The LA Weekly recently nabbed the gory details of Susan Atkin’s last parole hearing on June 1, 2005 at the California Institution for Women in Corona. It turns out that the 250-page report is a blood-curdling reminder of the carnage that occurred in the summer of 1969 when Atkins, then 22, stabbed to death a pregnant Sharon Tate a gruesome 16 times at Tate’s Benedict Canyon mansion.
After killing Tate, prosecutors said Atkins tasted the actress' blood and used it to scrawl “PIG” on her front door. On that dreadful night, the Manson Family also killed Abigail Ann Folger, Voytek Frykowski, Steven R. Parent, and Jay Sebring. The following day, on August 10, members of the Manson family bludgeoned to death Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary at their home in the Los Feliz hills.
During the 2005 parole hearing, a panel of prison commissioners asked Atkins a variety of questions concerning her family relationships, work history, social skills in prison, and plans if paroled.
Highlights of the transcript includes Atkins admission about her long-lost son and her plans to move to the Los Angeles area where she hoped to work with her husband in his law firm.
According to the transcript, Atkins was a model prisoner who worked as a clerk receptionist, teaching assistant, art teacher, peer counselor, and one-time actress who starred ironically in a comedy about dysfunctional families during her 37-years behind bars.
During the hearing, Atkins blamed her role in the murders on a misguided sense of loyalty she felt towards the Manson family. At the time of the murders, she claimed that she was seriously disturbed, mentally ill, delusional and suffering from chronic LSD use. She also alleged to be fearful of Charles Manson.
Manson had preached of an apocalyptic race war he said was predicted in the Beatles song “Helter Skelter.” His followers including Atkins believed they would eventually control the United States — if they performed heinous crimes for Manson.
In addition, Atkins acknowledged that she hadn’t seen one of her brothers since her 1969 arrest. She wrote regularly to another brother and her two nieces but hadn’t seen them in two years. She met her husband 17 years ago, a year after he began writing to her in prison. They wed two years later.
Atkins told the board of commissioners that she hadn’t any contact with her son in 37 years, since the courts took parental custody away when he was 1 ½ years old. According to Atkins, her son was adopted, his records were sealed, and his name was changed.
“I’m very grateful for that,” she said. “And I have no idea where he is. I am just grateful that he hasn’t been touched by any of this.”
If granted parole, Atkins planned to work as a paralegal for her husband and live in the Los Angeles area.
A psychiatric report concluded Atkins was no “immediate threat” to the community if released.
“The inmate has a favorable risk profile for release to the community, conditional on her continued abstinence from alcohol and/or illegal drugs,” it read.
Not everyone was impressed by Atkins show of remorse or good work ethic in prison including Sharon Tate’s sister Debra, and Jay Sebring’s nephew Anthony DiMaria who stated that “because of Susan Atkins, I know that anyone, anywhere, anyone in this room can be slaughtered with their families in the middle of the night.”
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Deputy District Attorney Patrick Sequeira called Atkins a manipulator who minimized her involvement in the crimes, and while in prison attempted to sell artwork under the guise that it was going to the victims’ families when it really was “to satisfy her own personal judgment.”
The parole board ruled that even though Atkins served her time in prison wisely, they were denying her parole due to the “gravity of the offense.”
Currently, Atkins, now 59, is asking for “compassionate release” because she is dying from brain cancer and has less than six months to live. Maybe this time the parole board will concur.