Squeaky Fromme and Her 1911 Pistol: A Whole Lot of Crazy in One Tiny Package

Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States, became Richard Nixon’s Vice President after Spiro Agnew resigned. Ford is the only man to serve as both Vice President and President without having been elected to either post.

Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme was crazy as a road lizard.

 

On September 5, 1975, President Gerald Ford was walking across the grounds of the California State Capitol building to meet with Governor Jerry Brown. Ford was in Sacramento to speak at an annual breakfast meeting of wealthy California business leaders. Among the gathered crowd was a slight redheaded young woman dressed in flowing red robes named Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme.

 

President Ford was first attacked while meeting the public in California.

 

As the crowd pressed in toward the President he took the opportunity to greet the public and shake a few hands.

 

As is usually the case, Fromme’s attack was utterly unexpected.

 

In the second row of onlookers, Fromme reached underneath her ample robes and retrieved a Colt 1911 pistol from a holster on her left side. Extending her arm she leveled the gun at the President’s midriff at near contact range and squeezed the trigger.

 

Squeaky Fromme likely holds the dubious distinction of being the most inept assassin in American history.

 

The hammer fell with an audible snap. She exclaimed, “It wouldn’t go off!”

 

As Secret Service agents wrestled Fromme to the ground she was shocked to realize that her weapon had not fired.

 

Secret Service agents intervened immediately and wrestled the small woman to the ground, disarming her in the process. Once subdued she said, “It didn’t go off. Can you believe it? It didn’t go off.”

 

President Ford did not seem unduly affected by the assassination attempt.

 

The rest of the President’s security detail dragged Ford bodily away from the site of the attack until he yelled, “Put me down! Put me down!” Ford, a former US Marine, then resumed his walk to the state house for his meeting with Governor Brown. He did not inform Brown of the assassination attempt until the end of their half-hour meeting.

 

The Assassin

 

This woman’s head was a bucket of snakes.

 

Squeaky Fromme in 1975 was the chemical formula for crazy.

 

Squeaky Fromme started doing drugs in high school and never really recovered.

 

A founding member of Charles Manson’s murderous Manson Family, Fromme was the daughter of a successful California aeronautical engineer. In her youth, she performed with a dance troupe called the Westchester Lariats at both the White House and on the Lawrence Welk show. After getting involved in drugs in high school she was ultimately estranged from her parents.

 

Charles Manson was a charming maniac.

 

In 1967 Charles Manson had been recently released from federal prison and had a chance meeting with Fromme.

 

Manson drew adherents via an unnatural personal charisma.

 

The two hit it off and Fromme joined Manson as he traveled about California gathering adherents for his diabolical cult. They ultimately settled on a ranch owned by cult member George Spahn. Spahn named her Squeaky because of the noise she made whenever he touched her.

 

Once Charles Manson went to prison for the murder of Sharon Tate he never got out.

 

Two years later Manson was arrested for his part in the murder of Sharon Tate as well as Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.

 

Manson and his followers had the curious practice of carving swastikas into their foreheads.

 

Around this time Manson carved the signature swastika into his forehead. Squeaky Fromme followed suit soon thereafter. Throughout Manson’s trial, Fromme followed him around proclaiming his innocence to anyone who would listen.

 

Squeaky Fromme was suspected of involvement in several murders.

 

Fromme was implicated in the deaths of James and Lauren Willett at a rural cabin in 1972. The Willetts were apparently members of the organization but had threatened to inform the authorities about some of the group’s more nefarious dealings. James Willett was forced to dig his own grave and was buried with one hand sticking out of the ground. He was discovered in this condition some two months later. Whoever made the discovery was likely never quite right afterward.

 

Fromme attempted a meeting with Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page.

 

Police lacked the evidence to convict Fromme so she went free. She once attempted to contact Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin so she could warn him of some nebulous impending danger.

 

Fromme’s outrage over pollution and its effects on the environment inexplicably led her to attempt to kill the President.

 

She then developed a fixation with California smog and its deleterious effects on the state’s remarkable coastal redwood trees. From there it was a simple hallucinated hop in her twisted mind to presume that Gerald Ford was responsible for the smog and begin plotting his demise.

 

The Gun

 

The Colt 1911 pistol is a timeless American legend.

 

The weapon Fromme used to attempt to kill the President was an American icon. This particular gun was an original 1911-production M1911 .45-caliber government-issue pistol that had been sold as surplus in 1913. Fromme stole/borrowed the gun from Harold Boro, a wealthy member of the Manson Family. Boro had previously bought Fromme a red VW after she wrecked his Cadillac.

 

This is the actual weapon Fromme used to try to kill the President.

 

When she took the gun, Fromme also left with 25 rounds of ammunition and a book titled The Modern Handgun, presumably to help her learn how to fire the weapon. At the time of the attack, Fromme’s 1911 held four rounds in the magazine, and the chamber was empty.

 

John Moses Browning’s 1911 was arguably the most influential handgun design in history.

 

The 1911 was the brainchild of American firearms visionary John Moses Browning.

 

The M1911 pistol served American warriors for more than a century.

The 1911 was powerful, reliable, and heavy and armed the US military in one form or another for more than a century.

 

The original gun used by Fromme is now on display in a museum in Michigan.

The actual weapon used in the crime was gifted to the Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and is on display there today.

 

The Aftermath

 

Fromme’s prosecution was not unduly complicated.

 

Squeaky Fromme’s trial began two months after the assassination attempt and lasted two weeks. The government had already amassed more than 1,000 pieces of evidence to support their case.

 

Squeaky Fromme did not cooperate with her defense team, frequently going so far as to refuse to walk under her own power.

 

Fromme refused to cooperate with her defense attorneys throughout it all.

 

Fromme did not help her case much with her flamboyant tantrums.

 

After the US Attorney prosecuting the case asserted that she was “full of hate and violence” Fromme threw an apple at him in the midst of the trial. It also likely didn’t help her cause much that she had a swastika carved into her forehead. After two weeks the woman was convicted of attempting to kill the President of the United States and sentenced to life in prison.

 

Squeaky Fromme got into a lot of trouble in prison.

 

In 1979 Fromme attempted to kill a fellow inmate named Julienne Busic with a hammer. In December of 1987, she escaped from prison in an effort at reuniting with Charles Manson who had by now been diagnosed with testicular cancer. She was recaptured two days later.

 

Fromme never recanted her allegiance to Charles Manson.

 

 

Throughout her incarceration, she continued to profess her allegiance to Manson, one of only two original members of the Manson Family to do so.

 

Squeaky Fromme resides in New York today.

 

Squeaky Fromme was released on parole in August of 2009 and moved to Marcy, New York, where she apparently lives today.

 

Just When You Thought It Couldn’t Get Any Weirder…

 

Sara Jane Moore was an unhinged American housewife.

 

Seventeen days after Squeaky Fromme attempted to kill Ford, another unbalanced woman named Sara Jane Moore gave it a whirl. Divorced five times and the mother of four children, Moore hailed from a Christian upbringing and practiced Judaism for a time. She ultimately turned to revolutionary politics in an effort at finding herself and developed a fascination with Patty Hearst, yet another infamous female lunatic.

 

Moore’s attack wounded an innocent bystander.

 

Moore owned a .44-caliber revolver with which she was purportedly fairly proficient. Police had recently investigated her revolutionary rantings and subsequently confiscated her firearm. On the morning of the attack, she purchased a .38-caliber revolver. She had not fired the pistol before attempting to murder the President. The weapon grouped about six inches to the side at the forty-foot range she attempted the shot, and this likely saved the President’s life.

 

A nearby Marine intervened and potentially saved the President’s life.

 

A nearby Marine named Oliver Sipple, dove onto the deranged woman as she fired a second round. That bullet also missed the President but wounded a nearby taxi driver named John Ludwig.

Sara Jane Moore ultimately denounced her actions.

 

Sara Jane Moore spent 32 years behind bars and was released in 2007 at age 77. She later stated, “I am very glad I did not succeed. I know now that I was wrong to try.”

 

The Rest of the Story

 

The USS Gerald Ford represents an entirely new class of American aircraft carriers.

 

Gerald Ford died of natural causes in December 2006. A modern US Navy aircraft carrier, CVN-78, was launched in 2017 and named in his honor. The USS Gerald Ford employs electromagnetic catapults and is the second longest ship ever built.

 

Gerald Ford’s son Steven has had small parts in several well-known movies.

 

The President’s son, Steven Ford, became an actor and has appeared in a number of minor roles in movies such as Escape from New York, Heat, Blackhawk Down, Armageddon, and Transformers. In Escape from New York, he plays, interestingly enough, a Secret Service agent. He is the blonde-headed agent in Air Force One at the beginning who helps move Donald Pleasance into the Presidential escape pod.

 

Squeaky Fromme was a misguided acolyte of a murderous lunatic.

Sara Jane Moore was a delusional revolutionary.

 

Gerald Ford was the only US President ever to be attacked by a woman, and female assailants attacked him twice in less than three weeks. Squeaky Fromme claimed that she had ejected the round from the gun’s chamber in advance to ensure that she didn’t actually hurt anyone. However, she apparently admitted soon after the crime that she did not know to retract the slide to put the weapon into action. Investigators did find a loose .45ACP round on the floor of her apartment that would tend to back up her assertion.

 

Most people with mental illness are completely harmless. A select few, however, are profoundly dangerous.

 

The vast majority of people with mental illness are harmless. As all gun owners seem to be assumed to be responsible for the unhinged actions of a few criminals, the stigma against those with mental illness is also frequently applied with a broad brush. However, in the case of Squeaky Fromme and Sara Jane Moore, these two women, at least in their youth, were dangerously unbalanced.

 

Fortunately, Squeaky Fromme was as inept as she was unbalanced.

About the author: Will Dabbs A native of the Mississippi Delta, Will is a mechanical engineer who flew UH1H, OH58A/C, CH47D, and AH1S aircraft as an Army Aviator. He has parachuted out of perfectly good airplanes at 3 o’clock in the morning and summited Mount McKinley, Alaska, six times…always at the controls of an Army helicopter, which is the only way sensible folk climb mountains. Major Dabbs eventually resigned his commission in favor of medical school where he delivered 60 babies and occasionally wrung human blood out of his socks. Will works in his own urgent care clinic, shares a business build-ing precision rifles and sound suppressors, and has written for the gun press since 1989. He is married to his high school sweetheart, has three awesome adult children, and teaches Sunday School. Turn-ons include vintage German machineguns, flying his sexy-cool RV6A airplane, Count Chocula cereal, and the movie “Aliens.”

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • SoWhatSoFar September 5, 2021, 2:58 pm

    Funny enough what she was trying to do was prevent what is taking place today. The rape of the natural environment. You all just swallowed the lies of the mass media.

  • M. Dean Delle October 14, 2019, 7:37 pm

    President Ford had been a naval officer, not a Marine. Otherwise, I enjoy your writing.

  • JCitizen October 14, 2019, 7:33 pm

    Squeeky’s head was as empty as the chamber of her .45!!

  • Neil Schmidt October 14, 2019, 4:48 pm

    Interesting article that brought back memories that I would like to forget, but which need to be remembered. Manson and his groupies were murderous fruitcakes that deserved to be removed from society….for the rest of their miserable, despicable lives. The hate they spewed was just another form of the PC hate showered by liberals on those of us who merely want to live peaceably, pay our taxes and get along with our lives.

  • J Keck October 14, 2019, 2:42 pm

    Dr. Dabbs, I thoroughly enjoy your written works! You have become one of my favorite authors, thank you!

  • Mike Watkins October 14, 2019, 2:34 pm

    It was always so strange to me that a guy as harmless as Gerald Ford would attract even one assassination attempt, let alone TWO. And both attackers women. Must have been some weird pheromone in his aftershave.

  • catawampus October 14, 2019, 1:54 pm

    lesson? just say NO to drugs, oh and pull the slide back.

  • Shan October 14, 2019, 1:25 pm

    Figures some brainwashed hippie dirtbag cannot operate a 1911.

  • AK October 14, 2019, 1:11 pm

    One thought in all this is, what her parents must’ve gone through. Wonder if the decrepit psycho, in the winter of her life, ever thinks of that?

    Sad fate for a nice 1911. But at least it’s preserved.

  • Gregory October 14, 2019, 12:47 pm

    This is another very interesting article in this series. I did have the same thought about the Model 1911 being sold as surplus in 1913. Wikepedia says The gun’s serial number is 94854. Based on my quick internet search, it was made in 1914 or 1915. The information about the gun being sold as surplus in 1913 is also on Wikipedia, meaning that the Wikipedia information is incorrect since it could not have been sold as surplus in 1913. Also, Gerald Ford was in the U.S. Navy, not the U.S. Marines. Finally, USS Gerald Ford is not the second longest ship ever built. It may be that the author meant to say that it was the second longest carrier or second longest naval warship ever built. USS Gerald ford at 1,106 feet is longer than the Nimitz class carriers at 1,092 feet, but it is shorter than the recently decommissioned USS Enterprise which was 1,123 feet long. There are many tankers, cargo ships, and cruise ships that are longer.

  • Mudd Hugger October 14, 2019, 12:33 pm

    Great article, suspenseful enough to keep me interested…thanks for tying up the ends to answering “where are they now?” and “how’d this happen?” Thoroughly enjoyed thanks!

  • Kevin Baxter October 14, 2019, 11:21 am

    Ah, the 60s. The only good thing to say about the 60s is that eventually, time will flush the toilet, and this worst of generations will be disposed of. Unfortunately, however, their disease persists. I now understand the Bible verse about people being punished for their sins, and the sins of their fathers, down to the third and fourth generations. It does not seem fair, but it remains true, and this is a perfect example.

  • Mark Johnson October 14, 2019, 9:28 am

    Hmmm this tells me an important fact that I had thought differently for all these years. Close to the event, I had heard that Fromme *was* familiar with how to operate a 1911, and therefore the failure to fire had to have been deliberate. This informs me she was so uneducated she didn’t know how to load and fire this gun.

    An illustration of how revolvers are in reality, more idiot proof. Had Fromme tried this with a revolver, she would have shot our President.

    • Neil Schmidt October 14, 2019, 4:49 pm

      Agree. What puzzles me is why the “misfire.” The 1911 .45 ACP is not a pistol that is difficult to load and fire, and it puzzles me why Fromme couldn’t make the pistol operate as planned. Maybe she had been on a drug-infused “trip” when prepping the pistol. As the article suggests, however, she might have just wanted to be a publicity-hound by preferring not to be an actual shooter. I don’t think we will ever know.

  • Jon Peckat October 14, 2019, 9:21 am

    That was a great read. I’ve always liked history and learning something new that I don’t remember hearing about. So much for the 1968 Gun control act “Controlling guns” to help stop assassination attempts. It sounds like more about control and they got a big one in 1968. An unconstitutional law at its best. Where in the constitution does it say the government can regulate them at all. Constitution doesn’t give them power it limits it. I keep telling people that gun control is a fallacy. It’s control period. People kill people anyway they can. Stop giving up our rights to people that will never give them back. Our rights come from god not government. People are taking away our right through the use of power backed by a gun just like the founding fathers went through with England. There is no such thing as gun control period.

  • Trevor_Phillips October 14, 2019, 9:12 am

    My dad told me a long time ago that all women are crazy but some are crazier than the rest.

  • Dan Barnes October 14, 2019, 7:14 am

    “This particular gun was an original 1911-production M1911 .45-caliber government-issue pistol that had been sold as surplus in 1913.” Am I correct in assuming that “sold as surplus in 1913.” is a typo?

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