Susan Atkins, one of the leading members of Charles Manson's notorious violent cult who carried out brutal murders at his behest in 1969, died in a California prison, her husband said on Friday. She was 61.

Atkins, imprisoned since 1971 for her part in eight Manson-related murders, had been suffering from a brain tumor.

As part of Manson's following of hippies, runaways, criminals and misfits, Atkins once said he could see and hear everything she did. But during her time in prison she denounced him, and in 1974 became a Christian in a conversion inspired by correspondence with another former Manson family member.

Susan passed away peacefully surrounded by friends and loved ones and the incredible staff at the Skilled Nursing Facility at the Central California Women's Facility, her husband James Whitehouse said by email.

Her last conscious moments were with her husband and her brother, and her last whispered word was 'Amen.' No one (on) the face of the Earth worked as hard as Susan did to right an unrightable wrong, Whitehouse added.

Atkins said at a 1993 parole hearing, It is almost impossible to understand insanity and that's what I was living with -- insanity.