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Former Los Angeles Detective Robert Haider, who led the investigation of the Tate murder case, says of Fromme: "The girl must've been on at least 1,000 acid trips in her life. It just was not possible to hold a rational conversation with her." Still other people note her recent talk in praise of violence and killing and regard her as capable of almost anything. Last July she threatened Rodney Angove, a reporter for the Associated Press in Sacramento, when he refused to write a story about a press release from Manson attacking Nixon. "It's your life that's on the line," she told him. "That message has got to go out."

Law officials who knew the Manson family were not at all surprised that Fromme found the courage to confront the President with a .45 in her hand. Bugliosi, now in private practice, ticked off four reasons she might have done it. "First, the entire Manson family religion is based on killing. They enjoy it. Second, their purpose has always been to draw attention to themselves and to shock the world. Third, as recently as a month ago, Manson was accusing Nixon of the responsibility for his conviction, and Ford was appointed by Nixon. Fourth, there is a lot of competition between the girls, and Squeaky was trying to impress Charlie. They all want to be Charlie's girl."

Bugliosi describes Fromme as "intelligent and articulate, except when it comes to Manson, who she believes is the Second Coming of Christ." Several years ago, she spoke frankly about her views in a film documentary titled Manson, which will soon be rereleased. At one point, Fromme says, "Every girl should have a daddy just like Charlie." She adds: "Whatever we need to do, we do. We respond. We respond with our knives. It feels good to be ready to face death and love..."

Trying to explain Fromme's fascination with violence, Dr. Louis Jolyon West, head of the psychiatry department at U.C.L.A., points out that she was part of a group whose members all were paranoid to varying degrees. "They all suffered from a group syndrome," he says. "There was a pattern of holding to false beliefs with even greater conviction and emotional commitment than a normal person's beliefs that are subject to the laws of evidence. They were being victimized by conspiracies and plots coming from very high levels of Government. This affirms the grandiosity of their self-image, and it justifies the violence with which they strike back."

Class Hatred. Psychiatrist Harry L. Kozol, director of the Massachusetts Research Program on the Study of Dangerous Persons, thinks that Fromme may really have been striking at Nixon when she took aim at Ford. Broadly speaking, adds Kozol, assassinations are eruptions of bitter class hatred. "By killing a member of a more powerful group," he says, "the assassin not only exercises class hatred but builds up egotism and self-confidence."

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