Linda Kasabian, Manson Family Cult Member and Murder Trial Witness, Dead at 73

Linda Kasabian
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Kasabian was the lookout for the Manson Family during the murder spree which killed seven.

Linda Kasabian, Manson family cult member, has died at the age of 73. Per The GuardianKasabian had been living in Washington State at the time of her death and had changed her last name to "Chiochios" to protect her identity.

Kasabian served as the Manson family's lookout during the cult's infamous murder spree. She was also the key witness in the Manson family trials in 1970, which lead to the conviction of cult leader Charles Manson and several of his accomplices. 

Seven people were killed across two nights in the summer of 1969, and while Kasabian did act as the family's lookout, she did not take part in the actual murders.

As for a cause of death for Kasabian, the Washington Post obtained a copy of her death certificate, but no cause was cited.

Kasabian was just 20 years old when she moved to Spahn Ranch in July 1969, an old movie set in Los Angeles where Manson and his followers were living in a commune. That same year, Manson order a group of his followers to carry out a series of murders, in what criminal prosecutors said was a plan to incite a race war, which he had dubbed "Helter Skelter."

Manson told his followers -- mainly young women -- of the race war and his plan to speed up the start of the violence with the grizzly murdering spree.

Just a month after Kasabian moved to the ranch, she was acting as the lookout in a getaway car outside the L.A. mansion of Sharon Tate --- the eight-month-pregnant wife of film director Roman Polanski -- where a group of Manson followers entered and murdered the actress.

The very next night, per Manson's orders, Kasabian and other members went to the house of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca and murdered the couple inside their own home. 

The murder trial and Kasabian's 17-day testimony gripped the nation, with her witness statements helping to convict Manson and a group of his followers for the crimes.

In a 2009 interview on Larry King Live Kasabian appeared alongside the lead prosecutor of the trial, Vincent Bugliosi, where he shared the impact she had on putting Manson behind bars.

"If there ever was a star witness for the prosecution, it was Linda Kasabian," Bugliosi said at the time. "Without her testimony, Larry, it would have been extremely difficult for me to convict Manson and his co-defendants."

Manson was ultimately sentenced to death for his role in ordering the killings. However, in 1976 the California supreme court declared the death penalty unconstitutional, sparing the cult leader from execution.

Manson later died in prison in 2017 at the age of 83.