Profile of Ex-Manson Family Member Linda Kasabian

Linda Kasabian Press Conference

Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images 

Charles Manson made a poor call when he picked Linda Kasabian to join the group of killers who set out to kill everyone inside the homes of actress Sharon Tate and Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Kasabian was there but stood in horror as the screams of the victims broke the night's silence. She managed to escape from the Manson family and later turned state's evidence during the Tate and LaBianca murder trials. It was her eye-witness testimony that sealed the convictions of those responsible for the brutal murders.

The Early Days

Linda Kasabian was born on June 21, 1949, in Biddeford, Maine. At age 16, she quit school, left home and headed out west in search for the meaning of life. While on the road, she lived in various hippie communes where she engaged in casual sex and drugs. By the age of 20, she was a two-time divorcee and had given birth to a baby girl. On July 4, 1969, pregnant with her second child, she visited Spahn Ranch and immediately joined Charles Manson and the Manson family.

Helter Skelter

On August 8, 1969, Kasabian, who had only been with the Manson family for four weeks, was selected by Manson to drive family members Tex Watson, Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel to 10050 Cielo Drive. The assignment for the night was to murder everyone inside the home. Manson believed that the massacre would kick start an apocalyptic race war that he had predicted and named Helter Skelter.

It was the address of actor Sharon Tate and her husband, film director Roman Polanski. The couple was renting the house and Sharon Tate, who was eight and a half months pregnant, invited Hollywood hairstylist, Jay Sebring, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, and Polish actor Wojciech Frykowski, to stay as house guests while Polanski was away in London.

10050 Cielo Drive had previously been the home of record producer Terry Melcher, who Manson had tried to get a record contract with, but the deal never materialized. Angry that Melcher was putting him off, Manson when to his home to confront him, but Melcher had moved away and Manson was asked to leave the premises. Angry and rejected, the address became symbolic of all that Manson hated about the establishment.


When the Manson family members arrived at the Tate home, Kasabian watched as the group's first victim, 18-year-old Steven Parent, was shot to death by Tex Watson. Parent had just graduated from high school and was trying to raise money for college. He was hoping to sell his radio to his friend William Garretson, who was the caretaker of the Tate home. After visiting with Garretson, he was on his way home and was driving up to the electric gates to leave the Tate home, just as the Manson group arrived. Watson knifed and shot him three times, killing him.

Kasabian later stood watch outside the Tate home and heard screams coming from inside. She watched in shock as some of the victims came running outside the home, soaked in blood and screaming for help, only to be caught and butchered on the front lawn by Tex Watson and Susan Atkins.

Kasabian tried to stop the massacre by telling the group that she heard noises, but her attempts failed and everyone inside the house, including eight-month pregnant Sharon Tate was viciously murdered. After the murders, Kasabian wiped off blood and fingerprints from the weapons used in the murders and dropped them into a ravine.

The LaBianca Murders

The next night Kasabian was ordered by Manson to go out again and later testified that she was too afraid to tell him no. This time the group included Manson, Watson, Atkins, Krenwinkel. Kasabian, Van Houten and Steve Grogan. The group drove to Leo and Rosemary LaBianca. First Manson and Tex went inside the LaBianca home and tied up the couple. He instructed Watson, Krenwinkel, and Van Houten to go inside and kill the couple. Manson, Kasabian, Atkins and Grogan drove away, and went hunting for another victim. 

Manson wanted to find and murder an actor who was also one of Kasabian's old boyfriends. She purposely pointed out the wrong apartment and the group, tired of driving around, gave up and returned to the ranch.

Kasabian Escapes Spahn Ranch

Two days after the LaBianca murders, Kasabian agreeing to run an errand for Manson, used the opportunity to flee from Spahn Ranch. To avoid suspicion she had to leave her daughter Tonya behind. Later she located her daughter at a foster home where she was placed after the October police raid on Spahn Ranch.

Kasabian Turns State Evidence

Kasabian went to live with her mother in New Hampshire. A warrant for her arrest was issued on December 2, 1969, for her involvement in the Tate and LaBianca murders. She immediately turned herself over to the authorities and turned state's evidence and was given immunity for her testimony.

Her testimony was invaluable for the prosecution in the Tate-LaBianca murder trial. Co-defendants Charles Manson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten were found guilty largely based on Kasabian's direct and honest testimony. After the trial, she returned to New Hampshire where she dealt with a lot of public scorn. She eventually changed her name and it has been rumored hat she moved to Washington State.

See Also: The Manson Family Photo Album

Desert Shadows by Bob Murphy
Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry
The Trial of Charles Manson by Bradley Steffens

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Montaldo, Charles. "Profile of Ex-Manson Family Member Linda Kasabian." ThoughtCo, Jul. 30, 2021, Montaldo, Charles. (2021, July 30). Profile of Ex-Manson Family Member Linda Kasabian. Retrieved from Montaldo, Charles. "Profile of Ex-Manson Family Member Linda Kasabian." ThoughtCo. (accessed August 5, 2021).