Apr 15, 2016

Ex-Charles Manson Cult Member Seeks Parole

By Sky News US Team
April 14, 2016

Van Houten (R) at a parole hearing in 2002
Van Houten (R) at a parole hearing in 2002
Leslie Van Houten, the youngest of Charles Manson's followers, has described in graphic detail her role in one of America's most notorious killings.

Van Houten discussed the 1969 murders of grocer Leno La Bianca and his wife Rosemary during her latest bid for release after more than 40 years behind bars.

The 66-year-old former homecoming princess told a parole board how she helped secure a pillow over Mrs La Bianca's head with a lamp cord and then held her down while someone else started stabbing the woman.

Van Houten, then 19, looked off into the distance at first, but then joined in the stabbing after another Manson follower told her to do something, she told the board on Thursday.

The La Bianca killings occurred a day after other Manson family members killed actress Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of film director Roman Polanski, and four others.

Van Houten did not participate in those murders.

Her lawyer Rich Pfeiffer has said she presents no danger to the public, but has remained behind bars because of her former ties to the cult leader.

"The only violent thing she has ever done in her entire life was this crime and that was under the control of Charles Manson," he said.

"When you are not a public safety risk, the law says you shall be released."

Van Houten has been praised for her good behaviour in prison and has used her time behind bars to complete college degrees.

Los Angeles County District Attorney's office declined to comment ahead of Thursday's hearing.

The 1960s killings were the start of what Manson believed was a coming race war - which he called "Helter Skelter" after a Beatles song.

Ms Tate's sister Debra has launched an online petition opposing parole for Van Houten, saying she failed to show remorse for years after the crimes.

Van Houten has previously been denied parole 20 times.

At her last hearing in 2013, a parole commissioner told Van Houten she had failed to explain how someone as intelligent and well-educated could have committed such cruel crimes.

Manson, 81, and other followers involved in the killings are still behind bars.


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