July 2nd, 2008
07:16 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Murder and Politics on the menu this am...

Good Morning...

Was he a serial killer or a "spree" killer? Well, we might find out in court today...Nicholas Troy Sheley, 28, of Sterling, was arrested Tuesday evening at a shopping center in Granite City, Illinois, just 10 miles east of St. Louis, Missouri. Just before he was arrested, Sheley stopped at Bindy's bar in the shopping center, prompting at least two patrons who recognized him from news reports to excuse themselves and notify police. He is accused of killing 8...yes, 8 people over the course of a week. The victims - six in Illinois and two in Missouri - all apparently died from blunt force trauma to the head, the FBI said. While at large, Sheley was considered armed and dangerous, with a criminal history of armed violence and resisting arrest.....David Mattingly is in St Louis with the latest....

Ted Rowlands takes a look at another infamous killing spree...40 years ago, 8 ½ month pregnant actress Sharon Tate begged for mercy from her “Manson family” killers, including Susan Atkins. Now, Atkins is begging for mercy....

With less than six months to live and her ability to communicate compromised, Atkins is dying of a brain tumor and has requested a “compassionate release” from prison so she can die at home. Her husband will speak to us about his fight for mercy for his dying wife. Not everyone agrees. Virginia Graham, Atkins’ cellmate, speaks out after 40 years of mostly hiding out from the press and the world, about her vivid memory of Atkins’ gruesome jail cell confession that she had killed Sharon Tate with no mercy. She remembers how scared she was to pass the info along to authorities but knew it was the right thing to do. Soon after, authorities charged Charles Manson, Krenwinkel, Van Houten, Watson, and Atkins with the Tate/LaBianca murders. Graham has lived in fear of “Manson family” retaliation but feels it’s the right time to speak out after all the years so Atkins will die in prison. Author and Atkins’ prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi who initially got Atkins the death penalty, says Atkins should be given compassionate release while family members of murder victims such as Debra Tate will do everything in their power to make sure Atkins and other Manson family members are never released from prison.

A subtle turn from murder to politics....A new AP/YAHOO news poll out shows the public hasn't taken to Michelle Obama yet, especially white people. And it's got a question about Cindy McCain: Who is she?
People are divided over whether they like Obama, with 30 percent seeing her favorably and 35 percent unfavorably. They actually tilt positively toward Cindy McCain, by 27 percent to 17 percent. In summary while the two women are about equally liked, Obama is twice as disliked as McCain. Suzanne Malveaux sits down today with Michelle Obama, so what is on her mind? Tune in tonight....

And on the other side the campaign aisle...four months have passed since John McCain effectively captured the party nomination, and the insiders are getting restless. According to POLITICO, top GOP officials, frustrated by what they view as inconsistent messaging, sluggish fund raising and an organization that is too slow to take shape, are growing increasingly uneasy about the direction of the McCain presidential campaign. While the practice of second-guessing presidential campaign decisions is a quadrennial routine, interviews by POLITICO with 16 Republican strategists and state party chairmen — few of whom would agree to talk on the record — reveal a striking level of discord and mounting criticism about the McCain operation. Dana Bash digs into the McCain camp for us...

AND Randi Kaye looks at the latest male mogul to fall from grace....Investment banker, science patron, self-made billionaire, philanthropist and former math teacher Jeffrey Epstein can add a new title to his résumé – convicted sex offender. The Manhattan money man appeared in a Florida courthouse this week where he pleaded guilty to soliciting an underage prostitute…..What was Jeffrey Epstein thinking? From Epstein to Elliott Spitzer the list continues to grow...Yet another example of the rich and powerful falling from grace…. what drives them down this path and ultimately into the ground…Check out Randi's report tonight....

In other news...Hundreds of firefighters were working overtime to beat back wildfires from the western edge of the Sierra Nevada to coastal mountains near Big Sur, where the authorities enforced new, mandatory evacuations. Dan Simon is in California and keeping tabs on the winds and the flames...

ALL for now...

Filed under: The Buzz
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. GF, Los Angeles

    Susan Atkins should be given the same type of mercy she gave Sharon Tate and her unborn baby – NONE!

    July 2, 2008 at 3:25 pm |
  2. Melissa

    I can't believe the audacity that Susan Atkins has in asking for compassionate release. Sharon Tate pleaded with Susan for mercy upon her child and to kill her after she gave birth and was told she had no mercy for her and that she was going to die so she better get use to it. What an absolutely painful and terrifying way for Sharon and her baby to die. At least Susan has the luxury of morphine and other various drugs to dull her pain while she dies. Susan had no mercy for Sharon and her unborn child – I have zero mercy for Susan. Better yet – save my taxpayer dollars and don't give her any pain medication.

    July 2, 2008 at 12:24 pm |
  3. Susan

    Susan Atkins showed no mercy to Sharon Tate and her unborn child when she killed her in cold blood almost 41 years ago. I disagree with Prosecutor Bugliosi, Susan Atkins should remain in jail. In light of the fact that she is suffering from a brain tumor the prison should provide her with as much comfort measures as possible.

    A very in depth comprehensive story was done on Cindy McCain in last weeks issue of Newsweek. It was very well done and if you are so inclined, you should read it and make your own decision as to
    who/ what Cindy McCain is all about.

    I really do not know a lot about Michelle Obama beside what I have seen on AC360. She comes accross to me as being a little intimidating, not as approachable as her husband. This is only my observation and is by no means meant to be mean spirited.

    Senator John McCain did not make good use of the extra time that he had to get his campaign up and running. It has been a little inconsistent and seems to be disorganized. His ads are good, but some of his live appearances have been just awful.


    July 2, 2008 at 12:15 pm |
  4. Carol

    I have lived in California all my life, and I remember the Tate-LaBianca murders.

    If anyone thinks Susan Atkins deserves compassion they should read Vincent Bugliosi's book, Helter Skelter.

    I read the book shortly after its' release many years ago. I've never forgotten it – and I still get chills thinking of the passages that described the murder of Sharon Tate and the others at her home. I doubt that any of the gruesome details could be discussed on TV.

    I would like AC to ask her husband one question: Obviously, her condition requires extensive medical treatment. If she were to be released, who is going to pay for that when she goes home? Her? The husband? Or, me? .......the California taxpayer.

    I realize that while she is in prison I am paying for her medical treatment. I do not wish to have my tax dollars used to keep her comfortable in her home. Sorry, I have no compassion for her.

    July 2, 2008 at 11:55 am |
  5. Heather

    Sharon Tate was pregnant when Atkins brutally murdered her. She showed no compassion for a pregnant women or her baby. There are plenty of prisoners who die in prison every day from cancer. This is karma. She should die in prison. That will be her death penalty and Sharon
    Tate and her family including Mr Polanski with the justice that they have been waiting for.

    July 2, 2008 at 11:54 am |
  6. Kristen- Philadelphia, PA

    Morning everyone, gosh so much violence it makes my head hurt. I don’t think that Atkins should be released.

    Michelle Obama is a strong, intelligent and well spoken black woman. America is not used to seeing that but so what. I don't think she should change one bit. She has grown up with a different outlook towards this country than Cindy McCain or Laura Bush. We should be listening to what she has to say instead of being scared to hear something just because we don't like it.

    McCains campaign is slow moving. But what do you expect from someone who is in their 70’s. I don’t mean to age discriminate but really being President is not like being a senator, it actually requires work.

    Are we even surprised anymore by these men? They think they are invincible and think with their pants not their head.

    Hope they can get those fires under control soon.

    July 2, 2008 at 10:59 am |
  7. Michelle

    I am voting for a president not a first lady.
    I think there are a lot of highly educated
    females that go through the same things
    that Michelle Obama is experiencing. Some
    men just can not handle highly educated
    successful women.

    July 2, 2008 at 10:56 am |
  8. deborah, OH

    Sheley is a creepy, awful person–glad he is behind bars.

    Sharon Tate, it has been told by the Manson family, pled for mercy more than 40 yrs. ago. Where does that leave Atkins now? You tell me. Unspeakable is the only word for that crime.

    Neither of the candidates or their wives appeal to me.

    Epstein is yet another example of power corrupting the rich. Why or how do they think they can get away with it?!

    The fires are really horrible in Ca. Is Mother Earth really mad at us?!-just a thought! Stay safe, Dan.

    July 2, 2008 at 10:03 am |
  9. Mike in NYC

    Serial killers' crimes are almost always sexual in nature, with the victims fitting a particular profile, i.e., young women. Spree killers choose their victims as they come, and they're usually fueled by anger.

    Just thought I'd get my two cents in.

    July 2, 2008 at 9:19 am |
  10. Annie Kate

    I wouldn't wish a brain tumor on anyone but I don't think Susan Atkins should be granted compassionate release; she wasn't compassionate to Sharon Tate and her unborn child or the others she killed. Ms Atkins has lived many years that Ms. Tate and her baby were denied. For the sake of the victim's surviving families, this request should be denied.

    The wildfires sound terrible – another bad summer of fires. I hope the firefighters are successful in containing the fire near Big Sur so no one loses their home.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    July 2, 2008 at 9:13 am |
  11. Cindy

    Sheley was obviously a spree killer. He just randomly killed for no rhyme or reason. Serial killers always have a pattern and like to find people that fall within that pattern to kill.

    I can't believe that his wife, ex wife what ever she was, is sticking up for him saying that he is a good man. How good can you be if you kill eight people for no reason!? I am glad that they got him off of the street. There is no telling how many more people he would have killed.

    I think that they should let Atkins die in prison. Why should she get any special treatment? She brutally killed someone and their unborn baby! She doesn't deserve mercy! A lot of people die in prison...why should she get any preferential treatment just because of her notoriety?

    So Michelle's new make over that she got didn't help her it seems. People still don't like her. Obama has the same problem as she does if you go by these polls. They both are an ostracizing pair it seems. Could it be their elitism!? HMMM Just asking!


    July 2, 2008 at 8:15 am |
  12. DGriffin

    Neither a hero, nor vigilante. These two criminals paid the ultimate price for their choice of lifestyle. They knew it was a risk when they broke into that home. For them, I do not feel any sympathy or remorse. Hunt did what alot of Texans would have done. And Alabama, and Mississippi residents are the same way. Protect your property with your gun. I like this turnout, because it sends a message to many criminals, but unfortunately, criminals don't watch CNN.

    July 2, 2008 at 7:25 am |

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