In Sacramento, California, an assassination attempt against President Gerald Ford is foiled when a Secret Service agent wrests a semi-automatic .45-caliber pistol from Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, a follower of incarcerated cult leader Charles Manson. Fromme was pointing the loaded gun at the president when the Secret Service agent grabbed it. Seventeen days later, Ford escaped injury in another assassination attempt when 45-year-old Sara Jane Moore fired a revolver at him. Moore, a leftist radical who once served as an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had a history of mental illness. She was arrested at the scene, convicted, and sentenced to life.
In trial, Fromme pleaded not guilty to the “attempted assassination of a president” charge, arguing that although her gun contained bullets it had not been cocked, and therefore she had not actually intended to shoot the president. She was convicted, sentenced to life in prison, and sent to the Alderson Federal Correctional Institution in West Virginia. Fromme remained a dedicated disciple of Charles Manson and in December 1987 escaped from the Alderson Prison after she heard that Manson, also imprisoned, had cancer. After 40 hours roaming the rugged West Virginia hills, she was caught on Christmas Day, about two miles from the prison. Five years were added to her life sentence for the escape.