First Confession Forced – Susan
Wednesday, February 10th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 10 – Susan Atkins, who Tuesday admitted killing actress Sharon Tate and musician Gary Hinman, today testified that she had been pressured into her first confession more than a year ago.
In dramatic tones the 22-year-old girl Tuesday described to the jury which is deciding whether she and three other members of the Manson “family” will live or die for their part in the Tate-LaBianca killings how she murdered the pregnant actress and watched four others die in the Benedict Canyon home.
She also confessed that she was the one who killed Hinman a week before the Tate slayings.
Today, she claimed her initial confession and her appearance before the grand jury which eventually indicted her, hippie leader Charles Manson and four others was brought about by her court appointed attorney, Richard Caballero.
Caballero, she said, was her attorney for the Hinman killing but he convinced her to appear before the grand jury to detail the Tate and LaBianca slayings.
She said Caballero took her out of the county jail several times to question her in his Beverly Hills office.
“He told me he didn’t want to talk about this in the jail…because there were ‘bugs’ in the jail,” she testified in Los Angeles Superior Court. Locking police out of his office, Caballero then tape-recorded her confession and later sold it for publication, Miss Atkins testified.
Caballero, a former deputy district attorney, then brought in Dep. Dist. Atty. Vincent Bugliosi, a prosecutor in the case, so she could talk to him about the murders.
“I didn’t want to testify, but Mr. Bugliosi said if I cooperated with him and the district attorney and testified at the trial against everyone I would be granted immunity.”
Before going into the gory details surrounding the pregnant actress’s death, she slowly told of the murder of Hinman which started, she said, when he refused to give Beausoleil a car for which he had been paid.
“Leslie,” she said nodding at Leslie Van Houten, one of her co-defendants, “was there, too. She only went because Bobby asked her to go along for the ride.”
She told the five-woman, seven-man jury that Beausoleil and Hinman started arguing about the car while she was smoking marijuana in the kitchen. Hinman finally ordered her to call Manson and get him from the ranch. Manson arrived with Bruce Davis, she said, but not until Hinman and Beausoleil had gotten into a fight.
Manson talked with Hinman, she testified, and in a few minutes came into the kitchen folding up a piece of paper.
“He said at least he had the pink slip, but just then Gary came in with a gun. He was pointing it at Charlie and he said, “You’re not leaving here with that pink slip.”
“Charlie reached up and hit Gary with something. Then Charlie said ‘I’m splitting’ and started to leave. Gary started after him with the gun. I didn’t know what he was going to do. I ran after him…I had my knife…and I killed him. I had no choice. He was yelling and finally he dropped the gun. I think I hit him over the head with it.
“He was going to hurt my love,” the girl said weeping, “and nobody hurts my love.
“I can’t let him (Beausoleil) sit on death row and die for something I did…I don’t want no one carrying any of my weight.
“Here I am,” she said dramatically, “do what you do to me. I did it for the love of my brother.”
When she got back to the ranch, she testified, she cried…”I never killed nothing before…I ran over a squirrel when I was 17 years old and I cried.”
She, Miss Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel, who apparently had been told of the murder, decided to keep it quiet and gave Hinman’s cars away — one to Beausoleil in which he was arrested.
“Linda (Kasabian) overheard our conversation that Bobby had been arrested for the death of Gary. I said I’d do anything to get my brother out of jail.
“I know some people in Beverly Hills,” she quoted Mrs. Kasabian as saying, “that burned me on a drug buy…you can make it look like somebody else did it, if you copycat the murders — we can make some more of the same. If you make lots of them (murders) everywhere, they’ll cut Bobby loose.”
Miss Atkins, whose voice at times turned to a Southern drawl and at others had a hillbilly twang, claimed she took LSD the night of the Tate murders and Mrs. Kasabian gave Charles “Tex” Watson some STP. With Watson driving and Mrs. Kasabian giving directions, she, and Miss Krenwinkel went to the secluded home of the actress.
“We parked just outside the gate,” she related. “I saw Tex climb up a telephone pole and some wires fall. We drove back down to the bottom of the hill and parked the car then walked up the hill.
“Linda crawled over a fence, then some headlights came towards us and Tex went crazy. He went out and said ‘stop’ and I heard four shots. I don’t know what motivated him to do it — he just went crazy.
“Next thing I knew I was walking towards the house. She (Linda) said ‘wait here, I’ll go around the back.’ I’ve seen her do this before. She came back and said to go in through a window. Tex went through the window. We waited outside.
“Then Katie, Tex, Linda and I went in. There was a man lying on the couch (Voityck Frykowski).
“The house was very quiet. The man stretched and said ‘What time is it?’ I moved behind the couch. Tex moved in front of him. My knife was in my hand. Somehow Linda got ahold of my knife and I had hers. Then everything just happened.
“I remember bits and pieces of things that happened.
“I remember walking in the house and walking out and walking back in again and looking at a woman on the floor crying and picking up a towel and writing words on a door and closing my eyes and throwing the towel back, then going through a gate that was opened and getting into a car and driving off.”
Although the girl at first said she couldn’t remember details, under questioning the details came out.
“There were people running everywhere. I remember seeing a woman lying on the floor and a man lying on the floor. I don’t recall stabbing. I know I said so once,” she testified apparently referring to her testimony before the County Grand Jury, “But that was just a story.
“I know my foot hurt and my head hurt and there was blood on my foot. I remember being given a drink of water, and washing myself and being chased away and being back at the ranch.”
Shown the gory color photographs of the Tate victims, the girl remembered more:
“As I can recall, Sharon Tate was lying on the bed and Jay Sebring was sitting on the bed — his arm straddling her waist or thighs. They were talking and he had his back to me and his back was covering her face, so she couldn’t see me either. I remember seeing a bassinet in the room,”
Miss Atkins apparently before she got to the master bedroom had passed the bedroom which Frykowski shared with coffee heiress Abigail Folger.
“She was in bed. I believe she was reading. She looked at me and smiled. I waved. I got her before I got the man and woman, I believe.”
The girl testified she walked into the actress’ bedroom and said, “Come with me.”
“What are you doing here?” she was asked.
“I said be quiet and come with me! I brought my knife out and pointed it towards them. I think I grabbed her arm and walked her to the living room. I could feel their fear.
“They didn’t put up a fight.”
By the time she got to the living room, she said, Frykowski’s hands had been tied with a towel.
“Tex had a gun, Tex was crazy. I’ve never seen Tex like that before. Everything was moving, like an electric current.
“The small man (Jay Sebring) started walking towards Tex and I heard a shot. The blonde woman (Miss Tate) screamed and then it all happened so fast.
“I think Tex tied the rope around the people next. He tied it around the man on the floor — the one that had been shot — and the two women and then threw it over the beam.
“Tex said to turn off the lights and told the women to get on the floor. They were crying and kept saying ‘Don’t hurt us, please, we won’t call police.’
“The man on the couch started to get up and I tried to stop him. He was pulling on my hair. It was like I was fighting for my life. I kept waving the knife and kicking. I know I was stabbing something. I kept yelling ‘Help me, help me Tex’, then all of a sudden Katie called ‘help.’ She was fighting with the other two women. The dark-haired woman was pulling Katie’s hair and Linda came to help. Tex was stabbing the man on the floor.
“I got to the pregnant one by now because she was trying to take the rope from around her neck. But I dropped my knife and Linda gave me hers.”
At this point, she said, everyone had rushed from the house, leaving her with the dead Sebring and the actress.
“She kept pleading she said to please let her sit down. I said I wasn’t going to let her do anything. I was holding her head between my hands — like a head lock. Her hands were free, but the was scared…as scared as I was.
“She asked me to let her sit down, and kept saying ‘All I want to do is have my baby.’ I said ‘shut up’ and threw her down on the couch. I said ‘shut up. I don’t want to hear it.’
“Tex walked in and looked at her. He said ‘kill her’ and I killed her. “She fell and I stabbed her again. She put her arm up and then her arm fell, I don’t know how many times I stabbed her. I don’t know why I stabbed her.
“I killed her,” she repeated dramatically, “and then I ran outside. Katie was just getting up from in front of the dark-haired woman on the grass.
By MARY NEISWENDER