Charles Manson Disciple Who Tried to Kill Pres. Ford Released from Prison
By Mark Mooney and Russell Goldman
Aug. 14, 2009
Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, the would-be assasin who took aim at President Gerald Ford 34 years ago and the chief disciple of serial killer Charles Manson, was released from a federal prison in Texas this morning, said a prison spokeswoman.
Fromme, 60, had previously completed her sentence for the assassination attempt in July 2008, but was ordered to serve additional time for a 1987 prison escape.
“Lynette Fromme was released about 8 a.m. today,” prison spokeswoman Maria Douglas told ABCNews.com. She had finished her term at from the Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas.
Fromme took aim at Ford with a semi-automatic .45-caliber pistol Sept. 5, 1975. There were four bullets in the gun’s magazine, but none in the chamber and an alert Secret Service agent grabbed the gun from Fromme.
At the time of the assassination attempt, Manson and several of his followers were serving life terms for killing nine people in his grisly Helter Skelter plot to start a race war.
Fromme told her defense attorney that she targeted Ford because she wanted to garner attention for a new trial for Manson.
Her trial lawyer, John Virga, told ABCNews.com that he hadn’t heard from Fromme since her conviction and did not know where she would be going when she got out of prison. But she had to have arranged a place to go before prison officials would release her.
Seventeen days after Fromme’s assassination attempt, Sara Jane Moore also tried to kill the president. Moore was released from prison earlier this year.
Fromme’s release comes just days after the 40th anniversary of the murder of actress Sharon Tate and nine others during a bloody weekend of slaughter that was ordered by Manson.
Though technically slated to be released on Aug. 16, Fromme was likely set free today because her official release date falls on a Sunday.
Her release has raised questions inside the law enforcement community about whether time in prison can temper the impulses of serious criminals.
“The greatest predictor for potential violence is a history of violence,” Eugene O’Donnell, a professor of law and police science at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, previously told ABC News. “Any time you release someone with a violent past it’s a gamble. We just have to keep our fingers crossed.”
“That said, it is relatively rare to see someone of advanced age committing serious crimes,” he added.
Fromme was one of Manson’s earliest followers and remained devoted to him. During his murder trial, Fromme and other female followers camped outside the courthouse, and when Manson showed up in court with an X carved into his forehead, Fromme carved an X into her forehead.
Prosecutor Bugliosi Warns There Is Danger in Letting Fromme Out of Prison
During the trial, Fromme was convicted of trying to prevent other “Family” members from testifying and of contempt of court for refusing to testify herself. She was given short jail terms.
The prosecutor who put Charles Manson behind bars 40 years ago said Fromme remained a danger and said she should not be released from prison.
“If you do something like that against the president of the United States, the need for deterrence increases when you’re talking about the most important person,” said, Vincent Bugliosi, the former Los Angeles County assistant district attorney.
“She was the main gal in the family. Once Manson left the ranch, if he was anywhere else she was in charge,” Bugliosi said.
“Squeaky” Fromme Once Escaped in an Attempt to See Manson
During her own incarceration for the Ford assassination attempt, Fromme attacked another inmate in 1979 with a claw hammer and was transferred out of the women’s prison in Dublin, Calif.
In 1987, Fromme became so upset at the news that Manson had testicular cancer that she broke out of the Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia in an attempt to reach Manson. She was captured two days later.
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