Susan Atkins was the Charles Manson follower who used the knife on actress Sharon Tate on Cielo Drive in 1969. After she died this past September, Orange Coast Magazine writer Shawn Hubler began trying to convince Atkins' husband of 20 years to talk. The result is a fascinating interview and profile of James Whitehouse, a San Juan Capistrano attorney, in the February issue. Subhed: "Everyone knows how Manson girl Susan Atkins helped take lives. But few know the story of the life she helped save."
Editor Martin Smith tells me, "When he finally told his story, it blew us all away. Shawn did an incredible job reporting it out." Excerpt:
It’s a crime story, of course, framed by one of the most notorious murder sprees in California history. But it’s also an account of an uphill struggle against an increasingly stern and powerful justice system. And a love story. And a tragedy.
When Whitehouse tells it, though, it sounds improbably like a story of redemption, and not necessarily of the infamous prisoner who became his wife. For in the epilogue to one of the darkest tales ever to haunt the nation, Whitehouse—now a Harvard-educated attorney—found the courage to rewrite the story of his own life.
Hubler, the former L.A. Times staff writer, becomes Orange Coast's signature monthly columnist with the March issue.
Photo of Whitehouse: Jason Wallis