These 3 famous criminals have ties to New Hampshire’s history

Manson family member Linda Kasabian, who was born in New Hampshire, was the star witness in the Sharon Tate and LaBianca murder trial, at a press conference in Los Angeles, after being granted immunity from prosecution in the Manson Family trial, Aug. 19, 1970. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

By Stacy Milbouer

February 12, 2024

New Hampshire has plenty of famous actors, writers, musicians, and politicians with a close connection to the state. But we have also had our share of the infamous—those known around the country and the world for their roles in history’s seamier chapters. Here are a few:

Linda Kasabian was born in Maine but raised in Milford, New Hampshire and at the age of 16, dropped out of high school, left the state, and hitchhiked around the country. “When I left, I was searching for love and freedom,” she said in the 2009 documentary, “The Family: Inside the Manson Cult,”  “I was searching for God.” Instead, in 1969 at age 20, she found Charles Manson and his cult at a California ranch that was once a movie set. In August of that year, she was the lookout and getaway driver for the gruesome murders of the 26-year-old, pregnant Sharon Tate and five other people at the home she shared with her husband, the director Roman Polanski. She was also the driver the next night when the Manson gang broke into another home, brutalized and murdered two other people. After the murders, Kasabian hitchhiked back to her mother’s house in New Hampshire but eventually was given immunity when she testified against Manson in a 1970 trial. Manson was sentenced to death in 1969 for the Manson Family killings and murder of an acquaintance. But when California declared the death penalty unconstitutional, he left death row and died in prison in 2017. Last year (2023) Kasabian died in Tacoma, Washington. She was 73. The cause of her death is unknown. In that trial, Kasabian said of why she was drawn to Manson in the first place, “I was like a little blind girl in the forest and I took the first path that came to me.”

The mysterious occult figure, and Victorian media personality, Aleister Crowley, known as the “Wickedest Man in the World,” who founded the religion of Thelema, was born in England in 1875. He spent most of his time traveling, dabbling in sexual and drug experimentation, designing the Crowley Thoth tarot card deck, and writing about his experience in fiction and non-fiction books including the semi-autobiographical, “The Diary of a Drug Fiend” in 1922.  . In the summer of 1916, he needed a break from his creepy career. He headed to Hebron, New Hampshire on Newfound Lake which he termed a “magick retirement” at a small cottage belonging to his friend, the psychic Evangeline Adams. He spent his time reading and writing and according to his diaries, captured a frog, crucified it, then ate it. In total the occultist spent four months in Hebron. The white cottage he stayed in is still there.

H. H. Holmes, known as the Herman Webster Mudgett, Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, and the Beast of Chicago, is considered by many to be America’s first serial killer. Before being hanged at age 35 at a Philadelphia prison, he confessed to murdering 130 victims but was only convicted of one homicide. He was born into a wealthy family in Gilmanton, New Hampshire in 1861 and showed signs of high intelligence and an interest in medicine at a young age, according to an entry in Britannica. He supposedly captured animals and performed surgery on them, and in some historical accounts killed a childhood playmate. Holmes, who was born Herman Mudgett, went to Phillips Exeter Academy and Gilmanton Academy and graduated at age 16. While in New Hampshire he apprenticed to a proponent of human dissection. He later studied anatomy in Michigan and worked as a lab assistant to a professor who is said to have grave-robbed corpses for experimentation. Years later, after being accused of murder, Holmes admitted to using cadavers to defraud life insurance companies while in college. After he graduated, Holmes moved to Chicago, changed his name to Dr. H.H. Holmes, and worked as a pharmacist. Holmes later bought the business from the owner’s widow, after which she disappeared, according to the History Channel. That kicked off a murder career which enabled Holmes to steal victims’ properties. With the blood money, he built a sprawling house, later called the “Murder Castle” with secret passages and soundproof rooms. In the basement were acid vats, pits of quicklime, and a crematorium. The building was three miles away from the 1893 Chicago Colombian Exposition and Holmes advertised it as a hotel for visitors, some of whom checked in but were never seen again. Holmes’ birthplace home, built in 1825, is still in the center of Gilmanton across from town offices and the building where he once attended school. While in prison, awaiting his execution, Holmes wrote his autobiography, “Holmes’ Own Story,” in which he said, “I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than a poet can help the inspiration to sing.”

Author

  • Stacy Milbouer

    Stacy Milbouer is an award-winning journalist and has covered New Hampshire for many publications including the Boston Globe, New Hampshire Magazine, and the Nashua Telegraph.

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