All Sections

Home | Crime

Manson follower had NH ties

New Hampshire Union Leader

November 20. 2017 8:41PM
Linda Kasabian (AP FILE PHOTO)

Most have heard of Charles Manson — the mastermind of a string of gruesome killings in Southern California committed by a group of young followers — but how many are aware of the case’s ties to New Hampshire? 

The prosecution’s star witness at Manson’s trial grew up in the Granite State.

Manson died of natural causes Sunday night at a Kern County hospital, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a statement. He was 83.

Manson had been serving a life sentence at Corcoran State Prison for ordering the murders of nine people, including actress Sharon Tate. Tate was stabbed 16 times on Aug. 9, 1969, by members of Manson’s cult “family” at a rented home in Los Angeles she shared with her husband, filmmaker Roman Polanski.

Tate was 26 and eight months pregnant at the time. Four friends of the celebrity couple, including coffee heiress Abigail Folger and hairstylist Jay Sebring, were also stabbed or shot to death. The following night, Manson followers stabbed to death grocery owner Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary.

While Manson did not personally commit any of the murders, he was found guilty of ordering the killings. He was later convicted of ordering the murders of music teacher Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald Shea.

In 1969, New Hampshire native Linda Kasabian ran away from her home in Milford and joined Manson’s “family” in California. She was the only member of the “family” not involved in the murders and returned to New Hampshire with her daughter, Tonya, eventually serving as the key witness for the state of California in the prosecution of Manson and his followers.

Kasabian, who was 20 at the time of the murders, was on the witness stand for 18 days, and granted immunity from prosecution in return for her testimony.

In 2009, Kasabian and Vincent Bugliosi — the Manson prosecutor who later wrote the book ‘Helter Skelter’ about the Manson case — were interviewed by television host Larry King. Kasabian told King that she thought about the murders “every day.”

“I have been on a mission of healing and rehabilitation,” she told King during the interview, according to transcripts available online. “And I went through a lot of drugs and alcohol and self-destruction and probably could have used some psychological counseling and help 40 years ago but never received it.”

In the same interview, Bugliosi credited Kasabian as being the reason prosecutors achieved a “guilty” verdict.

“She never asked for immunity from prosecution, but we gave it,” said Bugliosi, according to transcripts of the interview. “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.

The 2009 Larry King interview with Linda Kasabian and Vincent Bugliosi can be viewed below:

“The immunity gave Kasabian a chance for a fresh start, and it seems she took that opportunity to change her name and live a life outside of the spotlight.”

For the next two years after the trial, Kasabian moved around the country, trying to escape the notoriety of the gruesome crime. In 1971, Kasabian came back to New Hampshire, changed her and Tonya’s last name to Christian, and, according to court records, had three more children.

The family moved to Washington when Tonya Christian was 15.

Kasabian, going by the name Linda Christian, was arrested in April 1976 on charges of riot, interference and resisting arrest at a bonfire in Litchfield.

According to published reports in the New Hampshire Union Leader, Christian was one of 11 people attending a bonfire at a rented home on Route 3A. Fire officials were called to extinguish the bonfire, and according to reports the group — including Christian — refused to let the fire crews near the blaze.

The charges against Christian were eventually dropped. She was subsequently fined $100 for disorderly conduct.

Crime Litchfield Milford

More Headlines