Linda Kasabian, a Biddeford native who was present the two nights in August 1969 when Charles Manson directed his followers to murder Sharon Tate and five others, died in late January at age 73, according to an obituary in The New York Times.
Kasabian, then 20 years old, was not one of the people who killed Tate, Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski and Abigail Folger, nor was she a participant in the murders the following night of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.
But she was a driver of the car on the first night while other Manson followers committed the killings, was present on the second night and did not report the murders. She eventually turned herself in that December and agreed to testify in court against Manson and his followers..
Kasabian’s testimony was instrumental in convicting Manson, who died in 2017, and four of his followers, detailing the events leading up to the murder, Manson’s corruptive influence on the women under his thrall and how traumatized and sickened she was by the events. She was given immunity in exchange for her testimony.
“Charles Manson, the Mephistophelean guru who raped and bastardized the minds of all those who gave themselves so totally to him, sent out from the fires of hell at Spahn Ranch three heartless, bloodthirsty robots, and — unfortunately for him — one human being, the little hippie girl Linda Kasabian,” lead prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi wrote in “Helter Skelter,” his book about the Manson murders.
Kasabian, born Linda Darlene Drouin, was born in Biddeford in 1949, the daughter of a French Canadian family from southern Maine and New Hampshire. Her family later moved to Milford, New Hampshire. She dropped out of high school at age 16 and traveled around the country, marrying twice and having one daughter. Eventually, she made her way to Los Angeles.
In early summer 1969, she connected with Manson and his followers at their compound at the Spahn Ranch, and moved there with her 2-year-old daughter shortly afterward. Not long after the murders, Kasabian fled California and returned to her mother’s house in New Hampshire. In total, Kasabian’s association with the “family” lasted less than two months.
After the trial, Kasabian kept an extremely low profile, living in New Hampshire and later Tacoma, Washington, with her two daughters. She only made three public appearances during the rest of her life, including in a 2009 British docu-drama, “Manson.”