Susan Atkins, the confessed murderer involved in the bloody killing spree that ended the lives of actress Sharon Tate and eight others, has died of brain cancer. According to the L.A. Times and other sources, Atkins, 61, succumbed last night at the state prison for women in Chowchilla. Earlier this month she had made one final appeal for a compassionate release, knowing that she was dying.

Despite her visibly grave condition (she was wheeled into the parole hearing room on a gurney) and undisputed record of rehabilitation behind bars, the enormity of her crimes proved too much and her appeal was unanimously rejected.

The homicidal crime wave committed by followers of Charles Manson spread fear within the Hollywood community in the late summer of 1969, following the murder of the pregnant Tate and five others at husband Roman Polanski's Beverly Hills home on Cielo Drive; one day later, businessman Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary were slain in their Los Feliz house.

Photo: Bob Steiner, LA Herald-Examiner/LAPL

It was Atkins' boasts of the Manson Family crimes, made to fellow inmates while she was

detained in Sybil Brand Jail on unrelated charges, that drew authorities' attention to Atkins

and Manson's involvement in the murders.

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