Dianne Lake, a teenager who had been absorbed into Charles Manson's infamous cultic family, is now opening up about her experiences with the terrifying and murderous organization. She offers her testimony on her involvement with the group in a new book titled "Member of the Family."
“He was extremely intelligent,” Lake, now 64 and living outside of L.A., says to People. “He had the incredible ability to pick up on other people’s weaknesses and their needs and their desires, and he could fulfill those.”
Lake had met Manson after her family "dropped out" of society and left her with a note emancipating her from their care. She had traveled the country on her own before coming into contact with the mysterious leader's increasingly nefarious organization.
“I needed love and affection, and I needed a family. I needed to feel like I belonged somewhere,” Lake says. “And he perceived that from the get-go.”
Manson's acolytes would ultimately go on a two-day murder spree, taking the lives of seven individuals: Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, Steven Parent, Jay Sebring and Sharon Tate.
Lake noticed Manson's deteriorating mental condition before the killings, but after institutionalizing herself. “He just looked crazy, but I was able to look at him,” Lake says. “I had been pretty deprogrammed at this point, so I felt pretty safe.”
“The girls with the Xs on their foreheads? That part always blew me away,” Lake says of his loyal supporters, who continued to defend him as killers Susan Atkins and Leslie Van Houten were tried. “They continued to hang on, be groupies.”
Lake, who now has no connection with Manson or his group, is now using her narrative as a way to warn others: “It’s an interesting story, but it’s also a cautionary tale,” she says. “I hope that my story sheds a little light onto this very dark time.”
"Member of the Family" will be available on October 24.
[Photo: Getty Images]