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09/24/2010

One year ago: Susan Atkins

September 24, 2010 |  6:00 am

Susan-atkins Susan Atkins, a follower of the infamous Charles Manson, was involved in one of history's most shocking crimes and was California's longest-serving female inmate. She died one year ago after serving 38 years of a life sentence she began in 1971.

Atkins was convicted of slaying eight people, seven of whom were killed on a two-night rampage in the Hollywood Hills by Atkins and her fellow Manson followers in 1969. The other victim was murdered by Atkins in a dispute over money shortly before the other killings.

Among the victims were actress Sharon Tate -- the pregnant wife of director Roman Polanski -- who was stabbed 16 times and hanged (the nearly full-term fetus died with her), Hollywood hairstylist Jay Sebring and coffee heiress Abigail Folger.

"She was the scariest of the Manson girls," said Stephen Kay, a former Los Angeles County deputy district attorney who helped prosecute the case and argued against Atkins' release at her parole hearings. "She was very violent."

In June 2008, while she was suffering from brain cancer, Atkins appealed to prison and parole officials for compassionate release, but the state parole board denied the request. A year later, on Sept. 2, she was wheeled into another parole hearing on a hospital gurney, but was turned down for the final time.

For more on her life, killings and how she got caught up with Manson, read Susan Atkins' obituary by The Times. Also, see a photo gallery of her life in the public eye after the murders.

--Michael Farr

Photo: Susan Atkins in 1969. Credit: Associated Press

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