Susan Atkins

Susan Atkins, known within the Family as Sexy Sadie, was a member of the Manson Family. Atkins was a participant in the murder of Gary Hinman and the Tate murders.

Susan Atkins was born on May 7, 1948, in San Gabriel, California. She was the second of three children born to alcoholic parents, and grew up in Northern California.

After she dropped out of high school to support herself (her mother died when Atkins was 15 and her father abandoned the family), Atkins moved to San Francisco and became a topless dancer. In early 1967, while staying with friends, Susan Atkins met Charles Manson.

Atkins joined the Manson Family at their ranch, where she gave birth to a son, whom Manson named Zezozose Zadfrack Glutz. Manson Family member Dianne Lake cut the umbilical cord with her teeth.The child was eventually removed from Atkins’s and later adopted.

Hinman Murder

In the summer of ’69, The Family started to attract police attention at their current home at Spahn’s ranch. The Family began looking for funds to move to a new hide out in Death Valley.

Manson heard that Family aquantance Gary Hinman inherited money and send Susan Atkins, Mary Brunner and Robert Beausoleil to Hinman in order to get the money. After several days of torture they killed Hinman.

Tate Murders

Atkins was part of the murder squad send to 10050 Cielo Drive. Atkins first claimed she was the one that killed Tate but during the Tate/LaBianca murder trial Atkins stated that she held down the pregnant Tate while Tex Watson stabbed her to death.

Atkins was arrested in October 1969 for her involvement in the murder of Gary Hinman. At that point, the police did not know who was responsible for the Tate-LaBianca murders.

Jail and Death

Atkins implicated herself in jail, when she told her cellmates that she stabbed Tate, tasted her blood and used Tate’s blood to write “Pig” on the front door of the house.

In October 1969, the entire Manson Family was arrested, and they were tried for the murders. The series of trials was circus-like, and the defendants’ bizarre behavior became a striking trait of the proceedings.

On March 29, 1971, Atkins was sentenced to death, later the sentence was reduced to life in prison. Atkins died on September 24, 2009 at age 61.

A year before her death Atkins received a diagnosis of brain cancer and had a leg amputated. At the time of her death, Atkins was California’s longest-serving female inmate.

Related: The Tate Murders | Hinman Murder

Nancy Pitman

Nancy Pitman is a former member of the Manson Family. Nancy first met the Manson family trough her friend Deirdre Lansbury, the daughter of actress Angela Lansbury.

Nancy was born in Springfield, Illinois on January 1 , 1951. She grew up in Malibu and hung out with the rich and famous. Nancy wasn’t getting along with her parents and they kicked her out of the house. She was looking for a new home when her friend Deirdre Lansbury introduced her to The Family. They invited her to stay and from then on she was a Family member.

Crime Scene

There are rumors that Nancy and Manson went to Sharon Tate’s house right after the murders to tamper with the crime scene. This is in line with the police report: “It appeared to investigating officers that someone had handled the victim, as in moving her from one location to another and the blood from the stab wounds had been smeared over other parts of the body.”

Vicious

Nancy Pitman was described by district attorney Vincent Bugliosi as a tough, vicious little girl, filled with hostility that was just waiting to erupt. According to a RXSTR visitor who knew Nancy ” She was NOT vicious. She was a sweet little girl, and I adored her.”

Willet Murders

James and Lauren Willett were associates of the Manson family. After the Tate/LaBianca murder trial Nancy Pitman, Priscilla Cooper and a pair of ex-convicts named Michael Monfort and James Craig, moved into a cabin in Guerneville along with the Willett’s and their infant daughter Heidi.

In 1972, the decapitated body of James Willett was found in a shallow grave with his hand sticking out of the ground. later the body of his wife Lauren was discovered buried in the crawl space of a house in Stockton. Nancy Pitman, Michael Monfort, James Craig, Priscilla Cooper and Lynnette Fromme were arrested for the murders.

5 Year Jail Sentence

Monfort pled guilty to both murders and Nancy pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact in the murder of Lauren Willett. Nancy received a 5 year jail sentence of which she served 18 months. While incarcerated Nancy married Monfort.

Baby Heidi was not harmed and ended up with her grandmother.

Nancy later divorced Montford, remarried and now lives somewhere in Oregon.

Dianne Lake

While the country was still reeling from the news of a two-day murder spree across Los Angeles that left seven people dead, a then-16-year-old girl named Dianne Lake was learning first-hand details about the 1969 slayings that would change her life forever.

While Lake, aka Snake, was still very young, her parents embraced the hippie lifestyle and brought their young daughter with them to Wavy Gravy’s Hog Farm Commune in southern California. It was while living there that Lake met Charles Manson at a party in Topanga Canyon.

Manson took a liking to the 14-year old auburn-haired beauty and it was not long before she became a permanent fixture on the black magic bus. she joined the Manson Family with her parents permission.

Umbilical Cord

The Family moved to Spahn Ranch and Lake lived the commune hippie lifestyle, rummaging through dumpsters for food and taking care of the horses on the ranch. Lake was closest with Lynette Fromme, Susan Atkins would often give her a hard time. This changed when Lake was tasked with delivering Atkins’s baby. When the baby boy was born Manson asked Lake to cut the umbilical cord with her teeth.

Incriminating Evidence

In October of 1969, Lake was arrested with the Family in the Barker Ranch raid. In December, after two months in jail, Lake broke her silence and she provided the District Attorney with loads of incriminating evidence against Manson and the Family.

A year later, at age 17 and after being institutionalized, Lake found herself in front of Manson, this time in an L.A. courtroom, testifying against him.

Once the trial was over and first-degree murder convictions were returned against Manson, Lake tried to move forward with her life, marrying, raising three children and earning a master’s degree in education.

Catherine Share

Catherine Louise “Gypsy” Share is a former member of the Manson Family. Of all the members of the Manson Family, Catherine Share had the most unconventional background.

She was born in France during World War II of a Hungarian father and a French mother, who were members of the French resistance against the Nazi occupiers.

Both of her parents committed suicide while she was very young and she was placed in an orphanage. At the age of 8, she was adopted and taken to Los Angeles by an American couple.

Suicide Again

When Share was 16, her adoptive mother, who had been diagnosed with cancer, killed herself. Catherine dropped out of college and roamed California.

She got a role in the adult film The Ramrodder (1969) and soon became involved with the star of the film, a handsome and talented musician named Bobby Beausoleil.

It was Bobby who introduced Catherine to Manson. Catherine Share became so enamored with Manson and his message that she became a recruiter for the family, bringing both Linda Kasabian and Leslie Van Houten into the family.

Ten Hits of LSD

While not involved in the murders, Share and several others were charged with conspiracy to attempt to dissuade a witness from testifying when they tried to poison Barbara Hoyt, a Manson family member, with ten hits of LSD so that she couldn’t testify against Manson.

Hijack 747

On August 21, 1971, Share, Como, Mary Brunner and two other associates of Manson robbed a Los Angeles gun store, stealing some 150 firearms, but they set off a police alarm.

After a shootout with the police, they were arrested, and Share herself had three bullet wounds. She revealed in her confession that they had planned to to hijack a 747 airplane and take the passengers hostage in order to secure the release of Manson and other Family members. She was sentenced to five years in prison.

Release

Following her release in 1975, she disassociated herself from the Family and sought surgical treatment to remove the “X” that she and others had carved into her forehead on Manson’s orders during his trial.

She and Como were married for a while, but she was arrested again for participating in a credit card scam. She was imprisoned again for a few years. Afterwards, she cleaned up her life and has kept a low profile. She remarried and became a born again Christian.

Today Catherine lives a quiet life somewhere in Texas.

Leslie van Houten

Van Houten, a one-time homecoming princess, participated in the killings of Leno La Bianca and his wife Rosemary a day after other Manson family members murdered pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in 1969.

Van Houten, aka Lulu was born on August 23, 1949, in Los Angeles. She grew up in a middle-class family along with an older brother and two adopted siblings. Her mother and father divorced when she was 14. She began taking LSD and hashish around age 15, running away for a time but returning to complete high school.

At 17, she became pregnant and was forced by her mother to undergo an abortion. Van Houten’s mother informed her sometime later that the procedure could not be referred to as an abortion as the fetus was too far along.

Van Houten stated that after this event, she felt very removed and harbored intense anger toward her mother. She had a period of interest in yoga and took a year-long secretarial course, but became a hippie, living at a commune.

The Family

After a few months in a commune in Northern California, Van Houten met Catherine Share and Bobby Beausoleil and moved in with them and another woman during the summer of 1968.

The four broke up after jealous arguments, and Share left to join Charles Manson’s commune. Van Houten, then aged 19, followed Share and joined the Manson Family. At this time, she phoned her mother to say she was dropping out and would not be making contact again.

Van Houten and Krenwinkel in prison

LaBianca murders

Van Houten was a participant in the LaBianca murders. Van Houten was arrested in December 1969. Unlike other members of the Family, Van Houten provided a great deal of information.

Using the Manson family nicknames during interviews with police, Van Houten helped identify who had actively participated in the Tate and LaBianca murders, and who had been there but not killed anyone, thereby indicating that Kasabian was a crucial witness.

Van Houten implicitly admitted to direct knowledge of the LaBianca murders in police interviews.

Death Of Ronald Hughes

Van Houten’s lawyer Ronald Hughes disappeared while on a camping trip during a recess from the Tate/LaBianca trial in November 1970. His body was found in March 1971, but due to the severe decomposition of his body the cause of death could not be determined. No one has been charged in connection with his death.

Vincent Bugliosi wrote in his book Helter Skelter that Sandra Good claimed that Manson family members had killed 35 to 40 people and that Hughes was the first of the retaliation murders.

Attorney Stephen Kay stated that the last thing Manson said to Hughes was “I don’t want to see you in the courtroom again” and Hughes was never seen in the courtroom again.

Conviction

On March 29, 1971, Van Houten was convicted of murder. Van Houten was sentenced to death. she was the youngest woman ever condemned to death in California. No death row for female prisoners existed so a special unit was built.

The death sentences were automatically commuted to life in prison after the California Supreme Court’s People v. Anderson decision resulted in the invalidation of all death sentences imposed in California prior to 1972.

Related: The LaBianca Murders