Culturally Charles Manson is the focus, but historically he may well become only a footnote to Lynette Alice Fromme.
Fromme became a historical figure in the mid-1970s when she became the first woman to be charged and then convicted of the attempted assassination of a serving President of the United States of America.
No stranger to serious charges, Fromme had previously been arrested on suspicion of murder twice before. Once briefly in late 1969 by officers investigating the Hinman murder, and again in 1972 for the murder of Lauren Willett.
After her guilty verdict for the attempted assassination of a USA President, in 1976 she was named but not indicted to stand trial with her housemates Sandra Good and Susan Murphy for her part in the conspiracy to use the US mail service to send threatening letters.
In 1979 having recently been transferred for good behaviour from the Federal Correctional Institution at Alderson, West Virginia, to the Women’s Correctional Institute, Pleasanton, California, Fromme narrowly missed out on assault charges for her hammer attack on fellow inmate Julienee Busic.
After the incident was investigated by the FBI, it was decided to allow the matter to be dealt with by the prison authorities and Fromme was subsequently returned to Alderson.
By 1983 authorities had allowed her and Manson to communicate by correspondence. Fromme continued to quietly serve her life sentence with little media interest.
In December 1987 Fromme once again returned to international headlines during her brief freedom after a successful escape attempt. A little passed midday on Christmas Day she was spotted on the side of the road by passing officers two miles south of the prison. Stopping their car beside her, the rain-soaked Fromme offered no resistance and got in. After 40 hours of freedom in a rural forested area in poor weather conditions she was returned to the prison.
The scene was now for what may well be the final trial of an original member of the Manson Family.
During Christmas week Assistant US Attorney J Kirk Brandfass announced that a grand jury would shortly be called to decide whether or not to hand down an indictment on Fromme for her unlawful escape from a federal institution. He stated that she could face an extra ten years added to her life sentence and a fine of $250,000. In the mean time she was expected to be interviewed by US Marshals over the next several days.
By 05 January 1988 the indictment was handed down, and her arraignment was scheduled to take place on 14 January in Bluefield W.Va.
At the arraignment, Fromme objected to her nickname “Squeaky” being included in the reading out of the charge against her. It was her intention to plead “No Contest”, but the Federal Magistrate Charles Cunningham told her that he could not legally accept that plea and on her behalf entered one of “Not Guilty”.
However Fromme explained “legally, I am guilty. Morally and spiritually I am not guilty.”
Fromme also requested that she be allowed to represent herself and that “I’d like to be paid the amount an attorney would.” She stated that the money paid should go towards land reclamation in West Virginia. When asked by the magistrate which part she answered “all the land.” He later explained to her that he did not have the authority to act upon her request.
The preliminary hearing took place early March 1988. After leaving and being escorted past waiting reporters, when she got back into the car transporting her, she then pulled out a map, motioned to it, looked at reporters and laughed.
The trial was set to begin in mid March 1988 in the court of US District Judge Elizabeth Hallanen in Beckley, W.Va. Prosecuting was US Attorney J Kirk Brandfass, Fromme represented herself. Only four witnesses were called, all of them prison employees.
For the second time Fromme was denied her request for a no-contest plea and a not guilty plea was entered on her behalf. “I admit committing to escape,” she said “I was away for two days.”
Fromme called herself as her only witness and followed the judge’s instructions that her testimony had to be in the form of questions and answers, by questioning herself on the pronunciation of her own name and cautioning herself: “Miss Fromme you talk too much,” and “Wait a minute, you’re getting ahead of yourself.”
Fromme told jury that she attempted to escape after getting word that Manson had cancer. “He needs a relative, somebody to check on him,” she described him as “my husband, my brother, my father, my son, the man who’s been my friend.”
“My access to him is so limited, I’ve been feeling helpless for years. If love means anything at all, it means stop feeling helpless…take action if necessary.”
Fromme cross-examined each of the prosecution witnesses, questioning them on the population of the prison, and each indicated that the institution - which had an official capacity of 670, now held about 1,000 prisoners.
Fromme told the jury overcrowding was one of the reasons she tried to escape. “The prison has become more and more crowded, and the institution staff has become more and more tense.”
Fromme also told the jury “I’m guilty as charged, legally, and without remorse morally, so that’s that...You don’t have any choice.”
Prosecutor Brandfass summed her up “This defendant is not some kind of earth mother traipsing through the woods with bluebirds on her shoulder. She is a twisted follower of the twisted demonic murderer Charles Manson.”
To which Fromme replied “Mr Manson is not on trial here.”
The jury returned its verdict within ten minutes. Fromme was found guilty of unlawful escape from a federal institution.
Sentencing took place on 25 May 1998. Fromme was fined $400 and sentenced to serve an additional 15 months, and would have to be transferred to another institution.
Fromme said she had no remorse and “another escape floats through my mind now and again…I couldn’t say I wouldn’t try to escape again.”
By June 1988 Fromme was transferred to Lexington Federal Correctional Institution in Kentucky, to be housed in the high security unit. She described the inmates there as being treated like dogs in a kennel.
By 1989 she had been transferred to Marianna Federal Correctional Institution, Florida. Of her conditions she said “It’s ugly here, I don’t like it…Here, what we look at are the fences. A great thing is to stare up and look at the sky.”
“It looks like a combination of an old Roman coliseum and a garish modern office building…There’s so much concertina wire it looks like they went into the hardware business.”
“It’s very depressing,” she said. “I have value. I can’t see the reason for being locked up in an ice cube the rest of my life...I haven’t been allowed to communicate with Manson in eight months. I know the FBI reads all my mail. So I don’t write my friends.”
Her prison job was to take out the trash “I chose that because it’s useful work. I think jobs should be work that needs doing.”
Sources were various newspaper articles and Squeaky by Jess Bravin
Lynyrd adds a brief commentary:
I'd love to see Squeaky answer questions, in 2014.
Come to think of it...
I'd rather read a book authored by Lynn Fromme (over Charles Manson) at this point, as well.
That's just my personal opinion... which essentially means nothing. But, considering that Charles Manson is supposed to be one of the most fascinating, provocative (and notorious) men alive... it's an interesting commentary, none-the-less.
Has "the boogey man"... Charles Manson... finally become boring to the general public?
To some extent... it seems so.
The facts (and study) of the Tate-LaBianca event... will never become boring. It's part of our nation's history, plain and simple. Legally, sociologically and psychologically... it's a compelling (and worth-while) study. That my friends, will never change.
The phenomena of the 1960's counter-culture (and the lifestyle at Spahn's)... will never become boring, either.
Again, it's history. (And again, an interesting case-study in sociology).
In short... the case itself, will always be viable. That point is pretty obvious.
As for Charles Manson's public personality (and persona) specifically... there seems to be a collective *yawn* throughout society. And really... why not?
Let's look at reality:
For decades, Manson has provided the general media with nothing more, than cheeky humor... and understandably... that's all the general public, has come to expect.
For years... society has consumed Manson's public "shtick" ad nauseam... and now... it would appear... that few folks can muster much excitement to view (or hear), more of the same.
Is there a secret Charles Manson... who... "behind closed doors"... confides "the real facts" to a select few??
I highly doubt it... but, it's possible.
But, one thing's for certain folks:
Manson's "public schtick" which he performs for the general public... much like a broken record... has become very predictable... and consequently, boring.
Let's take an impromptu, hypothetical poll:
Given the choice... would you rather hear from Lynn Fromme or Charles Manson in 2014?
And no Katie... "neither" is not a valid answer. LOL If you're going to play-along, you must choose one.