SAN FRANCISCO – Sara Jane Moore, who took a shot at President Ford in a bizarre assassination attempt just 17 days after a disciple of Charles Manson tried to kill Ford, was paroled Monday after 32 years behind bars.
Moore, 77, was released from the federal prison in Dublin, east of San Francisco, where she had been serving a life sentence, the Bureau of Prisons said.
Bureau spokeswoman Felicia Ponce said she had no details on why Moore was let out. But she said that with good behavior, inmates sentenced to life can apply for parole after 10 years.
Moore was 40 feet away from Ford outside a hotel in San Francisco when she fired a shot at him on Sept. 22, 1975. As she raised her .38-caliber revolver and pulled the trigger, Oliver Sipple, a disabled former Marine standing next to her, pushed up her arm. The bullet flew over Ford’s head by several feet.
Moore had been picked up earlier in the day by police and Secret Service agents because she had made a threat over the phone. They took her .45-caliber pistol, charged her with carrying a concealed weapon and released her. She promptly bought another weapon from a gun dealer and waited for Ford in the crowd outside the St. Francis Hotel.
Two weeks earlier, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, a follower of Manson’s, tried to kill the president in Sacramento. Fromme, 59, is serving a life sentence at a federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas.
In recent interviews, Moore said she regretted her actions, saying she was blinded by her radical political views and convinced that the government had declared war on the left.
“I was functioning, I think, purely on adrenaline and not thinking clearly. I have often said that I had put blinders on and I was only listening to what I wanted to hear,” she said a year ago in an interview with KGO-TV.
During what was expected to be a routine pretrial hearing before a federal judge, Moore blurted out that she wanted to plead guilty, and her lawyer couldn’t stop her. The judge immediately accepted the plea.