By: Matt WelchPublished: September 5, 2022

Squeaky Fromme

There is a whole generation of 1970s C-movies shown only on late-night terrestrial television where as soon as you see some California hippie types in a desert setting, you knew damn well what was coming next: Blood, and lots of it.

Lynette Fromme might not be the most evil of that decade’s endless supply of nightmare hippie chicks, but she did manage to show up, Zelig-like, at or near the scenes of a remarkable number of high-profile crimes. Including, on September 5, 1975, her attempted assassination of President Gerald Ford. Fromme, wearing a bright red dress (“for the animals and earth colors,” she would later “explain”), showed up to Sacramento’s Capitol Park armed with a loaded Colt .45 in order “to get life. Not just my life but clean air, healthy water and respect for creatures and creation.” Yes, this respector of living creatures needed to demonstrate her concern about smog harming redwoods by maybe splattering the president’s brains on a fine Friday morning.

Did we mention that Fromme was one of the truest-believing members of the Manson Family?

At any rate, “Squeaky”—so nicknamed by half-blind old coot George Spahn, who had rented out his ranch to the murderous cultists, because that’s the sound she apparently made when he put his gross hand on her thigh—was too incompetent to discharge her weapon despite getting within arm’s length of the baffled president. “It wouldn't go off! It didn't go off. Can you believe it? It didn't go off.”

Fromme did not help her defense at the ensuing trial by firing an apple square at the prosecutor’s forehead during closing arguments, knocking off his glasses (“Sandy Koufax couldn’t have thrown a better pitch,” her lawyer would later quip). Sentenced to life in prison, she had to be transferred to a new facility in 1979 after attacking a fellow prisoner with a hammer. In 1987, after hearing that the incarcerated Charles Manson—who she was almost alone among the former Manson girls in sticking by—had cancer, Fromme escaped the federal pokey to try and meet him. When she became eligible for parole in 2005, she didn’t bother applying. Despite all her worst efforts, Squeaky was finally released from prison in 2009, and moved to Marcy, New York, about 45 miles northwest of Cooperstown.

There isn’t enough of a word count, even on the Internet, to detail the amount of sickness associated with Squeaky. Sure, she did the whole, carve-the-X-in-your-forehead thing during Manson’s trial. But she also attempted to stuff a hamburger full of LSD and feed it to one of the witnesses of the Sharon Tate murder to keep her from testifying, an act of tampering that earned her a 90-day jail sentence. In 1972 she moved into a Sacramento house with four other scumbags who promptly double-murdered a married young couple because the husband knew about their various robberies. They made him dig his own grave, then couldn’t even fill it properly; his hand was sticking out (also, he had been decapitated). His wife was shot in the basement. Their 8-month-old daughter was found alive in the house. All four other members of Fromme’s household were convicted of murder; she skated.

So has Squeaky (or “Red,” as her friends call her) finally mellowed with age and freedom? Sure—if by “mellowed” you mean, “married an ex-manslaughter-convict fan of Charles Manson, with whom she’s decorated her rural New York house with skulls.” As the New York Post wrote in a 2019 profile, “Fromme’s hair is long and red again. And her boyfriend keeps a baseball bat, which, as he made clear to two Post reporters who approached him, he’s not afraid to use.”

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