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What Happened to William Garretson, the Only Survivor of the Manson Murders?

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August 9, 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Sharon Tate murder that was inflicted by members of the Manson "Family." The brutal slayings upended Hollywood, as it was the first time that a famous actress was targeted in her home. 

Even more heartbreaking was the fact that Sharon was eight-and-a-half months pregnant with her first child at the time she was killed. 

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After Sharon and three of her friends were killed in the California home she was renting with husband and director Roman Polanski, the Manson family murdered the LaBianca couple in order to try to divert the police's attention away from Charles Manson. 

William Garretson was the caretaker for the 10050 Cielo Drive House that Sharon and Roman were renting. He lived on the property, but somehow escaped the murderers. He was the only survivor of the slayings, and the attacks marred his life forever. 

Where is William Garretson today, on the 50th anniversary of the murders?

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William Garretson was one of the first suspects.

William hailed from Ohio but hitchhiked to California after graduating from high school in 1967. He was running low on money when he was hired to be the caretaker for the residence that eventually became the site of the brutal murders. 

William lived in a guesthouse on the property, and he was paid $35 per week to maintain the grounds. His room and board was covered as well. 

William was, scarily, at home during the night of the murders. He later said that he had stayed up until the early morning hours listening to music until he passed out from exhaustion. He awoke to the sound of police activity, and learned of the murders when he saw the bodies of three of the victims on the grass outside the home.

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He was unharmed, lived close to the residence, and likely had keys inside, so it wasn't much of a surprise when William was booked for the murders. While Charles Manson was commissioning the LaBianca murders to cover his tracks, it also led police to rule William out as a suspect, as the LaBianca murders occurred while he was in custody. Manson's plan seemingly backfired, and William was released. He also had been passing lie detector tests.

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The trauma of what William witnessed led him to turn down multiple interview offers with the press that would have given him hundreds of thousands of dollars. After the murders, William led a fairly quiet life.

Where is William Garretson today?

After testifying in the Manson family trials in 1970, William ended up moving back to his hometown of Lancaster, Ohio. 

He later married Linda Derr, and the pair had a son together. Their son was born with a heart condition and he ended up dying after his third open-heart surgery. William and Linda divorced after five years of marriage, but she spoke highly about her ex in an interview after Charles Manson died. 

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William's life was certainly filled with heartbreak and tragedy. He passed away in 2016 after a battle with cancer, two years before Charles Manson would meet his demise in prison. 

On the 50th anniversary of the murders, many remember him as the only survivor, but also as, ultimately, the ninth victim of Charles Manson. 

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