Meanwhile, violent sex offender Phillip Garrido, who also received a life sentence forty years ago, was allowed to roam, essentially unmonitored, after only 11 years behind bars.
Two horribly violent offenders, two startlingly different stories.
Garrido was imprisoned in 1977 for the rape and kidnap of Katherine Callaway in Washoe County, Nev. and released on bail in 1988.
Susan Atkins helped kill five people in a ritualistic manner in 1969. Her victims included pregnant actress Sharon Tate, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, and celebrity hairdresser Jay Sebring. Two others were killed at another home.
Atkins has had 13 parole hearings held over her 40 years in jail, but every time the board decided not to release her.
Garrido faced a federal parole board and a Nevada state parole board and passed both on the first try.
Both crimes were committed while the perpetrators were under the influence of LSD.
Garrido's victim, Katherine Callaway, was a Reno, Nev. casino worker. Is Atkins under closer scrutiny because she killed celebrities?
None of those imprisoned for murders associated with Charles Manson's teachings have been granted parole. Although another Manson follower, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, was recently released, after serving 34 years of a life sentence for attempting to assassinate President Gerald Ford.
It's not entirely clear what good the parole boards saw in Garrido, but the man who tried and convicted him on federal kidnapping charges was certainly shocked that he was let loose.
"That's a sick mind and certainly not one that belongs out in society," former U.S. Assistant Attorney Leland Lutfy said about the man he thought he put away for 50 years.
After the federal case, Garrido pled guilty to Nevada charges of rape and was sentenced to life in prison by the state.
Neither the federal nor the state prosecutor was present at, or even knew about, Garrido's 1988 parole hearing.
Four out of five of the original parole board members have since passed away. The fifth is in a nursing home.
Parole commissioner Tim O'Hara said that he and Jan Enloe, the other commissioner who presided over Atkins' hearing, based their decision not to grant parole heavily on the "atrocious nature" of the 1969 killings and said that Atkins never fully understood the magnitude of her crimes.
By contrast Garrido's Nevada parole board gave him 6 out of 10 in a risk assessment evaluation used at the time to determine a convict's threat level.
Only three years after Garrido's release, police say he snatched 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard from a school bus stop, raped her, twice impregnated her and held her captive in his backyard for 18 years.
Susan Atkins will probably die in jail.
THE JAYCEE LEE DUGARD STORY
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