Tate Trial Witness Fears Hippie’s Mystical Spell
Saturday, December 6th, 1969
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 6 – The strange story of “the Manson family,” whose members are prime suspects in the bizarre Sharon Tate murders, was described Friday to a county grand jury by a pretty 21-year-old member. But Susan Atkins now fears a mystical spell will be cast on her by the group’s hypnotic leader.
Miss Atkins appeared before the grand jury without being granted immunity from prosecution. She testified behind locked doors for two hours and 15 minutes, relating her earlier story of the “band in black” which she saw stab and shoot and kill actress Sharon Tate and four others in August.
Miss Atkins was asked how she felt about informing on the weird, nomadic cult whose members are accused in a total of eight senseless slayings.
“Dead,” she replied before being escorted away by her attorney, Richard Caballero.
Caballero said later Miss Atkins fears her testimony may make her a “marked woman” through the black magic and mystical spells with which the leader of the “family” commune, hypnotic-eyed Charles Manson, 35, once held his followers.
“Charlie would, in effect, conjure up a vision detrimental to her in his mind and then transfer it to her mind and then she would know if she is marked.” the attorney said.
Caballero persuaded the slim brunette to testify, hoping her information would aid her in escaping the death penalty. He said she cooperated fully with the 21 jurors, telling them “whatever they asked her about.”
The prosecution is seeking indictments in the Tate murders and the murders of supermarket owner Leno La Bianca and his wife a night later in their exclusive Los Feliz district home.
By JACK V. FOX