Leslie Van Houten, the youngest member of Charles Manson’s murderous cult has been granted parole.
Van Houten was still a teenager when she joined the infamous group who were responsible for a spate of killings including the murder of actress Sharon Tate, who was married to director Roman Polanski.
She was granted parole last year but the decision was overruled by the Governor of California, Jerry Brown.
At her parole hearing last year, Van Houten candidly described how she and several other members of the ‘Manson Family’ took part in killing LA grocer Leno La Bianca and his wife, Rosemary, in their home in August 1969 – La Bianca’s body was carved up and the couple’s blood was smeared on the walls.
The night prior to the La Bianca murders the ‘Manson Family’ murdered Sharon Tate – who was pregnant at the time – and four others. However Van Houten was not present on this night.
Now 68-years-old, Van Houten hadn’t even hit her 20s when she took part in the murder of the couple at their home.
Since being convicted for her part in the murders Van Houten has spent 47 years behind bars, however this week, she convinced a parole board she’s now completely rehabilitated and earned the right to be released from prison.
During her parole hearing she was given tough questions on how she would address the concerns raised by Governor Brown after he repealed her previous appeal last year.
According to the Daily Mail, Van Houten told the board:
I’ve had a lot of therapy trying to answer that question myself.
To tell you the truth, the older I get the harder it is to deal with all of this, to know what I did, how it happened.
A seemingly idyllic teenager, from a privileged family in South California – who had been crowned homecoming queen – explained how her parents divorcing when she was 14-years-old set off a chain of events which led her to the ‘Manson Family’.
At 14-years-old Van Houten was smoking cannabis and by 15, was taking LSD. At 17 she and her boyfriend ran away to San Francisco, during the ‘Summer of Love’ of 1967.
When she returned she found out she was pregnant – her mother forced her to have an abortion and bury the fetus in their backyard.
Afterwards she began travelling up and down California to find ‘peace’, which eventually led her to Manson and his cult and ultimately taking part in the murders of the La Biancas.
Van Houten continued:
I feel absolutely horrible about it and I have spent most of my life trying to find ways to live with it.
However she failed to convince the victim’s family members of her remorse, with their nephew Louis Smaldino saying:
No member of the Manson family deserves parole, ever.
She is a total narcissist and only thinks of herself and not the damage she has done.
Their oldest grandson Tony LaMontagne, who is about to turn 44 – the same age his grandfather was when he was murdered – pleaded with the board:
Please see to it that this fight doesn’t have to happen every year for the rest of our lives.
Manson recently had a new mugshot taken due to his deteriorating health.
Despite being granted her parole, Governor Jeff Brown has a 120-day period to reverse the board’s decision.