Linda Kasabian was 20 years old when she became a member of Charles Manson’s “Family” in 1969. Later, she became the prosecution’s star witness at their trial in 1970, according to biography.com.
Kasabian has been a popular figure in pop culture since the brutal slayings in 1969. Actresses including Clea DuVall, Marilyn Burns, Erin Marie Hogan, Michelle Briggs, Tamara Hope, and MacKenzie Mauzy have played her in various films. Billie Lourd portrays Kasabian in the “American Horror Story: Cult” episode “Charles (Manson) in Charge.” A British band even used her name, calling themselves Kasabian.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Linda Was Born in Maine in 1949
According to biography.com, Linda Darlene Drouin was born on June 21, 1949, in Biddeford, Maine. She was raised in the New England town of Milford, New Hampshire, by her father, Rosaire Drouin, and her mother, Joyce Taylor.
Rosaire was a construction worker and Joyce was a homemaker. They reportedly struggled financially and emotionally until Rosaire abandoned the family when Linda was still a young girl.
Rosaire and Joyce both remarried. Linda was the eldest child, and her mother Joyce, with so many younger children and stepchildren to care for, said was unable to devote the necessary attention to her teenage daughter.
“I didn’t have time to listen to her problems,” Joyce told a Long Beach Newspaper in 1970. “A lot of what has happened to Linda is my fault.”
2. Linda Was Married Twice Before Meeting Manson
Linda claimed her stepfather, Jake Byrd, mistreated her and her mother. At 16 years old, Linda dropped out of high school and ran away from home. Shortly thereafter, she married Robert Peasley. According to cielodrive.com, Linda and Robert lived together for three months, however, they divorced when she was 17 years old.
Linda then traveled to Boston, where she married a “hippie-type,” Armenian American Robert Kasabian. The two reportedly lived at a “hippie pad” in Lake Tahoe for a while. Linda gave birth to a daughter Tanya in 1968.
When her second marriage started to deteriorate, the article stated that Linda and Tanya moved back to New Hampshire to live with Joyce. Later, Kasabian contacted Linda and invited her to meet him in Los Angeles. Linda wanted to patch things up and therefore went to Los Angeles.
3. Linda Was 20 Years Old When She Met Charles Manson
According to her biography, Linda was a pregnant, 20-year-old, two-time divorcee, with an infant daughter when she met Charles Manson through Catherine “Gypsy” Share on July 4, 1969. Later, Linda moved to the Spahn Ranch with Manson and his followers.
Linda reportedly found Manson’s message to be peaceful at first, however, as time went on she realized his tone turned violent and paranoid. According to The Guardian, on the night of August 9, 1969, Linda and three other members of the Manson Family – Tex Watson, Susan Atkins and Patricia “Katie” Krenwinkel – were sent by Manson to break into Hollywood actress Sharon Tate’s home at 10050 Cielo Drive.
Tate was reportedly eight months pregnant and married to film director Roman Polanski at the time. Polanski was in Europe, but Tate was entertaining her friends Wojtek Frykowski, Abigail Folger and Jay Sebring that night. In an interview for the docu-drama “Manson,” Linda described how Tate begged for the life of her unborn child. However, the killers tied up Sharon and her friends and stabbed them to death. Tate was stabbed 16 times. Kasabian acted as a look-out.
“I saw a woman in a white dress and she had blood all over her and she was screaming and she was calling for her mom. I saw Katie stabbing her,” says Kasabian told The Guardian 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.”
4. Linda Became the Prosecution’s Star Witness
According to her bio, the Mason Family ranch was raided in October 1969. Linda turned herself in two months later. In return for her testimony, which was the key to a guilty finding for Mason and his followers, Linda was granted immunity.
Manson was ultimately charged with for the murders of nine people, thanks to Linda. Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor at the trial, said the verdict was almost entirely thanks to her.
“She never asked for immunity from prosecution, but we gave it,” Bugliosi told The Guardian. “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.”
5. Linda Changed Her Name and Moved West
After the trial, Kasabian moved to New Hampshire to live with her mother, according to her bio. However, she was overwhelmed with media attention and decided to change her name and move west. Kasabian remained in hiding until a documentary film crew found her living in near poverty at a trailer park in 2009.
Nick Godwin, the Cineflix executive producer responsible for making “Manson,” spent months tracking Linda down and establishing a rapport with her. According to IMDb, the TV movie “follows Charles Manson’s ‘Family’ member Linda Kasabian, and her story to what when on at Spahn’s Movie Ranch and the final days leading up to the grisly 1969 Tate/La Bianca murders.”
Kasabian appears in the docu-drama, telling her story in complete detail for the first time. While her image is slightly obscured to protect her identity, Linda recounts the four weeks she spent with the Manson “family.”