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Author: Subject: End of the line for Susan Atkins, Manson follower and convicted killer

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  posted on 9/25/2009 at 07:30 AM
Charles Manson follower Susan Atkins dies
AP


File - Convicted murderer and former Charles Manson family member, Susan Atkins, AP – File - Convicted murderer and former Charles Manson family member, Susan Atkins, is seen in a bed during …
By LINDA DEUTSCH, AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch, Ap Special Correspondent – 3 mins ago

LOS ANGELES – Susan Atkins, a follower of cult leader Charles Manson whose remorseless witness stand confession to killing pregnant actress Sharon Tate in 1969 shocked the world, has died. She was 61 and had been suffering from brain cancer.

Atkins' death comes less than a month after a parole board turned down the terminally ill woman's last chance at freedom on Sept. 2. She was brought to the hearing on a gurney and slept through most of it.

California Department of Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton said that Atkins died late Thursday night. She had been diagnosed with brain cancer in 2008, had a leg amputated and was given only a few months to live.

She underwent brain surgery, and in her last months was paralyzed and had difficulty speaking. But she managed to speak briefly at the Sept. 2 hearing, reciting religious verse with the help of her husband, attorney James Whitehouse.

She had been transferred to a skilled nursing facility at the California Central Women's Facility at Chowchilla exactly one year before she died.

Tate, the 26-year-old actress who appeared in the movie "Valley of the Dolls" and was the wife of famed director Roman Polanski, was one of seven murdered in two Los Angeles homes during the Manson cult's bloody rampage in August 1969.

Atkins was the first of the convicted killers to die. Manson and three others involved in the murders — Patricia Krenwinkel, Leslie Van Houten and Charles "Tex" Watson — remain imprisoned under life sentences. Thornton said that at the time of Atkins death she had been in prison longer than any woman currently incarcerated in California.

Atkins, who confessed from the witness stand during her trial, had apologized for her acts numerous times over the years. But 40 years after the murders, she learned that few had forgotten or forgiven what she and other members of the cult had done.

Debra Tate, the slain actress's younger sister, told the parole commissioners Sept. 2 that she "will pray for (Atkins') soul when she draws her last breath, but until then I think she should remain in this controlled situation." Debra Tate noted that she would have a 40-year-old nephew if her sister had lived.

Atkins' prosecutor, Vincent Bugliosi, had spoken out earlier in favor of release, saying the mercy requested was "minuscule" because Atkins was on her deathbed.

Atkins and her co-defendants were originally sentenced to death but their sentences were reduced to life in prison when capital punishment was briefly outlawed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1970s.

During the sensational 10-month trial, Atkins, Manson and co-defendants Krenwinkel and Van Houten maintained their innocence. But once they were convicted, the so-called "Manson girls" confessed in graphic detail.

They tried to absolve Manson, the ex-convict who had gathered a "family" of dropouts and runaways to a ranch outside Los Angeles, where he cast himself as the Messiah and led them in an aberrant lifestyle fueled by drugs and communal sex.

Watson had a separate trial and was convicted.

One night in August 1969, Manson dispatched Atkins and others to a wealthy residential section of Los Angeles, telling them, as they recalled, to "do something witchy."

They went to the home of Tate and her husband. He was not home, but Tate, who was 8 1/2 months pregnant, and four others were killed. "Pigs" was scrawled on a door in blood.

The next night, a wealthy grocer and his wife were found stabbed to death in their home across town. "Helter Skelter" was written in blood on the refrigerator.

"I was stoned, man, stoned on acid," Atkins testified during the trial's penalty phase.

"I don't know how many times I stabbed (Tate) and I don't know why I stabbed her," she said. "She kept begging and pleading and begging and pleading and I got sick of listening to it, so I stabbed her."

She said she felt "no guilt for what I've done. It was right then and I still believe it was right." Asked how it could be right to kill, she replied in a dreamy voice, "How can it not be right when it's done with love?"

The matronly, gray-haired Atkins who appeared before a parole board in 2000 cut a far different figure than that of the cocky young defendant some 30 years earlier.

"I don't have to just make amends to the victims and families," she said softly. "I have to make amends to society. I sinned against God and everything this country stands for." She said she had found redemption in Christianity.

The last words she spoke in public at the September hearing were to say in unison with her husband: "My God is an amazing God."

She spent 37 years in the California Institution for Women at Frontera. When she fell ill, she was moved to a medical unit at the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla. She died there.

Susan Denise Atkins was born May 7, 1948, in the Los Angeles suburb of San Gabriel. Her mother was stricken with cancer and died when she was 15. Her father, reportedly an alcoholic, sent her and her brother to live with relatives.

While still in her teens, she ran away to San Francisco where she wound up dancing in a topless bar and using drugs. She moved into a commune in the Haight Ashbury district and it was there that she met Manson.

He gave her a cult name, Sadie Mae Glutz, and, when she became pregnant by a "family" member, he helped deliver the baby boy, naming it Zezozoze Zadfrack. His whereabouts are unknown.

The Manson slayings remained unsolved for three months, until Atkins confessed to a cellmate following her arrest on an unrelated charge. Police found Manson and other cult members living in a ranch commune in Death Valley, outside Los Angeles.

Besides Tate, their other victims were celebrity hairdresser Jay Sebring, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, filmmaker Voityck Frykowski and Steven Parent, a friend of Tate's caretaker; and grocery owners Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Atkins also was convicted with Manson of still another murder, of musician Gary Hinman, in July 1969.

Atkins married twice while in prison. Her first husband, Donald Lee Laisure, purported to be an eccentric Texas millionaire. They quickly divorced. Whitehouse, her second husband, is a Harvard Law School graduate and had recently served as one of her attorneys.

___

EDITOR'S NOTE — Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch, the AP's trial reporter for 40 years, covered the Manson Family trial.

(This version CORRECTS that Tate was one of seven people murdered, not six.)


[Edited on 9/25/2009 by BarrySmith]

 

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Maximum Peach



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  posted on 9/25/2009 at 07:49 AM
I believe Bugliosi referred to her as "ever the animal" in Helter Skelter.

I am fascinated by this story and crime. It’s so easy to dismiss these people as beasts, but in reality they are just like the average American. It’s actually quite a shame, because most of them seemed to have been relatively bright people who had something missing in their lives. Unfortunately, they came across Manson. It’s almost like he turned them into Manchurean Candidates, although they are certainly responsible for their own actions. I was always amazed watching jailhouse interviews with the women and Tex Watson years later, and they all seemed so normal. I think they should all die in prison for their crimes, but another part of me actually thinks they are rehabilitated. Susan Atkins was actually a model prisoner, as is Krenwinkle, Van Houton and Watson I believe. To juxtapose interviews of Atkins just after the crimes with interviews from the 90s and 2000s is amazing. It’s like two totally different people.

 

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  posted on 9/25/2009 at 08:10 AM
She did the crime - she did the time.

No heroine, here. Rest in peace.
May she get it right in the next life.

 

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  posted on 9/25/2009 at 08:15 AM
Man, i feel the same way as mentioned above....how F'd up would you have to be to fall into this mess. Very sad for them...so young, such a waste.
But every time I feel a bit of sympathy for them, I google "sharon tate murder photos"
Have a look at that, and imagine if that was your family or friends.

Sorry- but it cant be too soon for her other family members to join her. Let God sort it out.

 

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  posted on 9/25/2009 at 08:38 AM
[. Let God sort it out.


Thats what I was thinking.

 

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  posted on 9/25/2009 at 08:48 AM
Good. One less thing California has to pay for.

 

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  posted on 9/25/2009 at 08:56 AM
quote:
Good. One less thing California has to pay for


Agreed.

 

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  posted on 9/25/2009 at 09:21 AM
quote:

But every time I feel a bit of sympathy for them, I google "sharon tate murder photos"



Well, tread careful if you do. Adware and spyware bots have anticipated this.... and have
positioned themselves at the top of the Google results page.

 

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  posted on 9/25/2009 at 10:47 AM
What shocks me most here is this: Susan Atkins married TWICE while in prison, first to "Donald Laisure, purported to be an eccentric Texas millionaire." "Her second husband, James Whitehouse, is a Harvard Law School graduate and had recently served as one of her attorneys."
WHAT???? Can somebody run this by me again???

I have even more personal interest in this than most. When the murders happened in August 1969, our family had just moved two months prior to Simi Valley just outside of L.A. The Spahn Ranch where the Manson clan lived was approximately EIGHT MILES from our family home!! Of course no one knew it until several months later when Atkins spilled the beans in prison. By then Charlie had moved the clan to Death Valley. May all of them rot in hell.

 

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  posted on 9/25/2009 at 10:47 AM
What shocks me most here is this: Susan Atkins married TWICE while in prison, first to "Donald Laisure, purported to be an eccentric Texas millionaire." "Her second husband, James Whitehouse, is a Harvard Law School graduate and had recently served as one of her attorneys."
WHAT???? Can somebody run this by me again???

I have even more personal interest in this than most. When the murders happened in August 1969, our family had just moved two months prior to Simi Valley just outside of L.A. The Spahn Ranch where the Manson clan lived was approximately EIGHT MILES from our family home!! Of course no one knew it until several months later when Atkins spilled the beans in prison. By then Charlie had moved the clan to Death Valley. May all of them rot in hell.

 

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  posted on 9/25/2009 at 11:16 AM
I hope she has finally found peace....

 

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  posted on 9/25/2009 at 11:16 AM
[quoteI have even more personal interest in this than most. When the murders happened in August 1969, our family had just moved two months prior to Simi Valley just outside of L.A. The Spahn Ranch where the Manson clan lived was approximately EIGHT MILES from our family home!! Of course no one knew it until several months later when Atkins spilled the beans in prison. By then Charlie had moved the clan to Death Valley. May all of them rot in hell. ]


That is nuts. One of my good friend's father lives on Cielo Drive. I remember going up there a few years ago to my buddy’s house and we stopped at the end of the Cielo Drive to uh….try our “glaucoma medicine”. I just remember getting a little creeped out because I had coincidentally just read Helter Skelter. It’s pretty secluded, and there isn’t much light pollution up there, so it’s a little freaky if you start thinking about what they were doing up there, even aside from the murders, like “creepy crawling” in people’s houses.

 

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  posted on 9/25/2009 at 01:19 PM
quote:
Good. One less thing California has to pay for.


Kind of harsh, but I agree.

 

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  posted on 9/25/2009 at 01:29 PM
This is a good topic for discussion.

1. Can people be brainwashed, ie, fall under someone else's spell, to the point that they would do the wrong thing?

2. Can they realize the err of their ways, be redeemed and live a penitent life?

3. Can they, should they, be forgiven?

 

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  posted on 9/25/2009 at 02:29 PM
This is a good topic for discussion.

1. Can people be brainwashed, ie, fall under someone else's spell, to the point that they would do the wrong thing?

2. Can they realize the err of their ways, be redeemed and live a penitent life?

3. Can they, should they, be forgiven?

Hey BDOB - I say yes to all three above and have read documented examples of cases just like this. I'll find the examples, but Lee Strobel writes about some of these cases in his "Case For ..." series of books.

I always struggle with the forgiven - let me free from their punishment issue. would love to discuss it.

 

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  posted on 9/25/2009 at 02:49 PM
quote:
This is a good topic for discussion.

1. Can people be brainwashed, ie, fall under someone else's spell, to the point that they would do the wrong thing?

2. Can they realize the err of their ways, be redeemed and live a penitent life?

3. Can they, should they, be forgiven?

Hey BDOB - I say yes to all three above and have read documented examples of cases just like this. I'll find the examples, but Lee Strobel writes about some of these cases in his "Case For ..." series of books.

I always struggle with the forgiven - let me free from their punishment issue. would love to discuss it.
Patty Hearst?

 

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  posted on 9/25/2009 at 03:30 PM
quote:
Patty Hearst?
I don't think Patty actually killed anyone, did she?

 

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  posted on 9/25/2009 at 04:35 PM
quote:
quote:
Patty Hearst?
I don't think Patty actually killed anyone, did she?
No - I was just responding to the 3 points listed ... brainwashed and ended up involved in armed robbery, redeemed and led penitent life, I don't think anybody would equate the Patty of today with the Patty who was captured on camera pointing a rifle at bank customers so believe she has been forgiven.

I realize that the crimes of Manson's minions were much worse than those of Hearst but who's to say what might have happened if Patty's puppeteer's were demanding blood the way Manson did with his subjects. I personally find it hard to fathom how these kids became so 'entranced' by Manson ... to the point of committing the type of brutal crimes they did, especially. And their behaviour during the trial - nuts.

But I think there are a lot of things about being under another's control I don't understand because I've never been there. Jaycee Lee Dugard had many opportunities to escape from that freak of a pedophile Garrado during her 18 years in captivity but didn't. Why? Because of her mental state as a result of being kidnapped and also because psychologically she was his captive ... this whole Stockholm syndrome thing ... the life he forced her into began to seem reasonable in her minds eye.

Anyway, I don't know why after the brainwashing offender is taken out of the equation and therapy is received a person could not return to who and what they were to some extent. It sounds like Krenwinkel and VanHouten in particular have tried to live lifes of service while in prison. I saw a program where they were interviewed and both seemed genuinely sorrowful about their actions. I cannot imagine what it must be like for them, knowing these evil things they did, the lives they annihilated and the ones who have been destroyed or harmed through having their loved ones brutalized. I do not think these 2 women have the evil in them today to do anything remotely like this again.

[Edited on 9/25/2009 by lolasdeb]

 

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  posted on 9/25/2009 at 05:33 PM
"I don't know how many times I stabbed Sharon Tate. She kept begging and pleading and begging and pleading and I got sick of listening to it so I stabbed her."

That's all I need to know. In my opinion, some acts are so heinous and evil that one is going to pay for them fully, notwithstanding any excuse that they were brainwashed. Not to mention Tate's unborn child, which was unable to cry for mercy.

 

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  posted on 9/26/2009 at 12:12 AM
I'm not taking her off the hook, she didn't just make a pact with Charlie, she made one with the devil too......

To understand the Manson "family", one must study "charismatic" people and when coupled with unstable and sick minds, that rare quality is historic. Jim Jones, Hitler, are famous examples of charisma. These types are very, very good at manipulation, changing peoples belief systems, and subtle ways control and domination. They are often friendly, smart, personable, and cunning as a fox....... I have only met one person in my life who was only a tenth as good as Charlie or the others and he was / is a scarey person, who has ruined lives, assembled followers, manipulated the less strong, and when you see a mind like that at work, you can understand how a Manson can make killers of vulnerable girls and young men. I also think once they all became allied with evil, it is a path of most likely no return, and at some point they were messengers of the dark side themselves, which is what Charlie was trying to do all along..... he wasn't the killer even..... (in those cases anyway)

 

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  posted on 9/27/2009 at 01:06 AM
Someone else can feel sorry for her and forgive her if they want, but after what she did to those people, not me. I hope her evil soul burns in hell. Anyone who has the ability to massacre a pregnant woman much less anyone else deserves zero sympathy IMO. Even dying of brain cancer over a period of time she couldn't have come close to suffering the way Sharon Tate did.

 

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  posted on 9/28/2009 at 10:24 PM
the thing for me is this from the interviews I have watched and books i read
manson just doesnt seem like a charmistic leader.. but isnt it intersting 2 days after she died polanski was arrested

 

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