The horrific killing-spree was said to have put an end to the 60’s hippie movement, as Charles Manson’s followers stabbed their way around Hollywood in a drug fueled frenzy.
A member of the cult known as The Family, Leslie Van Houten, 72, was denied parole for the fifth time by a Californian parole board on Tuesday. She has now spent 50 years behind bars.
Van Houten was just 19 when she, along with a handful of other Family cult members butchered Los Angeles businessman Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary in their own home in 1969.
Leslie later admitted she had stabbed Mrs LaBianca so many times that her knife bent against a bone, prompting her to seek the help of co-defendant, Tex Watson, to finish the job.
“And she had been pleading, you know, take whatever you want, and we took her into the bedroom. I wrapped the lamp cord around her head to hold the pillowcase on her head. I went to hold her down,” Van Houten said in an interview with Diane Sawyer.
“And I tried to hold her down more, and Pat went to stab her on the collarbone and the knife bent.”
“Tex turned me around and handed me the knife and he said ‘do something’ because Manson had told him to make sure all of us got our hands dirty. And I stabbed Mrs LaBianca in the lower back about 16 times”.
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The group, comprising of Van Houten, Watson, Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel left a fork protruding from Mr LaBianca’s body – using the slain couple’s blood to write sadistic messages on the walls of their home.
Manson had initially entered the home with his Family members, but left after the victims were tied up, leaving others to complete the evil deed.
Some of the cult, although not including Van Houten, had two nights previously massacred heavily pregnant actress Sharron Tate and her four friends as they relaxed in Tate’s Beverly Hills home after a meal out, stabbing them all to death and writing the words ‘pigs’ and ‘Helter Skelter’ on walls in the victim’s blood.
Although all the women were initially remorseless for their actions and universally protected their leader and lover Charles Manson – the women, including Van Houten have since condemned the man they once thought was Jesus Christ and said they had been brainwashed by Manson’s LSD-fueled rantings.
Manson claimed he was Jesus Christ, that The Beatles had written subliminal messages about him into their songs, and that black men were going to start a race war which would result in a dystopian society.
Although Manson’s real motives for the horrendous crimes have always been unclear due to his continued denial of any involvement, many have speculated he had targeted Tate’s house as its previous owner, Terry Melcher, a record producer, had refused to sign him as an artist.
— FREAK SCENE フサオ (@AcidEater_Fusao) October 8, 2018
Van Houten has had 21 parole hearings since 1982 and until recently all had denied her bid for freedom. Since 2016, five panels have recommended Van Houten as ready for release, but these recommendations were rejected by California Governor Gavin Newsom.
In a letter detailing his decision to reject to board’s recommendation, Newsom expressed that while he was aware that Van Houten had undergone therapy, earned various academic degrees and had taken part in self-help classes, showing “increased maturity and rehabilitation”, he concluded the murderess “currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison at this time”.
Meanwhile, Van Houten’s attorney says the decision will be appealed, accusing the governor of making decisions to protect his “political future”. He argued:
“We’re not fighting (over) Leslie being a good person. She’s proven that through her actions for half a century”.
Susan Atkins died of a brain tumour in prison in 2009, and Charles Manson of “natural causes” in 2017; Van Houten, Tex Watson and Patricia Krenwinkel remain caged to this day.