Lynette Alice 'Squeaky' Fromme

Profile of the Manson Family Member

Manson cult member Lynette Fromme leaving court

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Lynette Alice "Squeaky" Fromme became the voice of the cult leader, Charlie Manson when he was sent to prison. After Manson was sentenced to life in prison, Fromme continued to devote her life to him. To prove her devotion to Charlie, she aimed a gun at President Ford, for which she is now serving a life sentence. In 2009, she was released on parole. Unlike most other former Manson family members, it is said that she has remained loyal to Charlie.

Fromme's Childhood Years

"Squeaky" Fromme was born in Santa Monica, California on Oct. 22, 1948, to Helen and William Fromme. Her mother was a homemaker and her father worked as an aeronautical engineer. The oldest of three children, Fromme was one of the star performers in a children's dance troupe called the Westchester Lariats. The troupe was so talented that they performed around the country, appeared on the Lawrence Welk Show, and did a show at the White House.

During Fromme's junior high school years, she was a member of the Athenian Honor Society and the Girls Athletic Club. Her home life, however, was miserable. Her tyrannical father often berated her for minor things. In high school, Fromme became rebellious. She began drinking and taking drugs. After barely graduating, she left home and moved in and out with different people. Her father put a halt to her gypsy lifestyle and insisted that she return home. She moved back and attended El Camino Junior College.

Leaving Home and Meeting Manson

After a ferocious argument with her father over the definition of a word, Fromme packed her bags and left home for the final time. She ended up at Venice Beach where she soon met Charles Manson. The two talked at length, and Fromme found Charlie captivating as he spoke of his beliefs and his feelings about life.

The intellectual connection between the two was strong, and when Manson invited Fromme to join him and Mary Brunner traveling the country, she quickly agreed. As the Manson family grew, Fromme seemed to hold an elite spot in the Manson hierarchy.

Squeaky Becomes The Head of the Family

When the family moved onto the Spahn ranch, Charlie assigned Fromme to the job of caring for 80-year-old George Spahn, the blind caretaker of the property. Fromme eventually became known as "Squeaky" because of the sound she would make when George Spahn would run his fingers up her legs. It was rumored that Squeaky took care of all of Spahn's needs, including those of a sexual nature.

In October 1969, the Manson family was arrested for auto theft, and Fromme was rounded up with the rest of the gang. By this time, some of the group members had participated in the infamous murders at the home of actress Sharon Tate and the murders of the LaBianca couple. Squeaky had no direct involvement in the murders and was released from prison. With Manson in jail, Squeaky became the head of the family. She remained dedicated to Manson, branding her forehead with the infamous "X."

Devotion and the Law

The authorities did not like Squeaky, or any of the Manson family, for that matter. Squeaky and those she directed were placed under arrest numerous times, often because of their actions during the Tate-LaBianca trial. Fromme was arrested on charges including contempt of court, trespassing, loitering, attempted murder, and lacing a hamburger given to ex-family member Barbara Hoyt with an overdose of LSD.

In March of 1971, Manson and his co-defendants were sentenced to death, which later was changed to a life sentence. Squeaky moved to San Francisco when Manson was transferred to San Quentin, but prison officials never allowed her to visit. When Manson was moved to Folsom Prison, Squeaky followed, living in a home in Stockton, California with Nancy Pitman, two ex-cons, and James and Lauren Willett. Prosecutor Bugliosi believed the Willetts were responsible for the death of defense lawyer Ronald Hughes.

International People's Court of Retribution and the Order of the Rainbow

In November 1972, James and Lauren Willett were found dead, and Squeaky and four others were arrested for the murders. After the other four confessed to the crime, Squeaky was released, and she moved to Sacramento. She and Manson family member Sandra Good moved in together and began the International People's Court of Retribution. This fictitious organization used to scare corporate executives into believing that they were on a large terrorist organization's hit list for polluting the environment.

Manson recruited the girls as nuns for his new religion called the Order of the Rainbow. As nuns, Squeaky and Good were forbidden to have sex, watch violent movies, or smoke, and were required to wear long hooded robes. Manson renamed Squeaky "Red," and her job was to save the Redwoods. Good was renamed "Blue" because of her blue eyes.

Assassination Attempt and Life Sentence

"Red" was committed to making Manson proud of her environmental work. When she found out that President Gerald Ford was coming to town, she stuck a .45 Colt automatic into a leg holster and headed out to Capital Park. Fromme pointed the gun at the president and was immediately taken down by the Secret Service. She was charged with attempting to assassinate the President, although it was later disclosed that the gun she carried did not have bullets in the firing chamber.

As was the Manson way, Fromme represented herself at her trial. She refused to present testimony that was relevant to the case, and instead used it as a platform to speak about the environment. Judge Thomas McBride ultimately removed her from the courtroom. At the end of the trial, Fromme hurled an apple at Attorney Dwayne Keyes's head because he had not turned over exculpatory evidence. Fromme was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.

A Less Than Model Prisoner

Fromme's prison days have not been without incident. At a prison in Pleasanton, California, it was reported that she brought the claw end of a hammer down on the head of Julienne Busic, a Croatian Nationalist imprisoned for her involvement in a 1976 airline hijacking. In December 1987, Fromme escaped prison to see Manson, who she heard was dying of cancer. She was quickly caught and returned to prison. She served until 2009, when she was released on parole.

Resources and Further Reading

  • Bugliosi, Vincent, and Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders. Penguin, 1980.
  • Murphy, Bob. Desert Shadows: A True Story of the Charles Manson Family in Death Valley. Sagebrush, 1999.
  • Staples, Craig L., and Bradley Steffens. The Trial of Charles Manson: California Cult Murders. Lucent, 2002.