The ‘Family’ Knew No Wrong
Tuesday, January 26th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 26 – “Sadie Glutz is a snitch”
Small, white stickers with those words appeared in public places after slender, dark-haired, dark-eyed Susan Denise Atkins, 22, broke Charles Manson’s rule for survival in the nation’s reform schools and jails — “Never snitch.”
“Sexy Sadie,” once a topless dancer in San Francisco, talked and talked to dormitory mates at Los Angeles’ Sybil Brand Institute for Women in early November 1969, wrote letters mentioning the murders, “copped out” to authorities on advice of her attorney and told her story to the Los Angeles County Grand Jury.
Her account was carried in a book called, “The Killing of Sharon Tate” and her sensational story of mass murder was carried by the world press.
She later repudiated the confession, but it was too late. Supplied with possible identities of the killers, police identified two fingerprints found in the rented home of actress Sharon Tate. They belonged to Patricia Krenwinkel, 22, and Charles (Tex) Watson 24, members of a hippie-style group that called themselves a “family.”
Later, blood-spotted clothing was found near Sharon Tate’s home and police identified the gun used to shoot three of the Tate victims.
“Sadie” had talked about someone named “Charlie,” and brought the image of Charles Milles Manson, bearded, longhaired, some sort of Christ figure who headed a “family,” to public consciousness.
When the trial started, on June 15, 1970, more than six months later, “Sadie” Atkins was back in the “family” fold. She joined the repeated disruptions of the hearing and seemed to show, her contempt for the, entire process with a defiant, stiff-legged, hip-swinging walk.
Because of those disruptions, the jury wasn’t in the courtroom last Oct. 9 when Virginia Graham Castro, a former dorm mate at Sybil Brand Institute, testified that “Sadie” had confessed to killing Sharon Tate, then tasting the actress’ blood”
Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Vincent T. Bugliosi asked Mrs. Castro what “Sadie” had said.
“She said that she was holding Sharon Tate’s arms behind her, and that Sharon Tate looked at her and she said she was crying and she said to her, ‘Please, please don’t kill me, I don’t want to die. I just want to have my baby,’ ” the redhaired witness replied.
“She said, ‘And I looked Sharon straight in the eye and I said to her,’ “Look, bitch, you might as well face it right now, you’re going to die, and I don’t feel a thing behind it,” and in a few minutes she was dead.'”
“One human being, the little hippie girl, Linda Kasablan.”
Her demeanor was serene, soft-spoken, almost demure. She appeared;to conceal nothing. Yes, she had left home at 16, lived in perhaps a dozen communes from New York to Los Angeles, used LSD, peyote, mescaline, marijuana and a brand of cough syrup. Yet, she had participated in a Manson-directed sex orgy at the Spahn Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif., and had stolen $5,000 from a friend of her husband to give to the Manson “family.”
For more than three days on direct examination by the prosecution and 14 days of sometimes-mauling cross-examination, Linda Kasabian maintained that pose, except when she sobbed out an eyewitness account of murder when she viewed enlarged, color photos of the butchered victims.
The petite, sandy-haired, 20-year-old mother of two, a member of the Manson “family” for about a month and one of those indicted for the killings, was the prosecution’s key witness and—according to prosecutor Bugliosi — Manson’s only “mistake.”
Because Mrs. Kasabian was a human being, not one of Manson’s “heartless, bloodthirsty robots” sent out from the “fire of hell at Spahn Ranch,” he said, she told her story of two nights of murder.
In exchange for that step-by-step account, she was granted immunity from prosecution. She said:
On the evening of Aug. 8, 1969, Manson ordered her to get a knife, a change of clothing and go with Tex Watson and do what he said. When they left Spahn Ranch in a ranch hand’s car, she said she and the others—Tex, Sadie and Katie Krenwinkel—were going “creepy crawling,” a “family” euphemism for burglary.
Instead, she testified, the mission that night was murder at Sharon Tale’s secluded ridge-top residence and she saw “Tex” shoot Steven Parent, 18, and stab Voityck Frykowski and saw “Katie” chase Abigail Folger with an upraised knife.
Manson was waiting when they returned to the Spahn Ranch early on Aug. 9, 1969, she said, and after ordering them to wipe down the car for blood, he asked about the evening, decided it had been “too messy” and resolved lo show them how to do it the next night.
On the evening of Aug. 9, the young woman said, after a random search for victims, Manson drove to the home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles.
After apparently entering the home and tying up the LaBiancas, Mrs. Kasabian testified, Manson left Tex, Katie, and Leslie Van Houten behind, drove to the Venice area of Los Angeles and left her, Sadie, and a young man named Steve Grogan to kill an actor she had known. She said she deliberately foiled the eighth murder by going to the wrong door.
“I’m one of your garbage people.”
Charles Milles Manson, guitar player, songwriter, son of a Cleveland teen-age prostitute, ex-convict and head of a hippie- style “family,” is 36. He is 5 feet 6 and weighs 140 pounds. He seems shorter, possibly because when he’s in custody he walks with hands clasped behind his back, shoulders* and head thrust forward.
He wears his dark brown hair long by establishment standards, has the head of a woman tattooed on his right arm above the wrist and smiles a lot. Or at least he did smile during earlier parts of the Tate – LaBianca trial. He would sit searching the courtroom with brown eyes, then look at someone in a stareout game. If the person returned his stare, he would sometimes glance away and smile.
Today he is perhaps the nation’s best known loser — the man who ordered the seven Tate-LaBianca killings, a crime he denied on the witness stand without the jury present.
“I have killed no one and I have ordered no one to be killed,” Manson said, speaking without prompting about the case and his philosophy.
“I may have implied on several occasions to several different people that I may have been Jesus Christ, but I haven’t decided yet what I am or who I am.”
“We played like Mom and Dad.”
When Charles Manson was released from federal prison at Terminal Island off the Los Angeles coast in 1967, he headed for San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district and started a “family,” composed mostly of girls and young women from 10 to 15 years younger than himself. In time, Charlie’s girls attracted Charlie’s boys in a kind of group marriage with polygamous sex. Manson was the father.
When the Tate-LaBianca jury returned with a verdict on Manson, Sadie Atkins, Katie Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten, along with eight other “family” members, were also in jail, seven of them charged with murder or attempted murder in other cases.
Around the middle of 1968, Manson and his followers sat down at George Spahn’s movie ranch in Chatsworth, Calif. The blind, 83-year-old Spahn made his living chiefly by renting riding horses.
Spahn let Manson and others live in the building used as Western movie sets. Members of the family helped around the ranch.
And, by accounts of former members, they lived a life without clocks, taking drugs and sex as it pleased them. They went on “garbage runs” for food and panhandled for money.
“Helter Skelter is coming down.”
Gregg Jakobson, 30, a tall, modishly dressed prosecution witness who said he had had dozens of conversations with Manson, said the defendant believed there is no good or bad, no right or wrong.
In the Manson philosophy, according to Jakobson, death, time and pain are only concepts in man’s mind, and Manson is at once Jesus Christ and the devil.
Jakobson claimed Manson predicted a black-white race war called “Helter Skelter,” the title of a Beatles song in the British singing group’s double white album.
It was that race war which the prosecution claimed Manson attempted to touch off by ordering his followers to kill the Tate-LaBianca victims and write on the wall in blood.
Manson talked about his concept of “wrong” in his long monologue.
“I have done the best I know how, and I have given all I can give and I haven’t got any guilt about anything because I have never been able to see any wrong,” he said.
“I never found any wrong. I looked at wrong, and it is all relative. Wrong is if you haven’t got any money.
“Wrong is if your car payment is overdue. Wrong is if the TV breaks. Wrong is if President Kennedy gets killed.
“Wrong is, wrong is, wrong is—you keep on; you pile it in your mind. You become belabored with it in your confusion.”
By JOHN KENDALL