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 lawyer.
Ms Van Houten’s lawyer, Nancy Tetreault, said she was taken to transitional housing at an undisclosed location early Tuesday morning. “She will have to learn to live in the world after 53 years in prison,” Tetreault said in an interview. “So that will take some time.”
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation confirmed his release. Ms. Van Houten will have a “maximum probation term of three years,” according to Mary Xjimenez, a spokeswoman for the department.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said this month it would not challenge his release. Mr. Newsom had reversed Ms. Van Houten’s parole grant three times since she took office. most recently in March 2022.
“The Governor is disappointed by the Court of Appeals’ decision to release Ms. Van Houten, but will not be taking any further action as further appeal efforts are unlikely to be successful,” a spokeswoman for the Governor said.
Ms. 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 killed one night after five people were murdered at the home of film director Roman Polanski, including his pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate. The murders were carried out under the direction of Charles Manson, one of the most notorious assassins of the 20th century, who died in 2017 at the age of 83.
In 1971, Ms. 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, telling a 2002 parole board hearing that she had restrained Ms. LaBianca while another Manson Family member, Patricia Krenwinkel, held her. stabbed 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 surfaces for fingerprints, changed her clothes and drank chocolate milk from the couple’s refrigerator, parole records showed.
Years later, Ms. Van Houten said that she regretted having participated in the murders and that she had suffered from mental illness, a condition aggravated by the use of LSD.
“I thought he was Jesus Christ,” Ms. Van Houten said of Mr. Manson. “I bought in her lock, stock and barrel.”
Orlando Mayorquin contributed reporting.