Van Houten left a Californian prison on Tuesday (July 11) after serving 53 years. Van Houten was serving a life sentence for assisting Manson and other followers in the murder of Leno LaBianca, a grocer in Los Angeles, and his wife Rosemary.
Van Houten’s attorney, Nancy Tetreault, said she had moved to a transitional housing facility.
“She’s really thrilled, but she’s been in prison for 53 years and turns 74 next month so this is a huge change,” Tetreault told the Guardian on Tuesday afternoon. “She’s gratified that people are recognising that she’s completely reformed, because she really is. I’ve never had a client who has dedicated herself to reform like she has.
“She spent 40 years in therapy and 30 years in what they call rehabilitative programming.”
The decision reversed an earlier court’s ruling by Gavin Newsom, California’s governor, who rejected parole for Van Houten in 2020.
In March this year, Linda Kasabian, a member of the infamous cult led by Manson that murdered film star Sharon Tate in 1969, died aged 73.
The Manson Family killed her and three others in a rented house in an exclusive neighbourhood of Los Angeles in August 1969.
The following night, Kasabian also accompanied Manson and other members of the cult to the home of the LaBiancas to kill them.
Kasabian, who did not take part in the murders themselves, was granted immunity by prosecutors to testify against Manson and four of his followers at their 1970 trial in Los Angeles. All five were convicted.
Who were the Manson Family?
The cult group called themselves a ‘family’ and were a commune gang led by criminal Charles Manson that were active in California, America, in the late 1960s and early 70s.
Made up mainly of runaways and outcasts, the family established a makeshift commune at a defunct movie ranch north-west of Los Angeles.
Who was Charles Manson?
Charles Manson directed his mostly young, female followers to murder seven people in what prosecutors said was part of a plan to incite a race war.
Manson and his followers claimed they had killed a total of 35 people and buried their bodies in the desert.
He was sentenced to death in 1969 for the Manson Family killings and murder of an acquaintance, Gary Hinman.
He was spared execution when the California supreme court declared the death penalty unconstitutional in 1976. He died in prison in 2017.
Who is Leslie Van Houten?
A former homecoming queen, Van Houten was born in Altadena, California, on August 23, 1949.
She was only 19 when she and other cult members fatally stabbed the LaBiancas in August 1969. She said they carved up Leno LaBianca’s body and smeared the couple’s blood on the walls.
Van Houten explained at her parole hearings how her parents’ divorce, her drug and alchohol abuse, and a forced illegal abortion led her to become vulnerable to him.
Who were the other members of the ‘family’?
The Manson Family consisted of approximately 100 members who were radicalised by Manson’s teachings and driven by hippie culture and communal living.
Notable members who were prosecuted for carrying out grisly murders as part of the group include Susan Atkins, who believed Manson was God, Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel, Charles ‘Tex’ Watson, Bobby Beausoleil, Clem Grogan, Bruce Davis and Lynette Fromme.
Who did the Manson Family kill in 1969?
The Manson Family killed pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others, Jay Sebring, Wojciech (pronounced Voytech in English) Frykowski, Abigail Folger, and Steven Parent, at 10050 Cielo Drive. A day later, they murdered wealthy grocery store owners Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.