Woman involved in Sharon Tate's murder is in hospital
Susan Atkins, who took part in the bloody 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders as a member of the Charles Manson Family and shrugged off actress Sharon Tate's plea to save her unborn baby, has been hospitalized for more than a month with an undisclosed illness, a state prison spokeswoman confirmed Monday.
Atkins, who will be 60 on May 7, has been in stable condition since going to a hospital March 18.
Her location was described as "in the community" by Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Federal privacy laws forbid disclosure of Atkins' location or the nature of her illness, Thornton said.
Atkins' husband and attorney in her latest bid for freedom in federal court, James W. Whitehouse, declined comment Monday. "I could be disbarred," he said, citing his role as Atkins' lawyer.
She is a longtime inmate at the California Institute for Women at Frontera near Chino, along with former Manson Family members Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten.
Atkins has been denied parole 13 times since her first hearing in 1976. Her most recent hearing was in 2005.
She is serving a life sentence on her convictions for eight murders linked to the cult of young men and women who followed Manson's orders in the summer of 1969 to commit mayhem that Manson called "Helter Skelter," after a Beatles song.
Manson believed the carnage would start a race war.
Atkins has long claimed she has reformed since following Manson. Her Web site claims she was "Born Again" in 1974 and contains downloads of her Bible studies. She also co-authored a 1977 book, "Child of Satan, Child of God."
Atkins took part in the slaughter of five people by knife and gunshot on Aug. 8, 1969, at the rambling Benedict Canyon home rented by Tate and her husband, director Roman Polanski. He was away at the time.
Tate, who was 8 ½ months pregnant when she was killed, was stabbed 16 times in the chest and back by Atkins and Charles "Tex" Watson, who is also serving a life sentence.
In a 1993 parole hearing, Atkins recalled the slaying.
She claimed she was asked by Watson to guard Tate, who was tied up and lying on the floor of her home.
"I was just sitting in front of her," Atkins said.
"What did she say?" Commissioner Manny Guaderrama asked.
"She asked me to let the baby live," Atkins said tearfully.
"And what did you say?" Guaderrama asked.
"I told her I didn't have mercy for her," she said.
She said she was not asking to be excused from the act.
"It is almost impossible to understand insanity," she said, "and that's what I was living with, insanity."
It was Atkins who prosecutors said tasted Tate's blood and used some of it to write "PIG" on a wall of the home.
"I don't have any animosity for these people. I have gotten over that years ago," Debra Tate, 55, the sister of Sharon Tate and last living member of the Tate family, said Monday.
"I do think it is appropriate that they all will pass away while they are incarcerated," said Tate, who lives in Southern California. "I don't trust that they are less sociopathic than when they committed the murders 40 years ago."
Of Atkins' illness, Tate said, "I really do feel badly for her family."
One night after the Tate massacre, members of the Manson Family killed grocery executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, in their home in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Atkins was not present at the LaBianca slayings, but she was convicted as a conspirator in the murders.
Atkins also was convicted for her participation in the July 1969 slaying of musician Gary Hinman, who prosecutors said was slain because the Manson Family wanted their money back from a bad drug deal. Hinman was stabbed and suffocated.
It was Atkins who wrote "Political Piggy" in blood on the wall of Hinman's home, authorities said.
"Susan Atkins: She was certainly an avid participant in all the Family activities, up to and including murder," Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, said Monday.
Gibbons covered the Tate-LaBianca trials as a reporter, and still refers to Atkins as "Sadie," from her Family nickname as "Sexy Sadie" and alias as Sadie Mae Glutz.
Atkins was one of Manson's earliest followers, Gibbons said. "She bought his shtick -- hook, line and sinker. She was a believer and it cost her freedom and it cost a lot of people their freedom, because they believed in Manson."
Atkins has challenged her parole denial and sentence in federal court.
A 2002 claim that her civil rights as a prisoner were violated and a 2003 effort to find a federal issue in her imprisonment failed. The latest effort, which also seeks federal intervention, had a filing as recently as Feb. 7, court records show.
The Col Blogs.... So Debra Tate is the new BUGliosi, showing up like Punch for every show? How pathetic.... Winehouse worries about disbarment? How about a client or two Jim?.... the Federal case is an excellent idea if you want to be free- but will fail in her case... why couldn't she just deal with the fact that you stab a pregnant woman and dance in her blood and you ain't gonna get out evah?.... Sadie never could keep her story straight... Snitch!