Grandparents Hope to Adopt Orphaned Baby
Thursday, November 16th, 1972
STOCKTON, Calif., Nov. 16 – The grandparents of an orphaned 8-month-old girl, whose parents were shot to death after moving in with a group of ex-convicts and Manson “girls,” told authorities Wednesday they wanted to adopt the infant.
“We found lots of willing and capable relatives and, oh, gosh, did we ever hear from volunteers willing to adopt her,” said Bill Hunt, a social worker for San Joaquin County.
He said the infant’s maternal grandparents, George and Vera Olmstead of Hamden, Conn., told him they would fly to Stockton later this week to make arrangements for the custody of the little girl found last Sunday in a house with her mother’s body.
Heidi Willett was in healthy condition at the county Dependent Children’s Home.
A. Thompson Willett of Bardstown, Ky., the child’s other grandfather and president of Willett Distilling Co., said earlier that the Olmsteads probably would take the youngster because they had a smaller family than he and his wife.
The baby was found when police searched a two bedroom home in Stockton where she and her mother, Lauren Willett, 19, had been living with three young women followers of mass murderer Charles Manson and a pair of ex-convicts. Authorities charged them with murdering Mrs. Willett last Friday to keep her from talking about her husband’s death.
The body of James T. Willett, 26, a former Vietnam combat veteran who had trouble adjusting to civilian life after a four-year hitch in the Marines, was found last week in a shallow grave 100 miles northwest of here near the resort town of Guerneville.
Authorities charged three men, including two of those accused of killing Mrs. Willett, with shooting her husband about Oct. 10 to prevent him from talking about a series of robberies in the Los Angeles area. Willett, his wife and child had been living with the men in a two-bedroom resort cabin, She and the child later accompanied them to Stockton.
A. Thompson Willett said his son moved to California after dropping out of the University of Kentucky, where he had returned to school after his Marine service. The father said he had met his daughter-in-law and granddaughter just once, last July in Los Angeles.
“My son was a product of the present generation,” Willett said. “He got back from the marines, where he had a pretty distinguished record, and found out this turned his peers off. He had some trouble adjusting to the reaction he encountered from his antiwar peers.”
Willett said his son “might have bordered on being a hippie — he was very abstemious in lifestyle, didn’t care about fancy clothes, and was open about meeting everybody.”
He described his daughter-in-law as a “quiet” girl who ran away from home because “she did not want, to go to school” as her parents wanted.
Willett, who said he thought the suspected killers had kept his son and daughter-in-law captives, said he wants to take his son’s body back to Bardstown for burial in the family plot.
Another parent, Mrs. Oleta Cooper, said her daughter, Priscilla Cooper, 21, one of the three Manson “family” women arrested in Mrs. Willett’s slaying, was a problem child who dropped out of high school after one semester.
Mrs. Cooper, of San Jose, said her daughter gave birth to an illegitimate son when she was 19, turned topless dancer before she was 20, and fell in with motorcycle gang members associated with the Manson cult.
Miss Cooper was arrested at the Stockton home along with Lynette, (Squeaky) Fromme and Nancy Pitman, both 24, who spent months in a vigil outside a Los Angeles courtroom during Charles Manson’s trial for the slaying of actress Sharon Tate and six other persons.
Also charged in the two slayings were Michael Monfort, 24, James T. Craig, 33, and William M. Goucher, 23, all ex-convicts linked to a white racist prison gang called the “Aryan Brotherhood.”