What happened to some of the cult’s most infamous members?
The Manson Family was a nomadic commune and anti-establishment cult led by charismatic ex-convict Charles Manson. Charlie was the father figure, head of the cult that committed at least ten murders in the summer of 1969. Several members of his cult were convicted of murder and other crimes. Some former members testified against Manson during the trials.
The Manson Family and the so-called Helter Skelter murders continue to capture headlines today, more than 51 years after actress and expectant-mother Sharon Tate and several others were brutally slaughtered in the Los Angeles area. Books (such as my 2019 narrative The Manson Family: More to the Story), true crime documentaries and fictional retellings of the murders remain wildly popular today.
The Autopsy of the Manson Murder Victims
Read about the savagery committed on Sharon Tate and the others by members of the bloodthirsty cult
Some members of the Manson Family have died. But others, in their teens and early 20s in the late 1960s, are still alive. Here is a brief recap of what became of some of the most infamous members of the Manson Family cult.
Linda Darlene Drouin Kasabian was with the Manson Family for only six weeks in the summer of 1969, leaving her husband and bringing their 15-month old daughter to Spahn Ranch. Linda accompanied the killers on the nights of both August 9th and 10th (the Tate and LaBianca murders) as they invaded the homes of their victims. She did not attempt to kill anyone but also did not try to stop the murders, claiming she was afraid they would kill her or others. She also was an accessory to the crimes, helping to discard evidence. She fled Spahn Ranch a few days later, eventually going to New England with her daughter. She was several months pregnant when she turned herself in to local police ahead of the trials and delivered a baby boy named Angel in early 1970. Linda won immunity for her testimony against Manson and the women.
After the trials, Linda attempted to reconcile with her estranged husband, but the effort was unsuccessful, and she returned with her children to the east coast. Linda married again and divorced again and gave birth to one more child before relocating to the Pacific Northwest. She gave very few interviews over the years until the 40-year anniversary of the murders, when she appeared on two news programs about the deadly summer of 1969.
Neither Linda nor her children have gotten off scot-free, despite her immunity deal. Plagued with drug and alcohol problems, she and at least one of her children have been arrested several times over the years. As Linda herself has said, she probably should have gotten therapy to deal with the trauma of witnessing the murder of five people, and the burden she still carries for not having acted to save them. “I’ve learned to put it in its proper perspective over the years and deal with my own feelings of shame and guilt.”
Barbara Jeanne Hoyt met the Manson Family when was 18, and ran away from home after a fight with her father. Barbara later became the victim of poisoning (the infamous Hawaiian LSD hamburger incident) in an attempt by Family members to silence her as a trial witness, Barbara recovered from her overdose and returned to Los Angeles, determined to put the killers away.
Over the years, she also gave several eyewitness reports, in news programs and documentaries. While Hoyt certainly deserved sympathy for the Family’s attempt to silence her, her recollection of events often proved misleading and even provably wrong.
Poisoned by the Manson Family
The Manson Family gave her a burger with 20 tabs of acid to silence her testimony
She later married, became a registered nurse, gave birth to a daughter and divorced. In addition to her commentary on television programs about Manson and the Family, she also spoke at many parole hearings (in opposition to release) and became a close friend of Sharon Tate’s younger sister, Debra.
Barbara died December 3, 2017 of kidney failure. She was 63 years old.
Catherine ‘Cappy’ Gillies
Catherine Irene Gillies was a Buffalo Springfield groupie who joined the Manson Family in late summer 1968. Charlie was enticed by Cappy’s stories of her grandmother’s ranch in Death Valley, and by that October the Family encamped for the desert. They stayed briefly at Myers Ranch before Cappy admitted she didn’t have permission to stay, and they relocated to another nearby ranch.
After the murders, the Family again retreated to Death Valley where they were split between Myers and Barker ranches. To solidify their desert stronghold, Cappy offered to kill her grandmother so she could inherit the family ranch. She left with (allegedly) two men but a flat tire derailed their plans to kill poor Grandma.
Cappy remained loyal to the Family during the trials. Later, she met a Vietnam Veteran and biker from Texas. They married, had four children, and lived in Trona, California. Cappy kept in touch with her Family sisters, accepting gifts of used clothing for her baby from Sandy and Squeaky not long before Squeaky was arrested for attempting to assassinate President Gerald Ford. Gillies and Barton divorced in the ’80s.
Cappy remained in Trona for many years with her family, before moving to Oregon. Catherine Gillies died on June 29, 2018 of cancer.
Leslie Van Houten
Leslie was 18 years old when she joined the Manson Family. Other former members recall Leslie as being afraid of Charlie, and eager to please. That willingness is what convinced Leslie to join members of the Family on August 10th on the second night of murder.
Leslie entered the home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, along with killers Patricia Krenwinkel and Charles ‘Tex’ Watson, and helped kill the couple. Autopsy evidence does acknowledge that Leslie’s efforts (16 or 17 stab wounds in Rosemary’s low back and buttocks) were all post-mortem. When arrested that fall, Leslie had taken so much LSD over an extended period that she believed she was a 10-inch tall fairy. Nonetheless, Van Houten was convicted of murder in 1970, sentenced originally to death.
After her death sentence was commuted to life in prison with the possibility of parole, Leslie slowly began to emerge from her fog. Initially, as reality sank in, she developed an eating disorder. But she also pursued an education in Women’s Studies, thanks to Karlene Faith, a Canadian writer and activist who taught classes at Frontera to the Manson women and other inmates.
In 1976, Leslie’s original conviction was overturned (due to complications with her trial lawyer’s disappearance). A new trial in early 1977 became deadlocked. Awaiting her third trial, Van Houten was released from prison. She lived free, without incident, even attending the 1977 Academy Awards with a friend. She worked as a legal secretary and got sober. In 1978, Leslie was again found guilty of first-degree murder for the deaths of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. She was sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole.
Leslie Van Houten Should Not Still Be In Prison
a plea to California Governor Gavin Newsom
In 1982, she married an ex-con she met through the prison. She admitted that her reasons stemmed from desire for physical intimacy — at the time, she would have been permitted conjugal visits. Shortly after the marriage, her husband was arrested for grand theft auto and during his arrest, a women’s prison guard uniform was discovered in the trunk of his car. He may have planned to bust Leslie out of prison by decoying her as a guard, but Leslie claimed no knowledge of the plan and immediately began divorce proceedings.
Since 1985, Leslie has gone before the parole board twenty-two times. In 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, Leslie Van Houten was recommended each time for parole, with the board citing numerous examples of how she has met the conditions of release. However, with each recommendation, petitions have flooded the office of the Governor of California (Jerry Brown for 17/18 and Gavin Newsom for 19/20) solicited by Debra Tate, who wishes no Manson Family murder ever be freed. At the urging of the public, Leslie was denied her freedom each time. Van Houten’s legal team has vowed it will use all legal means available — including the circuit court — to gain her freedom.
Catherine (Gypsy) Share
Catherine Louise Share was a struggling actor and musician when she met Manson in the summer of 1968. As the oldest woman in the Family, she also became a chief recruiter for Charlie — both Linda Kasabian and Leslie Van Houten joined the Manson Family at Share’s urging.
Catherine gave birth to a son, fathered by Manson Family killer Steve Grogan. She was later convicted of armed robbery for a 1971 heist intended to free Manson. She served at the same facility as the Family women convicted of murder. She also served a second stint in prison a few years later (for fraud and embezzlement) and married an ex-convict she met through Manson.
After her second prison term, Share renounced Manson and began a clean life. Her son went on to serve in the U.S. Military and she remarried and moved to Arizona. Years later, Catherine reached out to Leslie Van Houten and asked for forgiveness for introducing her to Charlie. Catherine has given several interviews on camera in recent years about that time in her life. She also claims to be a born-again Christian.
Steve ‘Clem’ Grogan
Steven Dennis Grogan was 17 years old, a high school dropout and Spahn Ranch hand when the Manson Family came to stay at the ranch where he lived and worked. Grogan (whom the girls called ‘Scramblehead’) became one of Manson’s most loyal followers, a parrot of Charlie’s beliefs.
Clem joined Manson and the killers on the night of the LaBianca murders, although he did not participate. Two weeks later, however, he and several other men helped kill ranch hand Donald ‘Shorty’ Shea.
Nearly two years later Grogan was convicted of Shea’s murder. He was sentenced by the jury to death, but the Judge decided that Grogan was ‘too stupid’ and drugged-up to be fully responsible for his crime and changed the sentence to life in prison.
In 1975, while serving at Vacaville State Prison, Grogan married and fathered two sons (he also has a son with Catherine Share). Later, he served at the Deuel Vocational Institute in Tracy, California. In 1981, after he was shivved by a fellow inmate, Grogan agreed to inform authorities of the burial site of Shorty’s body in hopes of gaining an early release. Shea’s remains were located in 1987.
They killed The Most Interesting Man in the World
The Manson Family killed a stuntman because they thought he was a snitch
Grogan was freed from prison the following year — the only member of the Manson Family convicted of murder to go free, so far. After his release, Grogan divorced his first wife and worked in the Sacramento area as a house painter. He married again to a psychologist and now performs as a musician.
Charles ‘Tex’ Watson
Charles Denton Watson, a former frat boy from rural Texas and drug dealer, met the Manson Family through Beach Boys’ drummer Dennis Wilson. Watson stayed with the Family briefly in the summer and fall of 1968, and again in the spring-summer of ’69. Watson was the primary killer — all seven of the Tate/LaBianca victims were killed (in part or completely) by Watson. He fled Spahn Ranch days later for Death Valley, returned to Spahn Ranch in time to participate in Shorty Shea’s death, and eventually fled to Texas where he was apprehended.
Watson fought extradition back to California for several months, resulting in being tried separately from Manson and his fellow co-conspirators. But he was convicted of murder, sentenced to death, and eventually to life in prison.
During his first decade in prison, Watson became a born again Christian and created a prison ministry. He also married and through conjugal visits, had four children. Those conjugal visits were revoked thanks in part to Doris Tate, mother of Watson’s most famous victim.
Charles Watson believes that God has forgiven him for killing eight people (he was never tried for Shea’s murder). He told a parole board, “My children… wanted to know why I was here… I put it to them in a way that a six-year-old could understand, that dad did a horrible thing in the late ’60s and that he’s now suffering the consequences… but daddy’s been forgiven by God, you know, through Christ.”
In 1986, the daughter of Rosemary LaBianca, anonymously wrote to Watson. Suzan LaBerge’d had a nervous breakdown after the murders of her parents. Now married with children, she credited her recovery to Christ. After corresponding secretly for a year, Suzan visited Tex at the California Men’s Colony, near San Luis Obispo. It didn’t take long for her to become convinced of Watson’s remorse, whereby she told him who she really was. Suzan vowed to help his parole efforts. She informed the parole board in 1990 that, “During our visit, I shared the forgiveness I felt toward him and I felt very certain that Charles was deeply remorseful for what he had done.” She argued that he had paid his debt to society! She even met his family.
Watson’s behavior in prison continues to be self-serving and manipulative. He and his wife ran a decades-long scam for state benefits (feeding his children at the expense of California taxpayers), making erroneous fiduciary claims on tax returns, and running a prison ministry that isolated Watson from the brunt of what should be his life-in-prison experience.
Manson may have manipulated and controlled the women who killed on his behalf, but Tex Watson was never under Charlie’s spell or his control. Tex did as he pleased. He came and went as he pleased, as well. Manson gave some of his most loyal women to Watson, for his pleasure and indulged his interests.
In 2003, Kristen Watson divorced her husband (she left him for a man she met at church). She had homeschooled their children, to protect them from the public. Kristen continues to live in California, now remarried. Their kids are grown, and little is known about them. They are of college age, and at least one has served time in the U.S. military.
When asked about his future plans, Charles Watson has stated that he wants to move to Texas and become a televangelist. His prison ministry (Abounding Love Ministries) still exists although he has no formal office anymore. Today, the Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego where he has served since 2017, has assigned Tex a more appropriate role as a janitor.
‘Little Paul’ Watkins
Paul Allen Watkins was 17, a high school dropout and musician when he met Charles Manson and several of the women in early 1968. His interest in the Family was primarily the sex, drugs and music. When Manson began talking about Helter Skelter (his acid-induced vision of apocalypse), Paul left for Death Valley where he met prospector Paul Crockett, who helped ‘deprogram’ Watkins of his cult-like devotion to Charlie.
As he prepared to testify for the upcoming trials, Watkins was the victim of arson when the van he was sleeping in was set afire. He managed to free himself, and later helped the prosecution understand Helter Skelter.
What Exactly Was Helter Skelter?
and why did it lead to ten murders by the Manson Family?
Paul and another former member, Brooks Poston, later formed a band together, performing in the Death Valley area. Paul married, divorced and remarried, raising three daughters with his second wife (one daughter is noted author Claire Vaye Watkins).
In 1979, he co-wrote a memoir about his experiences with the Manson Family. He later became mayor of the desert town of Tecopa. In 1990, Paul Watkins died of leukemia. He was just 40-years old.
Sandra Collins Good (sometimes known as ‘Blue’) has remained one of Manson’s most ardent supporters. A college student and socialite, she joined the Family in the spring of 1968, bringing a monthly trust fund with her. Sandra was particularly close to Lynette ‘Squeaky’ Fromme (aka Red).
The night of the murders at Sharon Tate’s home began with Good’s arrest (along with Mary Brunner, first member of the Family) on credit card fraud charges. Manson was allegedly so incensed at the news of their arrest that he decided to lash out at society, and gathered Tex Watson and several women to commit murder.
Sandy gave birth to her son Ivan (his father is Family member and convicted killer Bobby Beausoleil) in the autumn of 1969. Sandra, however, spent most of Ivan’s early life in prison. He was in the care of friends while his mother served time for abetting a fugitive, and sending threatening letters through the mail to corporate figures.
Good served more than fifteen years in prison. She served five years of that time at Alderson with Squeaky Fromme. Today, she lives a quiet life with blogger and writer George Stimson in Northern California. The couple lost their home in the 2015 Valley Fire. Sandy’s son Ivan owns a restaurant in Texas, is married and has children. Sandra recently spoke about her time in the Manson Family during the Oxygen documentary “Manson: The Women” (2019)
Robert Kenneth Beausoleil was a musician who met Charles Manson in early 1968. While never officially a member of the ‘Family’, Beausoleil and his pregnant girlfriend did live with the cult at Spahn Ranch starting in June of ’69. Just a month later, in an effort to court the outlaw motorcycle gang the Straight Satans, Beausoleil brokered a deal to purchase drugs from a friend of his, chemist Gary Hinman. A day later, several bikers showed up at Spahn Ranch and threatened Bobby, claiming the drugs were poison and demanding their money back.
Charlie urged Bobby to rectify the situation. Manson needed the bikers on his side and Bobby agreed to go talk to Hinman, hopefully to get a refund. He brought other members of the Family with him including Susan Atkins. Hours later, someone called the ranch and frantically pleaded with Charlie to come to Gary’s house. Gary wouldn’t budge, they claimed. Charlie showed up and immediately cut Hinman with a sword. He then pressured Bobby to ‘fix’ the situation knowing that he would be sent back to prison if arrested on assault charges. Bobby then stabbed Gary Hinman to death, and staged the scene to look as though the crime were committed by black militants.
Bobby was arrested just a few days later, driving Hinman’s car and with the bloody weapon still in his possession. He was tried for murder in early 1970, sentenced to death, commuted to life in prison where he remains today. Initially, Bobby was smug and threatening during the early years of his sentence — cozying up at one point to the Aryan Brotherhood, a white supremacist prison gang. Today, he is more contrite although his explanation for why Gary was murdered has varied over the years.
Bobby has several children — two sons and a daughter, all delivered by different mothers between 1969–1970 — as well as stepchildren through his relationship with his late wife, whom he married while serving his life sentence. Bobby continues to perform music and create art, from behind bars.
In 2019, the public was shocked when Bobby Beausoleil was granted parole — meaning that he met the eligibility of release, by a California parole board. The decision was forwarded to Governor Gavin Newsom, who had 120 days to review the file before making a determination. Thanks to the efforts of Debra Tate, Newsom reversed Beausoleil’s parole. Bobby, now 73 years old, was not recommended for parole in 2020.
Dianne ‘Snake’ Lake
Dianne Elizabeth Lake was, at age 13, the youngest member of the Manson Family. Effectively emancipated by her parents during the tumultous late 1960s, Dianne was living in a polyamorous situation when she met Charlie and several of the women in early 1968. She remained with the Family until her arrest in Death Valley in ’69, months after the murders. During her life with the Family, she was the subject of frequent abuse from Manson (he had rages against anyone who was — like his own mother — a redhead).
Luckily, after her arrest, Dianne found a trusted soul in officer Jack Gardiner. Gardiner realized that Dianne was suffering from PTSD and had her committed to a state mental hospital. Lake was also battling anorexia at the time and a powerful confrontation with another eating-disorder patient helped her overcome the addiction to starve herself. She also became a willing witness for the prosecution against Manson, Susan Atkins , Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten. She also was adopted by the Gardiner family who enrolled her in her senior year of high school, in Independence, California, providing a support system she never had from her own folks. Dianne never again lived with her biological family. She married a few years later although it ended in divorce.
The Teen Who Escaped Helter Skelter
the mystery of the caretaker at Cielo Drive
In the mid-70s she married again, had two children (a son and daughter) and moved to the Pacific Northwest. There, she worked many years as an educator. After her husband’s death in 2014, she wrote a book Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties (published October 2017 by William Morrow). In support of her memoir, Lake was a guest on several talk shows to discuss this time in her life, and the crimes associated with the Family. She acknowledged that for many years, her own children didn’t know her history with the infamous Manson cult. In time, she learned to let go of the shame attached to her memories and to forgive herself for being swept up in a movement she had no control over.
Dianne is now 67-years old, retired and a grandma. She has appeared on numerous news programs in support of the publication of her memoir.
Susan ‘Sexy Sadie’ Atkins
Susan Denise Atkins was a 19-year old wild child on parole for charges of theft when she met Manson in the autumn of ’67 in San Francisco. Days later, she joined the Family on their travels across the Southwest, eventually settling in the Los Angeles area. Within weeks of relocating to L.A, Susan became pregnant by a drifter, and gave birth later that year to her son, Ze Zo Ze Ce Zadfrack. Charlie gave her the name ‘Sadie Mae Glutz’ which later became ‘Sexy Sadie’ after he heard The Beatles’ White Album.
Headstrong and willful, Susan and Charlie butted heads for the entire time they were together. By early ’69, Charlie had sent Susan away from her son. When she returned, he had contracted hepatitis. She continued to be a thorn in Charlie’s side, and he suspected she was dealing drugs (specifically speed).
Susan was sent with Bobby Beausoleil to the home of Gary Hinman in July 1969, where she participated in his torture and murder. Less than two weeks later, she and three others (Watson, Krenwinkel and Kasabian) went to Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon, where actress Sharon Tate and four others were slain. Susan was also along for the ride the following night, when the LaBiancas were killed, although she did not participate in their murder.
Months later, in prison on suspicion of the Hinman murder, Susan began bragging to her fellow inmates. She told at least two of them that she knew who was behind the Tate/LaBianca murders, that she personally killed Sharon Tate and that other murders were planned within the Hollywood community. Those other inmates reported Susan’s claims to authorities, finally solving the crimes.
Susan was tried along with Manson, Krenwinkel and Van Houten for the Tate?LaBianca murders, and found guilty. She was sentenced to the California Institute for Women in Corona, Atkins where she had to be guarded by prison staff against other inmates. She was a snitch, shunned even by her codefendants.
Susan later recanted her claims that she killed Sharon Tate, claiming instead that she did hold her down but could not stab her. Tex Watson has asserted those claims, admitting that Susan was unable to kill Sharon and so he stabbed her by himself.
Susan was the first incarcerated Family member to disavow Manson.
She became a born-again Christian a few years into her incarceration, and wrote two books about her experiences. She married a young legal student (James Whitehouse) in 1987. Whitehouse later represented Atkins at her legal proceedings. She never saw her son, after her October 1969 arrest. It is believed that baby Ze Zo was adopted by a doctor and his wife, raised far from the notoriety of his mother’s crimes.
Susan suffered for many years with unknown health issues including trouble with one of her arms. In 1999, she was deemed medically disabled and unable to work. She underwent an operation but remained disabled. Within ten years of incarceration, Susan was prescribed reading glasses and a hearing aid.
In 2008, while exercising at a Curves™ gym in prison, Susan had a seizure. She was rushed to the infirmary where they diagnosed her with brain cancer. She was moved to the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, north of Fresno. A leg amputation followed, and her health quickly declined.
In 2009, her attorney-husband petitioned the court for a compassionate release. Susan was denied her compassionate release. She died at the prison in Chowchilla, on September 24, 2009.
Bruce McGregor Davis was born in Louisiana, attended college in Tennessee, and after dropping out, headed to California. He met Manson while hitchhiking in 1967.
Davis was only with the Family for a short time in early ’68 before departing for London and headquarters for the Church of Scientology. He spent the next year overseas, returning in the spring of ‘68.
Davis drove the killers to the home of Gary Hinman, and later participated in the brutal slaying of Spahn Ranch hand Donald ‘Shorty’ Shea. He was convicted of both murders in 1971, initially incarcerated at San Quentin, then transferred to Folsom Prison near Sacramento. During the 1970s, like Watson and Atkins, Bruce converted to Christianity. During this time, he began corresponding with Susan, developing a spiritual and potentially romantic connection. Davis’ mother, when she learned of the communication, warned her son not to be further affiliated with such a person.
In 1980, Bruce was transferred from Folsom to the Center for Men’s Corrections in San Luis Obispo, where Tex was serving. In 1985, Bruce married a flight attendant named Beth. Sixteen years later, they had a daughter before separating. Davis said that fear of his release was part of what soured the relationship with his ex-wife. He has minimal contact with his daughter, now 18-years old.
Davis continues to serve at the Center for Men’s Corrections. In 2000 he had hip replacement surgery and reported ongoing pain for several weeks related to the surgery. For many years, he avoided counseling and participation in Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous, claiming that his faith was enough to heal him of his prior misbehaviors, but by the late ’90s he had acquiesced and had undergone psychiatric evaluations, and participation in both AA and NA.
Bruce has been granted parole five times, meeting the eligibility as set forth by the California parole board, to be released. Each time his parole has been reversed by governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown. Davis’ legal team is awaiting a decision by current governor Gavin Newsom, after again being granted parole in ‘21.
Patricia ‘Katie’ Krenwinkel
Patricia Diane Krenwinkel, who had once dreamt of being a nun, was living with her sister and nephew when she met Manson in the fall of ’67 near Los Angeles. She slept with him the night she met him, believing she had just met the man of her dreams. Days later, she left behind her job and family to join the Manson Family.
Katie, as she was known, often served as babysitter and ‘house mom’ within the Family dynamic. She cooked meals, tended laundry and took care of the children. At times, her devotion to Manson wavered — although he usually knew what to say to keep her loyal. In a test of that loyalty, Pat was sent with Watson, Kasabian and Atkins to the home of Sharon Tate for the first night of a two-night murder spree. Krenwinkel personally killed Abigail Folger, chasing her across the lawn and stabbing her multiple times, eventually seeking help from Watson when she couldn’t subdue the woman on her own.
So much more than an heiress
the story of Manson Family victim Abigail Folger
The next night, Pat and Leslie held Rosemary LaBianca in the victim’s bedroom while her husband was killed in the living room by Watson. Pat attempted to stab Rosemary, near the neck/collarbones, but the knife would not penetrate and Mrs. LaBianca managed to keep her attackers at bay by swinging a lamp around herself, while blindfolded. Again, the women sought help from Watson, who used a bayonet to reach Rosemary in order to stab her to death.
Pat was tried and sentenced along with her coconspirators, for the Tate/LaBianca murders. In prison, Pat and Leslie remained close friends for several years, ostracizing Susan Atkins whom they still viewed as a snitch. It is alleged that Krenwinkel took the longest to disassociate from Manson. A mid-70s photograph shows her flashing a Family hand gesture, meant to show solidarity with her leader. But in time, through the help of counseling and her family, Pat did indeed recognize Charlie as a terrible influence.
Patricia Krenwinkel is currently the longest-serving female inmate in the California criminal justice system.
Pat also turned back to her Christian faith in 2000, working both the 12 steps from AA and submitting to her higher power. Pat, whose family is long deceased now, spent the past decades of her prison life in service to others. She has helped many inmates begin recovery from drugs and alcohol. She trained service animals for the blind and disabled. And she trained inmate firefighters to battle California’s deadly blazes.
Krenwinkel has shown remorse for her crimes, often breaking down during parole hearings. Yet her chances at parole remain slim.
Lynette ‘Squeaky’ Fromme
Lynette Alice Fromme was 18 years old, sitting on a park bench in Venice, California and crying after her father threw her out of the house when Charles Manson came strolling by. He offered a few words of consolation and the next thing Lyn knew, she was on board his VW bus headed for San Francisco. In many ways, she has never left Manson.
In 1968 while the Family was in the Los Angeles area (and growing by the week), they found refuge at Spahn Ranch, a derelict 500-acre property in Chatsworth, north of the Hollywood Hills. Spahn Ranch had seen better days in prior years, as a backdrop for Western movies and TV programs but by the late 60s, had fallen into disrepair and the owner, 79-year old blind George Spahn was in debt to the IRS.
Charlie moved his Family to the ranch that summer and Lynette was put in charge of old George. She kept his house for him, prepared his meals and even had sex with the septuagenarian. In fact, it was Spahn who gave Lyn the nickname ‘Squeaky’, after the sound she made when he pinched her thigh.
More than a year later, Lynette allegedly was the person Charlie confided in when he decided to order several of his followers to commit murder. She is rumored to have told him, “make sure to send a man.”
After the 1970–71 trials, Lyn continued her support of Manson. She also remained close friends with Sandra Good.
In 1975, Lynette Fromme was tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the attempted assassination of U.S. President Gerald R. Ford. Initially sentenced to the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California, Fromme was later involved in an incident where she attacked a fellow inmate with a hammer. She was then transferred to Alderson Federal Prison in West Virginia (where Martha Stewart later served for insider trading). She’d been at Alderson for eight years when Fromme successfully escaped from prison. Rumor was that she believed Manson had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and she wanted to be with him before his demise. She was on the run for two days before being discovered, rearrested and transferred to another federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas. There, she served until she was paroled in 2009.
Upon release, Lynette moved to upstate New York to serve her parole. The program Inside Edition captured video of Fromme and her boyfriend in the parking lot of her local Walmart. Lyn was as feisty as ever to the television crew, dodging their cameras.
In 2018, Squeaky released her memoir, Reflexion, about her life with Manson and the Family. Not surprisingly, it’s a white-washed fantasy about a group of innocent flower children who loved one another and traveled around California peacefully. She claims she is still in love with Charles Manson.
Charles Milles Manson: The entire life of Manson has been well-documented including in my many articles here at Medium.
When Charlie was found guilty of the Tate/LaBianca killings, he was headed back to the only place he had ever really known. He often said that jail was his father. In fact, one could argue that going back to prison was the greatest thing that ever happened to Charlie, since it fulfilled his dreams of fame. A cult of personality grew around Manson, even in his closely guarded jail cell, and nobody was more pleased than him. It served Manson for the world to believe ‘Helter Skelter’. It was a lot more exciting than the truth and awarded him, decade after decade, with the attention he craved.
After his death sentence was commuted to life in prison, Charlie was transferred to Folsom where he remained until 1980, and then relocated to Vacaville State Prison near Sacramento. Two years later, guards found a hacksaw blade, nylon rope, LSD and marijuana in Charlie’s cell. That same year, prison officials also discovered that Manson had recorded music tapes and smuggled them out with friends. The purpose was to ‘spread his message’ but only resulted in the loss of privileges.
The 1980s brought Manson into full view again, through news programs and documentaries. He also got his first crack at the parole process, behaving much as he had while on trial — dancing, singing, making obscene gestures and nonsensical threats. It was clear that Manson had no interest in getting out because he never tried to put on a good face during those proceedings. In ’86, he told the parole board that he was a vicious animal. He never claimed to be rehabilitated. Why would he? He had everything he needed.
In ’84, a Hare Krishna tossed turpentine on Manson and set him on fire. Charlie was treated at the Vacaville Medical Center; his scalp, beard and hair singed. The next year, Manson was transferred back to San Quentin. During transfer, guards uncovered another hacksaw blade.
The late ’80s brought new attention in the form of Manson’s music. Bands like Guns ‘N Roses and Lemonheads covered his songs, as did actor/ musician Crispin Glover. The royalties went to the legal heir — Bartek Frykowski (son of victim Wojciech Frykowski).
In 1989, Manson was transferred to Corcoran Prison for Men, south of Fresno. There, he racked up sixty prison violations including verbal abuse of the female corrections officers.
Through the years we watched Charlie’s antics, his veiled and not-so-veiled threats, and his constant denial that he was guilty of anything. Sometimes he got ornery, such as his 1994 interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer where he bragged that he was a ‘gangster’. Occasionally, he turned on the charm with female journalists.
Along the way, he outlived many of the people he had known. He helped destroy so many lives, but Manson kept on tickin’. Millions were spent incarcerating a man who reveled in the attention he received and never repented of his crimes. Charlie never apologized to the young people he led on his path of destruction and bondage, nor to their victims’ families.
Charles Manson was a Sex Trafficker
And the women and men in his Family were victims
After his 1994 ABC interview, the prison kept media away from Manson. More documentaries were filmed about the Family and the murders, but most featured archived footage from the ’80s and ’90s. Manson also stopped attending parole hearings in ’97, claiming they were a waste of his time.
Still, Manson continued to receive fan mail and gained hundreds if not thousands of new acolytes. Like Afton Burton — a 26-year old Mississippi woman who got engaged to Manson in 2014. Burton, with her new name ‘Star’, became the ultimate Mansonphile. She visited Charlie daily and brought him snacks. They played music together. Star ran his official website (ATWA.com). but after a year of public ‘courtship’ their marriage license lapsed and Manson later told the press that he learned the reason Star wanted to marry him was to gain his corpse when he died, so she could put it on display and sell tickets.
Then in January 2017, Charlie was rushed to Mercy Hospital in Bakersfield, reportedly with gastrointestinal bleeding. Doctors told the press that he was too weak for surgery, although a diagnosis was not shared with the public at that time. Several months later, Manson was again escorted from prison to Kern County Hospital in Bakersfield where he died on November 19, 2017 of cardiac arrest and respiratory failure connected to colon cancer.
Charles Milles Manson was cremated in March 2018, in the California desert.