From the New York Times, December 5, 1989:

A Ghost of Manson Reappears In the East

Special to The New York Times

BRIDPORT, Vt., Dec. 3—From her bedroom window, Blue Collins can look across Lake Champlain to see the white cloud rising from the International Paper Company mill in Ticonderoga, N.Y.

It is a sight that fills Ms. Collins with outrage, the same outrage that drove her 15 years ago to write 3,000 letters to corporate executives, warning them that their polluting ways could lead to random acts of violence and even assassinations.

Blue Collins was known as Sandra Good then. She was the roommate of Lynette Fromme, the woman who attempted to kill President Gerald R. Ford, and a member of the family of Charles Manson, the Rasputin-like figure who killed and masterminded the killing of nine people.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said the letters found in her apartment contained death threats; she says they were simply warnings. "I never threatened anybody," she said. "I was simply warning them of the potential consequences of their behavior. Anyone who would threaten to take care of the heads of all corporations would have to be a total nut."

*       *       *

Whichever is true, she served 10 years of a 15-year sentence in Federal prison for conspiring to mail the letters and for threatening the same people in a series of radio interviews. In 1985, she settled in Vermont, dropping the name Good to shield herself from an aggressive press.

But now she has shed the cloak of anonymity she has worn for more than four years,wrapping herself instead in anger over the paper mill and its effect on Lake Champlain.

It is an anger so great that Miss Collins and her housemate, Earl Parsons,refused the $12,000 they would have received when the company recently settled a suit with lakefront landowners on the Vermont side for $5 million. In the settlement, which she protested in front of the Federal courthouse in Burlington, the company admitted no wrongdoing in polluting the lake and is protected from any future legal action by landowners. Her protest was photographed and led to the revelation of her identity.

*       *       *

Until she took up the cause of the lake, Ms. Collins, a sandy-haired, wiry woman who is now "40-something," lived here quietly, without a car or a checking account, growing vegetables and flowers to sell locally. In the winter, when the gardens have been harvested and the flowers have been dried, she spends her time walking and thinking.

Now she hitches rides to the newly formed Lake Champlain Steering Committee, authorized under a joint agreement among Vermont, New York, and Quebec to clean up the lake. At those meetings, she takes copious notes and confronts officials with whom she disagrees.

"I am amazed by the leap in environmental awareness I see around me," says Ms. Collins, who is known to her friends as Blue, a nickname given to her by Mr. Manson, who is serving a life sentence. "I got locked up for saying these things; 15 years ago, people considered this fanaticism."

But at times, she wonders if even her natural allies want her help. Noting that some of her telephone calls to the Lake Champlain committee, an advocacy group, have not been returned, Ms. Collins wonders "whether my past associations are embarrassing" to committee members.

"I doubt it," said Ginger Dowling, the administrative assistant. "We're interested in getting all the help we can to save the lake."

At the moment, Ms. Collins has two important goals. One is to save the earth.

"I will hook up with anybody who is sincere and has guts," she said.

The other is to be reunited with Charles Manson. In 1985, she had planned to settle near him in California until state authorities prevented it. When her 5-year probation ends in December 1990, she said, she plans to go to California, where he is still serving his sentence.

"Charles Manson is the most enlightened human being I've ever met," said Ms. Collins. "He never lies. That is the big attraction of Manson. He never lies.

"The Manson family's issue has always been pollution, but the press buried it, pandering to the public's taste for vicarious thrills," she said. "Charles Manson never murdered anybody. The media mangled the Manson thing so badly it would take another trial—with cameras in the courtroom this time—before people will ever know the truth.

Back to Media Watch | Site Map | Main