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CNN Larry King Live

Former 'Manson Family' Disciple Speaks Out

Aired September 04, 2009 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, a former Charles Manson follower who was there when the brutal crimes were committed breaks her silence.


LINDA KASABIAN, STAR WITNESS IN CASE AGAINST MANSON: I was told to go get a change of clothing, a knife, my driver's license.


KING: About the murders that shocked a country and the mad man who ordered them.


KASABIAN: Then I started hearing like just horrible screaming.


KING: Plus, an exclusive with Sharon Tate's sister. She was there as the woman who savagely stabbed the actress and her unborn baby without mercy was denied parole. Debra Tate tells us why Susan Atkins should die behind bars, next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We have a fascinating hour ahead -- an in-depth look at the Manson family's reign of terror four decades ago.

Before we get to our exclusive guests, including a former Manson following, here's a look at Charles Manson and his so-called family.


CHARLES MANSON: One of the reasons I don't want out is because I am very mad and I don't know whether I can control myself.

KING (voice-over): Forty years after one of the most notorious murder sprees in American in history, the man responsible for seven brutal killings is still in prison and he has never shown regret.

MANSON: Do I look like I'm guilty about something? Do I look like I have remorse or fear about anything?

KING: On the night of August 9th, 1969, Charles Manson dispatched members of his so-called family to the home of actress Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of director Roman Polanski. When they were finished, Tate and her unborn child had been slaughtered, along with three house guests. Also murdered, 18-year-old Steven Parent, who was shot outside of Tate's home.

The very next night, with news of the first rampage terrorizing L.A. Manson followers struck again. Their victims, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, stabbed to death in their upscale home.

In a prison interview in 1994, Leslie van Houten described her part in the killings.

LESLIE VAN HOUTEN: I went in and Mrs. LaBianca was laying on the floor and I stabbed her.

KING (on camera): Where?

VAN HOUTEN: In the lower back, around 16 times.

KING (voice-over): The killers left messages throughout the LaBianca house, words like "Death to Pigs," and "Helter Skelter," written with their victims' blood. The phrase, "helter skelter" referred to The Beatles song by the same name and Manson believed the lyrics predicted a war between blacks and whites and the possibility obsessed him.


KING: It took police nearly five months to track down Manson and his so-called family. Linda Kasabian, a Manson follower who was present at both the Tate and LaBianca homes, became the prosecution's star witness.

Manson and his co-defendants were found guilty of the murders and sentenced to death. The sentences were later commuted to life in prison.

At 74, Charles Manson has spent more than half of his life behind bars -- one of the most infamous criminals in history.


KING: On September 7th on the History Channel, a premier will take place titled "Manson." It includes re-creations of the Tate- LaBianca murders and the involvement of one of our guests in those murders.

Linda Kasabian is with us, a former member of the Manson family. She was the prosecution's star witness in the trial of Manson and his followers for those murders.

Out of concern by -- by the way, for her safety, she is disguised.

And Vincent Bugliosi, Los Angeles County Assistant D.A. He prosecuted Manson and the others. He wrote the number one best- seller, "Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders."

You haven't seen each other in -- since 1971, right, Vince?


KING: What's it feel like?

BUGLIOSI: Oh, it was wonderful seeing Linda again. I gave her a big hug. And it's a long time ago. She looks -- she looks great. I was telling her that I don't -- I don't look a day over 90, but she looks great.

No, you are 15 years younger than I am.


KING: Do you think of...

BUGLIOSI: But it was wonderful seeing Linda again.

KING: Do you think about that night a lot, Linda?

KASABIAN: Yes, I would say probably every day.

KING: Do you think about it a lot, Vince?

BUGLIOSI: A lot. Not every day. You know, I've gone on to other murder cases.

KING: I know.

BUGLIOSI: But certainly I've thought about it. Of course.

KING: That's the case that made you worldwide famous.

BUGLIOSI: Absolutely. Absolutely.

KING: All right, Linda, how -- what are your memories, first, of Charles Manson?

KASABIAN: That he was just a very charismatic, beautiful man.

KING: And how did you get involved with the group at all?

KASABIAN: I was kind of left stranded by my husband with my daughter. And he was...

KING: He kind of took you in?


KING: And did you -- I mean were you involved with him, physically involved, romantically involved?

KASABIAN: Physically involved and, yes, eventually. Yes, romantically.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what brings you to Los Angeles? Are you still in there?

Are you in there?

I asked what you brought you there, lady (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My husband abandoned me and the gypsies said that I'd be welcome here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That makes me happy.


KING: A month later, after all you got involved, the murders took place, right?


KING: Now, Vince, explain, before we get into the detail, how Linda was -- even though she was there, present, she was not prosecuted.

BUGLIOSI: Well, she was given immunity from prosecution to testify against Manson. And if there ever was, like you said, a star witness for the prosecution, it was Linda Kasabian. In fact, Larry, without her testimony, it would have been extremely difficult for me to convict Manson and his confederates...

KING: Because you had an eyewitness?

BUGLIOSI: Yes. Extremely difficult. In fact, even with her testimony, the jury was out deliberating for a week-and-a-half. So we all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude toward Linda, because if Manson had gotten out, there's no question he would have continued to kill. He'd have killed as many people as he could have.

KING: Before that crazy night, were you involved in other criminal activities with Manson?

KASABIAN: No. I think the worst thing I ever did was steal money.

KING: Well, that's a criminal activity.

KASABIAN: Yes. Yes, OK. It was a criminal activity but...

KING: Were there a lot of people in the group?


KING: How many?

KASABIAN: Probably about 20 -- 20 girls.

KING: And did you live in a commune like?


KING: And did he have sex with many of the girls?


KING: Did it bother you?


KING: Why not?

KASABIAN: Because that was just kind of what I was used to, a communal, free love type of lifestyle.

KING: It was a different era, was it not?


KING: But certainly nothing would indicate that murders were going to take place?

KASABIAN: Oh, no. No it was...

KING: So what happened that night, Linda?

KASABIAN: The night of the murders?

KING: The murders.

KASABIAN: From what point?

KING: Well, you -- did someone say let's go out and what happened, the beginning -- from the beginning.

KASABIAN: I was told to go get a change of clothing and a knife, my driver's license and meet back and...

KING: At a certain point, you all met?

KASABIAN: At a certain point, right.

KING: Did you question why you needed a knife?


KING: Can you explain, Vince, what kind of power this man had that a person would say go get a knife, OK, I'll be right back with the knife?

BUGLIOSI: Well, Linda was looking for Jesus throughout the country. She had been to the Haight and Taos, New Mexico, the American Psychedelic Circus in Boston, looking for a Christ-like figure. And she thought that Manson was Jesus. She found out eventually that he was -- he was a devil.

But he got them to the point where they were willing to kill for him. He convinced them that he was Jesus Christ and the devil all wrapped up into one person. He had total command over them. So when he told her to go along, she didn't feel she was in any -- in any position to say no. But the point has been made very, very clearly, she thought they were going to go on another creepy crawly mission. She had no idea that they were planning...

KING: What's a creepy crawly mission?

BUGLIOSI: Well, she'll explain that to you.

KASABIAN: That's where you just kind of sneak around people's properties...

KING: For what purpose?

KASABIAN: To steal possessions, money.

KING: Oh. You had no idea murder was at hand?

KASABIAN: Oh, no. No.

BUGLIOSI: Before she joined the family, they had gone on some creepy crawly missions in Bel Air and Beverly Hills. They'd go into people's homes -- big mansions -- and they rearranged the furniture in the middle of the night. Then people would wake up and see the furniture rearranged.

But I'm -- I'm convinced that Linda, who was cut out of a different cloth than the others. She was a true hippie, a flower child. I'm convinced the only reason he asked her to go along on these two nights of murder is that she was the only one in the family that had a driver's license. In fact, he specifically told her, go get your driver's license.

So she had no idea that they were going to go out and commit mass murder.

KING: So, in your opinion, she was an innocent?

BUGLIOSI: Absolutely. Absolutely. And...

KING: And what were the others, if not flower child -- children?

BUGLIOSI: No. They -- they were willing to kill for him. She was not.

KING: When we come back, Linda Kasabian on the haunting details of the Tate murders.

Don't go away.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In July 1969, I had just turned 20. My relationship with my husband was not there. I wasn't a priority to him.

And there was this girl gypsy and she was a part of Charlie Manson's family. Gypsy said, don't worry, you know, you can come live with us. I immediately decided to go with her.


KING: That's the History Channel's upcoming documentary titled "Manson".

We're back with former Manson follower, Linda Kasabian.

I asked her when she first realized that she was part of a plot to murder.

KASABIAN: When I realized, really, what was going on -- and this was after Steven Parent was shot in the head...

KING: You saw him shot?

KASABIAN: Yes, I did. And then...

KING: And that must have been blown your mind.

KASABIAN: Yes, it did. It totally just...

KING: And, again, Manson did not go on any of these?


BUGLIOSI: No, he stayed back.


BUGLIOSI: The second night he accompanied them to a certain point. But -- but tell Mr. King...

KING: So what happened?


KASABIAN: But then a lot of screaming and -- and crying and hollering.

KING: How many people were with you?

KASABIAN: One, two, three.

KING: And you were in whose house at that time?

KASABIAN: I wasn't in anybody's house.

KING: Well, where was the guy shot?

KASABIAN: I was in -- in the yard.

KING: He was shot in the yard?

KASABIAN: Yes, he was in a -- he was in his vehicle.



BUGLIOSI: Steven Parent.

KASABIAN: Steven Parent.

KING: The first one killed?


KASABIAN: The first one, yes.

And then after that happened, I was told to stay there and just kind of wait and listen for sounds. And I did that. And then I started like just hearing horrible screaming. So I started running toward the house. And Sadie came running out. And I just looked at her and I said, Sadie, please make it stop. And she said, I can't, it's too late. And that's when I saw Wojciech Frykowski being murdered -- slaughtered.

KING: Knifed?



KING: Now this is all new to you. You're a -- you're a hippie. You're a flower child.


KING: That's a child of peace.

KASABIAN: Yes, make love not war.

KING: Well, you must have gone nuts.

KASABIAN: Yes. I -- I was in -- it was unreal. It was so real that it was unreal.

KING: Did you -- did you ask them why they were doing this?


KING: You didn't think of saying why are you killing these people?

KASABIAN: It -- it wasn't that kind of a scenario where, you know, the only thing that got said was, Sadie, make it stop.

KING: And that was all that was said? KASABIAN: That was all that was said.

KING: You drove the car away?


KING: When they were finished, you drove them away?


KING: Where did you go after that, back to Manson?


KING: Now, how did you feel?

You're driving back with three people who have just killed people.

KASABIAN: I was in a total state of shock. I -- I didn't know what to feel. I didn't know what to think. I'd just witnessed a man -- looking straight into his eyes -- leave this Earth, leave his body. He died.

KING: Why didn't you call the police?

KASABIAN: I thought of doing that while I was still there and the murders were still going on. And I thought about my daughter back at the ranch. I thought about being found at somebody else's house calling for help. And also, back in that time and frame, you didn't turn to the police. The police was...

KING: Enemies?

KASABIAN: Enemies, yes.

KING: So back you went to the house.

What did Manson say to you when you got back?

KASABIAN: Everybody was gathered together. And he asked if we had remorse. And I kind of watched and waited to hear what everybody else was saying, to kind of follow in their footsteps as to -- because I couldn't say, you know, what I really felt.

KING: And no one had remorse?


KING: How about you?

KASABIAN: No. I was shocked. Yes, it's like...

KING: But you didn't feel you had anything to be remorseful about, since you didn't plan on doing this, right? KASABIAN: I was just like, oh my God, you know, this person -- this beautiful person was just -- his life was taken -- savagely murdered right there.

KING: When we come back, more with Linda Kasabian.

Plus, former Manson follower, Susan Atkins, who was denied parole a 13th time this week, despite the fact she has terminal brain cancer.

We'll get reaction from Sharon Tate's sister.


KING: Welcome back.

Over the years, Charles Manson never shied away from the TV cameras.

Here's Manson in his own words.


MANSON: See, I don't really accept any attorneys. I don't accept the court. I don't accept the whole situation, you know. Like I was in the desert minding my business. This confusion belongs to you. It's your confusion. I don't have any confusion. I don't have any guilt. I know what I've done and no man can judge me.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you guilty of any murders?

Are you guilty of plotting any murders?

MANSON: I killed a chicken once and I felt...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any human beings?

MANSON: No, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're absolutely innocent of any conspiracy to commit murder or telling anyone to commit murder or planning it?

MANSON: I'll plead guilty to the Indians.



MANSON: You say, in your minds, that I'm guilty of everything that you've got on paper. So therefore it would run logic that I would need to have remorse for what you think is reality. And if that be true, then all of the ocean's contents, if it were my tears, there would not be enough to express the remorse I have for the sadness of that world that you people live in.


MANSON: Well, God, I guess you're my best friend, being as I invented you.


MANSON: Sure, I believe in myself.

Why wouldn't I?


MANSON: Which one?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you Jesus Christ?

MANSON: Which -- which Jesus?

There's all kinds of Jesuses. There's a black Jesus down in Florida. He's having a good time. There's a Mexican Jesus in Mexico. I mean there's all kinds of -- there's a Jewish Jesus. I mean, Jesus, you know, there's all kind of Jesuses coming back everywhere and nothing can stop it. It's a consciousness that lives in your mind, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, you know.


KING: When we come back, more with our exclusive guest, Linda Kasabian. I'll ask her why she went out on a second killing spree.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What were you thinking of when you saw Linda Kasabian yesterday?

MANSON: I was thinking of how pretty she looked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you upset with Linda?

MANSON: No, not at all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even though she will testify for the prosecution?

MANSON: That's up to Linda.

Most of the people I didn't even know. Linda Kasabian, for example, she'd only been at the ranch a couple of weeks. I had seen her maybe twice. You know, like I never paid that much attention to the people who came and went at that ranch. They just came and went as they chose.


KING: The night after the Tate murders, the Manson family struck again. I asked Linda Kasabian and Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi about what happened on the second night.


BUGLIOSI: The second night Manson accompanied his killers in a car, looking for the victims completely at random. So in the vast sprawling metropolis of L.A. No one was safe. They even stopped at a church in Pasadena. They were going to go inside the church and murder everyone inside the church. The doors were locked, no one inside.

So eventually they stopped in front of the home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, husband and wife. Leno was the owner of a small supermarket...

KING: Tate was in the first house?

BUGLIOSI: Yes -- a small supermarket chain called Gateway Markets.

So they stopped there. And Manson sent his killers into the house with instructions to murder the occupants. And then he drove off with Linda and two other people.

And at the time of the murders, Manson and the people in the car were having milk shakes. But that was the second night, the LaBianca night.

She did not participate in either the Tate or the LaBianca murders. And the point has to be made, because she has suffered through the years from people and towns she's lived in and her children thinking that she was involved in these murders -- participating...

KING: That's why we have her disguised.

BUGLIOSI: That's right. And I appreciate it. She has never -- she was not involved in any way whatsoever. She...

KING: But there is a significant question.


KING: Why did you go out the second night?

KASABIAN: Because Manson told me to.

KING: What did you do all day after the first night of murders?

KASABIAN: I remember being -- watching TV and finding out who the people were inside the home.

KING: Why didn't you take your daughter and flee? KASABIAN: I was afraid.

KING: You were afraid he was going to harm you or?

KASABIAN: It wasn't something that I could just turn around and walk out of there.

KING: What was this...

BUGLIOSI: Now, she did sleep in...

KING: ...a zombie, what...

BUGLIOSI: She did flee the family the first opportunity she had, three days after.

KING: But why not the first day?

BUGLIOSI: And she went back to her mother.

KING: She's just seen murders.

BUGLIOSI: Well, it's just not that easy to leave a family of murderers. But the first opportunity she had -- she was the only one -- she fled the family and went back to New Hampshire, where her mother was. When she learned there was a warrant out for her arrest, she voluntarily surrendered to the local place, waived extradition against the advice of her lawyer, came out to L.A.

And she was willing to tell me everything that happened without asking for anything in return, although her lawyer properly got her immunity from prosecution.

But she told me that from the very beginning, she knew that she was the one that was going to have to tell the world what happened.

KING: When the second night occurred, what were you thinking then?


KING: Didn't you ever -- didn't you say to -- to Charlie Manson, why are you doing this?

Why are you telling people to do this?

KASABIAN: I didn't say anything like that, but I did, at the point where it came down to the line where it was -- I was going to be forced to have to do this, kill somebody, is when I looked him in the eye and said Charlie, I'm not you.


KASABIAN: I can't do this.

BUGLIOSI: Tell Mr. King and the national audience that you stopped in Venice, in an apartment house in Venice. And Manson gave you a knife and told -- told you to go inside the apartment...

KING: This was after the second night?


BUGLIOSI: Well, it was the second night...

KASABIAN: It was the second evening, yes.

BUGLIOSI: ...after they dropped off them at the LaBianca residence.


BUGLIOSI: He gave you a knife and told you to go inside an apartment house and murder an actor friend of yours, whom she had met -- whom she had met a couple of weeks earlier when she was hitchhiking up Pacific Coast Highway.


BUGLIOSI: And what did you tell Manson when he told you to murder this person?

KASABIAN: He -- he told me how to -- to murder this man.

BUGLIOSI: And what did you tell him?

KASABIAN: And I told him, I said, Charlie, I'm not you, I can't kill anybody. And he said, sure you can. And he took off and pretended that his finger was a knife and he went like this. He said just do this. And then he dismissed me and two other people to go and commit this murder. And he...

KING: What did you do?

KASABIAN: I knocked on the wrong door.

KING: Were you going to kill someone?

KASABIAN: No, certainly not.

BUGLIOSI: She frustrated what would have been an eighth murder in two nights by deliberating knocking on the wrong door.

KING: When were you assigned the case?

BUGLIOSI: Three months later, the first moment the Manson family became suspects, I was assigned and I started working on it for two years...

KING: So this was unsolved...

BUGLIOSI: ...around the clock, seven days a week.

KING: ...for three months? KASABIAN: That's right.

KING: During those three months, what were you doing, Linda?

KASABIAN: I was...

KING: ...before there were any arrests?

KASABIAN: I went to get help when I did get away from the family. And, yes, I did leave my daughter. But I knew that she would be OK. I got to New Mexico, which is where my husband was, and told him the story and did not receive any support from him whatsoever or really, anybody. Eventually, I did find somebody that was willing to help me. He felt the story was a little incredible, that maybe I wasn't telling the truth.

He called the ranch and they had all been arrested. And my daughter was put into a receiving foster care.

KING: How old was she?

KASABIAN: Eighteen months.

KING: What fueled Manson's desire to kill innocent people?

Some answers after the break.


KING: The most puzzling thing in all of this, why did he do this?

BUGLIOSI: I think at the bottom is tremendous hostility for society; he hated society. He thought he had been given a bad hand in life. He was short, 5 feet 2. He said he had no parents. He didn't know who his father was, his mother ran around -- is an alcoholic -- she would drop him off at a neighbor's house for a couple of hours, disappear for a couple of days or a couple of weeks. So he had this tremendous hostility.

And when he formed the Family up at the Haight in 1967, I don't think he was thinking of using them to commit murder. But somewhere along the line, I think it was a slow evolutionary process. He realized that he could get these kids to do anything he wanted. And I think he used them to vent his spleen on society for him.

KING: By having them kill? Why didn't he kill himself? Why didn't he go out and participate in the killings?

BUGLIOSI: I think that -- it's not because, you know, they said that Himmler was the head of...

KING: Nazi.

BUGLIOSI: ... eliminating the Jewish race, apparently he was incapable himself. The story goes, I don't know if it's apocryphal or not, that he fainted when he went to Auschwitz.

That's not the case with Manson. He participated in the killing of Shorty Shea, shot a Philadelphia guy by the name of Lotsapoppa, Bernard Crow in the stomach and left him for dead.

Why didn't he do it? It's speculation on my part but I'm almost positive -- you'd have to confirm this -- that he thought he would be able to immunize himself from criminal responsibility by getting other people to do his bidding for him. As it turned out, it was more difficult to convict him because he was not present at the murder scene.


BUGLIOSI: It's not like O.J. Simpson where there's fresh blood at the murder scene. When your blood's at the murder scene and the victim's blood is inside your car and home, that's the end of the ballgame; there's nothing more to say.

KING: With no Linda you might not have convicted him?

BUGLIOSI: I may not have. It would have been extremely difficult.

KING: Was it hard, Linda, to testify?

KASABIAN: Yes, it was.

KING: You had to look at all your supposed friends. And you had to look at Charlie Manson?

KASABIAN: Yes, I did.

KING: Did he look back at you?

KASABIAN: Yes, he did.

KING: Was he angry?


KING: Plenty angry?


KING: What happened to you after that? What have you been doing with your life?

KASABIAN: Trying to live a normal life which has been really hard to do. I raised four children.

KING: Are you living -- you can't tell us where you live, right?

KASABIAN: I prefer not to.

KING: Are you ok, though, now? KASABIAN: Yes, I am.

As of 12 years ago, I have been on a mission of healing and rehabilitation. And I went through a lot of drugs and alcohol and self-destruction and probably could have used some psychological counseling and help 40 years ago but never received it.

KING: How many are in jail?

BUGLIOSI: Well, all of them are still behind bars and I don't believe they should get out at all, of course, obviously. Susan Atkins is a different story, she's near death. One leg has been amputated and the other one is paralyzed. She can't even talk, she's mumbling. So you can't put her in the same category because she's about to die.

KING: Isn't there another one who is completely almost changed?

BUGLIOSI: I think they have all renounced Manson and I don't know whether they're sincere. My belief is that their renunciation of Manson is sincere.

But at that time, they were all killers. This lady here, this young lady was not a killer. I told the jury in my summation, I said, that on a hot summer night on August 8, 1979, Charles Manson sent out from the fires of hell -- that's Spahn Ranch -- three heartless blood thirsty robots and unfortunately for him, one human being, the little hippie girl Linda Kasabian. This girl is different and we owe a lot to her.

KING: Do you still hear the screams?

KASABIAN: If I choose to go there, yes. But I have learned to put it in its proper perspective over the years. And deal was my own feelings of shame and guilt.

KING: You do have guilt?

KASABIAN: Of course, I felt guilty that -- I felt as though I carried the guilt that nobody else had guilt for, at the time.

KING: Thank you both.

KASABIAN: Thank you.

BUGLIOSI: Thank you Larry.

KING: When we come back, Sharon Tate's sister tells us why none of the Manson family should be granted parole.


KING: My entire program tonight has been devoted to that terrible night many years ago and the case of Manson and those horrific murders. We close the show tonight in these remaining moments with Debra Tate, the sister of actress Sharon Tate murdered that terrible night. You were you supposed to be at the house?


KING: What happened?

TATE: Earlier that afternoon, the young man that was supposed to drive me up had been hurt his ankle injured in a Frisbee accident and showed up with two other guys to keep him from limping. And I gave Sharon a courtesy call. I didn't think that that was a proper thing to do; show up with two extra people that she didn't know.

And she agreed that she would rather not have to put on makeup or even clothes. It was such a hot, muggy afternoon. So I canceled.

KING: Where did you hear -- how did you hear about the tragedy?

TATE: My mother's home was -- we had just moved back in from Sausalito and we were home unpacking boxing.

KING: You and your mother.

TATE: Me and my mother, and my boyfriend of the time called my mother and said that he heard on the radio that Sharon had been killed in a fire in Benedict Canyon.

KING: Hmm.

TATE: Yes.

KING: When you found out what really happened, what went through you?

TATE: I didn't think that it could be possible. I got on the phone immediately and started calling fire stations. When that panned out to be untrue, I called police stations. Did everything to track down what had actually happened.

KING: Who finally told you?

TATE: The police department.

KING: It must have rocked you.

TATE: Absolutely.

KING: It's one thing to die is tragedy enough, and to die that way when it's not accidental and horrific.

TATE: I had spent the entire summer at that house in Sharon's absence. I was basically the lady of the house. I had gotten to know everybody, Voytek and Abigail, extremely well. Jay was of course a dear, dear friend; he was like a big brother. I lost my entire support team that evening. KING: And as I told you, I interviewed Sharon about a couple of weeks before this happened. The woman was not only gorgeous -- drop dead gorgeous -- a terrific person and bright.

TATE: Great individual in every way.

KING: Now since then, though, you have stayed dramatically involved in trying to prevent paroles of anybody?

TATE: Absolutely.

KING: In a dramatic moment during the hearing in which Susan Atkins parole was eventually denied, her husband led her through a recitation of the 23rd Psalm.




KING: She is dying, is she not?

TATE: Yes.

KING: So what's wrong with at this point letting her out?

TATE: I lost my mother to brain cancer. Nobody that I know that has brain cancer has managed to survive a year, let alone a year and four months past her last compassionate release plea, which deems that you need to be terminal within three months.

KING: She's not?

TATE: I have my doubts to tell you the truth. I don't know how it's possible that she can continue on this long after.

KING: You have no compassion for her.

TATE: I have all the compassion in the world for her, I wish her very well and always have.

In jail, I hope that they thrive and conserve and provide a useful life to other inmates. But I cannot let them out into society. I will never trust that these people are rehabilitated.

KING: Would you have preferred that they were executed?

TATE: Back in the beginning, I did not believe in the death penalty. Now I do.

KING: Debra Tate is our guest. We'll be right back.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you think of this morning's procedures?

SUSAN ATKINS, MANSON FOLLOWER: I didn't think anything about it.


KING: We're back with Debra Tate. Atkins said she converted to Catholicism while in prison. Do you believe she's changed?

TATE: I've sat across from them as I am from you now.

KING: You appeared at parole hearing.

TATE: Absolutely. And we are this close and I never got one word of remorse. I have never gotten an apology, which is one of the basic factors in a 12-step program which is a requirement that they fulfill.

Larry: You say that she hasn't shown remorse, this is what he said in 1985 at a parole hearing. Watch.


ATKINS: I know the pain and the suffering that I caused Mrs. Tate. I look at myself today and I'm appalled that I could even have been involved with something like that.


KING: Isn't that remorse?

TATE: Not in my opinion. There's no tears.

KING: What was it?

TATE: There's no tears; it's something that people have to do in order to gain the trust the parole board in letting them out.

KING: Were you there for that?

TATE: No I was not there for that.

KING: Do you hate these people. You should.

TATE: Not at all. I don't. I am not capable of hate. I feel bad that their lives have been wasted. But that was a choice that they made and the lifestyle that they lived. This wasn't an isolated killing, an act of passion, this was predatorial killing.

KING: Your sister wasn't target, was she? It could have been any house.

TATE: It could have been any house. It changed the way the world looked at everything that time. When you're not safe in your own home, it's a terrible thing. KING: Back with Debra Tate right after this.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ahead tonight on 360, breaking news out of Georgia. Police have arrested a man in the brutal slaying of 8 people in a mobile home. The man who called 911 who is related to 7 of those people, now under arrest, charged with their murders. How police nabbed him and the latest developments just ahead.

Then the backlash over President Obama's planned speech to school kids next week is growing. The White House calls it silly. Parents though, some are refusing to send their kids to school next Tuesday and school districts now deciding whether to air it or not.

We'll have those stories and much more ahead tonight on 360. Please join us.



TATE: Ms. Atkins very callously denied Sharon the opportunity of life.


KING: We're back with Debra Tate. When you heard about the LaBianca murders the next night, did you (INAUDIBLE)?

TATE: Absolutely, I had my suspicions.

KING: It was too...

TATE: Too coincidental.

KING: Linda Kasabian has been with us earlier in this show and she witnessed the murders but didn't do anything to stop them but was according to Bugliosi, the key witness.

What are your feelings about her?

TATE: As far as I'm concerned Larry, she was an accessory to murder and therefore should hold the same penalty as everybody else.

KING: But the DA says he wasn't sure he could have had a solid iron case without her.

TATE: I think that he should have tried. He may not have been sure but I think that the point could be made without that. I don't think that it's absolutely necessary.

However, I'm not a lawyer and the laws of today are much different than they were in 1969. There could have been a much more severe point to try to make.

KING: Were you at the trial?

TATE: My father wouldn't allow me to go to the trial but I followed it everyday.

KING: Why wouldn't he allow you to go?

TATE: He was having difficulty himself. He was afraid that I would lose my temper. It was hard for him to control himself. I was basically the son my father never had and...

KING: You were the youngest sister.

TATE: No, I'm the middle sister. Sharon and I had an extremely close relationship...

KING: You have another sister.

TATE: There was another sister.

KING: She died?

TATE: She passed from breast cancer in 2000.

KING: You've had it.

TATE: Absolutely, I'm the last of my line.

KING: How close were you with Sharon?

TATE: Extremely close. As military children, you're moved all over the country or the world every three years. So the only consistent thing in each other's lives are your family.

KING: Did you like your brother-in-law?

TATE: I loved my brother-in-law and I still do.

KING: I see. Do you think he will ever come back to this country?

TATE: When I saw him in 2005, I tried to talk him into coming back to this country.

KING: Taking the shot.

TATE: Absolutely, I thought that he has a duty to try to clear up the record. However, the way LADA want to treat it, they would take him back, but they want it publicized. They want it on camera; turn it into a three-ring circus. He has no need to come back here.

KING: Certainly Polanski is one of the great directors.

TATE: Absolutely.

KING: Were they very much in love?

TATE: Very much in love. Roman and Sharon admired each other. He worshipped the ground she walked on. They had a wonderful life together. They balanced each other completely. KING: Yet why wasn't he there that night?

TATE: He was in London finishing up "Day of the Dolphin." She had just gotten back from Italy doing her last film, which was "13 Chairs."

KING: That what I interviewed her about.

TATE: Yes.

KING: What did you think of her career?

TATE: I was very, very proud of her. Sometimes I thought it was a little funny or contrived. I didn't understand all the dynamics. I rehearsed, ran parts with her very often. She said that she thought that I was the better actress in the family.

KING: Back with our remaining moments with Debra Tate, reliving a horror, after this.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What has Mr. Manson learned in the 23, almost 23 years that he has been in prison for these murders? In my estimation, Mr. Manson has learned nothing.


KING: We are back with Debra Tate. Does it bother you that there are movies, documentaries, best-selling books all about this?

TATE: It does. I feel that many people have made a lot of money off of my family's pain and they continue to do so. So many of the things, documentaries or even statements that I myself have made are taken and chopped and taken out of context.

I would love to have the opportunity to tell the entire story in a cohesive manner that is complete and I haven't had the opportunity to do that.

KING: Why don't you write it?

TATE: I have thought about that, Larry. I have actually thought about writing it. There's so much. My mother's advocate work, my father actually to deal with his pain went out into the world, Hollywood world and did his own investigation. There are so many heroes in this family story that have not been explored.

KING: Did you like "Helter Skelter"?

TATE: I never read "Helter Skelter."

KING: Did you see it?

TATE: I did not see it. I will not contaminate my memories with somebody else's version.

KING: Even the DA's?

TATE: Even the DA's.

KING: Ok, in the '93 parole hearing of Susan Atkins, she said your sister asked her to let her baby live and Susan said she didn't have any mercy on her.

TATE: Absolutely.

KING: How far along was...

TATE: The baby would have lived had somebody got there. Sharon was full term. She was going to be giving birth within the next week, week and a half at the most.

KING: What was it?

TATE: It was a boy.

KING: Did she know it was a boy?


KING: Or they didn't know that...

TATE: No, not back then they didn't know.

KING: What are your feelings about Manson?

TATE: I think that Charlie has a unique gift and that is to recognize and band together sociopaths. There were many members of the Manson family that weren't willing to go out on these rages and commit violent acts or crimes. He had the propensity to recognize them and band them together.

KING: Why do you think he wanted to do it though? What was his kick? He didn't kill anyone.

TATE: He did not kill anyone, actually, but -- that we know of in this particular case.

KING: Well, what do you think was his kick in sending other people out to kill people?

TATE: I think that it made him feel like a big man to be able to have that kind of influence on people. And I also think that he was very bitter at society. He had been in and out of the system most of his life. He was a dysfunctional individual.

KING: Did you ever talk to him?

TATE: I did talk to him -- well, I saw him. I did not speak to him. He did not speak to me, I had...

KING: Where did you see him?

TATE: In the county jail before he was convicted. I had myself taken in and we sat across from each other like this and neither one of us had anything to say.

KING: What went through you?

TATE: I wanted to look into his eyes and see what I saw. I wanted to see if I felt that he was guilty. And it was like looking into the eyes of a shark, dark, empty eyes.

KING: Would it take anything to have you say let someone out?

TATE: Yes. I am capable of saying let someone out if I see all the right signs.

KING: So far you haven't?

TATE: No, I have not.

KING: Thank you, Debra. And 40 years later, our condolences.

TATE: Thank you so much, Larry.

KING: She was a great girl.

TATE: Thank you.

KING: Debra Tate and the saga -- if it can be called that -- of the Mansons.

Ac 360 is next. Good night.