Leslie Van Houten, a former follower of Charles Manson, has been released from prison after being incarcerated for 53 years, as confirmed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Van Houten is currently residing in a transitional living facility, according to her attorney. The department stated that she has been placed under parole supervision, with a maximum parole term of three years and a review of her parole discharge scheduled after one year. Governor Gavin Newsom of California announced last week that he would not intervene to prevent her parole, leading to her eventual release.
“Governor Newsom reversed Ms. Van Houten’s parole grant three times since taking office and defended against her challenges of those decisions in court. The Governor is disappointed by the Court of Appeal’s decision to release Ms. Van Houten but will not pursue further action as efforts to further appeal are unlikely to succeed. The California Supreme Court accepts appeals in very few cases, and generally does not select cases based on this type of fact-specific determination,” Erin Mellon, the communications director for the Office of the Governor, made a statement.
At the age of 19, Van Houten took part in the killing of Leno LaBianca, a prosperous grocer, and his wife, Rosemary LaBianca, on August 10, 1969, at their residence in Los Angeles. Both victims were fatally stabbed, and the word “war” was engraved on Leno LaBianca’s abdomen.
In 1994, Van Houten recounted to ABC News that she and another member of the Manson cult brought Rosemary LaBianca into a bedroom where they could hear the distressing, primal sounds of Leno LaBianca’s death. Rosemary began calling out to her husband, desperately yelling for him. In that moment, Van Houten briefly grasped the realization that these were two individuals who loved each other.
According to Van Houten, Charles “Tex” Watson, another follower of Manson, handed her a knife. She explained that he instructed her to “do something” because Manson had ordered them all to actively participate. Acting upon this directive, Van Houten stabbed Mrs. LaBianca approximately 16 times in the lower back.
Van Houten did not take part in the murders committed by the “Manson family” that claimed the lives of actress Sharon Tate and four others. These tragic killings occurred at a different residence in Los Angeles one night prior.
Although Manson himself did not physically carry out the murders, he exerted control over his followers and issued the commands. Manson passed away in prison in 2017.