FORT WORTH, Texas – Three decades after basking in the national spotlight as “Squeaky,” the infamous Charles Manson disciple who tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford, the now-60-year-old woman slipped quietly out of a federal prison Friday after being released on parole.
Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme eluded the media as she left Fort Worth’s Federal Medical Center Carswell in one of the many cars streaming in and out of the front gate Friday morning. She previously refused interview requests, and prison officials would not say where she planned to live or what she planned to do after more than 30 years behind bars.
It was a far cry from her antics that captivated the nation’s attention in the 1970s: shaving her red hair and carving an “X” into her forehead after Manson was convicted for orchestrating a mass murder, wearing a red robe when she pulled a gun on Ford, and being carried into her trial courtroom by marshals when she refused to walk.
In September 1975, Fromme pushed through a crowd, drew a semiautomatic .45-caliber pistol from a thigh holster and pointed it at Ford, who was shaking hands with well-wishers while walking to the California State Capitol in Sacramento. Secret Service agents grabbed her, and Ford was unhurt.
Fromme was a college student before joining Manson’s “family,” where she reportedly got her nickname because of her voice. She was never implicated in the 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tate and eight others, for which Manson is serving a life term in Corcoran State Prison in California. By many accounts, Fromme took over the group after that because Manson had always relied on her.
During her own trial, Fromme either refused to attend or had outbursts. Her attorney John Virga argued that she simply wanted to call attention to environmental issues and Manson’s case and never meant to kill Ford. A few bullets were in the gun but not in the chamber.
Fromme was convicted and got a life term, 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.
She later was sentenced to 15 years in prison, which was tacked onto her life term for threats against the president, after escaping in 1987 from a women’s prison in Alderson, W.Va. She was recaptured two days later a few miles away after a massive search. Fromme had said she escaped to be closer to Manson after hearing rumors that he was dying.
Fromme will be on supervised release for two years, where general conditions include reporting regularly to a parole officer, not associating with criminals or owning guns or leaving the area.
It’s unclear if Fromme will return to California. Some of her relatives who still live there did not immediately return calls to the Associated Press on Friday.