The Charles Manson devotee whose claim to infamy is being the first woman ever to try to assassinate a U.S. president is now said to be living out her life as a “very friendly” neighbor while simultaneously trying to keep a low profile in a rural, upstate New York town.
Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, who has settled down in Marcy, about 45 miles east of Syracuse, is living in a skull-decorated ramshackle home she shares with her boyfriend – a Manson-obsessed ex-con who killed his brother-in-law and is now working at a nearby correctional facility, according to a profile of Fromme published this week by the New York Post.
“They don’t get involved in drama,” one neighbor told the newspaper. “They’re not ones who are out [saying], ‘Oh, look who I am,’ bragging about their past.”
Another neighbor described Fromme as “very friendly” and said she is “usually with her neighbor, who also has a dog.”
Her boyfriend, 68-year-old Robert Valdner, reportedly pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 1988 in the shooting death of his brother-in-law. The New York Post says he started writing to Fromme in 1992, while they were both imprisoned, due to his admiration of Manson and that Valdner “keeps a baseball bat, which, as he made clear to two Post reporters who approached him, he’s not afraid to use.”
News of Fromme living in the area first emerged in 2009. A year later, an “Inside Edition” crew spotted her at a Walmart in Rome driving an SUV with a “Born Again Pagan” bumper sticker slapped on its back, Syracuse.com reported.
Born in 1948, Fromme showed interest in dance during her childhood and earned straight A’s and B’s at junior high school in Los Angeles. Yet by the age of 18, she was homeless, living in Venice Beach, according to the New York Post. That’s when she met Manson, a charismatic cult leader who used drugs and the force of his personality to control his followers, several of whom violently murdered actress Sharon Tate and six others during a horrific spree in the summer of 1969, cementing Manson's place in the ranks of America’s most notorious criminals.
Fromme was never charged in connection to those killings, but was described by prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi as the “main gal in the Family.”
“Once Manson left the ranch, if he was anywhere else, she was in charge,” he wrote in his 1974 book about the killings.
In a memoir that Fromme published last year, she wrote that Manson had sex with her and another member of the cult.
“He once asked us each to sit in a chair and watch him make love to the other,” Fromme wrote, according to the New York Post. “Beyond initial discomfort, I saw moving artwork and dance, tenderness and surrender.”
Fromme also was an avid follower of Manson’s trial, carving an “X” into her forehead, like him.
Years later, Fromme was living with two members of the Manson Family and two former convicts when everyone in the group – except Fromme – ended up being found guilty in the 1972 killing of a young couple.
Then in 1975, Fromme attempted to shoot President Gerald Ford with a Colt .45 outside the California State Capitol Park Building in Sacramento. She was only a few feet from Ford -- but the gun never went off.
In the trial for that case, she begged prosecutors to allow Manson to attend, and at times was a nuisance for the U.S. Marshals in charge of security in the courtroom, who – on certain days – had to carry Fromme in front of a judge as she refused to walk, the New York Post reported.
Fromme was sentenced to life in prison and had another 15 years added to her sentence after being caught following a prison escape in West Virginia in 1987.
In 2009, Fromme was granted parole at the age of 60. Manson, who she idolized, died of natural causes at a hospital in California in 2017.