On September 22, 1975, Charleston native Sara Jane Moore tried but failed to assassinate President Gerald R. Ford in San Francisco.
Moore, who was born Sara Jane Kahn, graduated from Charleston’s Stonewall Jackson High School in 1947. She once lived in North Charleston—reportedly not far from a young Charles Manson, who himself lived in West Virginia for several years. She later moved to California, joined left-wing groups, and became an FBI informant.
Moore received a life sentence for her attempt on Ford’s life and was taken to the Federal Penitentiary for Women near Alderson in Summers County. She escaped in 1979 but was captured three hours later. Later, she was transferred to a California prison and released in 2007, after serving 32 years.
Three weeks before Moore’s failed attempt on Ford, Manson associate Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme had also tried to shoot the president, but her gun failed to go off. Like Moore, Fromme was imprisoned at Alderson. She was later transferred to a Kentucky prison and released in 2009.
Despite the close timing, Sara Moore’s and “Squeaky” Fromme’s assassination attempts have never been linked.