Sarah Jane Moore — Would-Be Assassin of Gerald Ford Freed After 32 Years

Sara Jane Moore who attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975 was released from a Dublin prison. Now, 77, Moore was freed on December 30th – a day early — after 32 years in prison as a model prisoner.  The release will likely draw attention to that other would-be Ford assassin- Lynette Squeaky Fromme.

While Moore pleaded guilty to the attempted assassination and was sentenced to life in prison — she was still subject to parole under the old federal sentencing rules.  She had four children before her attempted assassination of Ford. She came close to succeeding. Her first shot at Ford in front of the St. Francis Hotel, near Union Square, missed and her second shot was foiled by a bystander, Oliver Sipple, who grabbed Moore’s arm and then pulled her to the ground.

Moore was a former nursing school student, Women’s Army Corps member, accountant. She had had five husbands and four children before her attempt at 45 on Ford’s life. She was motivated by radical politics and an obsession with Patty Hearst. She worked as a bookkeeper at People in Need (P.I.N.), an organization created by the Hearsts to feed the poor. She was also an FBI informant.

What is interesting is that the Secret Service had already identified her as a risk in 1975 and only a day before the attempt, she was picked up by police on an illegal handgun charge the day. While the police kept a .44 pistol and 113 rounds of ammunition, they let Moore go. She still had a .38 handgun. The only person injured in the attempt was a bystander injured when the bullet ricocheted off a pillar.

 The attempt shocked the nation because it came less than three weeks after Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme pointed a pistol at Ford in Sacramento. The release will put greater attention on the status of Fromme. Fromme was also held at the facility at Dublin for a while. Her sentence is augmented by an escape. On December 23, 1987, she escaped from the Alderson Federal Prison Camp in Alderson, West Virginia, and tried to meet with Charles Manson, whom she thought was dying of cancer. She was caught two days later and ultimately went to the Federal Medical Center, Carswell, Texas. Ultimately, the only successful act of violence committed by Fromme occurred in the courtroom when she threw an apple at U.S. Attorney Duane Keyes and hit him between the eyes. It was not a great trial tactic since Keyes had just told the jury how Fromer as “full of hate and violence.”

Unlike Moore, Fromme has not been a model prisoner. In addition to her escape, she used a craw hammer to attack Julienne Busic (a Croatian Nationalist who was imprisoned for her involvement in a 1976 airline hijacking) while both were housed at Pleasanton California. She hit Busic in the head. She also remained a loyal disciple of Manson — unlike Moore who regretted her actions. She was eligible for parole in September 2005 but has refused to participate in such hearings.

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3 thoughts on “Sarah Jane Moore — Would-Be Assassin of Gerald Ford Freed After 32 Years”

  1. Jon:

    I just testified in the House of Representatives on a proposed bill to allow early release for non-violent offenders in the federal system. It is currently very hard in the federal system absent a terminal disease and less than a year to live. States without parole are left with the commutation system, which has a low success rate.

  2. Hi, Jonathan- Thanks for this blog entry, which provides plenty more information than I previously knew about Ms. Moore and Ms. Fromme in relation to their arrests, convictions, and behavior as prisoners.

    Seeing that you direct the Project for Older Prisoners (POPS), do you have any information on the possibility of getting parole eligibility returned at least for older prisoners in the federal system and in other jurisdictions that ended the parole option?

    It strikes me as odd that Lynette Fromme ever would have been housed at Alderson, which was very low security, at least by the time Martha Stewart got there.

  3. Personally, I would never have this bitch Sara Jane Moore released from prison. In the USA, it should be mandated that all assassins, even would-be assassins, die in prison. Political assassinations strike at the very heart of a country’s polity, community.

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