Youngest Manson follower released from California prison

July 12, 2023


California corrections officials on Tuesday released a female follower of Charles Manson who was 19 years old at the time of the 1969 killings of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.

Leslie Van Houten previously admitted she stabbed Rosemary LaBianca in the back at least 14 times. Van Houten was the youngest member of Manson’s “family.” She was reportedly under the influence of LSD on the night of the LaBianca killings.

That night, a group stormed into the LaBiancas’ home in Los Feliz. Van Houten and another woman held down Rosemary LaBianca while Charles “Tex” Watson stabbed Leno LaBianca. Watson then stabbed Rosemary LaBianca with a bayonet and handed the knife to Van Houten, who proceeding in stabbing the woman at least another 14 times.

Following the killings, the victims’ blood was used to scrawl messages on the walls.

Van Houten, who spent 53 years behind bars, moved on Tuesday to a transitional living facility. Authorities released her to parole supervision. She will have a maximum three-year parole term. After one year, she will have a parole discharge review. [ABC News]

Previously, governors Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom reversed Van Houten’s parole. But last week, Newsom said he would not ask the California Supreme Court to block the Manson follower’s parole.

“Governor Newsom reversed Ms. Van Houten’s parole grant three times since taking office and defended against her challenges of those decisions in court,” Newsom’s communications director Erin Mellon said in a statement. “The Governor is disappointed by the Court of Appeal’s decision to release Ms. Van Houten but will not pursue further action as efforts to further appeal are unlikely to succeed. The California Supreme Court accepts appeals in very few cases, and generally does not select cases based on this type of fact-specific determination.”

Van Houten’s attorney previously said his client’s parents divorced, then she became pregnant and her mother forced her to have an illegal abortion. The fetus was buried in the family’s backyard, and with that, her drug abuse escalated.

While in prison, Van Houten earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees and ran self-help groups for incarcerated women.

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Life for a young man in America was never the same after two events in his short life: The murder of JFK and The Manson Murders.

Reads like prison was the best thing for her and those in need. I would keep her in prison and expand her good deeds into facilitating CAPSLO or County Social Services. This would help to offset her decades of free education, good health benefits, room and board. Her released would only happen when one of here external organizations has designated a eligible replacement for her cell.

Are any of us the same people we were when we were 19 years old? She’s now an old woman, if the opinion of the parole board is that she should continue her sentence outside of prison, so be it; I doubt she is a threat to society and 53 years is a long time – no one could call that getting off easy.

Steve Parent, Gary Hinman, Sharon Tate and her unborn child, Voytek Frykowski, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, Jay Sebring, Donald Shea, and Abigail Folger would not likely say they are the same people they were. I’ll bet they would also say “Only 53 years? She got off easy!”

“While in prison, Van Houten earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees and ran self-help groups for incarcerated women”

Okay we good…. unbelievable…..

I disagreed with the decisions by Brown and Newsom to give this lady a few years of freedom. I often read that America is a “Christian” nation, even though there is zero evidence of that in the Constitution.

Anyway, Christianity dictates forgiveness. Give the lady some fresh air, no matter what she did 50 years ago. I understand the LoBianca family is upset, but maybe a meeting by the two sides would be the best way to heal the wounds.

Christians can forgive the person, but not the crime. The wounds administered by Van Houten and the rest to their victims, never healed, no matter how much fresh air.