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Accused Vehicle ‘Rustler’ Key Figure in Tate Probe

INDEPENDENCE, Calif., Dec. 2 – Charles M. Manson, accused in mountain-desert area of rustling four-wheel-drive vehicles, has emerged as a key figure in the investigation of the killings of Sharon Tate and seven others in Los Angeles.

The bushy-haired, wild-bearded little man with piercing brown eyes has been tabbed the leader of a hippie-type roving band whose members call him “God” and “Satan” — and now two attorneys say clan members killed the actress and others.

Manson, 35, who with others is accused here of running a stolen car ring from a commune near Death Valley, sat stolidly Wednesday through his preliminary hearing. After witnesses said they saw him driving stolen cars, he was held for trial.

There are no charges against Manson in Los Angeles. But two attorneys there said Wednesday that a woman member of Manson’s mostly female “family” told them it was some of his followers who killed Miss Tate and four others after the pregnant actress pleaded, “Let me have my baby.”

The woman, Susan Denise Atkins, 21, is charged with murdering a man with whom Manson once lived. If she waives immunity to self-incrimination, a deputy district attorney says, she could become a key witness when the Los Angeles County grand jury begins a murder investigation Friday.

Miss Atkins’ attorneys Paul Caruso and Richard Caballero, said she was among those who dressed in black and invaded the two death homes. But they said she was under Manson’s “hypnotic spell” and “had nothing to do with the murders.”

Caruso said there were three women and two men. Caballero said it was four women and one man, and said Miss Atkins told him Manson was not among them. Police say the makeup of the group was different each night.

Under arrest on murder warrants in the Tate case are Patricia Krenwinkel, 21, in Mobile, Ala., Charles D. Watson, 24, in McKinney, Tex., and Linda Louise Kasabian, 19, brought here from Concord, N.H.

Police say they will seek murder indictments against the three and “five others,” unidentified, from the Los Angeles County grand jury. It is to convene on the killings Friday and is expected to conclude its probe Monday.

Miss Atkins pleaded innocent Tuesday to a charge of murder in the killing of a Malibu musician, Gary Hinman, last July. Police say Manson lived for a time with Hinman.

A codefendant, Robert K. Beausoleil, 21, described as a Manson friend, was tried previously but the jury could not agree and a new trial was ordered.

In Independence, Manson was charged with two counts of receiving stolen property and one of operating a stolen vehicle. After the hearing, he was ordered held for arraignment Dec. 12. Bond was fixed at $25,000.

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