Leslie Van Houten, a former Charles Manson follower who played a role in the gruesome double murder of a Los Angeles couple in the summer of 1969, was paroled Tuesday after serving more than half a century in prison, according to her attorney .
Ms Van Houten’s attorney, Nancy Tetreault, said she was taken to temporary accommodation at an undisclosed location early Tuesday morning. « You will have to learn to live in the world after 53 years in prison, » Ms. Tetreault said in an interview. « So it will take some time. »
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation confirmed his release to the Associated Press.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said this month it would not contest his release. Mr. Newsom has canceled Ms. Van Houten’s probation three times since he took office, most recently in March 2022.
« The Governor is disappointed with the Appeals Court’s decision to release Ms. Van Houten, but will take no further action as further appeal efforts are unlikely to be successful, » a spokeswoman for the Governor said.
Van Houten was 19 years old when she and other members of the so-called Manson family broke into the home of wealthy grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, and stabbed them dozens of times on August 10, 1969.
The LaBiancas were murdered overnight after five people were killed at director Roman Polanski’s home, including his pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate. The murders were carried out under the direction of Charles Manson, one of the most famous killers of the 20th century, who died in 2017 at the age of 83.
In 1971, Mrs. Van Houten was convicted of two counts of murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder. She was initially sentenced to death, but her sentence was reduced to life in prison when capital punishment was outlawed in California the following year.
Ms. Van Houten has not been shy about her role in the murders, claiming at a parole board hearing in 2002 that she pinned Ms. LaBianca while another Manson family member, Patricia Krenwinkel, stabbed her in the clavicle. Charles D. Watson, another figure in the attack, stabbed Ms. LaBianca with a bayonet eight times before Ms. Van Houten stabbed her in the abdomen 14 to 16 times.
At the crime scene, Ms. Van Houten had wiped fingerprints off surfaces, changed clothes and drank chocolate milk from the couple’s refrigerator, parole documents showed.
Years later, Ms. Van Houten said she regretted taking part in the murders and was mentally ill, a condition made worse by LSD use.
« I believed it was Jesus Christ, » Ms. Van Houten said of Mr. Manson. « I bought a lock, butt and barrel. »
Orlando Mayor contributed report.