Manson Family Murderer Granted Parole In Unexpected Decision

Nobody who participated in either murder has ever been released from prison.

By Gina Tron

Leslie Van Houten, former Manson Family member, was found suitable for parole by a two-person panel after a Wednesday hearing in California.

The 68-year-old woman was the youngest of Charles Manson’s followers, according to the Associated Press.

But, Van Houten is not a free woman yet. Her release must first be approved by the state Parole Board before being approved by Governor Jerry Brown. He blocked her release last year, NBC and the AP reports. In his 2016 decision, Brown wrote that Van Houten failed to explain her disturbing transformation from “upstanding teen” to cold-blooded killer.

She was just 19 when she participated in the gruesome murders of Leno La Bianca and his wife, Rosemary, just one day after actress Sharon Tate and four others were killed by other Manson Family members in 1969. Van Houten was not a participant in the Tate killings. Nobody who participated in either murder has ever been released from prison.

On Wednesday, the panel focused on the very issue that led Brown to deny Van Houten’s freedom last year: her transformation from homecoming princess to killer.

"I've had a lot of therapy trying to answer that question myself," Van Houten said. "To tell you the truth, the older I get the harder it is to deal with all of this, to know what I did, how it happened.”

Van Houten discussed her childhood with the two panelists: from her parents’ divorce when she was 14 to her years as a high school outcast who experimented with LSD at age 15. She said when she was 17, according to the AP, her mother forced her to have an abortion and bury the fetus in their backyard.  

Later, she stabbed Rosemary La Bianca over a dozen times in addition to holding a pillowcase over her head as others stabbed her.

"I feel absolutely horrible about it, and I have spent most of my life trying to find ways to live with it.”

[Photo: Getty Images]

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