Among the various cases discussed in Investigation Discovery’s ‘The Playboy Murders,’ the one involving Sharon Tate and many others at the hands of the members of the Manson Family. The story is covered in season 2, episode 3, which is titled ‘The Bunny and Charles Manson.’ The three people who were considered directly responsible for Sharon’s murder on August 9, 1969, were Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Charles “Tex” Watson. Now, well over 54 years since the killings took place, the viewers have become curious about the whereabouts of the three people who became associated with one of the most infamous murder cases.
Susan Atkins Died in Prison at the Age of 61
While Susan Atkins had been arrested in October 1969 based on tips that the authorities had found while investigating the Manson Family and the Tate murders, it was her own confession to fellow inmates that ensured her being sentenced for the murders, as well as the other arrests surrounding the case. Given the magnitude of her crimes and the fact that the death penalty was still legal in California, Atkins chose to testify for the state in exchange for hopefully not being sentenced to death.
At the time, Atkins was also implicated in the murder of Gary Hinman on July 25, 1969. For her involvement in the murders of Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, Leno LaBianca, and many more, Susan was initially given the death penalty on March 29, 1971. However, following the invalidation of the death penalty in California in 1972, even when it came to sentences that had already been given out, Atkin’s sentence was changed to spending life in prison.
Throughout her time as an inmate, Atkins became actively involved in social reforms when it came to the prison system. She also got married twice, including one to Donald Lee Laisure on September 2, 1981, though they ended up divorcing in 1982. She then got married to James W. Whitehouse in 1987, and that marriage lasted until her passing. Atkins’ multiple parole appeals were denied, which she once claimed made her a political prisoner, especially when her health started to deteriorate. Following her brain cancer diagnosis in April 2008, the discussion of Atkins’ freedom became a major one, though she was again denied parole on September 2, 2009. Only days after, on September 24, 2009, she passed away at the age of 61 in the Central California Women’s facility in Chowchilla, California.
Patricia Krenwinkel’s Parole Was Reversed
Up next, we have Patricia Krenwinkel, another person who played a major role in the murder of Sharon Tate. She had actually been given the death penalty as well on March 29, 1971, but the punishment was converted to a life sentence after California’s policy changes regarding capital punishment. Though Krenwinkel’s passionate faith in Charles Manson and his teachings were major contributors to her murderous actions, she has since denounced his teachings.
During the 50+ years that Krenwinkel has been in prison, she has had various parole hearings, each with varying degrees of success. Up until May 26, 2022, her parole hearings were either postponed or the requests were denied. However, on the mentioned date, she was finally granted parole, though not for long. On October 14, 2022, California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, reversed the decision, claiming that Krenwinkel remained unsuitable to join the society without causing any harm. As such, she remains a resident of the California Institution for Women in Los Angeles, California, with her next parole suitability hearing scheduled on June 19, 2024.
Tex Watson is Still in Prison
The third person who was convicted when it came to the killing of Sharon Tate was Tex Watson. The man in question is stated to be one of the most prominent figures in the Manson Family and was considered responsible for the deaths of the several killings that took place on August 9-10, 1969. Not much later, Watson fled the Spahn Ranch on October 2, 1969, and was able to reach his home state of Texas. However, on November 30, 1969, he was arrested by the state of Texas for his involvement in the crimes.
Watson’s extradition to California went on for nine months. When he did come back to California under custody, his mental and physical health started to deteriorate, and it wasn’t until February 1971 that he stood trial. Ultimately, he was found guilty of seven counts of first-degree murder and one count of conspiracy to murder, along with being declared that he was mentally healthy enough to be considered responsible for his criminal actions.
On October 21, 1971, Watson was given the death penalty, but before the punishment could be enacted, the change in California’s law meant that his sentence was converted to a lifetime of imprisonment. He then ended up getting married to Kristin Joan Svege in 1979, leading to the foundation of Abounding Love Ministries and the birth of their four children. Over the years, Watson has been denied parole 18 times, with the latest refusal being on October 15, 2021, when the topic was tabled for another five years, making his next tentative parole suitability hearing in October 2026.