Monday, January 7, 2019

Sadie's Road Trip

In the late August of 1966 Susan Atkins and two young men embarked upon a road trip that led them from San Francisco to Stayton, Oregon a small town east of Salem, Oregon. This would prove to be her first foray into serious crime. 

In her first book, Child of Satan, Child of God,Atkins refers to her two partners as “Al” and “Cliff” but contemporary records identify the two as Gust Albert Sund Jr., age 24 and Clinton Talioferro also age 24. Atkins was 18 years old at the time. 

Meeting “Al” and “Cliff”

Atkins describes her initial meeting with Al and Cliff. 

“It was the night shift. The boss was upset about something, but at first I didn’t pay much attention. Then I understood what was bothering him. “If those guys don’t clear out of the back alley in five minutes, I’m calling the cops,” he said through clinched teeth. 

“What’s going on, Max?” I asked. 

“I don’t know except those guys are laughing and talking out there, and they’re up to no good; I can see that.”  

“What are they doing?” I persisted. 

“I can’t tell for sure. They just seem to be drinking beer and shooting the breeze.” 

When Max wasn’t looking I opened the door to the alley and stuck my head out. There were four guys—men—just outside the door. “Hey, you guys,” I whispered as loudly as I dared. “You’d better get going. My boss is going to call the heat on you.

I went back into the coffee shop. Things were slow.”

It was near noon when he stopped. Al turned to me abruptly and said point blank, “I’m going up to Oregon to take care of some things that have to be done, and I’d like for you to come along with me. I want you as part of my life. And when things get straightened out, and we can settle down, I’d like you to be my wife.”

(Slosser, Bob. Child of Satan, Child of God(p. 49-52). Menelorelin Dorenay’s Publishing. Kindle Edition.)

Like most of her reporting this description is not entirely accurate. Atkins’ reporting of the events surrounding her first run in with the law is generally inaccurate and downplays her actual role in any criminal activity. She also omits from her narrative completely the only piece of this minor crime spree that would later come back to haunt her. The part that suggested her willingness or eagerness to kill. 

Looked at another way, Atkins’ report of her road trip is sort of a microcosm of her reporting in general: (1.) a charismatic male leads her astray (2.) she is present when crimes are committed but doesn’t directly participate (3.) it is filled with lies. Oh, and she even brags about her willingness to commit murder along the way, although this time to the wrong person. Wait, strike that last clause, it was the wrong person(s) later, too.  

In Lloyd Shearer’s The Manson Family Murders, Atkins is more accurately described as working, not at a coffee shop, but at a 24 hour burger joint. Since Shearer obtained his information from Atkins I guess she knew in 1970 (versus 1978) where she was working at the time. That restaurant is said to be Burke’s Restaurant at the corner of Market Street and 14thStreet in San Francisco. 

“In San Francisco she got a job hashing in Burke’s Restaurant on 14thand Market Street. It was there that she met a pair of ex-convicts, Al Sund, Jr. and Clinton Talioferro, both of whom had freshly stolen a new Buick Riviera from a San Leandro parking lot.”

(Shearer, Lloyd, The Manson Family Murders, in The Fresno Bee Republican, Sunday January 11, 1970)

[Aside: she also correctly called “Cliff”, “Clinton” in 1970, but never would, again.]

The actual name of the restaurant was Burke’s (Big Hamburger) Drive In. It was located at 2100 Market Street in San Francisco which was, indeed, at the three-way intersection of Market Street, 14thStreet and Church Streets. 

Corner of Market, 14th and Church 1966

Polk's 1966 Directory
According to Polk’s Directory for San Francisco Burke’s opened in 1955. It is listed as Burke’s Truck Stop in 1975 and disappears from the directories in 1976. 


Off to Oregon

On August 24, 1966 Talioferro (and perhaps Sund) stole a 1966 Buick Riviera off the lot of Western States Leasing Company in Hayward, California. Interestingly, while Atkins in the Shearer piece, above, denies knowing the car was stolen she also acknowledges meeting Sund and Talioferro in “early August 1966”.  I find it a little suspect that she would know about a planned road trip to Oregon and not know how they planned to get there. 

Atkins joined the two and they headed for Lake Tahoe, not Oregon. 

Atkins claims she went along on the road trip because she had fallen in love with Sund. 

“I changed clothes and away we went. At his place I was surprised to find six men living together in one large room. They seemed rough, but they were certainly polite enough to me, and they seemed to hold Al in especially high regard. They made me uneasy, but that all vanished as we roared off on his bike.
I had faith in Al. I knew he could take care of me. He was big, beautiful—and mysterious. I was in love with him and with the mystery of him. Even if he wasn’t precise about what was ahead, I still trusted him.”
I began to piece together the immediate plans. Way back behind my suitcases in the trunk was a high-powered rifle. It would serve to get more guns, which would open the way for a big heist. “Then,” Al said over and over, “we’ll have enough money to get married, buy a home in Oregon, and go straight.” 

My faith in him was so great that I believed him. 

In three or four days, we abandoned the Buick, guessing that an alarm for it was out by then. Using money stolen late at night from a gas station, we acquired what seemed to be the perfect car for us, a well worn, nondescript Rambler sedan, just right for young people doing some camping in the beautiful Oregon countryside.

Equipment was easy to steal from the local stores, and we had everything we needed for camping in the woods near a river. Our chosen site was actually property owned by relatives of Clifton.

(Slosser, Bob. Child of Satan, Child of God(p. 51-53). Menelorelin Dorenay’s Publishing. Kindle Edition.)

“I didn’t want to leave Al. I was in love with him. I just decided to stay with him and go where he went…..I didn’t realize they were stealing the car until after we were in Oregon.”

(Shearer, Lloyd, The Manson Family Murders, in The Fresno Bee Republican, Sunday January 11, 1970)

There is a similarity between her sudden intense feelings for Sund and decision to join that ex con after talking to him once and her first encounter with another ex con, Charles Manson. Both appear to have wooed her into blindly following them in a very short time. In Sund’s case, if Atkins is to believed, it was a matter of hours. 

Atkins claims that the original plan was to head for Lake Tahoe but somewhere along the way they decided instead to head to Oregon. 

When the trio reached Salem, Oregon they decided to ditch the Riviera. According to Atkins’ accounts they purchased a 1957 AMC Rambler for $65 as a replacement after burglarizing a gas station. A newspaper article regarding their arrest says that the Buick was recovered by the police near Keizer, Oregon, which is just north of Salem. 

Capital Journal Tuesday, September 13, 1966

There may be some corroboration of Atkins in a small article about a burglary near Keizer shortly before their arrest. 

Statesman Journal September 5, 1966
Atkins mentions robbing a gas station and this burglary is near where the Buick was ditched in Keizer. The burglars also netted enough cash, according to the story, to make the Rambler purchase plausible. 

For some reason, the three determined that their best course of action was to head east from Salem along state route 22. Somewhere a couple of miles east of Stayton, Oregon they camped along the Santiam River. The image, below is what the area looks like today. It probably was not vastly different in 1966. It was and is rural farmland backing to the edge of forest wilderness. 

Atkins claims they chose the location because they were camping on Talioferro’s cousin’s property. I was not able to locate a “Talioferro” anywhere in or around Stayton but then again there is no reason his cousin would share his last name. Atkins says they stole what they needed from local stores and private citizens. Newspaper accounts confirm her story at least to the point of confirming the camp consisted of stolen goods and several reported burglaries in the area. 

The Police Close In

Around September 10, 1966 the battery of the Rambler gave out. In her book, Atkins claims that the plan was to hitch a ride with Talioferro’s cousin into town to buy a new battery. 

“Let’s go up to your cousin’s and see if he’ll drive us into town to get a new one,” replied Al calmly. 

“It’s worth a try,” said Cliff, “but don’t be surprised if he says no. I’m not his favorite cousin, you know.” Cliff smiled, evilly, I thought. 

We were camped more than half a mile from the cousin’s mobile home. As we approached it, we saw two Highway Patrol cars in the driveway.

(Slosser, Bob. Child of Satan, Child of God(pp. 53-54). Menelorelin Dorenay’s Publishing. Kindle Edition.)

Atkins’ tale is inaccurate. Instead, the three stole a battery from Philippi Ford in Stayton. This event is what actually triggered the hunt for the three by the police. 

Apparently, a battery wasn’t the problem with the Rambler as they abandoned it somewhere in the vicinity and took off on foot. 

Atkins claimed to Shearer that the reason they were caught was because “Clinton told everybody about the stolen car, the guns and shot his mouth off.” This story also seems a bit problematic as it is difficult to imagine who Talioferro could have bragged to, being only the three of them around. It is possible that if the three were camping on Taliaferro’s cousin’s property that cousin may have been the one who heard the tale and it is also possible that he called the cops. 

Here is what happened. The police somehow got wind of the fact the three were camping near the Santiam River, possibly near at about the location in this image, below, which is the right distance from Stayton and reasonably accessible. 

As the police closed in on the place on the evening of September 11, 1966 one of the three saw the cops and they fled, leaving behind their stolen camping gear. The police staked out the campsite overnight but the trio didn't return and instead headed east, moving slowly in the dark. 

[Aside: Atkins claims helicopters with searchlights were involved in the hunt. They were not.]

The Arrest

At about 7:05 p.m. on the evening of September 12, 1966 Corporal Thomas Drynan of the Oregon State Police accompanied by an unidentified civilian was returning from a week-long horseback patrol through the wilderness northeast of Stayton. As Drynan would later testify, in Oregon the function of ‘Game Warden’ is performed by the state police. Drynan was out looking for poachers and, based on other newspaper articles from around the time where he is mentioned, he was also likely looking for individuals who would periodically steal small equipment and tools from logging camps in the region. He was heading back to Mill City where his office was located. Mill City is about 30 miles east of Salem, Oregon. 

Drynan was in civilian dress, wearing his badge and driving a four-wheel drive pick-up truck marked ‘Oregon State Police’ on both doors. He was hauling a horse trailer containing two horses. He turned onto Highway 22 from a gravel road at about the time he received a radio call about three suspects wanted on a warrant for receiving stolen property, who had earlier run from officers in the area: two men and a women. One man was wearing an Air Corps flight jacket.

A few moments later he spied Atkins, Sund and Talioferro walking east on Highway 22 in the west bound lane, the same direction he was traveling. One of the men was wearing an Air Corps flight jacket. Drynan stopped and called the three over to his truck and asked for identification. 

Drynan’s testimony actually creates a geographic impossibility. He testified where the arrest occurred. 

“It [the arrest] took place 20 miles east of the town of Stayton, about two miles east of Salem.” 

Stayton is about 17 miles east of Salem so he likely meant 20 miles east of Salem and two miles east of Stayton, which would place the arrest in this vicinity a couple of miles east of the possible campsite and close to Mehama, which is just out of the image to the right. 

Here is how Atkins described the arrest.

“Ten or fifteen minutes passed. Then we heard a car coming. Cliff and I both looked at Al. He kept walking. It was a Highway Patrol van. The next thing I knew I was lying face down on the concrete highway, with a booted foot pressed into the small of my back. A shotgun was aimed at my head. “Don’t make one false move or you’re dead,” said a voice above me. We were searched head to foot, then handcuffed behind our backs. With my head resting on the pavement, I looked solemnly at Al. I could feel a tear running across my nose. 

One of the two patrolmen spoke enthusiastically to the other. “It’s a good thing we got that alert down the road there. We might never have spotted them.” 

Just three miles up the road, they had received a radio description of two men and a woman, armed and dangerous, wanted on suspicion of robbery and parole violation. 

Al managed a smile at me. “We almost made it, kiddo.”

(Slosser, Bob. Child of Satan, Child of God(p. 55-56). Menelorelin Dorenay’s Publishing. Kindle Edition.)

Here is how Drynan described the arrest during his testimony. For chronological purposes I have placed Bugliosi’s direct examination after Shinn’s cross examination. 

A (on cross examination): They were walking down the opposite lane of traffic I was in with their backs to me. I drove up to the side of them in my own lane of traffic.”
A: I called them and asked them to come over to the vehicle. I wanted to talk to them.
A: Well, after I talked to them and got identification from them, yes [I got out of the pick-up].
Q (Shinn): So, after you got the ID, what happened after that? 
A: I ran a check on them with my office by radio.
Q: Yes, when did you get out of the vehicle?
A: As soon as I received information from Salem that they were wanted. 
Q: When you say ‘they were wanted’ how did you know they were wanted? 
A: Because they were all three identified by name.
Q: Did you draw your gun at that time? 
A: I did. 
A: I made them lay down on the ground. 
Q: And then while you were arresting her she was quiet, was she not, scared and crying?
A: No.
Q: At any time while you were questioning Miss Atkins on the road you never—she never pulled that gun on you, did she? 
A: She had it pointed at me.
A: In her pocket.
A: She had her hands in her pockets and she had something pointed in my direction and that was the only thing in her pocket.
Q: Did you at any time point your rifle at her neck?
A: Myself? No, sir.
Q: How about your partner or your friend?
A: He could very well have.
Q: Were you there when he pointed the rifle at her head, made her cry? 
A: She did not cry at any point in time. 
Q: She was scared of you, was she not?
A: No.
Q: Did she look worried and scared? 
A: It did not appear to me that way, no. 
Q (Bugliosi): Did you search Susan Atkins?
A: Yes, I did.
Q: Did you find any weapon on her person? 
A: Yes, I did.
Q: What type of weapon? 
A: A .25 caliber Germain-made automatic pistol. 
Q: Was the weapon loaded? 
A: It was. 
Q: How many rounds? 
A: It had six rounds with one in the chamber. 
Q: In route to Salem, Oregon, did Miss Atkins make any statement to you with respect to what she intended to do with that gun? 
A: Yes, she did. 
Q: What did she say? 
A: I asked Miss Atkins what she intended to do with the gun and she told me that if she had the opportunity, she would have shot and killed me. 

Atkins leaves a couple of important details out of her version like the fact she had a loaded gun (with one in the chamber) and the fact she pointed the gun at Drynan inside her pocket and the, later, critical piece of evidence that she told Drynan after being read her rights that she would have shot and killed him if he had not acted first. 

Drynan’s description of the arrest does call into question Atkins’ stated intention. She had plenty of time while he was checking ID’s and talking on the radio to shoot Drynan if she had really thought about doing so. Her statement to Drynan is likely the same type of bragging that would get her into serious trouble in a couple years.

Bugliosi used Drynan’s testimony in the penalty phase of the trial in an attempt to show the jury that Atkins had been eager to murder in cold blood back in 1966. Drynan had called Bugliosi in early December 1969 after someone in his office directed him to do so after Atkins’ name appeared in the press. Bugliosi later asked him to testify. I question how much of an impact Drynan’s testimony had. While the press made it a headline, given what the jury had already heard, this event is pretty tame by comparison. 

A few weeks later Atkins pleaded guilty to receiving and concealing stolen property. She received a six, month suspended sentence and two years’ probation. 
Statesman Journal September 27, 1966

Statesman Journal September 30, 1966

Albert Sund also pleaded guilty to receiving and concealing stolen property and also being an ex-convict in possession of a concealed weapon. He received two years in an Oregon penitentiary on each charge to be served concurrently. 

When he was released on January 31, 1968 after serving 16 months he was immediately arrested on charges stemming from a gas station robbery in 1966. However, you will note that the charges relate to a hold up, one that occurred at the Freeway Shell Service Station north of Albany, Oregon. Albany is south of Salem. 

Statesman Journal January 31, 1968
Albany Democratic Herald February 21, 1968
These charges were eventually dismissed by the DA because he could not locate a witness. Given the description of the robber, the fact he was alone and the fact he had stolen a car in Portland and was thus heading south towards California (the wrong way), the DA probably had the wrong robbery and Sund actually avoided being wrongly convicted of that crime. 

Statesman Journal September 4, 1966

Talioferro also pleaded guilty to receiving and concealing stolen property. He did not plead to the weapons charge, which is odd. He received a sentence of six months in the county jail but he was handed over to Federal authorities for transporting the stolen Buick across state lines. I was unable to find any record regarding the outcome of those charges. 

Some things have always baffled me about this case: how did the police/DA in Oregon know the three had stolen the abandoned Buick? How, as Drynan testified, did they police have their names before their arrest? And why wasn’t either Sund or Atkins pursued on the federal crime? Atkins’ parole hearings suggest she was charged but not prosecuted. 

It is possible, as Atkins claims, that Talioferro shot his mouth off to his ‘cousin’ who turned them all in. In fact, that almost seems to be the only answer to the first two questions. But that third question still baffles me. Why didn’t the feds go after all three?

It is possible that Talioferro actually rented the car and didn’t return it. Atkins claims the two told her the car was rented. That would place Talioferro on the ‘stupid crook’ list, like the guy who wrote the demand note on the back of a personal check when robbing a bank. It is also possible both Atkins and Sund made a deal and threw the third musketeer under the bus. 

Corporal Drynan went on to have a long and successful career with the Oregon Highway Patrol. He was promoted to Sergeant in 1972, Lieutenant in the mid-seventies and Captain in 1984. He was instrumental in establishing an official ski patrol in the Santiam Pass region in Oregon in 1977. He retired sometime before 1989 when he makes his last appearance in the press, now as an advocate of logging. 

“Tom Drynan, a retired Oregon State Police officer*****held up pictures of people he said were local leaders of Earth First! A group which has been involved in tree sitting, blocking roads and other protests at logging sites. 

He urged those present to pick up the pictures of the Earth First! leaders on their way out and carry them in their pickups, then report their license numbers and activities if they see them in the woods. 

Drynan also held up a Dr. Seuss book about environmental destruction and suggested it should be taken off local bookshelves.”

(Lothian, Bob, S. Home Rally Draws Crowd Backing Timber, Albany Democrat-Herald, Thursday, May 18, 1989)

Clinton Talioferro disappears from history after his brief encounter with Atkins. At least I could find no record of him.

All I was able to locate regarding Gust Albert Sund, Jr. was two marriages, One in the mid seventies and this one, which is at least a little spooky. 

Atkins’ Testimony

During the death penalty phase of the trial Atkins testified about her road trip. She testified that she went along with “Al” because she was in love with him and also acknowledges the gas station burglary. However, perhaps preparing for future parole hearings, she also claimed that Talioferro (whom she calls “Cliff”) threatened to kill her if she left the three at one point. Atkins also testified that the reason she had a gun was to defend herself from snakes. 

Atkins also discussed her road trip at her 1979 parole hearing. She, again reiterated that she had joined “Al” and “Cliff” because of her love for Al and also restated her claim that Talioferro had threatened to shoot her in the back if she tried to leave. 

To the best of my knowledge this is also the only time Atkins admitted threatening Drynan, stating that she said to the officer: “I should have killed you”.

Relying on one of her classic excuses Atkins claimed she said it to show how tough she was. That may be true and helped her as much as the second time she tried being a 'tough guy'. 

She also claimed the gun was tucked into the waist of her shorts. This was likely to refute the fact she actually pointed the gun at Drynan in her coat pocket. 

I have included a short article from the Albany Democratic-Herald from December 12, 1969, below. Notice how the facts of Atkins’ previous arrest were altered and are more in keeping with the whole ‘hippy cult’ concept. 

Albany Democratic-Herald, December 12, 1969

I find it ironic that one of the least credible witnesses to the events surrounding these crimes would have the story of her Oregon arrest reported using a series of inaccurate statements. The only thing they got right was the date of the arrest.

Pax Vobiscum



Doug said...

Born 1942
24 in 1966

Slight alteration in spelling - BINGO

Robert C said...

Nice research and write-up, David. All a little confusing (not your presentation, just the varied testimony).

Do you have a pic of Sund and Talioferro ?

Robert C said...

Doug Smith presented: ""

And if you pan down this link you'll find two other Clinton Taliaferro's cited as born circa 1943 and being married to two different other women although the first above married 1973 and divorced 1980 fits in with the other two (married in '67 and later '82). All potentially the same person.

Torque said...

Excellent work here, thanks. This trip helps put the life of Susan into perspective, about three years later, during the murders of the summer of '69. If it's true that she ran away from home at age 16, she would have had a couple of years' time to incubate the mindset of a criminal.It's sad, really. The brain and personality are thought to still be developing at such a young age, and a life of crime and drugs at that age does not afford the teenager a bright future.

Susan's talk about the pistol, and what she would have done with it, are telling. I immediately think of her blabbing in jail about her stabbing Sharon. Was that just posturing as self protection while in jail? I know the possibility of Sharon being stabbed by Susan(as well as by Tex)has been discussed by many at length. Susan did say in at least one parole hearing that the forensic evidence states only one knife was used on Sharon, and that it was Tex who stabbed her. I know that Susan has come to be known as a liar, but does anyone have any other idea of how Susan could have stabbed Sharon? Did Tex stab Sharon first, then possibly pass the knife to Susan, and tell her to "do something"?

Peter said...

In the 1980s I worked at Sparky's, a 24-hour diner located at 242 Church Street right around the corner from where Burke's would have been.

David said...

Peter said: "In the 1980s I worked at Sparky's, a 24-hour diner located at 242 Church Street right around the corner from where Burke's would have been."

Now that is just cool.

Torque said: "Did Tex stab Sharon first, then possibly pass the knife to Susan, and tell her to "do something"?"

Well, at least 'do something' was not necessary. Atkins had already stabbed Frykowski multiple times in the leg and in the back and had inflicted 'potentially fatal' wounds on Frykowski. I would add that while the forensics agrees with this it is not conclusive as to Sharon. But in order for Atkins or anyone else to have inflicted wounds on Sharon in addition to Watson it likely had to be with 'not Atkins' knife'.

Milly James said...

Just to say that I'm astonished at the extent of research put in by posters here. Thank you.

brownrice said...

Great and interesting post, David.

That Tom Drynan was a piece of work... the Bull Conner of the Oregon Earth First movement :-) Wanting to ban the goddam Lorax! Sheesh... I mean, why stop there? That Cat in the Hat's obviously nothing but a recidivist scumbag trouble-maker with acute personality disorder... a seriously BAD role model. As for Thing 1 & Thing 2... well, don't even get me started...

Speculator said...

Apologies in advance, but I find that some posters on here are too eager to offer excuses and almost sympathise with the murdering pieces of s**t like Atkins, Beausoleil and the rest. So what if she started off down the wrong road in life at 16 - that was her choice and she clearly thrived in the company that she selected. I find it poetic justice that she met her own end as she did in prison and that the likes of Beausoleil and Van Houten suffer the torment of parole recommended then declined. Small price to pay for the evil that they all participated in. And I don't give two hoots that the "average" killer would've been out years ago. Sorry if that sounds hard but I'd take the feelings of the victims families every time ahead of these scum. And poetic justice might yet extent to Watson - there's still plenty of time for him to end up like Whitey Bulger and not even see it coming. if he does I just hope they make it painful.

AustinAnn74 said...

Thank you, Speculator! Well said!!

ColScott said...

Speculator- Roid Rage is a real thing please get some Prep H.


The O'Neill book is REAL. I am getting the first 80 pages- apparently they are all about how BUG persecuted him and stopped his book for years. Boo hoo. Can't wait.

starviego said...

"There is a similarity between her sudden intense feelings for Sund and decision to join that ex con after talking to him once and her first encounter with another ex con, Charles Manson. Both appear to have wooed her into blindly following them in a very short time."

There's a price to being attracted to the bad boys. You'd think she would have learned the first time around.

StarRider said...

Great post, thanks for the obvious amount of effort involved.

grimtraveller said...

Pax Vobiscum said...

There is a similarity between her sudden intense feelings for Sund and decision to join that ex con after talking to him once and her first encounter with another ex con, Charles Manson. Both appear to have wooed her into blindly following them in a very short time. In Sund’s case, if Atkins is to believed, it was a matter of hours

Interestingly, on 2 levels this is not particularly unusual though it's certainly striking.
Firstly, by 1966 there was an interesting wanderlust that was beginning to make itself felt among America's young. It had its roots elsewhere {hobos, frontiers and the Beats, for example}, in life long before any of the future Family members came of age, but it was gathering ground by '66. It reached its apogee in '67/'68 but it was certainly moving along well before that. All kinds of groups were just upping and travelling the country "just like that" under all kinds of pretexts, be it lurve or the need to break out. It's interesting comparing Susan's movements with those of Bobby and Bruce in the same period. They were breathing very similar air.
On the other level, there is most of the people that ended up moving with and in the Family. Time after time after time we see this, whether it be Pat or Squeaky or Brenda or Snake or others, people who just chucked it in and went off with Charlie. When David Smith observed that "there are a lot of Charlie's running around, believe me..." I wonder if part of what he had in mind was something like this.
In hindsight, it's easy to say this but Susan Atkins' behaviour with these two guys, followed by her experience in the way she went with Charlie adds up to one thing ~ a pattern. Of course, it needs a backward look to see that because it wasn't apparent at the time.
We might be a little more pro-active if it was occurring now.

starviego said...

There's a price to being attracted to the bad boys. You'd think she would have learned the first time around

Not really, not at 19. There's not that many 19 year olds that honestly possess that kind of depth of knowledge of themselves and their actions and what they might mean or that far sightedness of their possible future to put it all into such neat, direction changing conclusions, especially when it is quite clear that Susan didn't see her time with Al and Cliff in terms of being wrong, or indeed, what they were doing. And it's not clear that Charlie was actively on the wrong side of the law when they met. It was the thing at the time to be challenging some of the norms and values of American society and let's face it, around the time of and after her Mum died, what were Atkins' experiences largely composed of ? Sexual abuse at the hands of her own brother and his mates, an alcoholic Dad that just upped and left, relatives that couldn't take her in. If she was attracted to the darker sides of town, that attraction didn't arrive in a vacuum.

grimtraveller said...

Speculator said...

Apologies in advance

Exactly which part are you apologizing for ?

I find that some posters on here are too eager to offer excuses and almost sympathise with the murdering pieces of s**t like Atkins, Beausoleil and the rest

Can you give examples of where anyone has made actual excuses for any one of the murderers ? Granted, sometimes people say "Leslie only stabbed a dead body" {easily demonstrably untrue} or "the girls were clearly brainwashed/mentally ill/out of their heads on drugs" but are these excuses or factors taken into account ?
Also, sympathizing with people that have committed murder, so what ? You can sympathize with someone being really ill, hearing that their Mum, Dad, brother or whatever has died and they can't go the funeral, or that they are being violently abused in prison. You can even sympathize with them getting a parole recommendation and then the Guv'nor blocking it. Doesn't mean that by doing that you are saying that everything they did is automatically wiped away or that they should be out of prison.
I can't see that there is an automatic conflict in sympathizing with someone that is a murderer's plight {whatever that plight may be} and the belief that they should remain exactly where they are and serve their sentence.

So what if she started off down the wrong road in life at 16 - that was her choice and she clearly thrived in the company that she selected

Yes, that was her choice and yes, she thrived in such company but get real. She was 16. You ought to acquaint yourself with some of the things that had happened to her by the age of 16.
When we make simplistic statements about the choices people make, I think we ought to be cognisant of exactly what makes up both sides of the equation from which a choice has to be made. Otherwise, we are just expelling air.

I find it poetic justice that she met her own end as she did in prison

Poetic justice that someone given a death sentence that was commuted to life should die in prison ? Or poetic justice because she was so ill she was barely compos mentis ? Or poetic justice that.....she died ?
Well here's a shocker ~ it's the fate that awaits us all and not all of us are going to be with people that love us when we go, like she was.
I don't think she got brain cancer because she was Susan Atkins.

I'd take the feelings of the victims families every time ahead of these scum

It's a rather dangerous position to blindly follow the feelings of a member of a victim's family because you can sometimes put them in a position that doesn't allow them to grow, change their mind, forgive, move on. Doris Tate did that with Suzan LaBerge, Rosemary LaBianca's daughter, when Suzan forgave Charles Watson for what he'd done. I've been fascinated that no one ever comes out to respect what LaBerge did. Instead, one constantly hears about what an idiot she was, what a nutjob she was, how she and Tex were obviously in on her Mum's murder from the start etc.
But the reality is that murderers do get paroled and I don't think the deciding arbiter on that can be the feelings of the victim's family. But, per the law, everyone in the matter has feelings that need to be taken into account.

And poetic justice might yet extent to Watson - there's still plenty of time for him to end up like Whitey Bulger and not even see it coming. if he does I just hope they make it painful

Whitey Bulger didn't end up unidentifiable because of who he killed, but because of whom he snitched on.
Where Watson is concerned, are you honestly saying that justice has not been served ? He did not get away with his crimes. He was nabbed within 4 months and has never walked the streets since.

Sorry if that sounds hard

Only on the first couple of readings does it sound hard. After that, it sounds closed minded.

grimtraveller said...

Torque said...

Susan's talk about the pistol, and what she would have done with it, are telling. I immediately think of her blabbing in jail about her stabbing Sharon. Was that just posturing as self protection while in jail?

Susan stated at some point that it was Charlie that had said to her that if she was ever in jail, she had to act tough. It's this that could begin to crack Susan's stance of jailhouse posturing because she'd spent quite a slice of time in jail before she'd met Charlie and she spent a while in jail up in Mendocino in '68. If what are contained in the Mendocino records are correct, she'd spent around 5 months in jail {factoring in the Oregon affair} before even the Spahn and Barker raids. So she well and knew how to act in jail.
Now, I would not instantly dismiss what she said about trying to big herself up to Virginia and Ronnie ~ one of whom's first impression was that she was trying to do just that ~ {later she said one of them was hitting on her so she was trying to scare her off} but when balanced against her telling her friend Nancy Jordan that she stabbed Sharon {this came out during Robert Hendrickson's filming of her} and Nancy was not hitting on her, neither was she some heavy jail mama, then one has to wonder. Not only that, when Sergeants Whiteley and Guenther first spoke to Susan Atkins, she confessed to her involvement and Bobby's involvement in the Hinman murder but wouldn't repeat it when they asked her if she'd put what she said on tape.
What's my point ? Well, just that all along the watchtower, Susan Atkins' actions are at very best suspect but rarely does it ever come across either from her or in corroboration from someone else that she absolutely did not do the things that she is alleged to have done. Except from Tex in regard to stabbing Sharon.
The other thing that makes me wonder about whether or not Susan was posturing for self protection in jail is not so much that she was known as 'Crazy Sadie' but why. All the dancing and laughter and drawing attention to herself.
Anonymous indeed !

G. Greene-Whyte said...

Excellent post. Thank you.

Chris Hannel said...

You guys are too hard on Sadie. Let Her live free, She hasn't done anything to you guys.

Matt said...

You know she's dead, right?