Susan Atkins: Manson follower dies in prison at 61
Follower and "disciple" of Charles Manson, Susan Atkins , has died of brain cancer in a California prison at the age of 61.
Atkins took part in the infamous slaying of Sharon Tate, the pregnant actress and wife of film producer Roman Polanski, in the summer of 1969, on Cielo Drive in Los Angeles. Several other people were brutally blungeoned that night.
Atkins stood trial with Manson and other members of his "family" ; she received the death penalty which was commuted to a life sentence, and spent the rest of her life incarcerated.
She was married twice while in prison. Her husband at death was attorney James Whitehouse, whom she married in 1987. During her years of incarceration she became a Born-Again Christian and wrote a book about her experiences and conversion. Atkins was the longest imprisoned female inmate in the California corrections system.
Atkins, 61, was diagnosed with brain cancer last year. The disease spread and Atkins, whose left leg was subsequently amputated, was paralyzed over most of her body by the time she died.
She was wheeled into the parole hearing on a gurney Sept. 2, her head covered in a pink and purple knitted cap. The cross she once carved into her forehead as a sign of loyalty to Manson was no longer visible.
Her face bloated, Atkins slept through most of the hearing, but spoke a few words of the Bible's Psalm 23, chiming in when cued by her husband and attorney James Whitehouse.
Atkins' family had pleaded with the parole board to show her mercy and let her die at home. But hearing officials cited the "atrocious" and "dispassionate" nature of the murders committed in 1969.
Atkins was one of five people convicted of the murders of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six others in a two-night murder spree ordered by cult-leader Manson.