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Who Is Debra Tate? New Details About Sharon Tate's Sister — Including Why She Thinks There Are More Manson Family Victims

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Who Is Debra Tate? New Details About Sharon Tate's Sister Including Why She Thinks There Are More Manson Family Victims

There is probably no serial killer more notorious than Charles Manson. Though he wasn’t even present for the murders he was convicted of inspiring, his name is forever associated with the gruesome killings of Sharon Tate and five other people over two nights in the hills around Los Angeles.

Manson died in prison last year but he’s anything but forgotten. And there's one person who thinks there’s more to his grim history than he ever admitted: Debra Tate, Sharon Tate’s sister. She believes the Manson Family may have been responsible for other stabbings in the area, including the death of  19-year-old Reet Jurvetson who was found stabbed not far from the Polanski home. Debra Tate has spent her life advocating against the release of those responsible for her sister’s murder. Now she hopes a new TV special will reveal if any other people fell victim to Mason’s cult.

So who is Debra Tate, and did Mason kill more people than we know? Read on to find out more about Sharon Tate's sister. 

RELATED: 9 Bizarre Facts About Charles Manson's Childhood, Life And Death — Including His Creepy Last Words

1. Manson got his criminal start early. 

Manson was born in Ohio to mother Kathleen Maddox. According to a paternity suit she filed, his father was a man named Colonel Walker Henderson Scott Sr. While they came to an agreement, it’s unclear if Charles ever met his biological father.

Kathleen married William Eugene Manson before Charles was born. The couple divorced four years later, partly because of Kathleen’s alcoholism. Kathleen continued drinking and left Charles with babysitters so she could go out with her brother and his girlfriend. The three of them attempted to rob a man in 1939 and were caught almost immediately. Kathleen was sent to prison for five years. Charles was sent to live with relatives.

After her release, Kathleen moved them to West Virginia where she kept drinking and was arrested on a grand larceny charge. The charge was ultimately dropped and Kathleen moved to Indianapolis, got sober and married a man named Lewis (last name unknown). Charles was beginning to get in trouble with the law for breaking and entering and stealing. Ultimately, Kathleen sent her now 13-year-old son to Gibault School for Boys in Terre Haute, Indiana, a school for male delinquents run by Catholic priests.

2. He ran away from his boarding school.

Charles didn’t remain at Gibault long. He ran away multiple times, eventually settling in Indianapolis where he supported himself by robbing stores. He was caught and sent to Boys Town in an attempt to rehabilitate him. Instead, he and a friend escaped after only four days and went to live with the friend’s uncle.

The uncle was a thief and took the boys on as apprentices. From there, he ended up at a series of reform schools from which he kept escaping and committing crimes. He was ultimately arrested in 1951 and send to Natural Bridge Honor Camp, a minimum security institution. In 1952, his aunt offered to take him in if he was released but the day before he was set to leave, he was caught sexually assaulting another inmate at knifepoint.

He was then moved to a maximum security reformatory at Chillicothe, Ohio. He was released in 1954 when he was 20 years old.

3. He got married.

After his release, Manson married Rosalie Jean Willis. The two moved to Los Angeles in a stolen car, Shortly after arriving on the West Coast, Charles was arrested for that and sentenced to yet another stint in prison.

While he was away, his wife gave birth to their son Charles Manson Jr. By the time, Charles was released, his wife had filed for divorce. He was allowed out on probation in 1958. He then took to pimping out young women, which resulted in more arrests and more prison time. By the time he was finally released again, he had spent more than half of his life behind bars. He was 32 years old. 

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A post shared by Charles Manson (@charlesmansoneveryday) on Feb 26, 2019 at 9:50am PST

4. He started the Manson Family.

After getting out of prison, Charles began gathering a group of followers around him. He started out in San Francisco where he had hoped to break into music. He moved down to Southern California with his mainly female followers and took up residence on a deserted ranch in San Fernando Valley. They lived on the outskirts of society, engaging in recreational drug use and building up a cult-like mythology the involved preparing for the end of the world.

Charles briefly hoped to finally launch his music in earnest when he made the acquaintance of Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson but that friendship ended acrimoniously after a number of Manson’s women moved into Wilson’s house, wrecked his car and asked him for money for medical bills.

5. The family committed the murders. 

After the friendship with Wilson ended, Manson moved the family back out to the desert and his apocalyptic fantasies grew more disturbed. He started preparing for a coming race war and the end of the world. Part of his plans led to different murders.

He and his followers killed two people — Bernard Crowe and Gary Hinman — before the infamous Helter Skelter night murders of Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, and Wojciech Frykowski, and Steven Parent. The following night, they killed Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. After a terrifying period of uncertainty, while the police searched for the killers, Mason and his followers were arrested.

Their trial was a media circus, with the defendants and their supporters acting in bizarre ways, including when Manson shaved his head and told the media “I am the Devil, and the Devil always has a bald head." Eventually, Manson himself, and followers Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Leslie Van Houten were found guilty and sentenced to death. 

6. Are there more murders?

But was that really the extent of the Mason Family’s killing spree? Debra Tate now says that there may be evidence of more murders on audio tapes stored in the LAPD archives. LAPD reportedly has hours of audio recordings between Manson follower Charles “Tex” Watson and his former attorney but they have not released the tapes.

We might be able to rule in [additional murders] if we got our hands on those tapes,” said Tate. An attorney who worked for Manson Family member Bruce Davis, however, says “They haven’t used it to prosecute anybody because there’s nothing on them.”

Tate will be appearing on a TV special about the continuing investigation called People Magazine Investigates: Who Killed Jane Doe #59? Check it out for all the new details. 

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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.