• The Manson Girls – Grisly Epilogue

The Manson Girls – Grisly Epilogue

STOCKTON, Calif., Nov. 19 — It is more than a year since he was sent to jail for life — the little man whose name has become a synonym for evil — Charles Manson.

His loyal women followers, the ragged tribe which called him father, Jesus and God, seemed gone, “disintegrated, blown to the four winds,” says one who knew them.

But now, in an epilogue to the macabre Manson story, two “Manson girls” have surfaced in the windy farmland city of Stockton, accused of putting a bullet through the head of a young mother and burying her deep in the cellar of an inconspicuous white frame home.

There are eerie overtones. Two men among those arrested with the women are ex-convicts who had marked on their chests the letters “A.B.,” the symbol, authorities say, of a white racist gang of convicts calling themselves “The Aryan Brotherhood.”

State Department of Corrections spokesmen have verified the presence of the Brotherhood in prisons throughout the state.

Police here, declining any comment on the murder case, would say only that the possible “Aryan Brotherhood” link was being investigated.

In a jailhouse interview at Stockton, one of Manson’s women, red-haired Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, 24, told The Associated Press that for the past year she has been drifting through California, visiting “brothers” in prison, mostly trying desperately to visit Manson.

“We know a lot of people that are in prison,” said Miss Fromme, “That’s where all the strength is. A man’s got to be his own man inside the prisons they get strong. They learn to live with themselves. They learn to live with violence…”

She referred, still with reverence, to the philosophy attributed Manson by his followers — a vision of a future in which blacks and whites would war in the streets, killing each other off and leaving the world to be run by the Manson “family.”

“We foresee violence in the streets,” Miss Fromme said. “We only want to survive.” She added, “There’s an inner tension between peoples that eventually has to come out.”

The freckle-faced, youthful Miss Fromme, still using her Manson family name of “Squeaky,” said she is innocent of the charges against her and said she expects to be out of prison soon.

The murder case here came to light last Monday when police announced they found the body of Lauren Willett, 19, buried under a house on Flora Street, a neighborhood of neat one-story houses with colorful gardens.

The headless decomposed corpse of her husband, James T. Willett, 26, had been found earlier, they said, buried in a shallow grave near the Russian River resort of Guerneville. A hiker found that body after he noticed a hand protruding from the ground.

On Monday, police identified five persons booked for investigation of murder. They included Miss Fromme and Nancy Laura Pitman, 24, a Manson follower known in the “family” as Brenda McCann. Also booked were Priscilla K. Cooper, 21, of San Jose, who, like the other women, had the Manson “X” symbol carved on her forehead; Michael Lee Monfort, 24, and James T. Craig, 33.

The men were identified as ex-convicts. Also later booked for investigation of murder was William Gaucher, 25, already in prison after being arrested during an armed robbery of a Stockton liquor store.

Squeaky’s story of the “family’s” travels begins nearly a year ago, months after Manson, 38, and three women followers were convicted of killing actress Sharon Tate and six others in Los Angeles.

Miss Fromme and other women clan members who had camped outside the courthouse during 10 1/2 months of trial, waited out the trials of the two other Manson followers, Steve Grogan and Bruce Davis, convicted in the decapitation killing of a ranch hand whose body was never found.

During that time, Miss Fromme served 90 days in jail after pleading no contest to a charge of trying to silence a witness in Manson’s trial by slipping her an LSD-spiked hamburger.

Then the women left Los Angeles. They gave up the old white van which had served as their communal dormitory outside the courthouse.

“The van broke down so many times that we had to get rid of it,” said Miss Fromme. She said the women took off in different directions, traveling mostly by bus, and some wound up at San Quentin where they tried futilely to get in to see Manson, then imprisoned there.

Paul Fitzgerald, a Los Angeles attorney who defended Patricia Krenwinkel, one of the women convicted with Manson, said he heard from Miss Fromme last month.

“She called me on the phone and she sounded very desolate,” he recalled. “She said they’d been to San Quentin, but it was cold and rainy and they couldn’t get in. She didn’t know where Brenda (Miss Pitman) was and was trying to find her…The opinion among those of us who knew them was that the family had disintegrated, blown to the four winds.”

Then, little more than a week ago, Miss Fromme says she “just touched up with Brenda.”

She said she took a bus to Stockton late Friday from Los Angeles, met Miss Pitman there and stayed the night at the house where Mrs. Willett’s body was subsequently found.

On Saturday, she said, “I went to visit a brother in the men’s jail at Stockton.” The brother, she said, was William Gaucher.

Emerging from the visit, Miss Fromme said, she went to a phone booth and called the house “to have someone pick me up…I wanted to go back to L. A. right away.”

But police, who had already arrested others at the house, took the call, went to the phone booth and arrested Miss Fromme.

Her attorney, George Vaughn of San Rafael, verifies details of the arrest as do police.

Vaughn says he met Miss Fromme last spring after she was referred to him by a prisoner he had met at a trial. He too said the Manson women seemed to know many people in prison.

He said Miss Fromme wanted him to represent her in connection with a book she and other “family” members had written — a collection of poetry and “thoughts” which told of their philosophy and included pleasant memories of their life with Manson. He says he is currently negotiating with publishers.

One Stockton resident noted that “you see swastikas painted around town and people say they are the sign of the Aryan Brotherhood.”

Manson, who has spent most of his life in jail, began the Sharon Tate murder trial with an “X” carved on his forehead. But, by the trial’s end, he had changed the mark to a swastika without explanation.

Miss Fromme, speaking cheerfully from behind a glass panel in the women’s jail, said she never hears from the Los Angeles family she was born to. Her father, she says, is an aeronautical engineer.

“None of us hear from our parents,” she says. “They don’t want anything to do with us. They’re of another world. We believe we’re our own parents.”

If she gets out of jail, Miss Fromme said, she’ll continue work on the “family” book and try to visit Manson at Folsom Prison where he’s currently housed. She said the “family” has “put away in a safe place” the colorful vest which they embroidered for Manson’s exodus from prison.

Although “family,” members no longer live together, Miss Fromme says they have a mailing address in San Francisco where they exchange letters. “We keep in contact with whoever writes.”

Will Miss Fromme be linked to the Manson “family” for the rest of her life?

“Yeah,” she says softly, her eyes downcast. “They’re my heart.”


This entry was posted in Archived News. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *