Courts & Crime

Manson follower Squeaky Fromme freed from Texas prison

FORT WORTH — Locked behind bars for more than half her life, a disciple of Charles Manson who was convicted of trying to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975 walked out of a Fort Worth prison Friday morning.

Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme was released from the Federal Medical Center, Carswell about 8 a.m., prison public information officer Dr. Maria Douglas said in a statement.

Fromme, 60, left by the front entrance, dressed in "civilian-type" clothing.

“Inmates are encouraged to save money for their release. Any funds they have saved, or have been sent them by family, is given to them,” Douglas said.

The facility did not provide Fromme with transportation, the prison spokeswoman said.

The woman once shaved her head and gouged an “X” into her forehead as a show of fervent devotion to Manson, the mass murderer and cult leader, will remain under the supervision of the U.S. Parole Commission.

“Her parole could last the rest of her life,” said commission spokesman Tom Hutchison. “There are lots of guidelines she must follow, but generally speaking, she has to be a responsible citizen.”

Fromme is required to report to a probation office within 72 hours of her release, Hutchison said.

On Sept. 5, 1975, Fromme, then a slender auburn-haired figure dressed in a red robe, wrote her name into history when she pointed a loaded .45 caliber pistol at President Ford as he greeted well-wishers outside the California statehouse in Sacramento. A Secret Service agent wrestled away the weapon and hand-cuffed her.

"Squeaky Fromme, I thought was an aberration," Ford wrote in his autobiography, A Time to Heal. “There had been misfits and kooks in every society since the beginning of time. I didn’t think California harbored a larger number of these people than any other part of the country. . .”

On Sept 22, 1975 — 17 days after Fromme confronted Ford — 45-year-old Sara Jane Moore fired a revolver at the president in San Francisco. A bystander deflected her aim. Ford was unhurt. Moore was freed on parole in 2008.

Fromme was the first person convicted under a special federal law covering assaults on U.S. presidents that was enacted after the 1963 assassination of John. F. Kennedy.

Fromme became eligible for parole in 1985. For years she waived her right to a parole hearing. Federal law requires a mandatory hearing for inmates who have completed two-thirds of a life sentence, considered 30 years. If the parole board concludes that Fromme is no longer a danger to society, the government must release her.

Fromme was paroled in July 2008. She was sentenced an additional 15 months for briefly escaping from a West Virginia prison in 1987. She was released Friday “via good conduct time,” according to the prison statement.

Fromme was housed in five different federal prisons. Four years into her life sentence she struck another inmate with a claw hammer inside a federal lockup in Pleasanton, Calif.

She came to Carswell on May 21, 1998.Ö Surrounded by high fences and concertina wire, the facility is situated adjacent to the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base. The prison serves as the Bureau of Prisons’ major medical psychiatric referral center for female inmates. Fromme was at one time housed in the institution’s Administrative Unit, the nation’s maximum-security unit for female prisons.

A Star-Telegram Östory published in 2005 described Fromme’s world as a 2-person cell, measuring about 8 feet by 12 feet. Like other inmates in her unit, who are physically able to work, Fromme earned a few cents an hour in one of the prison work details – orderly, library clerk, laundry room, food service.

Former federal prisoner 06075-180 never publicly apologized or expressed regret for pointing a gun at Ford.