Linda Kasabian, a member of the notorious cult led by Charles Manson that murdered film star Sharon Tate in 1969, has died at the age of 73.
Her death was announced in the Tacoma News Tribune, but the cause of death was not immediately made public. Kasabian had kept a low profile since the killings and according to her death certificate had changed her name to “Chiochios” to protect her identity.
Kasabian, then 20, played the role of lookout as the so-called “Manson family” carried out the murder of Tate, the eight-month pregnant wife of film director Roman Polanski, and three others in a rented house in an exclusive neighbourhood of Los Angeles in August 1969.
The next night she accompanied Manson and other members of the cult to the home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, where the couple was slain.
Kasabian, who did not take part in the murders themselves, was granted immunity by prosecutors to testify against Manson and four of his followers at their sensational 1970 trial in Los Angeles. All five were convicted.
Manson, an ex-convict, assembled a group of runaways and outcasts, including Kasabian, and established a makeshift commune at a defunct movie ranch northwest of Los Angeles.
In the summer of 1969, Manson directed his mostly young, female followers to murder seven people in what prosecutors said was part of a plan to incite a race war.
Manson was sentenced to death in 1969 for the Manson Family killings and murder of an acquaintance, Gary Hinman.
He was spared execution when the California supreme court declared the death penalty unconstitutional in 1976. He died in prison in 2017.
In 2009, Vincent Bugliosi, the lead prosecutor in the case against Manson, said, “If there ever was a star witness for the prosecution, it was Linda Kasabian. Without her testimony … it would have been extremely difficult for me to convict Manson and his co-defendants.”
Reuters and Agence France-Presse contributed to this article
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