Manson family 'star witness' Linda Kasabian dead at 73
Manson Family lookout Linda Kasabian has died at the age of 73.
The former cult member passed away on 21 January at a hospital in Tacoma, Washington, with a death notice in local newspaper Tacoma News Tribune identifying her as Linda Chiochios, one of at least two aliases she used to protect her identity.
The Washington Post obtained a copy of her death certificate from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, which did not cite a cause for her passing.
Linda served as the lookout during the cult's infamous murder spree in 1969, which saw seven people die over two nights, but didn't take part in the killings herself and was the key witness during the Manson family trials in 1970, which led to the conviction of Charles Manson - who died in prison in 2017 - and several of his accomplices.
Linda - who was born Linda Larlene Drouin - was introduced to Manson in July 1969 when she was struggling to come to terms with the collapse of her second marriage and raising a newborn daughter at the age of 20.
She was present for both nights of the murders, waiting at the car to take the killers home and was initially charged with murder, but agreed to become a prosection witness.
Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi previously said: “She never asked for immunity from prosecution, but we gave it.
“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.”
Linda previously claimed she was shocked by the violence carried out by the Manson Family but too scared to do anything about it.
She said in 2009: “I thought about going to a house where there were lights down the road, and then I said, 'No, don’t do that, because they’ll find me and kill all those people.'
“So I went down the hill and I got into the car and I just stayed there and waited.”
Within four years of the trial, Linda had changed her name to Linda Christian and worked as a cook in New Hampshire, where she was raising her four children.
She eventually moved to Tacoma and kept a largely low profile, but spoke to talk show host Larry King, with her appearance disguised, to mark the 40th anniversary of the attacks.
She said: “I have been on a mission of healing and rehabilitation.
“And I went through a lot of drugs and alcohol and self-destruction and probably could have used some psychological counselling and help 40 years ago but never received it.”
Lead prosecutor Vincent also told Larry at the time he didn't think the convictions of Manson and his cult members would have been possible without Linda's evidence.
He said: "If there ever was a star witness for the prosecution, it was Linda Kasabian.
"Without her testimony, Larry, it would have been extremely difficult for me to convict Manson and his co-defendants."