Susan Now Doubts That Manson Is ‘Divine’
Thursday, February 11th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 11 – Admitted murderess Susan Atkins, who, the state claims, killed at the direction of hippie leader Charles Manson, today said that at the time of the murders she considered the cult chieftain to be the second coming of Christ, but now wasn’t sure.
After confessing on the stand to the Tate-LaBianca murders one day, and the next day saying she felt “no guilt,” the 22-year-old girl today took the stand to say Manson was the only “man” she had ever met.
Asked by Dep. Dist. Atty. Vincent Bugliosi under cross examination if she considered Manson to be God, the girl answered, “I think Charlie is a man. A strong man who is full of love.
“I’ve seen Christ in so many people it’s hard for me to say which one was Christ. It could be me, and in fact, once on acid I even saw myself up on the cross.”
She said she “entertained the thought that Charlie was Christ” many times, the first time when the “family” was in the desert.
“There were 12 men — all were standing around — all had beards. Charlie was just sitting there, with all the girls watching. It looked like Christ and the 12 disciples.”
Quoting from a letter she had written to a cellmate, Bugliosi read: “If you can believe in the second coming of Christ, Manson is the one sent to save us.” Then the prosecutor asked, “Do you still feel that way?”
“If Christ’s consciousness is one in the universe, which it is, and is within every man, woman and child on the face of the earth, which it is, anyone who is aware of that consciousness is the second coming of Jesus Christ,” the girl answered.
Pressed further by Bugliosi, she said, “There is no second coming. I never said definitely he was. I never said definitely he wasn’t.”
Bugliosi continued to ask if she considered Manson to be Christ. Finally the girl responded: “Jesus Christ was on a cross 2,000 years ago. Maybe Charlie is the second coming.”
Wednesday, Miss Atkins testified without remorse that she slew pregnant actress Sharon Tate because “it was right.” She showed Miss Tate “no mercy… and I expect none now,” she told the Los Angeles Superior Court jury that soon will decide whether she goes to the gas chamber.
“Why did I go and do what I did? Because I believed it was right to do anything to get my brother out of jail — and I still believe it’s right,” she told a shocked courtroom.
Miss Atkins had “confessed” before the county grand jury and before the jury now deciding whether she and three other members of Manson’s “family” will live or die for the Tate and LaBianca murders.
Composed and almost flippant at times, in direct contrast to her tearful performance Tuesday when she admitted she and her two girl co-defendants — Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel — murdered, Miss Atkins said she did not kill out of any personal animosity or hatred.
“I didn’t know any of them,” she admitted frankly under questioning by Chief Defense Counsel Paul Fitzgerald. “I felt nothing. These people were not killed in anger.”
Describing her emotion as she killed the actress despite her pleas for the life and the life of her unborn child, the girl brushed her long hair away from her face, paused, and said: “I was at the height of my fear…my fear was my awareness. At the height of my fear what I was doing was right at the time I was doing it. I felt no hatred and no malice.
“I was coming from love,” she said, leaving the courtroom puzzled. “I felt everything. When I stabbed I was stabbing myself. I had to be willing to give my life in order to take someone else’s life. I had no thoughts on my mind. What feels right to me I know and believe comes from love and is good. It’s like looking at a flower or getting my brother out of prison…it’s good…it feels good.”
Her “brother,” she had explained earlier, was Robert Beausoleil, who was arrested and subsequently convicted and sentenced to die for the murder of Topanga Canyon musician Gary Hinman a week before the Tate murders.
She said she had committed the murder, but Beausoleil, also a family member, had been arrested. The Tate and LaBianca murders, she said, were to be “copycat” killings to take the blame off Beausoleil.
“We were going up (to the Tate home) to get money,” she testified, explaining that Linda Kasabian, the state’s star witness, had been “burned” in a narcotics deal with one of the residents of the home. “But it didn’t matter what we did…get the money to hire an attorney for Bobby or copycat kill to get him off.
“I’ve seen it (copycat killings) done on television and I’ve seen it in the papers…like Jack the Ripper. It was like they arrested a man for a murder and there were eight more similar murders before they realized they had the wrong man.
“My intention was to copy what was done at the Hinman home…I put the writing on the (Hinman) wall — ‘political piggy’ — in blood.” (“Pig” was written in blood on the Tate front door.)
Asked by Fitzgerald how she could think it “right” to kill, she answered:
“How could it not be right…when done with love. I feel no guilt for what I’ve done. The only time I felt sorry was when I lied in front of the grand jury. I wasn’t woman enough to tell the truth.”
The girl admitted she had been “saturated” with LSD since she began taking the drug when she was 18.
By MARY NEISWENDER