Lynette Fromme

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Lynette Fromme
Squeaky Fromme HS Yearbook.jpeg
Fromme as a high-school junior in 1965
Lynette Alice Fromme

(1948-10-22) October 22, 1948 (age 70)
Other namesSqueaky
Criminal statusParoled
Criminal chargeAttempted assassination of President Gerald Ford
PenaltyLife in prison

Lynette Alice "Squeaky" Fromme (born October 22, 1948) is an American criminal best known as a member of the "Manson family". She attempted to assassinate U.S. President Gerald Ford in 1975. She was sentenced to life imprisonment for the attempt, but was released on parole on August 14, 2009, after serving nearly 34 years.

Gerald Ford assassination attempt in Sacramento

On September 5, 1975, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, a cult member of Charles Manson's Manson Family, attempted to assassinate United States President Gerald Ford in Sacramento, California. She wanted to make a statement to people who refused to halt environmental pollution and its effects on Air, Trees, Water, and Animals (ATWA). Although Fromme stood a little more than an arm's length from Ford that Friday morning and pointed a M1911 pistol at him in the public grounds of the California State Capitol building, she had not chambered a round, the gun did not fire, and no one was injured. After the assassination attempt, Ford continued to walk to the California state house, where he met with California governor Jerry Brown. For her crime, Fromme spent 34 years in prison and was released on August 14, 2009 – two years and seven months after Ford's death. The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan, later received the M1911 pistol used in the assassination attempt as a gift, and the gun was put on display.


Early life

Fromme was born in Santa Monica, California, the daughter of Helen (née Benzinger) and William Millar Fromme, an aeronautical engineer. [1] As a child, she performed for a popular dance group called the Westchester Lariats, which began touring the United States and Europe in the late 1950s, and appeared on The Lawrence Welk Show and at the White House. [2]

Santa Monica, California City in California

Santa Monica is a beachfront city in western Los Angeles County, California, United States. Situated on Santa Monica Bay, it is bordered on three sides by the city of Los Angeles – Pacific Palisades to the north, Brentwood on the northeast, West Los Angeles on the east, Mar Vista on the southeast, and Venice on the south. The Census Bureau population for Santa Monica in 2010 was 89,736.

<i>The Lawrence Welk Show</i> American weekly TV variety series

The Lawrence Welk Show was an American televised musical variety show hosted by big band leader Lawrence Welk. The series aired locally in Los Angeles for four years, from 1951 to 1955, then nationally for another 16 years on ABC from 1955 to 1971, followed by 11 years in first-run syndication from 1971 to 1982. Repeat episodes are broadcast in the United States by Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) stations. These airings incorporate an original program—usually, a color broadcast from 1965 to 1982—in its entirety. In place of the commercials, newer performance and interview clips from the original stars and/or a family member of the performers are included; these clips are occasionally updated.

A section from a wall of Fromme's Redondo Beach apartment Piece of Lynette "Sqeaky" Fromme's apartment.jpg
A section from a wall of Fromme's Redondo Beach apartment

In 1963, the family moved to Redondo Beach, and Fromme began using alcohol and drugs. Her grades dropped at Redondo Union High School, but she graduated in 1966. She moved out of her parents' house for a few months before her father convinced her to consider El Camino College. She lived there for two months before an argument with her father rendered her homeless. [3]

Redondo Beach, California City in California, United States

Redondo Beach is coastal city in Los Angeles County, California, United States, located in the South Bay region of the Greater Los Angeles area. It is one of three adjacent beach cities along the southern portion of Santa Monica Bay. The population was 66,748 at the 2010 census, up from 63,261 at the 2000 census.

Redondo Union High School

Redondo Union High School (RUHS) is a public high school in Redondo Beach, California.

El Camino College is a two-year public community college located in the unincorporated area of Los Angeles County known as Alondra Park. It consists of 37 buildings spanning an area of roughly 26 acres (11 ha). It is one of two community colleges serving Southern California's South Bay area.

Charles Manson and Manson Family involvement

In 1967, Fromme went to Venice Beach, suffering from depression. [3] Charles Manson had recently been released from the federal prison at Terminal Island, and he struck up a conversation with her. Fromme found Manson's philosophies and attitudes appealing, and the two became friends and traveled together with other young people, including Mary Brunner and Susan Atkins. She lived with the Manson Family in Southern California at Spahn Ranch where they worked for their keep, [4] and at the Barker Ranch in Death Valley, which was owned by a Family member's grandmother. [3] Ranch owner George Spahn gave her the nickname "Squeaky" because of the sound that she made when he touched her. [5]

Venice, Los Angeles Neighborhood of Los Angeles in California, United States

Venice is a residential, commercial, and recreational beachfront neighborhood within Los Angeles, California. It is located within the urban region of western Los Angeles County known as the Westside.

Charles Manson American criminal, cult leader, musician

Charles Milles Manson was an American criminal and cult leader. In mid-1967, he formed what became known as the Manson Family, a quasi-commune based in California. Manson's followers committed a series of nine murders at four locations in July and August 1969. According to the Los Angeles County district attorney, Manson plotted to start a race war, though Manson and others involved long disputed this motive. In 1971, he was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the deaths of seven people. Although the prosecution conceded that Manson never literally ordered the murders, they contended that his ideology constituted an overt act of conspiracy. Manson was also convicted of first-degree murder for the deaths of Gary Hinman, and Donald Shae.

Federal Correctional Institution, Terminal Island federal prison in California

The Federal Correctional Institution, Terminal Island is a low-security United States federal prison for male inmates in California. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice.

Manson and some of his followers were arrested for the Sharon Tate and Leno and Rosemary LaBianca murders in 1969, and Fromme and the remaining Manson Family camped outside the trial. Manson and fellow defendants Patricia Krenwinkel, Leslie Van Houten, and Atkins carved Xs into their foreheads, and so did Fromme and her compatriots. They proclaimed Manson's innocence and preached his apocalyptic philosophy to the news media and to anyone else who would listen. Fromme was never charged with involvement in the murders, but she was convicted of attempting to prevent Manson's imprisoned followers from testifying, as well as contempt of court when she refused to testify. She was given short jail sentences for both offenses. [3]

Sharon Tate American actress, model and murder victim

Sharon Marie Tate Polanski was an American actress and model. During the 1960s, she played small television roles before appearing in films and was regularly featured in fashion magazines as a model and cover girl. After receiving positive reviews for her comedic and dramatic acting performances, Tate was hailed as one of Hollywood's most promising newcomers.

Patricia Krenwinkel American murderer and a former member of Charles Mansons "Family"

Patricia Dianne Krenwinkel is an American murderer and a former member of Charles Manson's "Family". During her time with Manson's group, she was known by various aliases such as Big Patty, Yellow, Marnie Reeves and Mary Ann Scott, but to The Family she was most commonly known as Katie.

Leslie Van Houten Convicted murderer

Leslie Louise Van Houten is an American convicted murderer and former member of the Manson Family. Van Houten was arrested and charged in relation to the 1969 killings of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. She was convicted and sentenced to death. The California Supreme Court decision on People v. Anderson then ruled in 1972 that the death penalty was unconstitutional, resulting in her sentence being commuted to life in prison. Her conviction was then overturned in a 1976 appellate court decision which granted her a retrial. Her second trial ended with a deadlocked jury and a mistrial. At her third trial in 1978, she was convicted of two counts of murder and one count of conspiracy and sentenced to seven years to life in prison. In relation to her case, high courts, parole boards, and the state governor have said that an inexplicable or racial motive for murder could merit exemplary punishment and outweigh any evidence of subsequent reform.

Fromme and Sandra Good moved into a dilapidated attic apartment in downtown Sacramento, as they wanted to be near Manson who had been moved to Folsom Prison. Around 1973, Fromme started work on an extensive 600-page book about the Manson family, including intricate drawings and photos; other family members had contributed to it as well. Fromme sent it to publishers, but she dropped it after discussing it with Clem Grogan, deciding that the project was too incriminating. [6] (The book, titled Reflexion, was eventually published in 2018 by the Peasenhall Press. [7] )

Sandra Good Follower of Charles Manson

Sandra Collins Good is a long-time member of the Manson Family and a close friend of Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme. Good's Manson Family nickname is "Blue", which was given to her by Charles Manson to represent clean air and water.

Murder in Stockton, California

Fromme[ when? ] moved to Stockton with Nancy Pitman, Priscilla Cooper, and ex-convict Aryan Brotherhood members Michael Monfort and James Craig, in order to follow through with Manson's deal with the Brotherhood. This group met James and Lauren Willett at a cabin. In November 1972, Montfort and Craig forced James to dig his own grave and then shot him because he was going to tell the authorities about a series of robberies that they had committed after they were released from prison. [8] His body was found with his hand still sticking out of the ground. [8] The housemates were arrested on suspicion of murder, after which Lauren's body was discovered in the basement. She had been shot to death. [8] The Willetts' eight-month old daughter, Heidi, was also found alive in the house. [8] [9] Fromme was released for lack of evidence. [3]

The Sonoma County coroner's office concluded that James Willett was killed sometime in September 1972, although his decapitated body was not found until the beginning of November. He had been buried near Guerneville. [8] On the night of November 11, 1972, the Stockton Police responded to information that a station wagon owned by the Willetts was parked in front of 720 W. Flora St. Police Sgt. Richard Whiteman forced his way into the house. "All the persons subsequently arrested were in the house except for Fromme. She telephoned the house while police were there, asking to be picked up, and officers obliged, taking her into custody nearby. Police found a quantity of guns and ammunition in the house along with amounts of marijuana, and noticed freshly dug earth beneath the building." [8]

Fromme later told reporters that she had been traveling in California trying to visit "brothers" in jail and to visit Manson. [10] She said that she came to Stockton on November 10 to visit William Goucher, who was in jail on a robbery charge when Lauren Willett died. [11] When she left the jail after visiting Goucher, she called the house on Flora Street to have someone pick her up, and the Stockton Police traced the call and arrested her at a phone booth. [11]

The Stockton Police exhumed the body of Lauren Willett the following day. Priscilla Cooper told investigators that she had been shot accidentally. [8] Cooper contended that Monfort was "demonstrating the dangers of firearms, playing a form of Russian roulette with a .38 caliber pistol" and had first spun the gun cylinder and shot at his own head, and then pointed it at the victim, when it fired. [8] The police determined that Lauren had been with them voluntarily. [8]

Fromme was held in custody for 212 months but never charged; she said she was innocent of any wrongdoing. [11] The other four people involved were convicted.

After leaving Stockton, Fromme moved into a Sacramento apartment with fellow Manson family member Sandra Good. The two wore robes on occasion and changed their names to symbolize their devotion to Manson's new religion, Fromme becoming "Red" in honor of her red hair and the California Redwoods, and Good became "Blue" for her blue eyes and the ocean; both nicknames were originally given to them by Manson. [3]

Attempt to contact Jimmy Page

Fromme spoke with Danny Goldberg, the vice president of Swan Song Records, Led Zeppelin's record company, in March 1975. She asked to meet with guitarist Jimmy Page to warn him of "bad energy". She claimed to have foreseen the future and wished to warn Page of imminent danger. Goldberg stated that he couldn't see Page until the following night, to which Fromme responded "tomorrow night will probably be too late". After a long discussion, Goldberg agreed to deliver a message to Page if she wrote it down, but the note was burned. [12]

Assassination attempt on President Ford

The Colt M1911 .45-caliber pistol used in Fromme's assassination attempt Pistol used by "Squeaky" Fromme.JPG
The Colt M1911 .45-caliber pistol used in Fromme's assassination attempt

On the morning of September 5, 1975, Fromme went to Sacramento's Capitol Park to plead with President Gerald Ford about the plight of the California redwoods, dressed in a red robe and armed with a Colt M1911, .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol. The pistol's magazine was loaded with four rounds, but there was no round in the chamber. When she pointed the gun at Ford she was immediately restrained by Secret Service agent Larry Buendorf. She managed to say a few sentences to the on-scene cameras while being handcuffed, emphasizing that the gun "didn't go off". [13] In 1980, Fromme told The Sacramento Bee that she had deliberately ejected the round from her weapon's chamber before leaving home that morning, and investigators found the round on her bathroom floor. [14]

Fromme refused to cooperate with her own defense during her trial, but she was finally convicted of the attempted assassination of the president and received a life sentence under a 1965 law which made attempted presidential assassinations a federal crime punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison. Attorney Dwayne Keyes recommended severe punishment because she was "full of hate and violence"; Fromme threw an apple at him, hitting him in the face and knocking off his glasses. [15] She told the press that she "came to get life. Not just my life but clean air, healthy water, and respect for creatures and creation." [16]


In 1979, Fromme was transferred out of Federal Correctional Institution, Dublin, for attacking fellow inmate Julienne Bušić with a hammer. On December 23, 1987, she escaped from Federal Prison Camp Alderson in West Virginia, attempting to meet Manson, who had testicular cancer. She was captured two days later and incarcerated at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell, in Fort Worth, Texas. [3]

She continued to profess total allegiance to Manson. Vincent Bugliosi wrote in Helter Skelter that Fromme and Good were the only members of the Manson family who had not renounced Manson. She once told an Associated Press reporter, "The curtain is going to come down on all of us, and if we don't turn everything over to Charlie immediately, it will be too late." [17]

Fromme first became eligible for parole in 2005 and was entitled by federal law to a mandatory hearing after 30 years, but she could waive that hearing and apply for release at a later date. [18] She waived her right to request a hearing [18] and was required by federal law to complete a parole application before one could be considered and granted. [18] [19] She was granted parole in July 2008, but was not released because of the extra time added to her sentence for the 1987 prison escape. [19] She was released on parole from Federal Medical Center Carswell on August 14, 2009, [20] [21] and moved to Marcy, New York, [22] [23] where she lives in a house decorated with skulls with her boyfriend Robert Valdner, who pleaded guilty to a manslaughter charge in 1988. [24]

Along with John Hinckley, Fromme's story is one of nine told in Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's musical Assassins . Their characters sing the duet "Unworthy of Your Love," Fromme to Manson and Hinckley to Jodie Foster.

Fromme will be portrayed by Dakota Fanning in Quentin Tarantino’s film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood . [25]

See also

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