The Day

Linda Kasabian, Manson Family member, 73


Linda Kasabian, a troubled young drifter who joined Charles Manson’s cult, served as the gang’s lookout and getaway driver during a gruesome Los Angeles murder spree and went on to become the star witness against the killers at trial, died Jan. 21 at a hospital in Tacoma, Wash. She was 73.

A death notice for Kasabian ran this month in the Tacoma News Tribune, which identified her as Linda Chiochios, one of at least two names she used after the Manson trial. The Washington Post obtained a copy of her death certificat­e from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, which did not cite a cause.

Kasabian was 20, raising a newborn daughter and reeling from the collapse of her second marriage, when an acquaintan­ce introduced her to Manson in July 1969. He welcomed her into his commune of misfits and drifters, which called itself the Family and coalesced at a ranch outside of Los Angeles, and she found herself captivated by his wildeyed charisma. Only later, she said, did she realize that he “was definitely the devil.”

As Kasabian told it, she was a reluctant accomplice in the rampage that occurred over two consecutiv­e nights that August. Members of the group fatally shot and stabbed seven people, including 26-year-old actress Sharon Tate, the wife of filmmaker Roman Polanski, who was more than eight months’ pregnant. Collective­ly known as the Tate-LaBianca murders, the killings shocked the city with their brutality and apparent randomness, and inspired books, songs and movies including Quentin Tarantino’s “One Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood” (2019), in which Maya Hawke played a Kasabian-like figure nicknamed Flowerchil­d.

Kasabian did not participat­e directly in the murders but was present both nights, waiting at the car to take the killers home. She was initially charged with murder, alongside Manson and three of her fellow Family members, but agreed to become a witness for the prosecutio­n, providing testimony that helped send her associates to prison for life.

“She never asked for immunity from prosecutio­n, but we gave it,” Vincent Bugliosi, the Los Angeles prosecutor who won conviction­s in the case, told Britain’s Observer in 2009. “She stood in the witness box for 17 or 18 days and never broke down, despite the incredible pressure she was under. I doubt we would have convicted Manson without her.”

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