Charles Manson follower Susan Atkins, who murdered pregnant actress Sharon Tate, has died at the age of 61 of brain cancer. Read more on Atkins below.
California Department of Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton said Susan Atkins died late Thursday night. Atkins had had been diagnosed with brain cancer in 2008, had a leg amputated and was given only months to live.
Atkins had brain surgery and her last months she spent paralyzed and had difficulty speaking.
The beautiful Sharon Tate, the 26-year-old actress who appeared in the movie “Valley of the Dolls” and was the wife of famed director Roman Polanski, was one of seven people murdered in two Los Angeles homes during the Manson killing spree in August of 1969.
In August 1969, Manson sent Susan Atkins and others to a wealthy residential section of Los Angeles, telling them, as they recalled, to “do something witchy.”
They went to the home of Sharon Tate and her husband. He was not home, but Tate, who was 8 1/2 months pregnant, and four others were killed. “Pigs” was scrawled on a door in blood.
The next night, a wealthy grocer and his wife were found stabbed to death in their home across town. “Helter Skelter” was written in blood on the refrigerator.
“I was stoned, man, stoned on acid,” Atkins said during the trial.
“I don’t know how many times I stabbed (Tate) and I don’t know why I stabbed her,” she said. “She kept begging and pleading and begging and pleading and I got sick of listening to it, so I stabbed her.”
During her trial Susan Atkins told jurors what she said to the pregnant actress Sharon Tate:
“Look bitch, I don’t care about you. I don’t care if you’re going to have a baby or not. You’re going to die and I don’t feel anything about it.”
Susan said of the victims at the Tate-Polanski home:
“They didn’t even look like people…I didn’t relate to Sharon Tate as being anything but a store mannequin.”
Susan Atkins described killing Sharon Tate:
“I killed her, I stabbed her and she fell. And I stabbed her again. I don’t know how many times I stabbed her and I don’t know why I stabbed her,”
She said she felt “no guilt for what I’ve done. It was right then and I still believe it was right.” Asked how it could be right to kill, she replied in a dreamy voice, “How can it not be right when it’s done with love?”
The matronly, gray-haired Atkins who appeared before a parole board in 2000 cut a far different figure than that of the cocky young defendant some 30 years earlier.
“I don’t have to just make amends to the victims and families,” she said softly. “I have to make amends to society. I sinned against God and everything this country stands for.” She said she had found redemption in Christianity.
The last words she spoke in public at the September hearing were to say in unison with her husband: “My God is an amazing God.”
Susan Denise Atkins was born May 7, 1948, in the Los Angeles suburb of San Gabriel. Her mother was stricken with cancer and died when she was 15. Her father, reportedly an alcoholic, sent her and her brother to live with relatives.
While still in her teens, she ran away to San Francisco where she wound up dancing in a topless bar and using drugs. She moved into a commune in the Haight Ashbury district and it was there that she met Manson.
He gave her a cult name, Sadie Mae Glutz, and, when she became pregnant by a “family” member, he helped deliver the baby boy, naming it Zezozoze Zadfrack. His whereabouts are unknown.
Atkins married twice while in prison. Her first husband, Donald Lee Laisure, was said to be an eccentric Texas millionaire. They quickly divorced. Whitehouse, her second husband, is a Harvard Law School graduate and had recently served as one of her attorneys.
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