After 53 Years, Manson Follower Leslie Van Houten Walks Free From Prison
Crime US

After 53 Years, Manson Follower Leslie Van Houten Walks Free From Prison


After serving more than five decades of a life sentence for her involvement in two brutal murders, Leslie Van Houten, a former follower of notorious cult leader Charles Manson, has been granted parole. At 73 years old, Van Houten was just 19 when she took part in the murder of a Los Angeles grocer and his wife in 1969 as a member of the infamous “Manson family.”

Van Houten’s previous attempts at parole had been denied five times by California’s governors, but a recent decision by a state appeals court reversed their rulings. The former homecoming queen became the youngest Manson follower to be convicted of murder for her role in the death of California grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary.

During the killings, which occurred shortly after the shocking murders of actress Sharon Tate and four others, Van Houten held down Rosemary LaBianca while someone else inflicted fatal stabbings. She later admitted to also stabbing the woman after she was already dead.

Van Houten’s lawyer, Nancy Tetreault, confirmed her release to the Associated Press, stating that she left a women’s prison in California early on Tuesday morning. Van Houten is expected to be on parole for three years and has expressed her hope to find employment soon.

Charles Manson, considered one of America’s most notorious cult leaders, directed his followers to commit a total of nine murders, hoping to incite a race war known as “Helter Skelter,” named after a famous Beatles song. Manson passed away in prison in 2017. While serving her life sentence, Van Houten pursued her education and earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree. She also worked as a tutor for fellow inmates.

Despite being recommended for parole in 2016, Van Houten’s release was repeatedly rejected by California Governor Gavin Newsom and his predecessor, Jerry Brown. However, Governor Newsom announced on July 8 that he would not block her parole this time, clearing the path for her release. In a recent statement, the governor expressed disappointment with her release, noting that further legal action in California’s Supreme Court was unlikely. He acknowledged the lasting impact that the Manson cult’s brutal killings continue to have on the victims’ families.

Now out of prison, Van Houten is expected to spend approximately a year at a halfway house. Her lawyer, Nancy Tetreault, emphasized that Van Houten would need to adapt to a reality vastly different from the one she experienced when she was first incarcerated. This includes learning how to navigate the internet and make cashless transactions in today’s technologically advanced world. Throughout her parole hearings, Van Houten expressed regret for her role in the killings and her involvement with Manson, acknowledging that she had allowed him to overpower her own thinking and beliefs.

“I bought into it lock, stock and barrel,” she candidly admitted during a 2002 parole hearing. “I took it at face value.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *