Linda Kasabian, Member of Manson Family Cult and Key Witness in Murder Trials, Dies at 73

Linda Kasabian was the lookout for the Manson Family during the grizzly murder spree which killed seven, including actress Sharon Tate.

Linda Kasabian is escorted by Deputy District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi as she arrived to testify in the Sharon Tate murder case, more than six months after she was granted immunity in the bizarre killings. Kasabian was recalled to the stand by attorney Irving Kanarek to testify in the penalty phase of the trial. (Photo by Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)
Photo: Bettmann Archive/Getty

Linda Kasabian, the Manson Family's lookout during the cult's infamous murder spree, has died at the age of 73.

Kasabian was the key witness in the Manson Family trials in 1970 and was granted immunity by prosecutors for her testimony, which led to the conviction of cult leader Charles Manson and several of his accomplices.

Seven people dead across two nights in the summer of 1969, however Kasabian did not take part in the actual murders.

Kasabian had been living in Washington State when she died and had changed her surname to "Chiochios" to protect her identity, The Guardian reported.

No cause was cited on a death certificate from Tacoma-Pierce County, which the Washington Post obtained a copy of.


Kasabian was 20 years old when she moved to Spahn Ranch in July 1969, an old movie set in Los Angeles where Manson and his followers were living in a commune.

That same year, Manson ordered a group of his followers to carry out a series of murders in what criminal prosecutors said was a plan to incite a race war.

Manson told his followers, who were mainly young women, of an impending race war he had dubbed 'Helter Skelter' (named after the well-known Beatles song). The murders he had plotted would supposedly speed up the start of this imagined war.

In the early hours of Aug. 9, Kasabian waited in the getaway car outside a Los Angeles mansion. Her passengers, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Charles Watson, had forced their way into the home, The New York Times reported.

Inside, they murdered actress Sharon Tate — the eight-month-pregnant wife of film director Roman Polanski.

Sharon Tate Roman Polanski
Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski. Joe Bangay/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty

The very next night, under the direction of cult leader Manson, Kasabian and other members went to the house of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. The couple was slain inside their own home.

The Manson Family murders gripped the nation and Kasabian's 17-day testimony was a major reason for the criminal convictions.

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Manson was sentenced to death for his role in ordering the killings, in addition to the murder of acquaintance Gary Hinman. However, in 1976 the California supreme court declared the death penalty unconstitutional and Manson was spared execution.

The cult leader died in prison in 2017 at the age of 83.

Manson Family members Atkins, Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten were also convicted of murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

Watson was found guilty of murder in a separate trial, The Washington Post reported.

Kasabian was hailed a "star witness" for her role in the trial by lead prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi. He told media in 2009 that without her testimony, "it would have been extremely difficult for me to convict Manson and his co-defendants."

"Some people glorify him as a sort of master outlaw," Bugliosi told PEOPLE in 2015. "But he really was nothing more than an evil, very sophisticated con man."

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