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Where Are The Members Of Charles Manson’s Killer Cult Family Now?

They were the nightmare opposite of the hippie ideal of peace, love and happiness. 

By Benjamin H. Smith

Cult leader Charles Manson, who died in November 2017 at the age of 83, was the bête noire of the 1960’s counter-culture; an enigmatic quasi-religious despot who hid murderous intentions behind his piercing gaze and long hippie hair.  A petty thief and small-time pimp, Manson had spent most of his adult life in prison before landing smack dab in the middle of San Francisco’s “Summer Of Love” in 1967. Seeing the drug addled Haight-Ashbury youth as easy marks he began attracting followers, mostly young women into his cult, known as The Family.

Harboring his own musical ambitions, Manson and The Family descended upon Los Angeles in 1968, initially taking over the home of Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson. Angered by his inability to secure a record deal and fueled by delusions of an oncoming race war, Manson goaded his followers into committing a series of murders in August 1969, including the brutal killing of actress Sharon Tate, who was 8-and-a half-months pregnant at the time, and Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Eight members of The Family, including Manson, were eventually convicted for the 1969 killing spree, with other members running afoul of the law in its aftermath.

These are the other members of the blood-thirsty cult and where they are now.

Charles "Tex" Watson

Charles "Tex" Watson

A 22-year-old baggage handler when he first encountered the Manson Family, Watson was drawn to the music scene and the plethora of young women surrounding him. He oversaw the August 9, 1969 murders at the rental home of actress Sharon Tate, which included the pregnant actress and her friends; celebrity hairdresser Jay Sebring, screenwriter Wojciech Frykowski, and his girlfriend, Folger's coffee heiress Abigail Folger, as well as Steven Parent, who was visiting the house’s caretaker. He was also present the following night, with Manson, for the murders of supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary.

Following the murders, Watson fled to his native Texas, but was eventually captured and extradited to California, where he was convicted on seven counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to death, which was later commuted to life in prison. He married Kristin Joan Svege in 1979 and fathered four children with her, though they divorced in 2003. He became an ordained minister while behind bars, and runs a prison ministry with an online website. In 2021, he applied for parole, which was denied, according to NBC LA, and remains incarcerated at San Diego’s Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility.

Susan Atkins

Susan Atkins

Nicknamed Sadie Mae Glutz or Sexy Sadie by Manson, Atkins met the cult leader after fleeing an unhappy home life and working as a topless dancer. She played a role in three of the group’s killings, including the Tate - LaBianca murders, as well as the July 1969 killing of Gary Hinman, a Manson associate who was killed over a money dispute. Atkins was arrested in connection to the Hinman murder in October 1969, and while in jail told her cellmates she had participated in Tate’s stabbing death and tasted her blood. During her trial she was a disruptive presence before being convicted and sentenced to death, which was later commuted to life in prison. She married twice while in prison, became a born-again Christian and unsuccessfully petitioned to be released on parole, which was denied even after she was diagnosed with brain cancer and had a leg amputated. She died at the age of 61 at the Central California Women's facility in Chowchilla, as reported in The New York Times. At the time of her death, she was up the longest-serving female inmate in the California penal system, an honor that now befalls fellow Manson Family murderer Patricia Krenwinkel.

Patricia Krenwinkel

This March 13, 2020, photo of Charles Manson follower Patricia Krenwinkel.

Krenwinkel grew up in Los Angeles and had briefly considered becoming a nun before meeting Manson while working as a secretary and immediately falling under his spell. It was she who introduced The Family to Beach Boys Dennis Wilson, after he picked her up while she was hitchhiking. She participated in both of the Tate - LaBianca murders, chasing down and repeatedly stabbing Abigail Folger on the front lawn of the Tate home and writing "DEATH TO PIGS" on the wall and "HeaLter Skelter" [sic] on the refrigerator in blood at the second crime scene. Following the arrests, Manson told her to go stay with her aunt in Alabama, where she was later arrested. Like the others, she was convicted and sentenced to death, which was later commuted to life in prison. She has been denied parole 13 times, most recently in 2022.

Leslie Van Houten

Leslie Van Houten Ap

A former high school homecoming queen, Van Houten grew up in the suburbs of Southern California before falling into the hippie scene. She met Manson through musician and actor Robert “Bobby” Beausoleil, with whom she was in a polyamorous relationship, which also included Family member Catherine Share. Van Houten volunteered to accompany Manson and other Family members on August 9, 1969 when they murdered the LaBiancas, personally stabbing Rosemary LaBianca over a dozen times, wounds she later claimed were inflicted after her victim was dead. She was convicted along with Manson, Atkins and Krenwinkel in 1971. Just 19 at the time of the murders, her conviction was overturned in 1976, but she was again found guilty on two counts of murder in 1978. A model prisoner by all accounts, she has repeatedly been recommended for parole but each time, it was reversed. In March 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom wrote in his parole review, "Beyond the immeasurable suffering Ms. Van Houten caused the LaBianca family, Ms. Van Houten’s grisly acts have haunted people in California and beyond for more than half a century." 

Van Houten was eventually released on parole in July 2023. Her attorney, Nancy Tetreault, told the Associated Press that Van Houten is now in transitional housing, adding, "She’s still trying to get used to the idea that this real."

Linda Kasabian

Linda Kasabian

Born Linda Drouin and raised on the East Coast, Linda ran away at 16, later having two children and marrying a man named Robert Kasabian. She fell in with The Family in 1969, having sexual liaisons with both Manson and Watson. She was present at both the Tate and LaBianca murders, serving as a driver and lookout, but did not participate in the actual killings. When asked to participate in the murder of an acquaintance in Venice Beach, she knocked on the wrong door intentionally, saving the man’s life. Deeply disturbed by the events, two days after the killings she fled California for her mother’s home in New Hampshire. After hearing of the arrests of The Family, she turned herself into police and agreed to testify against Manson and the group in exchange for immunity from prosecution. After the trials she moved back to New Hampshire where she avoided the media spotlight and raised four children. She died in January 2023 at the age of 73. According to The Guardian, her death certificate revealed she had changed her name to Chiochios.

Bobby Beausoleil

Before entering the orbit of The Family, Robert “Bobby” Beausoleil had spent time in reform school, played in an early version of critically acclaimed L.A. rockers Love and appeared in the cult movie Lucifer Rising and a softcore porno film called The Ramrodder. As a member of The Family he participated in the kidnapping, torture and murder of Gary Hinman in late July 1969. He was arrested on August 6, 1969, just days before the Tate – LaBianca murders, after cops found him sleeping in Hinman's car with the murder weapon on him. He was convicted, sentenced to death and later had his sentence commuted to life in prison. According to the Los Angeles Times, while incarcerated he became a member of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang. He has also recorded several albums of instrumental music while in prison, including a new soundtrack for Lucifer Rising. He is currently serving out his sentence at California Medical Facility in Vacaville and has been repeatedly denied parole

Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme

Lynette 'Squeaky' Fromme

A childhood member of traveling dance troupe the Westchester Lariats, Lynette Fromme was a homeless hippie runaway when she met Manson in Venice Beach soon after his 1967 release from prison. While she didn’t participate in any of the 1969 murders, in September 1975 Fromme pointed a loaded Colt .45 caliber pistol at then-President Gerald Ford, and was sentenced to life in prison. In December 1987, she escaped from a federal prison in West Virginia in an attempt to see Manson and was captured two days later. She was released on parole in 2009 and in 2010 Inside Edition found her working at a WalMart in Rome, New York, according to the Utica Observer Dispatch.

Mary Brunner

Raised in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, “Mother Mary” was one of Manson’s first followers, meeting him weeks after he got out of prison in 1967. In April 1968, she gave birth to Manson’s son, Valentine Michael Manson, who was raised by Mary’s parents in Wisconsin after they petitioned for his custody in 1970. She was present at the murder of Gary Hinman, and initially agreed to testify against Beausoleil in exchange for immunity, but later recanted her testimony. She was arrested on August 8, 1969, the day of the Tate murders, for using stolen credit cards at a Sears store in the San Fernando Valley. In August 1971, along with Catherine Share and several male members of The Family, she participated in an armed robbery of a gun store in Hawthorne, California, which ended in a brief shoot-out with police. She was sentenced to 20 years to life but paroled in 1977 and released from prison. According to a 2016 article in Rolling Stone magazine, after her release she moved to the midwest and changed her name.  

Bruce Davis

Steve Grogan (left) and Bruce Davis (right)

Born in Louisiana, Davis met Manson and The Family in 1967 during a hippie sojourn to Oregon. Davis was present during the kidnapping and murder of Gary Hinman, and participated in the murder of Donald "Shorty" Shea in late August 1969. A Hollywood stuntman, Shea worked at The Spahn Movie Ranch, where The Family had set up base, and had numerous conflicts with the group. Manson ordered his killing, which was carried out by Charles “Tex” Watson, Davis and Steve "Clem" Grogan. Davis was sentenced to life in prison, where he became a born-again Christian, and according to the Los Angeles Times earned a doctoral degree in the philosophy of religion. Since 2010 he has been found suitable for parole numerous times, yet each time the ruling was reversed by the sitting Governor of California.

Steve "Clem" Grogan

Grogan was just a teenager with a history of juvenile delinquency when he began working at The Spahn Movie Ranch, the western movie set and horse ranch where The Family moved in 1968. Grogan was in a car with Manson and other Family members on the night of the LaBianca murders, but didn’t participate. He did, however, play a role in the murder of Donald "Shorty" Shea, whom he hit in the head with a metal pipe while “Tex” Watson stabbed him. Grogan was sentenced to life in prison, and at various points during his incarceration was housed in the same prisons as both Bobby Beausoleil, with whom he played music, and Manson himself, whom he allegedly avoided. In 1977 he helped police find Donald Shea’s remains and was eventually granted parole and released from prison in 1985. According to The New York Post, he currently lives in California.

(This story was originally published on November 22, 2017. It has been updated with new information.)

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