sharon and Sadie in tow to effect an escape and seek assistance rather than accept whatever fate awaited them in the living room. I believe his main concern would have been Sharon – to get her out of harm’s way – and contact the police from a neighbour’s home to get help for Gibby and Voytek.
But this wasn’t done and knowing how athletic (a black belt in Karate) and energetic Jay was known to be, I just can’t buy that a sober Jay would have been that shocked nor frightened by a female holding a hunting knife. The intoxication factor had to have been at work for Jay to just quietly and willingly allow Sharon to be held at knife-point without a fight. But once the inebriated Jay accepted their fate and walked through to the Living room, things went quickly from bad to worse, as my previous quotation from Tex’s book indicated, that when Sharon’s hesitated to enter the room, Tex pulled her in and Jay protested Tex’s manhandling of her, being warned to stay quiet or risk being killed.
Voytek tells Jay at this time that Tex meant what he said but how Voytek could have known this is still a mystery to me, as up to this point Tex had not shot nor knifed anyone to Voytek’s knowledge. I think the MDA intoxication disabled Voytek at least to the point that he felt it would be easier to obey than to fight and when Jay saw that Voytek had no fight in him, Jay too gave in to Tex’s orders.
As previously quoted, Tex tells of Jay being seated in the print material side chair (same chair Sadie lost her Buck!) next to the fireplace when Tex wound the rope around his neck and the necks of Gibby and Sharon. And Jay had been only verbally warned by Tex at this point, so what followed must have been significant enough for Tex to shoot Jay twice at close range. Sadie states that she didn’t know how Jay got loose but I doubt that is critical, as Jay still had the ability to sit forward or stand even with the noose and his hands tied.
And it’s these seconds after the rope was wound that are at issue for me. Why was Gibby able to get free of her neck noose but Sharon and Jay were not? Both Sadie and Tex refer to the altercation with Jay as coming immediately after the rope was swung over the rafter beam and not before. Did Jay realize at that point that this was not just a home invasion robbery but something more sinister and macabre at work? Did the realization that they were all to be hung come to Jay for the very first time? In referencing Jay’s actions,
Katie used the word “fought”;
Sadie said “proceeded to advance on Tex”, Jay uttering the words, ”What’s going on?”;
and Tex said “struggled forward in the chair…shouting for me to be careful of her [Sharon]”
Only Katie’s statement indicating that a fight broke out between Jay and Tex.
And if you look at the angle and position of Jay’s body, one could surmise that Jay did indeed, at least, sit forward or stand up from that chair, to enable his body to be positioned as it was in relation to that chair.
The long-standing debate of whether or not Jay had pulled a karate move on Tex seems to be impossible given the close contact between the pieces of furniture and the limited space to effect any kind of aggressive stance, not to mention a neck noose and wrist restraints!
And once Jay was shot twice at close range and stabbed with Tex’s bayonet seven times, he stayed where he fell, as Sadie said, on his side…the rest being history as we say…
I for one just hope that death came swiftly to Jay, to spare him the screams and guttural sounds that would eventually herald out the life of his beloved Sharon; but his clenched fists, I fear, may indicate just the opposite….