Murderer’s release: Charles Manson ‘family’ member granted parole after 53 years

Picture of Leslie Van Houten courtesy of AP.

After spending nearly six decades behind bars, Leslie Van Houten, a member of the infamous Charles Manson “family” cult, has been granted parole. Van Houten was imprisoned in the United States for her role in the murder of a couple who operated a convenience store in Los Angeles.

California Governor Gavin Newsom initially denied Van Houten’s parole in May but an appeals court later overturned the decision, ruling that she was eligible for release. Despite the possibility of further legal action, the governor’s spokesperson stated that he chose not to pursue an appeal, as the chances of success were deemed unlikely.

Van Houten’s lawyer, Nancy Tetreault, confirmed that she left the Corona prison in southern California yesterday and has since relocated to a confidential halfway house where she will reside for one year. Tetreault highlighted Van Houten’s exemplary conduct during her time in prison, emphasizing her active participation in therapy for over four decades and the positive transformation she has undergone.

During her life sentence, Van Houten managed to obtain both a bachelor’s and master’s degree, demonstrating her dedication to personal growth while incarcerated. She also worked as a tutor for fellow inmates, contributing to the prison community.

Van Houten was just 19 years old when she took part in the Manson family’s gruesome killing spree, orchestrated by the notorious Charles Manson. In August 1969, the cult terrorized Los Angeles with a series of seven murders.

Murderer's release: Charles Manson 'family' member granted parole after 53 years | News by Thaiger
The female defendants in the Manson murder trial, from the left, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten. Picture taken in 1971 courtesy of AP.

While the now 73 year old is the first Manson family member to be granted parole, Manson himself died in prison in 2017 at the age of 83, leaving behind a legacy as one of the most infamous criminals of the 20th century. He manipulated his predominantly young, female followers into committing acts of violence, including the murder of actress Sharon Tate, as part of his delusional plan to incite a race war.

Van Houten was specifically convicted of fatally stabbing Leno LaBianca, the owner of a grocery store, and his wife Rosemary in their Los Angeles home on August 10, 1969. The words “Death to Pigs” and “Healter Skelter” (a misspelt reference to a Beatles song) were discovered scrawled in the victims’ blood on the walls and refrigerator.

The night before, Manson’s followers had broken into the Los Angeles residence shared by Tate and her husband, filmmaker Roman Polanski, who was absent in Europe at the time. Tate, who was eight months pregnant and only 26 years old, tragically lost her life along with four friends of the couple.

Despite Van Houten’s repeated parole board recommendations for early release since 2016, she had been denied parole three times by Governor Newsom and twice by his predecessor, fellow Democrat Jerry Brown. However, her journey through the criminal justice system has now taken a significant turn as she re-enters society.

Murderer's release: Charles Manson 'family' member granted parole after 53 years | News by Thaiger
Charles Manson is escorted to his arraignment on conspiracy-murder charges in connection with the Sharon Tate murder case, in 1969. Picture AP.

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Bob Scott

Bob Scott is an experienced writer and editor with a passion for travel. Born and raised in Newcastle, England, he spent more than 10 years in Asia. He worked as a sports writer in the north of England and London before relocating to Asia. Now he resides in Bangkok, Thailand, where he is the Editor-in-Chief for The Thaiger English News. With a vast amount of experience from living and writing abroad, Bob Scott is an expert on all things related to Asian culture and lifestyle.

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