Is It Helter Skelter for Manson Girl Susan Atkins?


Susan Atkins, who is suffering from brain cancer, will be lucky to see the end of the year.
In September, prison authorities quietly moved the 60-year-old Charles Manson follower (who

has her own Web page) from an undisclosed hospital in Southern California to the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla. The most likely scenario is that doctors determined that they couldn't do anything more for Atkins who,  last spring, was only given three months to live. The Central California Women's Facility is outfitted with a skilled nursing facility for inmates requiring higher care levels -- and, perhaps more pertinently, a hospice where female inmates go to die.

In May Atkins' husband, James Whitehouse, asked for "compassionate release" for his wife. However, the California Board of

Parole voted unanimously in July to deny Atkins' request for a court hearing in Los Angeles that could have allowed her to die outside the custody of the California prison system. Among those protesting her release were Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley and former Hollywood Matchmaker Virginia Graham -- who shared a cell with Atkins while cops were trying to piece together the infamous Manson murders. Atkins' attorney also tried to lobby support from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger,  reminding him that he met Atkins several times at the women's prison in Corona before he was governor. (There's a great photo of Schwarzenegger with his hand on Atkins' shoulder.)

At the time of the compassionate-release hearing, Atkins' condition was

so dire that her husband told the parole board that she was paralyzed

on her right side and unable to get out of bed -- and that she had lost

her left leg and could barely speak.

Her hospital stay from

March to September cost taxpayers close to $2 million dollars. Of that,

$592,000 was spent on guarding the onetime topless dancer.  

In

the summer of 1969, Atkins fatally stabbed a pregnant Sharon Tate 16

times inside the Benedict Canyon home she shared with husband Roman

Polanski, who was abroad at the time of Tate's death. After killing the

beautiful actress, Atkins, prosecutors claim, tasted her blood and used

it to scrawl the word "PIG" on the Polanskis' front door. On that night

of August 8-9, the Manson Family also killed Abigail Ann Folger, Voytek

Frykowski, Steven R. Parent, and Jay Sebring.

The following day,

Manson family members - excluding Atkins - bludgeoned to death Leno

LaBianca and his wife Rosemary at their Los Feliz hills home. Atkins,

then 22, was convicted of killing Tate and music teacher Gary Hinman.

Charles Manson, Tex Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten

were soon charged with the other grisly murders.

Manson had

preached about an apocalyptic race war he said was predicted in the

Beatles song "Helter Skelter." His followers believed they would

eventually control the United States -- if they performed heinous

crimes for Manson.

Atkins was originally sentenced to death in

1971. She was re-sentenced to life in prison in 1972 when the

California Supreme Court ruled the death penalty constituted cruel and

unusual punishment. (The high court reinstated the death penalty in

1978.)

For 37 years Atkins was housed in the California

Institution for Women. There, she became a model prisoner, while also

filing a lawsuit claiming to be a political prisoner, according to Women in Crime Ink.


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