Susan Atkins

Sexy Sadie what have you done, You made a fool of everyone

Susan Atkins, also known as Sexy Sadie and Sadie Mae Glutz, was a member of the Manson family. Atkins was sentenced to death for her part in the Manson family murders.

Susan Denise Atkins was born on May 7, 1948, in San Gabriel, California. She was the second of three children born to alcoholic parents. She had two brothers, an older brother named Michael and a younger brother named Steven. Her parents were Jeanne and Edward Atkins. Her father was a construction worker with an alcohol problem.

When Susan was 5 years old, her family moved from Milbrea to San Jose. Shortly after the move, Susan’s mother gave birth to a son, Steve. Susan’s younger brother demanded all of their mother’s attention, and Susan didn’t like this at all, even though she loved her younger brother dearly. Her father was more interested in Susan’s older brother, and Susan felt alone in the family. Susan decided to give her love and attention to the family cat, Pia.

Susan Atkins Young with her family
Susan Atkins (left) with her family

In 1963, when Susan was 14, she was told her mother had cancer. Her mother had finished treatment and was discharged from the hospital and brought home with pain medication. Susan took over her mother's household chores, taking care of her father and brothers.

During the Christmas period, Susan enjoyed singing carols along with other members of the church choir. This particular Christmas the choir members had a surprise for Susan. They didn't go around the neighborhood this time but drove straight to Susan's house, and the choir started singing Christmas carols under Susan's mother's bedroom window.

After the death of Susan’s mother, who died of cancer in ’64, a couple of relatives came to help Susan and her two brothers since her father was unreliable because of his alcoholism. Her late mother’s hospital bills were skyrocketing, and the family fell into deep debt.

Susan’s father started drinking more and more, and Susan had frequent fights with him. Mr. Atkins eventually had to sell their house, and Susan, along with her father and younger brother, moved to Los Banes, California, where Mr. Atkins had found work. Susan’s older brother did not move with the family and stayed behind in San Jose.

Suicide Attempt

In Los Banos, a small town where everyone knew each other, Susan moved into a small apartment with her father and younger brother. Susan played the part of daughter and housewife, she did all the household chores, reluctantly, and she became increasingly unhappy. She got a job at the International House of Pancakes, and when she turned 18, Susan left her father and brother and moved in with an old lady where she rented a room.

She became deeply unhappy and, like her father, began to drink more and more. Her grades in school went downhill. Susan dropped out of high school and moved to San Francisco, where she found a job as a telephone surveyor at a magazine agency.

She got an apartment, without any windows, and a car, a blue Rambler station wagon. Her boss didn’t pay her, and Susan started to run out of money. She became depressed and attempted suicide. She swallowed a large amount of codeine pills and laid down on her bed. It wasn’t long before she regretted her suicide attempt, and Susan called the emergency room.

Susan was taken to the hospital where she was given a drug to make her vomit. There was talk of a forced admission, but the hospital was under-staffed, and it was decided that Susan was allowed to return home. She was picked up by a colleague, her supervisor, who took her home. Not much later, Susan started looking for a new job.

Armed Robberies

She found a new job at a local restaurant called Burke’s, located on 14th and Market Street. One day, four young men were hanging out in the alley behind the coffee shop. Susan invited the four guys in. They had no money to buy anything, so Susan offered them coffee and cake at her expense.

Susan was atracted to one of the men, a guy called Al Sund Jr. She started flirting with him, and he asked her what time she finished work. When Susan’s shift was over, Al was waiting for her, and followed her home. They started talking, and Susan invited him in.

Al invited Susan to come to Oregon with him. Susan and Al, along with a buddy of Al, a guy named Clifton Talioferro, drove towards Oregon in Al’s brand new car, a Buick Riviera. It turned out that the car was a rental, and not much later, when the car wasn’t returned to the rental station, the car was reported stolen. Susan learned that the two men were convicts who made a living committing robberies.

When the three friends found out that the police had them in their sights, they went into hiding in a popular camping area. Susan got shooting lessons from Al, and she got pretty good with a gun. The three of them stole supplies from local stores and survived for a while.

One day, they wanted to replenish their supplies, but they couldn’t get their car to start, and they set out on foot. On the way, they encountered two police cars and the three fled. After a day and a half on the run, they encountered another police car. The officers had received a report of two men and a woman, armed and dangerous, wanted on suspicion of robbery and parole violation. The three were arrested.

Susan pleaded guilty to charges of receiving stolen property and concealing a weapon. Judge George Jones sentenced Susan to six months in jail. Because she had no prior criminal record, he suspended the sentence and placed Susan on two years probation.

Susan asked the Oregon probation authorities if she could return to California. She promised she would move in with her aunt in Sunnyvale, after her father told state officials she couldn’t live with him. After living in Sunnyvale for several weeks, Susan told the Oregon authorities that her aunt had been hospitalized, and that she had moved to San Francisco.

Break on Through to the Other Side

Until now, Susan hadn’t taken any drugs. She only had experience with alcohol, and she was a budding alcoholic. But alcohol didn’t do much for her anymore. She was constantly looking for new highs, be it sex or whatever. She came into contact with a guy named Dan with whom she smoked her first joint. She found this high to be a wonderful experience.

She became curious about that other drug she’d heard so much about, LSD. She set out on her own, looking for LSD. She went to the hippie part of town and spoke to a random hippie. A young tall man with red hair and a long red beard. He took Susan on her first LSD trip, and she loved it. She had passed over to the other side, and there was no turning back.

Susan Atkins and Anton LaVey

Church of Satan

Susan was very licentious and late at night she could often be found in one of the nightclubs. One night, she was at a bar where amateur topless contests were being held. After some encouragement, she decided to enter the contest. Her performance was met with loud cheers, and she won the contest. Susan was hired as a topless dancer, earning $150 a week. She took on a stage name, Sharon King.

Susan started work at 4 in the afternoon, she danced half-hour sets, with a 15-minute break between sets, and she worked until 2 a.m. One day Susan was about to start her break when her boss asked if she would like to dance for a guest.

The guest turned out to be Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan. LaVey invited Susan to his house to discuss a show he was putting on. Susan went to his house, but she felt very uncomfortable. She thought the whole devil worship thing was a joke, but it turned out to be real.

The house was completely black. The garden didn’t look like much and was full of weeds. In the hall stood a human skeleton in a glass case, and there were several stuffed animals in the living room. Susan’s boss and LaVey started talking about the upcoming show, The Witches’ Sabbath.

LaVey’s wife entered the room and took Susan into the kitchen. Through a full-glass back wall Susan saw a real lion in the yard. Susan excused herself and wanted to go home. LaVey tried to convince Susan to stay a little longer. Susan told him that she would do the show, that she would be his vampire and witch, but for now, she really wanted to go home.

Susan had rehearsed the show several times and everything went well, but before her first real live show she became quite nervous and decided to take a tab of acid. At the end of the show, Susan got into a casket. She rose from the casket and pointed her finger at the audience, and “marked” them as her next victims. Gasps erupted from the audience. She couldn’t remember much of the show afterwards, but it was a huge success, and, it was the strangest show on the strip.

But Susan’s life of sex, drugs and rock and roll would soon take a toll. A few months later Susan was hospitalized with gonorrhea and she suffered a complete physical breakdown.

Susan Atkins x Krenwinkel

The Manson Family

In early 1967, Susan befriended some drug-dealing hippies and moved in with them. The hippies lived in a commune in the Haight-Ashbury District of San Francisco. It was here that Susan 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”.

Susan Atkins Son

On October 7, 1968, at two o’clock in the morning, Susan gave birth to a son, whom Manson named Ze Zo Ze Cee Zadfrack Glutz, sometimes spelled Zezozose. According to Atkins, Bruce Hall aka Bruce White, whom she nicknamed new-Bruce, was the child’s father. The child was born at Spahn Ranch.

Manson family member Dianne Lake cut the umbilical cord with her teeth. The child was born two months premature, possibly due to Atkins’ drug use. The child would eventually be removed from Susan and later adopted. Susan has had no contact with her son, now named Paul, since her incarceration in 1969.

Atkins Krenwinkel Van Houten Prison Bus

Witches of Mendocino

Susan and several other family members lived in Mendocino, California for a while, trying to find a new place for the family. Susan 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.

Hinman Murder Crime Scene

Hinman Murder

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

Manson had heard rumours that family acquaintance Gary Hinman inherited money and sent Susan Atkins, Mary Brunner and Robert Beausoleil to Hinman in order to rob Him. After several days of torture, they killed Hinman.

Atkins talks about the Tate murders

Tate Murders

Susan was part of the murder squad sent to 10050 Cielo Drive. Susan first claimed she was the one who killed Sharon Tate, but during the Tate/LaBianca murder trial she stated that she held down the pregnant Tate while Tex Watson stabbed her to death. Susan thought of cutting the unborn baby out of Tate’s tummy but she couldn’t do it. After the murders, Susan wrote “pig” on the front door of the house in Tate’s blood.

Atkins Flying High

Jail and Death

Susan 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.

While locked up for the Hinman murder, Susan implicated herself in jail when she confessed the Tate murders to two cell mates. She told her cell mates that she killed Tate, tasted her blood and wrote “Pig” on the front door with Tate’s blood.

On March 29, 1971, Susan Atkins was sentenced to death, later the death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. A year before her death Susan received a diagnosis of brain cancer and had one of her legs amputated. Susan Atkins died on September 24, 2009 at age 61. At the time of her death, Susan was California’s longest-serving female inmate.

Related: Tate Murders | Tate Homicide Report | Hinman Murder | Two Nights of Murder