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In listening to the tapes, Wes comes across another problem. After all, the best liar in the room with always be Annalise. Good luck finding another one. A ripped-from-the-headlines case; a complex, all-grey defendant; an emotionally compelling and divisive crime — and then, of course, a delicious twist.

Christmas Breakdowns Last week we were thrown into thick of things. But the clock is ticking, so of course we need the backstory. But this time around, we get it in more efficient little snippets, and not nearly as breakneck as usual, which makes them way more easily digestible. Her father banishes her from the table. Feliz Navidad, indeed.

Back in town, Cranky Frankie insult alert! Still, he lets him stay in for a movie. When Connor leaves, he discovers his car is gone. Connor tells Frank, who tells him to report it to the police. Later, he has another nightmare and wonders about those scratches on the floor. Later, when Bitter Blonde takes him aside to tell him to get his act together, he tells her she hurt his feelings, which totally catches her off-guard. She was right all along.

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With another guy. She apologizes, but Aidan says they should postpone the wedding. After the case is resolved, Laurel takes it upon herself to be in charge of group therapy — on the wraparound porch of the old Victorian, of course — telling them she got back with Khan and had a fight with her family. So Connor wants to talk about how Laurel sold them out. These well-executed outtakes offered some insight into the mundane but very motivating moments that are driving each of our little murderers along their paths. Sandy, just over the chicken pox, had declined. Like Mrs.

Tate, she had tried to call Sharon that morning but had received no answer. Sandy assured Mrs. Tate that there was probably no connection between the report of the fire and Cielo Drive. However, just as soon as Mrs. It was important, she said. Sometime between 10 and 11 A. The cuts were close to the attachment on the pole, indicating that the person responsible had probably climbed the pole too.

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Kilgrow repaired two of the wires, leaving the others for the detectives to examine. Police cars were arriving every few minutes now.

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And as more officers visited the scene, that scene changed. The horn-rimmed glasses, first observed by DeRosa, Whisenhunt, and Burbridge near the two trunks, had somehow moved six feet away, to the top of the desk. Two pieces of gun grip, first seen near the entryway, were now under a chair in the living room. And one or more officers tracked blood from inside the residence onto the front porch and walk, adding several more bloody footprints to those already there. Granado was still taking blood samples. Later, in the police lab, he would give them the Ouchterlony test, to determine if the blood was animal or human.

There are some thirty blood subtypes; however, if the blood is already dry when the sample is taken, it is only possible to determine whether it is one of three—M, N, or MN. It had been a warm night, and it was already turning into another hot day. By the time Granado got to work, most of the blood, except for the pools near the bodies inside, had already dried. There was so much blood, in fact, that Granado overlooked some spots.

On the right side of the front porch, as approached from the walk, there were several large pools of blood. Granado took a sample from only one spot, presuming, he later said, all were the same. Just to the right of the porch, the shrubbery appeared broken, as if someone had fallen into the bushes.

Blood splatters there seemed to bear this out. Granado missed these. Granado took a total of forty-five blood samples. If this is not done a week or two after collection, the components of the blood break down. Later, when an attempt was made to re-create the murders, these omissions would cause many problems.

Just before noon William Tennant arrived, still dressed in tennis clothes, and was escorted through the gate by the police. But he identified the man on the lawn as Voytek Frykowski, the woman as Abigail Folger, and the two bodies in the living room as Sharon Tate Polanski and, tentatively, Jay Sebring. Then he went outside and was sick. When the police photographer finished his work, another officer got sheets from the linen closet and covered the bodies. Beyond the gate the reporters and photographers now numbered in the dozens, with more arriving every few minutes.

Police and press cars so hopelessly jammed Cielo Drive that several officers were detailed to try and untangle them. Not everyone who visited the scene was as reluctant to talk. Though sent out before the identity of the victims had become known, it correctly reported the location of the bodies; that the telephone lines had been cut; and the arrest of an unnamed suspect.

Her father, chairman of the board of the A. However, Mrs. Folger was not at home but in Connecticut, visiting friends following a Mediterranean cruise, and Mr. Folger reached her there. Both mother and daughter had planned to fly to San Francisco today, for a reunion, Abigail having made a reservation on the 10 A. United flight.

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On reaching home, William Tennant made what was, for him, the most difficult call. Tennant checked his watch, automatically adding nine hours to get London time. Though it would be late in the evening, he guessed that Polanski might still be working, trying to tie up his various film projects before returning home the following Tuesday, and he tried the number of his town house. He guessed right.

Polanski and several associates were going over a scene in the script of The Day of the Dolphin when the telephone rang. Both men now crying, Tennant reiterated that it was true; he had gone to the house himself. He was thinking, he later said, not of fire but a landslide, a not uncommon thing in the Los Angeles hills, especially after heavy rains; sometimes whole houses were buried, which meant that perhaps they could still be alive. Only then did Tennant tell him that they had been murdered. The youth in the Rambler remained unidentified, but was no longer nameless; he had been designated John Doe The news spread quickly—and with it the rumors.

Rudi Altobelli, owner of the Cielo property and business manager for a number of show- business personalities, was in Rome. One of his clients, a young actress, called and told him that Sharon and four others had been murdered in his house and that Garretson, the caretaker he had hired, had confessed.

Officers Jerrome A. Boen and D. It took six hours to cover both residences. Later that afternoon the pair were joined by officer D. Dorman and Wendell Clements, the latter a civilian fingerprint expert, who concentrated on the four vehicles. Contrary to popular opinion, a readable print is more rare than common. Many surfaces, such as clothing and fabrics, do not lend themselves to impressions.

Even when the surface is such that it will take a print, one usually touches it with only a portion of the finger, leaving a fragmentary ridge, which is useless for comparison. If the finger is moved, the result is an unreadable smudge. And, as officer DeRosa demonstrated with the gate button, one print placed atop another creates a superimposure, also useless for identification purposes.

Thus, at any crime scene, the number of clear, readable prints, with enough points for comparison, is usually surprisingly small. Not counting those prints later eliminated as belonging to LAPD personnel at the scene, a total of fifty lifts were taken from the residence, guest house, and vehicles at Cielo Drive. This left a total of twenty-five unmatched latent prints, any of which might—or might not—belong to the killer or killers.

It was P. On verify- ing that the deaths were not accidental or self-inflicted, Lieutenant Madlock had requested that the investigation be reassigned to the Robbery-Homicide Division. Lieutenant Robert J. Helder, supervisor of investigations, was placed in charge.

He in turn assigned Sergeants Michael J. McGann and Jess Buckles to the case. Three additional officers, Sergeants E. Henderson, Dudley Varney, and Danny Galindo, were to assist them. On being notified of the homicides, Los Angeles County Coroner Thomas Noguchi asked the police not to touch the bodies until a representative of his office had examined them. Deputy Coroner John Finken arrived about , later to be joined by Noguchi himself.

Finken made the official determination of death; took liver and environmental temperatures by 2 P. It was white, three-strand nylon, its total length 43 feet 8 inches. Finken also removed the personal property from the bodies of the victims. Sharon Tate Polanski: yellow metal wedding band, earrings. John Doe Lucerne wristwatch, wallet with various papers but no ID.

Abigail Folger and Voytek Frykowski: no property on persons. Besieged by reporters at the gate, Dr. Noguchi announced he would have no comment until making public the autopsy results at noon the following day. Both Noguchi and Finken, however, privately had already given the detectives their initial findings. Three of the victims—the John Doe, Sebring, and Frykowski—had been shot. Aside from a defensive slash wound on his left hand, which also severed the band of his wristwatch, John Doe had not been stabbed. But the other four had—many, many times. In addition, Sebring had been hit in the face at least once, and Frykowski had been struck over the head repeatedly with a blunt object.

The police had already suspected this. In searching the Rambler, Sergeant Varney had found four bullet fragments between the upholstery and the exterior metal of the door on the passenger side. Also found, on the cushion of the rear seat, was part of a slug. Though all were too small for comparison purposes, they appeared to be. As for the stab wounds, someone suggested that the wound pattern was not dissimilar to that made by a bayonet.

Coincidentally, the only two knives found in the house were a kitchen knife and a pocketknife. A steak knife had been found in the kitchen sink. Granado got a positive benzidine reaction, indicating blood, but a negative Ouchterlony, indicating it was animal, not human. Boen dusted it for prints, but got only fragmentary ridges. Chapman later identified the knife as one of a set of steak knives that belonged to the Polanskis, and she located all the others in a drawer.

But even before this, the police had eliminated it because of its dimensions, in particular its thinness. The stabbings were so savage that such a blade would have broken. It was wedged behind the cushion in one of the chairs, with the blade sticking up. Noticing a spot on the side of the blade, Granado tested it for blood: negative. Girt dusted it for prints: an unreadable smudge. Chapman could not recall ever having seen this particular knife. This, plus the odd place where it was found, indicated that it might have been left by the killer s. In literature a murder scene is often likened to a picture puzzle.

If one is patient and keeps trying, eventually all the pieces will fit into place. Veteran policemen know otherwise.

A much better analogy would be two picture puzzles, or three, or more, no one of which is in itself complete. And some pieces will always be missing. There was the American flag, its presence adding still another bizarre touch to a scene already horribly macabre. The possibilities it suggested ranged from one end of the political spectrum to the other—until Winifred Chapman told the police that it had been in the residence several weeks. Few pieces of evidence were so easily eliminated. There were the bloody letters on the front door.

But what did it mean printed here? There was the rope. Chapman flatly stated that she had never seen such a rope anywhere on the premises. Had the killer s brought it? If so, why? What significance was there in the fact that the two victims bound together by the rope, Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring, were former lovers? What was Sebring doing there, with Polanski away?

It was a question that many of the newspapers would also ask. The horn-rimmed glasses—negative for both prints and blood—did they belong to a victim, a killer, or someone totally unconnected with the crime? Or—with each question the possibilities proliferated—had they been left behind as a false clue? The two trunks in the entryway. Who delivered them, and when, and had this person seen anything? John Doe 85, the youth in the Rambler.

The Clock That Wouldn't Stop

Chapman, Garretson, and Tennant had failed to identify him. Who was he and what was he doing at Cielo Drive? Had he witnessed the other murders, or had he been killed before they took place? The time at which it had stopped was A. Coincidence or significant? As for the time of the murders, the reports of gunshots and other sounds ranged from shortly after midnight to A. Not all of the evidence was as inconclusive. Some of the pieces fitted.

No shell casings were found anywhere on the property, indicating that the gun was probably a revolver, which does not eject its spent shells, as contrasted to an automatic, which does. Placed together, the three pieces of black wood formed the right-hand side of a gun grip. The police therefore knew the gun they were looking for was probably a. From the pieces it might be possible to determine both make and model. Though there was human blood on all three pieces, only one had enough for analysis. It tested O-MN. Of the five victims, only Sebring had O- MN, indicating that the butt of the revolver could have been the blunt object used to strike him in the face.

The bloody letters on the front door tested O-M. Again, only one of the victims had this type and subtype. Long after the bodies had been removed, the detectives remained on the scene, looking for meaningful patterns. They also presented new evidence that a serial killer of children — a lifelong drifter who was on Texas death row for a nearly identical crime — had confessed to killing Joel.

Rea was formally exonerated in Today, she belongs to a growing community of victims: Americans who were wrongly convicted with the help of forensic disciplines allowed into courtrooms despite little to no proof of their reliability. Of the people who have been exonerated based on DNA tests in the United States, faulty forensics contributed to almost half of the underlying convictions. Like Rea, these exonerees have had years of their lives stolen, and many have struggled to find their place in the world after surviving the crucible of incarceration.

The report criticized a wide range of forensic disciplines, including the analysis of hairs, fibers, bite marks and shoe and tire impressions. The report called for sweeping reform. Yet nearly a decade later, little has changed. So, too, is microscopic hair comparison, an outmoded and dangerously flawed technique that has, to date, led to the convictions of 75 people who were later exonerated by DNA testing.

Bad science also affects defendants whose cases never go to trial. About 95 percent of criminal cases are resolved with plea bargains, and in such cases, forensic work often goes unchallenged. Last year, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions dashed hopes for reform when he disbanded the National Commission on Forensic Science, an Obama-era advisory panel that sought the input of research scientists in improving the standards and soundness of forensic analysis and testimony.

Meanwhile, defendants convicted on the strength of dubious forensic testimony languish in prison, while those who have won their freedom, like Rea, try to put their lives back together. Struggling with PTSD and reeling from abuse she endured behind bars, she continues to suffer in ways both unbearably public and excruciatingly private. Nothing will ever make that go away. On the morning of Oct. Rea was standing outside, barefoot, clad only in a T-shirt and underwear.

She looked frantic, and she was speaking so rapidly that she was hard to understand. Hoping to calm her, Bridgett pulled the year-old into a bear hug. A man in a ski mask lunged at her, and Rea — who had a black belt in taekwondo — struggled with him, chasing him through the house and into the backyard. He slammed her head to the ground before making his escape. Hysterical, she told Bridgett she thought Joel had been kidnapped. The fifth-grader lay on his bedroom floor, between his empty bed and the nearby wall. His pajamas were drenched in blood.

He had been stabbed 12 times, twice through his aorta. She was taken to the hospital with a black eye, rug burns on her knees, a wound on her right arm that required stitches, and scratches and abrasions on her head, both shoulders and the tops of her feet. In her fragile state of mind, she did not grasp that investigators were already eyeing her as a suspect. They had not been able to find any obvious signs of forced entry into the home; Rea could not remember locking the back door but told police it was safe to assume she had.

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She had no history of mental illness and no criminal record, nor did her behavior in the hours leading up to his murder suggest anything was amiss. The two women had spent the evening scrapbooking. A plodding investigation followed, with few leads. Investigators had little to go on, having failed to do basic police work that might have pinpointed the identity of an intruder. Instead, they focused on Rea. Looking for any remnants of blood that she might have tried to wash away, investigators dug up her septic tank, inspected her sink and shower drains, and examined the clothes in her washing machine.

They sprayed luminol, a chemical that detects the presence of blood, around her house. They found nothing. Nor could they find any discernable motive. Rea, who shared custody of Joel with her ex-husband, Leonard Kirkpatrick, had fought for more time with their son. In the wake of the murder, she could not bear to be alone. Terrified of the dark, she rarely slept.