Welcome to the website for Susan Atkins-Whitehouse. This website has been recently updated, as of January, 2014.
Originally this site was constructed to debunk myths about Susan's commitment offense which seemed to become more exaggerated each year. With this in mind we tried to use as many citations to actual documentation as possible. To the extent we were able to do this I believe this site is still very valuable for people who care to hear more about the case than just the evolving grotesque caricatures of the case which were being used to sell books and made-for-TV movies. But over the years it has seemed more in line with what Susan would have wanted to make the focus more on her work inside the prison system. Although Susan never forgot the victims of her commitment offense or her duty to live her life in a way that showed respect for them and their families and loved ones, Susan moved far beyond the case for which she was convicted. To that extent we have tried to make this site more an emphasis on how she continued to contribute to the community and society despite the limitations of her incarceration. And on her relationship with Jesus, which was the source of her strength and her happiness, and which was what Susan would have told you was the most important thing in her life.
On March 18th, 2008, Susan was diagnosed with a particularly virulent form of brain cancer. She was treated by an army of incredibly skilled neurologists, doctors, nurses, aides, therapists and social workers. They cared for her with kindness, compassion, professionalism, and unbelievable dedication. Despite the fact that Susan was not expected to survive the initial weeks of her illness, due to these professionals' skill and determination and even more importantly the weight of prayers from friends, family and complete strangers who had been touched at one time or another by Susan's work or her testimony, Susan was able to celebrate another eighteen months with us.
Susan was able to attend her 18th hearing before the California Parole Board on September 2nd, 2009. And although doctors had predicted her illness would prevent her from ever speaking again, she was able to recite Psalm 23 as her statement to the Board. A week later, after a day of visiting in which she never opened her eyes or moved, I prayed with her as I had every day since she was hospitalized, and I ended it the way I always did; "In Jesus' Name, Aaaaaa..." and suddenly Susan opened her mouth and whispered "Amen!" And that was the last word she ever spoke.
Susan was two weeks short of entering her 41st year of incarceration when she passed away. She had spent more time in prison than any woman in California history, and we believe longer than any woman in U.S. history. Though her case attained almost urban-myth proportions, Susan's incarceration was in stark contrast to the sensationalism of the crime, being characterized by an unwavering decades-long commitment to the community punctuated by contributions to earthquake victims, aids sufferers, 9/11 victims, homeless children, victims of violent crime, at-risk youth, and National Security. This website has been constructed with the hope of allowing the public to see who Susan really was, the extent to which she contributed to our community, and the extent to which her life was a testament to her personal savior Jesus Christ.
My Mission Statement
I met Susan in 1985 after discovering a copy of her book, "Child of Satan, Child of God." I was dealing with problems in my own life, and this story about a girl who ended up on death row only to turn her entire life around was extremely inspiring. I determined that if she could change her life from the confines of a prison cell on death row certainly I, blessed with all the advantages of living in the free world, could do the same.
To the extent to which her trial was a circus, and to the extent to which her case has been used and exaggerated to serve the financial and political interests of some people, and to the extent to which she has been denied parole regardless of her flawless behavior, this offended everything I was taught to believe regarding our Justice System and what the United States was created to stand for.
In 1994 I applied to and was accepted by Harvard Law School, and I graduated with honors three years later. Since then I acted as Susan's primary legal representative.