Charles Manson, 82, who reportedly has been hospitalized this week with a serious illness, is known worldwide as a mass murderer and cult leader who held sway over his disciples for years.
He also inspired the attempted assassination of an American president in Capitol Park in Sacramento.
On Sept. 5, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford escaped an attempt on his life by Manson follower Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, who pointed a Colt .45-caliber pistol at Ford as the president walked across L Street from the Senator Hotel toward the Capitol, where he was to meet with Gov. Jerry Brown.
The gun, which Fromme had hidden in a leg holster, did not go off, and Ford was not harmed.
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Her presence in Sacramento stemmed from her fascination with Manson and her efforts to garner support for him as he was incarcerated at Folsom Prison following his conviction in the 1969 slayings of actress Sharon Tate and others. He was sentenced to serve nine life terms.
Fromme, a Santa Monica native, moved to a P Street apartment in 1975 with fellow Manson disciple Sandra Good to be closer to Manson.
A vegetarian, Fromme tended a plot in a community vegetable garden nearby, and was a frequent visitor to the Sacramento Bee newsroom, where she advocated for the killer.
Her loyalty to Manson extended to her trial on charges of attempting to assassinate Ford, during which she sought unsuccessfully to have Manson called as a witness to testify to her peaceful nature.
That never happened, and Manson later was shuttled off to other California prisons, eventually ending up at California State Prison, Corcoran.
Ford testified in an unprecedented video deposition conducted near the White House. Fromme was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. She eventually was sent to a federal facility in Alderson, W.Va.
From there, she corresponded with Bee reporter Bill Lindelof and met with Bee court reporter Wayne Wilson, denying she actually intended to kill the president. She escaped from the prison in 1987 in an apparent bid to travel to be near Manson, but was recaptured two days later.
Fromme was released on parole in 2009 – three years after Ford’s death – and settled in upstate New York.
Both the Los Angeles Times and TMZ reported this week that Manson had been hospitalized. TMZ said Tuesday that he had been taken to a Bakersfield hospital because of gastrointestinal issues.