Susan Atkins, known within the Family as Sexy Sadie, was a member of the Manson Family. Atkins was sentenced to death for her involvement in the Tate murders and the murder of Gary Hinman.
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 of cancer when Atkins was 13, and her alcoholic father abandoned the family), she got a job as a telemarketer.
She had a sexual relationship with her boss, and she realized he kept her around for sex and not for her telemarketing skills. Her job was not doing her any good, she was often broke and depressed, so she quit and moved on.
She found a new job at a local pancake house. While working at the pancake house, she met a couple of escaped convicts who offered her a ride to Oregon in their new car.
It turned out that the car was stolen, and that the two men made their living by committing armed robberies. Atkins participated in the crime spree and committed several armed robberies.
When the trio learned they were being sought by the Oregon State Authorities, they went into hiding, camping out. They survived by stealing supplies from other campers in the area they were hiding in.
They were eventually caught and after three months in jail in Salem, Atkins was convicted and received two years probation.
Church of Satan
She moved back to San Francisco and found a job as a cocktail waitress and as a topless dancer [image] in a show called the Witches Sabbath organized by Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan. She became a professional at the arts of pleasing men and started dating and sleeping with men for money.
During this time, she was introduced to LSD and other psychedelic drugs by one of her friends. She befriended some hippies and started living in a small commune in a house in the Haight-Ashbury District in San Francisco.
In early 1967, Susan Atkins and Ella Jo Bailey, who were living together in a commune, met Charles Manson.
“I ended up in a house in San Francisco. It was primarily dope dealers. I got involved with them, and then one day a little man came in with a guitar and started singing for us. The song that hit me the hardest was “The Shadow of His Smile”, and his voice, his manner, just more or less hypnotized me – mesmerized me. I was just absolutely in love with him. I didn’t know him, and I also felt I was in competition with him because he got more attention than I did”.
Atkins loved to be the center of attention, and she often collided with Manson. Manson reportedly kicked Atkins out of the Family for a while.
In 1968, Atkins 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 would eventually be removed from Atkins and later adopted. Atkins has had no contact with her son since her incarceration in 1969.
Witches of Mendocino
Atkins and several other Family members lived in Mendocino, California for a while, trying to find a new place for the Family. Atkins and the others, including Patricia Krenwinkel, Mary Brunner and Ella Jo Bailey, were arrested for giving LSD to a group of children.
At their trial they were given the nickname the “Witches of Mendocino”. Several murders took place during the time the Family members lived in Mendocino, including the murder of a pregnant woman, Clyda Dulaney, and her unborn baby. The murder of pregnant Clyda remains unsolved to this day.
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 acquaintance Gary Hinman inherited money and sent Susan Atkins, Mary Brunner and Robert Beausoleil to Hinman in order to rob Hinman. After several days of torture, they killed Hinman.
Atkins was part of the murder squad sent to 10050 Cielo Drive. Atkins first claimed she was the one who killed Sharon 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 her leg amputated. At the time of her death, Atkins was California’s longest-serving female inmate.