Woman to Tell All in Murder
Friday, December 5th, 1969
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 5 – A young woman, whose attorney pledges she will tell who killed Sharon Tate and six others, testifies before a grand jury today. Prosecutors are seeking to indict the bearded leader of her hippie-style clan for conspiracy to commit murder.
Attorney Richard Caballero said Thursday night that Susan Denise Atkins, 21, will waive rights against self-incrimination and “tell the grand jury exactly what happened” in a gamble that her voluntary testimony might save her from the gas chamber.
Miss Atkins, charged with murder in a separate case, accompanied members of the clan as they killed Miss Tate, actress-wife of Polish film director Roman Polanski, and the others last summer, Caballero said. But he said she was temporarily insane, under the clan leader’s “hypnotic spell” at the time and “had nothing to do with the murders.”
Miss Atkins’ jail cell conversations led to arrests in the Tate case. But The Los Angeles Times, to which Caballero made his statements, said prosecutors were expected to seek her indictment anyway.
Also among the 18 scheduled witnesses was producer Terry Melcher, 27-year-old son of singer-actress Doris Day. Melcher has declined comment.
Miss Atkins’ attorneys said Melcher was visited by Charles M. Manson. 35, known as the leader of a quasi-religious clan of hippie types who knew Manson as “God” and “Satan.”
Manson was unsuccessful in seeking Melcher’s help to record some songs when Melcher lived in the Tate home in fashionable Bel Air before Miss Tate and her husband moved in, the attorneys said.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Aaron Stovitz said Thursday he would ask the grand jury to indict Manson on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder, and would seek murder and conspiracy indictments against at least five other persons.
It was the first word that Manson, held for trial in Independence. Calif., on charges of possessing stolen property and driving a stolen vehicle, would be a target for prosecution in the slayings.
Shot or stabbed with Miss Tate, 26, at her rented $200,000 home last Aug. 9 were Hollywood hair stylist Jay Sebring, 35, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, 26, Polish playboy Voityck Frokowsky, 37, and Steven Parent, 18, a friend of the caretaker.
A wealthy market executive. Leno LaBianca, 44, and his wife Rosemary, 38, were stabbed to death at their Hollywood home the next day.
Miss Atkins’ lawyers said she told them that members of Manson’s group, who dressed in black for the occasion, committed the Tate slayings, then killed the LaBiancas to prove their nerve. They reported she said Manson was no with them.
Police have said three of the indictment targets are Patricia Krenwinkel, 21, in custody in Mobile, Ala.; Charles D. Watson, 24, jailed in McKinney Tex.; and Linda Louise Kasabian, 20, arraigned here Thursday. Police said they were arrested on murder warrants in the Tate case and were involved in the LaBianca slayings.
In addition to them and Miss Atkins, the Times said, others against whom prosecutors are expected to seek indictments are Steve Grogan, 18, also known as Clem Tufts, and Leslie Sankston, about 20, a young woman. The newspaper identified them as members of Manson’s hippie-style “family.”
Stovitz said Miss Atkins, charged with murdering Malibu musician Gary Hinman, with whom Manson is said to have lived for a time, told a cellmate about the Tate and LaBianca killings.
The cellmate — Shelley Joyce Nadell, 31, of nearby North Hollywood, charged with forging prescriptions to obtain narcotics — told Miss Atkins’ story to police, Stovitz said.
Wesley Russell. attorney for Mrs. Nadell, said she told him she learned clan members ”felt the stabbings and the brutal cuttings would help release the souls of the victims.”
“They were all on acid and the more they stabbed the more they enjoyed it,” Russell, a former deputy district attorney. said he was told.
Stovitz said Miss Atkins could become one of the prosecution’s “principal witnesses” if she waives her privilege against self-incrimination.
Neither she nor any of the other witnesses would be granted immunity, Stovitz said.
In Mobile. an attorney for Miss Krenwinkel asked a circuit judge to free her on grounds no warrant had been issued in Los Angeles when she was taken into custody Monday on a Mobile street.
She was arrested on a warrant sworn to by police Capt. Don Riddle, who testified he did so on the basis of a call from Sgt. William Cary of the Los Angeles Police Department.
The judge took the request under study.
By LINDA DEUTSCH