Background and Murders
Who is Leslie Van Houten?
Leslie Van Houten, a follower of the infamous cult leader Charles Manson, gained notoriety for her participation in the notorious Manson Family murders of 1969. Van Houten, a former homecoming princess and high school cheerleader, was only 19 when she plunged into a life of crime.
Manson Family’s Infamous Crimes
The Manson Family, led by the manipulative and violent Charles Manson, committed a series of shocking murders in 1969 that rocked Los Angeles and the world. Among these were the killings of Leno LaBianca, a Los Angeles grocer, and his wife, Rosemary. Van Houten played a crucial role in these horrific events, acting under the direction of Manson and his follower Charles “Tex” Watson.
The Legal Journey
Initial Conviction and Sentence
Van Houten was initially sentenced to death, but her sentence was later commuted to life in prison when the California Supreme Court overturned the state’s death penalty law in 1972.
Fight for Parole: A Timeline
Over the years, Van Houten applied for parole multiple times. Despite being found suitable for parole after a July 2020 hearing, her release was blocked repeatedly by Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Gov. Jerry Brown. However, a state appeals court ruling recently granted her parole, leading to her eventual release after serving 53 years in prison.
The Aftermath of Release
Adjusting to Life Outside Prison
Upon release, Van Houten, now 73, has been adapting to a dramatically changed world. Her lawyer, Nancy Tetreault, said she has to learn new skills like using the internet and modern shopping habits.
Leslie’s Future Plans and Rehabilitation
Despite her dark past, Van Houten has shown significant rehabilitative efforts during her incarceration, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in counseling and working as a tutor for fellow inmates. Her goal is to secure employment as soon as possible.
Controversy Surrounding Her Release
The release of Van Houten has sparked widespread debate, with some expressing concern over the safety and potential threat she might pose to society.
Views from the Victims’ Families
Families of the victims have expressed their heartbreak and disappointment at her release, with Leno LaBianca’s daughter stating her family was devastated by the possibility of Van Houten’s release.
Life in Manson’s Cult: A Closer Look
Life Before and In Manson Family
Van Houten’s life took a dramatic turn following her parents’ divorce when she was 14. She turned to drugs, experienced an unwanted pregnancy and abortion, and eventually found herself in the clutches of Charles Manson’s cult, forever altering her life.
Manson’s Ideologies: The Helter Skelter
Manson’s followers, including Van Houten, were brainwashed into believing in “Helter Skelter,” Manson’s apocalyptic vision of a coming race war, which he named after a Beatles song. This ideology led them to prepare for a fight and even learn survival skills.
The release of Leslie Van Houten, an infamous follower of the Manson Family, marks a complex chapter in the American justice system. Her case continues to provoke discussions about rehabilitation, parole rights, and the lasting impacts of the Manson Family crimes on society. As she navigates life post-incarceration, the public and the victims’ families continue to grapple with the memories of the crimes she was involved in.
1. Who is Leslie Van Houten?
Leslie Van Houten is a former follower of the infamous cult leader Charles Manson. She was involved in the Manson Family murders of 1969 and was recently released from prison after serving 53 years of a life sentence.
2. Why was Leslie Van Houten convicted?
Van Houten was convicted for her participation in the 1969 killings of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, orchestrated by Charles Manson and his followers.
3. How many times did Van Houten apply for parole?
Van Houten had been recommended for parole five times since 2016. All of these recommendations were initially denied.
4. How did Leslie Van Houten spend her time in prison?
In prison, Van Houten earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in counseling and worked as a tutor for other inmates, showing significant efforts towards rehabilitation.
5. What is Charles Manson’s “Helter Skelter”?
“Helter Skelter” was Manson’s prophesied vision of an apocalyptic race war. This ideology greatly influenced his followers, including Van Houten, leading them to commit horrific crimes.