Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Charles Manson and the Manson Family

Susan Atkins

Susan Atkins
Susan Atkins

While she was awaiting trial for the murder of Gary Hinman, Susan Atkins was placed in the Sybil Brand Institute, L.A.'s women's house of detention. Her bed was next to that of 31-year-old Ronnie Howard. Another inmate, Virginia Graham, was a close friend of Ronnie's. Susan Atkins was a real talker. She had an almost unbelievable story that Ronnie and Virginia listened to with absolute amazement.

Atkins acted like a nut case: dancing and singing at the oddest times, oblivious to the seriousness of the charges against her and bubbling over with laughter and delight without any apparent reason.

In the course of conversation, Susan told Virginia that she was in for first degree murder.

"Did you do it?" Virginia wanted to know.

"Sure," Susan answered as though it were the most natural response in the world. But, the police thought that she only held Hinman while Bob Beausoleil stabbed him. In reality, Susan said, it was she who stabbed Hinman while Beausoleil held him.

She also told Virginia that her lover Charlie was Jesus Christ and he was going to lead her to a hole in the earth in Death Valley where there was a civilization down there. After hearing that story, Virginia was convinced that Atkins was completely nuts.

Several days later on November 6, Susan was again in a talky mood and mentioned the Sharon Tate murder. "You know who did it don't you?"

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