El Monte teen was an unlikely victim of Manson family

San Gabriel Tribune, California/June 26, 2006
By Christina L. Esparza

El Monte -- Steven Earl Parent was working two jobs the summer he graduated from El Monte's Arroyo High School in 1969 to save money to attend Citrus College.

The 18-year-old wore horn-rimmed glasses, drove a white Ambassador and was a hi-fi enthusiast. He was described as "clean-cut, intelligent and a good worker."

So it was a wonder, at the time, how Parent could be one of the bodies found at a posh estate in the canyons above Beverly Hills where an actress, an heiress, a movie producer and an internationally known hair stylist were also found slain.

"I just can't understand what he was doing up there in the first place," his father told this newspaper at the time. "Hell, Steve wasn't a poshy kind of kid. I didn't even know he knew any of those people."

Parent, it turned out, was a victim of one of the deadliest and most infamous crime sprees in California history.

He was a victim of Charles Manson and his family of misfits.

Parent was buddies with William E. Garretson, who was the first person to be taken in for questioning after police discovered the grisly scene at the leased home of director Roman Polanski and actress Sharon Tate.

He was later released when he passed a polygraph test.

Garretson, then 19, was the caretaker of the estate owner's dogs, and Parent went to the estate about 11:45 p.m. Aug. 9, 1969, to show him a radio, according to records.

He was found the next day, slumped over in his Ambassador, with four .22-caliber bullets in his body. Parent was the youngest of the Manson Family's victims that night.

The other victims were Tate; Abigail Folger, heiress to the coffee fortune; men's hair stylist Jay Sebring; and Voityck Frokowski, a film producer.

The following night, two more bodies were found in Los Angeles, with the same clues as those left behind at the Polanski estate.

Parent worked at a San Gabriel plumbing company, and a Hollywood stereo record store.

"He seemed to have a very good reputation," said Donna Crippen, curator for the El Monte Historical Museum. "He was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

The trial that followed the arrests of Manson and his followers, Patricia Krenwinkel, Susan Atkins and Leslie Van Houten - who attended Monrovia High School - left Parent's memory only to those who knew him.

Even in El Monte, there wasn't a big buzz around town concerning Parent's death, Crippen said. While he was shot, the other victims were shot and stabbed repeatedly. Tate - eight months pregnant - was found stabbed, shot and hanged.

"They were more focusing in on the horrible death of the actress," Crippen said.

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