Parole for Manson follower, would-be Ford assassin

Associated press/August 5, 2009

Houston - The Charles Manson follower convicted of attempting to assassinate President Gerald Ford is set to be released from a federal prison in Texas later this month after serving more than 30 years behind bars.

Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme was a 26-year-old disciple of the cult murderer Manson when she aimed a semiautomatic .45- caliber pistol at Ford in September 1975 in Sacramento, Calif. Secret Service agents grabbed her and Ford was unhurt.

Fromme, now 60, is scheduled to be released on parole from the Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth on Aug. 16, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the court-appointed attorney who represented her at trial.

Fromme, who got a life term, became the first person sentenced under a special federal law covering assaults on U.S. presidents, a statute enacted after the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Ford was walking to the California State Capitol from his hotel when Fromme pushed through the crowd, drew the pistol from a holster on her thigh and pointed it at the president as he shook hands with well-wishers. She was restrained by Secret Service agents who wrested the gun away from her and led the president to safety.

Less than two weeks later, another would-be assassin, Sara Jane Moore, fired at Ford in San Francisco but missed.

It was unclear why Fromme was at Carswell, a facility that specializes in providing medical and mental health services to female offenders. A spokeswoman for the bureau of prisons did not immediately return a phone call Wednesday seeking comment.

"I knew some day she would be released," said John Virga, the Sacramento attorney who handled her trial.

Fromme served time in at least two other facilities before Carswell.

She escaped from a female prison in Alderson, W.Va., on Dec. 23, 1987, and was recaptured about two miles away on Christmas Day after a massive search. She was sentenced to an additional 15 months in prison for the escape.

Fromme had said she escaped from prison to be closer to Manson.

Manson is serving a life term in San Quentin in California for the 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tate and eight others. Fromme, one of his "family" of followers, was not implicated in those attacks.

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