Former Cielo Drive Caretaker, Sole Survivor Of The TLB Murders Died In August

January 03, 2017

Brian Davis - TLB Radio

TLB Radio has sadly learned William Garretson, the sole survivor of the Tate-LaBianca
murders, has passed away. He was 66.

According to Garretson's high school alumni page at, Garretson passed away
of cancer on August 16, 2016, one week and day before his birthday.

There was no obituary notice which would explain why none of us in the TLB community
likely knew of this until now.

For those who might not know, then 19-year old Garretson lived in the guesthouse at 10050 Cielo Drive in 1969 and was the property caretaker for house owner Rudy Altobelli.  One of the victims, 18-year old Steven Parent, had been visiting Garretson that night.

Garretson was arrested the next morning for the murders before being cleared and released the following day.

I was fortunate enough to talk with Bill on a few occasions in which a couple are posted on
the TLB Radio podcast page and each time Bill was nice, cordial and open about his
perspective of the murders.

In my opinion, Bill Garretson is one of the top 3 or 4 most intriguing characters in this story

and I don't think I'll ever truly understand how he was able to survive the carnage of
Cielo Drive that August 9th, 1969.

Eventually, it won't matter anymore. Maybe it already doesn't.

Rest In Peace, William Garretson


Anonymous said...

T/y for this. Agreed the guy was one of the more enigmatic characters in a tragic story full of them. Those YLB interviews you got were unusual to say the least but interesting nonetheless. One strange ranger for sure but he breathed in almost a half century's oxygen past that nightmare night and given how close he came to not I think he made out okay.

Anonymous said...

TLB not YLB. Excuse please.

TLB Radio said...

Thank you Anon. I appreciate the comment.

jamesrsfo said...

Does anyone else beside me think he possibly saw it all happen but was hiding in the darkened guest house so they wouldn't see/hurt him? Not brave, but you got admit pretty smart.

Mark Chmiel said...

Yes, James, I agree. I don't necessarily think he saw everything, but I think he may have seen Sebring and Abigail killed and he probably panicked or shut down when Krenwinkle tried the doorknob to his cottage. A 19 year old trapped in a cottage with an unknown number of killers outside and no phone, plus he was on some kind of drug or drugs? Yeah, I think he shut down and hid.

It's also possible he saw it, but was too drugged to process what was happening until the next morning.

Jerry Lamonica said...

For years I have read and reread HELTER SKELTER.
One part of the story for me to fathom is that of Rudolph Weber.
Here is a guy and his wife who witnesses the four killers using his hose at 1AM.
He thinks it significant enough to write down the tag number of the vehicle and save it (and later remember the number)
OK, so his story is this . . . he went to bed early that night because he had to get up early for work the next morning.
So he goes to work and has to hear all the news about the murders.He lived only 2 miles from the Tate residence and didn't think he should call the police and tell them about the the four teens? If nothing else those teens could have witnessed the killers in the area. The police would have found John Swartz's vehicle at Spahn Ranch that very afternoon. The LaBiancas might be alive today had this occurred.
Apparently, Bugliosi in his book, although he continually takes pot shots at LAPD says nothing about Weber or his wife for failing to call the police.
I don't get it.
Any comments?

TLB Radio said...

Jerry Lamonica, Hello !

I'm with you ! Great point ! Great question !

Thank you !

TLB Radio - Brian Davis

Paul Cimino said...

Thank you Brian 4 the time you gave me when I called you the first week in June please don't forget to let me know when your show on REELZ channel airs thanks


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