Manson follower denied parole, deemed ‘unreasonable danger to society’ after 50 years in jail

Leslie Van Houten, 72, was convicted for taking part in the murders of a California couple in 1969 when she was 19

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Leslie Van Houten, who has already been imprisoned for 50 years and is serving a life sentence for her role in the notorious Manson family murders, was denied parole on Tuesday.

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The 72-year-old “currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison at this time,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said in his parole review, the Associated Press reported.

A tentative date for another parole suitability hearing is expected in May 2023, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Van Houten’s release has been recommended five times since 2016.

This is the fifth time her parole has been blocked by a governor in the state.

A petition to keep Van Houten in prison was created by actress Sharon Tate’s sister, Debra Tate. It had garnered almost 180,000 signatures by Tuesday morning.

In the petition, Debra Tate wrote that after the victims were killed, Van Houten showered and stole a dress and a leather purse to wear.

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She “wiped the house of fingerprints, and ate cheese and chocolate milk from the victims’ refrigerator,” wrote Debra Tate. “Before leaving, she patted their dogs on the head and left their bodies to be discovered the following evening by Rosemary’s son and daughter.”

“For years she showed no remorse at all for her actions,” she continued. “When asked during her trial if she ever cried about the murder of Rosemary LaBianca she replied: ‘Cry for her death? Why?…She’s not the only person who has died.’”

This March 29, 1971, file photo shows three defendants in the Manson murder trial, from left, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten.  All three, plus Charles Manson, were convicted of murder.
This March 29, 1971, file photo shows three defendants in the Manson murder trial, from left, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten. All three, plus Charles Manson, were convicted of murder. Photo by AP

The events leading to the murder charges against Van Houten began with the killings of a pregnant Tate and three friends, who were staying at a home on Cielo Drive in August 1969. (Another man who happened to be visiting the property’s caretaker was also killed) .

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Charles Manson, the leader of the Manson family, instructed members to go to the house in Benedict Canyon.

Although Van Houten was not present, she joined Manson family members the following evening. She was accused in connection with the murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. The couple was killed in their home in the Los Feliz neighborhood.

Van Houten testified that she stabbed Rosemary LaBianca 14 times, saying “we started stabbing and cutting up the lady” in 1971, the LA Times reported.

Van Houten was 19 years old at the time.

The Manson family was the name given to Manson’s followers, mainly young women, who eventually settled on Spahn Ranch, north of Los Angeles. They were fueled by hallucinogenic drugs and lived communally. Manson spread his views of an impending race war, using the term Helter Skelter, borrowed from The Beatles song.

It was described by a Manson family member in court as the “last war on the face of the earth.”

“It would be all the wars that have ever been fought built one on top of the other, something that no man could conceive of in his imagination,” she said.

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