Former Manson follower Susan Atkins denied parole

AP in San Diego Union-Tribune/June 1, 2005

Frontera – Former Manson follower Susan Atkins was denied parole for an 11th time Wednesday for her role in the gruesome 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others during a two-night crime spree that stunned the nation.

"She was given a four-year denial," said state Board of Prison Terms spokesman Tip Kindel, meaning she won't be eligible for another parole hearing for 48 months.

Atkins, now a gray-haired, matronly looking woman of 57, was one of cult leader Charles Manson's ersatz hippie "family" of young killers who burst into a Beverly Hills home 36 years ago this summer and killed Tate and four others. The following night they stabbed to death a wealthy couple in their Los Angeles home.

Prosecutors said they were trying to start a race war Manson believed had been prophesied in the Beatles song "Helter Skelter."

Although Atkins has since embraced Christianity and apologized for the killings, Kindel said the prison board's members believed it was unreasonable to assume she was a suitable parole risk.

"They primarily cited the gravity of the crime, the fact the murders were carried out in an especially cruel and callous manner, that the victims were in no way a threat to them ... ," Kindel said

He said Atkins "listened without reaction and then was escorted out of the room" at the California Institution for Women at Frontera.

At her last hearing 4½ years ago, Atkins told the prison board: "I sinned against God and everything this country stands for."

Authorities said she and other members of Manson's cult burst into Tate's Beverly Hills mansion, where the 26-year-old actress, then 8½ months pregnant, was stabbed to death. Also killed were celebrity hairdresser Jay Sebring, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, filmmaker Voityck Frykowski and Steven Parent, a friend of the Tate estate's caretaker.

The next night, Manson's cult visited Los Angeles' fashionable Los Feliz neighborhood, where they killed wealthy grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary.

Sebring's sister Margaret DiMaria and his nephew Anthony DiMaria attended the hearing, as did Tate's sister, Debra Tate.

Tate's father, Paul Tate, died last month at age 82. In a letter he wrote to the parole board before Atkins' last hearing, he recalled she had snickered and shouted out insults during her trial and laughed as she described his daughter's death.

"If Susan Atkins is released to rejoin her family, where is the justice?" he asked.

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