Susan Atkins (aka Sadie Mae Glutz)
a young teen, Susan Atkins sang in her church choir in San Jose, California and
nursed her mother, who was dying of cancer. After her mother's death, however,
her life went seriously off course. She fought with her father, dropped out of
high school, and moved to San Francisco where she became a topless dancer, hustler,
and gun moll.
While living in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district in
1967, Atkins met Charles Manson. In her grand jury testimony, Atkins said Manson
"gave me the faith in myself to be able to know that I am a women....I gave
myself to him." Atkins said there was "no limit" to what she would
do for "the only complete man I have ever met." To Atkins, Manson "represented
a Jesus Christ-like person."
Atkins spent a year-and-a-half traveling
around the Southwest with other Manson Family members on an old school bus, taking
lots of LSD, and practicing free love with Manson Family members of both sexes.
In 1968, she bore a child, who Manson helped deliver, named Zezozose Zadfrack
Glutz. Atkins moved into the Family's Spahn Ranch in 1969. On August 8 of that
year, she obeyed Manson's order to join in the what would be the bloody attack
that left five dead at the home of actress Sharon Tate. Atkins later admitted
stabbing Voytek Frykowski and holding down Tate while she was stabbed repeatedly
by Tex Watson. She also said she wrote "PIG" using Tate's blood on a
door of the residence.
While being held on other charges in 1969, Atkins
explained her decision to participate in the massacre at the Tate residence to
another inmate, Virginia Graham: "You have to have real love in your heart
to do this for people."
The LAPD proposed granting Atkins prosecutorial
immunity in return for her testimony that could convict Manson and other Family
members. Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi objected, saying "We don't give that
gal anything!" In the end, the prosecution offered not to seek the death
penalty in return for her trial testimony--an offer which Atkins, after testifying
before the Grand Jury, refused.
Atkins, then twenty-two, was convicted of
first-degree murder and sentenced to death in 1970. Her sentence was reduced to
life imprisonment when the California Supreme Court declared the state's death
Atkins continues to reside at this writing at
the California Institution for Women in Frontero. In September 1974, Atkins said
her cell door opened and "a brilliant light poured over her." Describing
the experience in her 1977 book Child of Satan, Child of God, Atkins said she
believed the light was Jesus, telling her she had been forgiven.