squeaky fromme, lynette squeaky fromme, charles manson, gerald ford
Lynette Fromme is escorted from the
Federal Building in Sacramento, Tuesday,
November 26, 1975, by a well-armed
U.S. Marshal and taken to the county jail.

Manson Follower “Squeaky” Fromme Released From Prison

August 18, 2009 07:00 AM
by Anita Gutierrez-Folch
Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, one of Charles Manson’s dedicated followers, spent more than 30 years behind bars for attempting to shoot President Gerald Ford.

Fromme’s Parole Begins

Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, “the infamous Charles Manson disciple who tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford,” was released on parole from Fort Worth's Federal Medical Center Carswell last Friday, the Associated Press reports. Fromme, now 60 years old, has not revealed what she plans to do after spending more than 30 years in prison.

Fromme was not implicated in the 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tate and eight other people, for which Manson is serving a life sentence, the AP reports. Following Manson’s conviction, she shaved off her hair and carved an “X” on her forehead as a sign of her support. According to AP, “By many accounts, Fromme took over the group after that because Manson had always relied on her.”

On Sept. 5, 1975, Fromme attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford. Ford was attending a meeting in Sacramento, Calif., when Fromme pulled out a .45 caliber pistol and tried to shoot the president. According to the AP, Secret Service agents were quick to stop her, and Ford was not harmed. “She was charged for attempting to assassinate the President, although it was later disclosed that the gun she carried did not have bullets in the firing chamber,” reports.

Fromme was sentenced to a life term in prison, “becoming the first person sentenced under a special federal law covering assaults on U.S. presidents, a statute enacted after President John F. Kennedy's 1963 assassination,” AP explains. Although she was granted parole in 2008, Fromme wasn’t released until Friday because of an extra 15-year sentence she received after escaping from a women’s prison in 1987. As the AP reports, Fromme declared that she had escaped in order “to be closer to Manson after hearing rumors that he was dying.”

Reactions: Exploring Fromme’s motivations

According to John Virga, Fromme’s attorney, her devotion to Manson was the cause of her downfall. "She was very articulate and soft-spoken ... but you could see a noticeable change in her demeanor when you mentioned Manson," Virga told the AP. "I think she was an example of a young woman who was led astray and got caught up in someone she shouldn't have."

During her trial, Virga explained that Fromme “simply wanted to call attention to environmental issues and Manson's case and never meant to kill Ford,” the AP reports. In a recent interview with CNN, Virga explained his reasoning when defending Fromme: "My argument to the jury was, if she wanted to kill him, she would have shot him," he said.

According to AP, in response to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s request for an interview in 2005, Fromme explained her motivations for the attempted shooting: "I stood up and waved a gun (at Ford) for a reason. I was so relieved not to have to shoot it, but, in truth, I came to get life. Not just my life but clean air, healthy water and respect for creatures and creation."

Later Developments: Another attempt on Ford’s life

On Sept. 22, 1975, less than three weeks after Fromme’s attempted assassination of Ford, Sara Jane Moore tried to shoot the president with a .38 caliber revolver. Ford was delivering a luncheon speech to a foreign affairs group at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, Calif. Oliver Sipple, a disabled former marine, hit Moore’s arm, causing her shot to miss its mark. Moore, a political radical turned FBI informant, was immediately arrested and later sentenced to life in prison. She served 32 years before receiving parole in 2008.

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