Linda Kasabian, 73 years old when she died, was a member of the notorious cult led by Charles Manson that killed actress Sharon Tate in 1969.
Her death was announced in the Tacoma News Tribune, but the cause of death was not immediately made public as Reuters Reported. Kasabian had kept a low profile since the killings and, according to her death certificate, had changed her name to “Chiochios” to protect her identity.
Kasabian was 20 years old when the so-called “Manson family” killed Tate, who was eight months pregnant and married to film director Roman Polanski and three other people in a rented house in an upscale area of Los Angeles in August 1969. Kasabian was the lookout.
The next night, she went with Manson and other cult members to Leno and Rosemary LaBianca’s house, where they killed the couple.
Prosecutors gave Kasabian immunity to testify against Charles Manson and four of his followers at their shocking trial in Los Angeles in 1970. Kasabian had nothing to do with the murders. They were all found guilty.
Manson, a former prisoner, got together a group of runaways and outcasts, like Kasabian, and set up a makeshift commune at a closed movie ranch north of Los Angeles.
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Manson told his followers, mostly young women, to kill seven people in the summer of 1969. Prosecutors said this was part of a plan to start a race war.
Manson was given the death penalty in 1969 for killing members of the Manson Family and for killing a friend, Gary Hinman.
In 1976, the California Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty was against the state’s constitution. This saved his life. He died in prison in 2017.
In 2009, Vincent Bugliosi, the lead prosecutor in the case against Manson, said, “If there ever was a star witness for the prosecution, it was Linda Kasabian. Without her testimony … it would have been tough for me to convict Manson and his co-defendants.”
This article was written with help from Reuters.
Jessa Martin is the author of Nogmagazine, A professional in writing by day, and novelist by night, she received her bachelor of arts in film from Howard University and her master of arts in media studies from the New School. A Brooklyn native, she is a lover of naps, cookie dough, and beaches, currently residing in the borough she loves, most likely multitasking.