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Susan "Sadie" Atkins


“I don’t believe this claim that Susan is under a hypnotic spell of Manson. I think she is just trying to talk her way out of it. She’s sick and she needs help. I have tried for three years to get the courts to keep her off the streets; had they done so, this might have never happened.”

— Edward Atkins, Susan’s father, 1970    (Quote Source: The Railroading Of Charles Manson)


“Let me tell you something about Sadie; Sadie was always coming to me and saying, “Do you love me?” And I’d say, “Do you love you?” She would say, “Tell me you love me, do I look pretty?” And I’d say, “Tell yourself you look pretty.” Do I have to go around like a little puppy dog, saying, “Oh, you look good, oh, you sure look nice,” and all that bullshit? Accept yourself and be with yourself.”

Charles Manson, 1985    (Source: High Society)



"This crime was not a devious, diabolical attempt to start Armageddon spawned by the mind of a Super Villain, nor was it a statement about environmental injustices. It was nothing more than an ugly, needless, senseless crime which destroyed families, hurt communities, and took irreplaceable loved ones out of the lives of those who needed them. It is neither amazing or interesting."

- Susan Atkins, 2005  (Source: The Myth of Helter Skelter)



"He personally never called himself Jesus, he just represented a Jesus Christ-like person to me.”

- Susan Atkins    (Source: The Garbage People)


Page 87: “I longed to see Charlie. I walked out of the bus. Charlie was there, alone. He was wearing a long white robe. I knew immediately that he could be God himself, if not, it was something close to it.”

Page 92: “The men were clustered around him. I counted: there were twelve men. With his long hair and beard, his eyes staring from face to face, he seemed to Jesus speaking to his twelve apostles. The thought struck me while and touched me. That’s when I felt he might be Jesus Christ.”

- Susan Atkins, 1978     (Source:  Child of Satan, Child of God)


“I had no idea who lived in the house when we were driving up there, not when we got there, and not after it was all over. I don’t guess anyone else did either. Not Charlie, not Tex, no one. Not till the next day when it came over TV. Linda told me to get a knife and a change of clothes. She said these people in Beverly Hills had burned her for $1,000 for some new drug, MDA.”

— Susan Atkins, 1970   (Source: Trial Testimony)


Officer Aceto: Under motivation, or motive, the records either statements made that the motive for the Tate murders were listed either as - what was recorded as “Copycat Killings” to protect the person that was responsible for the Hinman murder, or to create a race war — between black and white. Do you have any idea what?

Susan Atkins: I’ve heard that, yes sir.

Officer Aceto: And which — which would be the most accurate then?

Susan Atkins: In my opinion the former, and I take responsibility for my actions.

Officer Aceto: The Copycat?

Susan Atkins: Yes sir. That’s — it’s really difficult, Mr. Aceto, to assess what Mr. Manson’s thoughts and feelings were, but that’s what I had heard at the time. My personal belief is the former, the Copycat killings was more in touch with what was really happening.

(Source: 1985 Parole Hearing)



This was before she met Manson, after she pulled a gun on a cop and told him that he’s lucky he pulled first, because she would have killed him.

“My total sellout to LSD, marijuana, and hashish, and to sex with virtually any attractive man, landed me in the hospital for four months. I was half dead from gonorrhea and a complete physical breakdown.”

- Susan Atkins,   (Source: Child of Satan, Child of God)


“Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor, later totally rejected this theory of “copycat” killings to free Bobby, and remained convinced that the Manson Family had a wild and massive plot to bring about Armageddon and to flee to the bottomless pit in the desert, from where Charles Manson— sometimes thought as Jesus Christ— would one day be summoned to lead the world. But to the best of my understanding, the copycat plan was the primary motive behind the most horrible rampage of killing and human destruction in California history— the Tate-LaBianca Murders.”

- Susan Atkins, (Source: Child of Satan, Child of God)



“Charlie, for reasons unclear to me, decided we should split up. I never understood Charlie’s reasoning in this. He seemed to feel the Family concept would never work, that we were just getting on each other’s nerves, or we just needed a change of scene.

Mary, Pat, Ella, Stephanie, and I headed North in the old black school bus. We rented a house in the little town of Philo and launched a female duplicate of life at Spahn’s. It seemed that I was in charge— although others may have disputed this. It was outstanding even to me now how I could control people.

The spookiest thing about it, however, was that I seemed to have the same sort of mind control over the girls. I found that I could actually read people’s thoughts. I knew what the other girls were thinking and could manipulate control over them.

We were using drugs as much as we had been at Spahn’s, perhaps even more so.”

— Susan Atkins, 1978    (Source: Child of Satan, Child of God)




Bugliosi: Did Charlie show you how to become a real woman?

Atkins: He didn’t show me, he gave me my — in other words, I gave myself up to him and in return for that he gave me back to myself. He gave me the faith in myself to be able to know that I am a woman.

Bugliosi: During this one to one-and-a-half year period on the bus were all of you girls Charlie’s girls, so to speak?

Atkins: We were called Charlie’s girls, but Charlie often, in fact every day he told us, “You people do not belong to me, you belong to yourself.”

Bugliosi: Did he instruct you girls to have sexual relations with each other?

Atkins: He didn’t instruct us, no

Bugliosi: Did Charlie ever tell you that he was evil?

Atkins: To my knowledge, no.

Bugliosi: What did you do?

Atkins: Well, we went out on garbage runs and we went and panhandled and one time one girl and I put on dark clothes and took it upon ourselves to do this — Charlie had no knowledge of this — we went out and creepy - crawled.

Bugliosi: Susan, on the date August 8,1969, did Charlie Manson instruct you and some other members of the Family to do anything?

Atkins: I never recall getting any actual instructions from Charlie.

(Source: 1969 Grand Jury testimony)


Excerpts from Susan Atkins’ Grand Jury testimony December 5, 1969

Bugliosi: Who drove the car?
Atkins: Tex.
Bugliosi: Did Tex tell you where you were going to go?
Atkins: He told us that we were going to a house up on the hill that used to belong to Terry Melcher, and the only reason why we were going to that house was because Tex knew the outline of the house.
Bugliosi: Did Tex tell you that he knew the interior of the house?
Atkins: Yes, he described it to us as we were traveling.
Bugliosi: How did Tex describe the interior of the house to you? Without going into detail, did he describe where the rooms were located in relation to each other?
Atkins: Yes.
Bugliosi: Did Charlie Manson ever tell you that he had been to Terry Melcher’s former residence?
Atkins: No, not to my recall.
Bugliosi: Did Tex tell you that he had been at one time to Terry Melcher’s former residence?
Atkins: Yes, he said that he and Charlie had been there once talking to Terry and I think he said with Dennis. Don’t quote me on that because I don’t know if he said with Dennis.
Bugliosi: Did Tex drive you directly to Terry Melcher’s former residence?
Atkins: We sort of got lost on the way. I think we took a wrong turn and ended up somewhere in Mulholland and we went directly there.
Bugliosi: What did you discuss in the car, Susan, as you drove to Terry Melcher’s former residence? Who said what?
Atkins: Tex did most of the talking. In fact, to my recall, he did all of the talking.
Bugliosi: Did Tex tell you why he and you three girls were going to Terry Melcher’s former residence?
Atkins: To get all of their money and to kill whoever was there.


Bugliosi: Did Tex do anything to Sharon Tate at that point?
Atkins: Tex told me to kill her.
Bugliosi: To kill Sharon?
Atkins: Yes, and I couldn’t. I just—in order to make a diversion so that Tex couldn’t see that I couldn’t kill her I grabbed her hand and held her arms and then I saw Tex stab her in the heart area around the chest.
Bugliosi: You saw Tex stab Sharon in the heart area?
Atkins: Yes.
Bugliosi: You saw Tex stab Abigail three or four times?
Atkins: Yes. While he was doing that Katie and I were looking for Linda because she wasn’t anywhere around. In fact, we started calling for her. We didn’t want to call too loud, and then Tex walked over to Frykowski and kicked him in the head.
Bugliosi: He was lying down when Tex kicked him in the head?
Atkins: Yes, and the body didn’t move very much. I believe it was dead at that time.
Bugliosi: What happened next?
Atkins: Then Tex told me to go back into the house and write something on the door in one of the victim’s blood.
Bugliosi: Did he tell you what to write?
Atkins: He said, “Write something that would shock the world.”
Something to that effect. I don’t even want to be quoted on that because what I just said came off the top off my head. I had previously been involved in something similar to this where I saw political piggy written on the wall so that stuck very heavily in my mind.


Bugliosi: As you were watching the television news coverage at the Spahn Ranch did anyone say anything inside the trailer?
Atkins: “The Soul sure did pick a lulu, but the Soul did a good job,” or something to do with the Soul, not meaning Charlie Manson picked a good one, meaning infinite Soul.
Bugliosi: Did you say anything else when you learned who those four people were?
Atkins: Something to the effect that it served its purpose.
Bugliosi: Do you say why this had been done?
Atkins: To instill fear into the establishment.
Bugliosi: Did you say anything about black people at that time?
Atkins: Not at that time, no.
Bugliosi: Did you ever say anything about black people with respect to what took place at the Tate residence?
Atkins: No.

(Source: Grand Jury Testimony)


Here’s an excerpt from Susan Atkins’ attorney and husband James Whitehouse at her last parole hearing right before her death. He attacks the district attorney for their intentional errors and how they continuously change the “facts” to suit the present situation. It’s so true and the “facts” they vomit are always skewed and what he says is so right on.

He also mentions that the two witnesses who stated Susan confessed to them were not only paid, but they admitted they both lied.

Also notice how he mentions the district attorney mentioning that it was the Muslims Manson spoke about, which is probably true. In fact, during the trial Manson and several witnesses stated that Manson was preaching about the Muslims attacking.

When Susan went to the Grand Jury the district attorneys put forth her evidence as the truth, the Grand Jury stating that she didn’t stab Sharon Tate— she didn’t kill her.

Within a couple years they said that she did stab her but she wasn’t the one who was responsible for her death. A couple years later they said that Susan stabbed and killed her.

Fourteen months ago this district attorney said that Susan was responsible for all 16 stab wounds to Sharon Tate. Today he’s backed off that again because he wants to be able to implicate Watson in with that too. He doesn’t want to give that up so he’s changed his story again.

And as vulgar as this is, some of the witnesses against us at months ago actually said that Susan slit Sharon Tate’s throat and killed her which you know isn’t true because you have the autopsy in front of you.

Originally, the district attorneys admitted Susan didn’t kill Hinman. Then they said she smothered Hinman to death and they said that she stabbed then smothered him to death. Then they said that she held a gun on him, tortured him, stabbed him, smothered him, and forced him to sign over his cars’ pink slips to her. Today, they haven’t claimed— they’ve changed again.

After 2001 the district attorney literally said that Helter Skelter was a war to let Muslims take over the world, and today it’s become a terrorist war. I love the way that the district attorney is fond of saying Susan confessed.

Usually when he says Susan confessed what he means is that the district attorney’s office gave Howard and Graham immunity, dropped all the charges against them, and paid them $25,000 to go in front of the jury and say that Susan said stuff. So when he says that Susan confessed to this what he means is that Ronnie Howard and Virginia Graham were paid to get up in front of a jury and say that Susan said this.

What Ronnie Howard and Virginia Graham actually said in 1969 when Vincent Bugliosi interviewed them and asked them why if this woman confessed to killing all these people did they sit in jail and not tell anyone, both of them looked at him and said she’s lying. That’s what they said in 1969. By 1971, being given immunity and $25,000 reward for testifying against her, then suddenly she became quite exciting.

- James Whitehouse, Susan's husband and attorney    (Source: 2009 Parole Hearing)


Here are some chosen excerpts from Susan Atkins’ final book The Myth of Helter Skelter. In these excerpts she explains why the real killings came down and had nothing to do with ‘Helter Skelter’ as prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi used as the motive.

This began what might be called the hunt for the Magic Motive. That is to say ‘the hunt for anything that would convince a jury that Charles Manson, and Charles Manson alone, was the beneficiary of these murders.’

But he didn’t find out that the murder of Gary Hinman was connected to Bernard Crowe until well after the Grand Jury. How could he possibly uncover the real motive for the murders of those at the Cielo and LaBianca homes without understanding the real reason for Gary Hinman’s death?

He couldn’t.

It wasn’t until the trial started that Vincent Bugliosi finally found out about the suspected murder of Bernard Crowe. This suspected murder would have an incredible effect on the actions of Charles Manson, but by the time Vincent Bugliosi discovered it he was already selling Helter Skelter to a jury. To have tried to change the purported motive at that point would have cost him his credibility in a case in which he was already stretching his credibility to the limit.

Bernard Crowe was a black drug dealer in the San Fernando Valley. What apparently happened, though none of us were privy to this at the time, was that in response to Manson’s pressure Charles Watson had orchestrated a drug deal with Bernard Crowe. Apparently Watson convinced Crowe to give him the drugs, leaving his fiancé behind as security. Watson apparently told Crowe he would sell the drugs to a waiting buyer and then return immediately with the money.

But this isn’t what happened.

Another thing worth noting is that the girl wasn’t really his fiancé. He’d only just met her and apparently he decided to abandon her and run off with the drugs. Unfortunately the girl had heard Watson call some people earlier and she remembered the phone number. When Watson didn’t come back and Bernard Crowe began pressuring the girl, she called the number she’d seen Watson call and she asked for “Charles.” But Charles Watson was known as “Tex” at Spahn’s Ranch. There was only one “Charles,” and that was Charles Manson. When Manson answered the phone Crowe told him he was a Black Panther and he knew where Manson was and if Manson didn’t come down and give him his money, he and all his Black Panther buddies were going to make a raid at Spahn’s Ranch and kill everyone there.

To Charles Manson this was no small problem. There was no way he could run from the police, the bikers, and the Panthers… he was broke. So he had to deal with Bernard Crowe one way or another. If he couldn’t con Bernard Crowe, Charles Manson believed the only way to prevent the Panthers from getting his name and where-abouts was to eliminate the source – Bernard Crowe. If something happened to Crowe no one would be around to tell the Panthers anything. But either way, it had to be done quick.

when Manson got to Bernard Crowe’s apartment there were several of his friends there. Manson tried to smooth-talk him, but when that didn’t work and an altercation became inevitable Manson signaled T.J. to pull the gun. But T.J.’s better sense prevailed and he refused to pull the gun out of the back of Manson’s pants. This left Manson standing all alone in the middle of Bernard Crowe’s living room, in a predominantly black neighborhood, facing several Black Panthers and one angry dope-dealer who’d just been ripped off.

Manson was forced to pull the gun himself. He shot Bernard Crowe right in the chest. Crowe fell to the ground and lay still. Manson and T. J. ran.

Believing he had murdered Bernard Crowe, Charles Manson became frantic. He had, through his undying self-centeredness and an incredible underestimation of T.J.’s integrity, put himself in a position where he had dirtied his own hands. Immediately he had two huge additional problems. The first was that many of the people in and around Spahn’s Ranch knew he had gone to see Crowe. That meant there were possibly a dozen people who could corroborate any accusation against him. It was an incredible blunder for a boastful career criminal. Even among his loyal Family he must have felt as though a rope was coiling around his neck. And so he came up with a plan to protect himself from the very people he claimed he was willing to give his life for.

The true irony of this moment can only be appreciated if one understands the real reason all the killings began – to get money so that Manson could run away from the police and the Black Panthers, who he was sure were coming after him for killing Bernard Crowe.

At this one moment it must have all became obvious to Charles Manson. Bernard Crowe wasn’t dead. Manson hadn’t killed anyone that day. What’s worse was that it was also obvious that Bernard Crowe must have never mentioned the shooting to the police. And none of Crowe’s friends had either. And no Panthers had ever come up to wipe out Spahn Ranch.

That was the moment when the true horror and tragedy of all those murders should have come to Manson. That was the moment when it was obvious that when Charles Manson had ordered the murder of Gary Hinman, no one, not the police or the Panthers, was pursuing him. There had been no need for desperation. There had been no need for money to flee. And there had been no need for Gary Hinman to die.

So, Charles Manson’s fears about Crowe led to the completely unnecessary murder of Gary Hinman. Bobby Beausoliel’s arrest for the murder of Gary led to the horrific murders at the Cielo residence and the LaBianca residence. The murders at the Cielo and LaBianca residences led, ultimately, to the murder of Shorty Shea. And all of it was for nothing!

Seeing Bernard Crowe alive and in police custody should have sent a sickening chill through Charles Manson. The horror of nine innocent people dead should have filled him.

But I don’t know if it did. What I really think troubled him was the thought that Crowe might press charges or put a hit out on him.

On a personal note, I have often wished that I could have been there when this exchange took place. To see the look on Charles Manson’s face at the moment when he realized nine people had died and eight more were on their way to death row for nothing. All for nothing.

I would have liked to have seen if even a flicker of recognition of that horror showed on his face for even a second - some sign that for one moment in his life he actually cared about those people, both for those victims he hadn’t even known and for those young people who had trusted him.

And the heavens must have cried.

- Susan Atkins    (Excerpts from: The Helter Skelter Myth)



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