Susan Atkins

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 who drank heavily, he was hospitalized several times due to his alcoholism.

Susan was very unhappy as a child, she always felt discriminated against by her parents, who regularly favored her brothers. Her father was especially close to her older brother. Susan was sexually abused by her older brother and some of his friends. She also claimed that she was abused by some of her father’s friends.

At school, Susan was a member of the glee club and also sang in the local church choir. When Susan’s mother got sick, she was suffering from cancer, Susan sang Christmas carols with her church choir under her mother’s bedroom window.

After the death of Susan’s mother, who died of cancer in ’64, some 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.

While in Los Banes, Susan’s father abandoned her and her younger brother. Susan had to take care of herself, and her younger brother. She became a thief, and she got good at it. She claimed there was nothing she couldn’t steal. Susan’s younger brother eventually went to live with his grandparents.

Susan dropped out of high school and moved to San Francisco, where she found a job as a telemarketer at a magazine agency. She had an affair with her boss, and she realized he kept her around for sex and not for her telemarketing skills. Her boss often paid her late, she was broke and depressed. 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, two guys came by, Al Sund Jr. and Clinton Talioferro. Al started flirting with Susan, and offered her a ride in his brand new car, a Buick Riviera. It turned out that the car was stolen, and that the two men were escaped convicts who made a living committing armed robberies.

Susan joined the two convicts and participated in the crime spree. When the three partners in crime found out that the police had them in their sights, they decided to go into hiding in a popular camping area. They survived by stealing supplies from other campers. They were eventually caught.

They were arrested by the Oregon state police on Sept 12, 1966. 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.

Church of Satan

Back in San Francisco, Susan found a new job as a cocktail waitress slash topless dancer at the Guys and Dolls Bar on Geary Street, earning $150 a week. She got a lot of attention from the male clients, and she regularly slept with her clients for money. She performed in a show called ‘The Witches Sabbath’. The organizer of the show was Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan.

Susan lived in Room 30 at 2162 Market Street, where she paid $13.50 rent a week. Everything was going well until she was told she couldn’t work at the bar anymore because they found out that Susan was under the legal drinking age. During this time, a friend of Susan introduced her to LSD and other types of drugs. She befriended some drug-dealing hippies and moved in with them. The hippies lived in a commune in the Haight-Ashbury District of San Francisco.

The Manson Family

In early 1967, Susan Atkins and Ella Jo Bailey (Ella also became a member of the Manson family) were living together in the aforementioned commune when they met a guy named 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 loved to be the center of attention, and she often collided with Manson. Manson reportedly kicked her out of the family for a while.

In 1968, Susan 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 Susan and later adopted. Susan has had no contact with her son since her incarceration in 1969.

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

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.

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 decided against it. After the murders, Susan wrote “pig” on the front door of the house in Tate’s blood.

Susan Atkins’ account of two nights of murder.

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