Manson Follower Denied Parole

The Associated Press, June 6, 2000
By Linda Deutsch

FRONTERA, Calif. (AP) - Former Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten was denied parole for a 13th time Tuesday after relatives of her victims pleaded that she be kept in prison.

Van Houten, 50, told a parole board hearing she wished to be released, perhaps to work as a book editor at home.

``I don't know the world out there, but it felt like a good thing for a woman in her 50s to do,'' Van Houten told the board. ``If that day ever comes, I want to become anonymous and live as quietly as I can.

``I believe what I did is inexcusable,'' she said. ``You can never make it right and I sincerely apologize for all the pain the family went through.''

California Board of Prison Terms Chairman Manuel E. Ortega said the viciousness of the crimes was the main reason Van Houten was denied parole.

Lou Smaldino, a nephew of victims Rosemary and Leno LaBianca, told the hearing, ``She can never repay in this life what she did to us and our family.''

Van Houten was 19 when she joined Charles Manson's hippie-like cult. In August 1969, Manson sent his followers out on two nights of murders, first to the home of actress Sharon Tate, who was slain along with four others, and then to the home of the LaBiancas, who owned a grocery business.

Van Houten was not present at the Tate slayings, but went along the following night to the LaBianca home.

She and two other women followers, Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel, were convicted of the murders and sentenced to death. Their sentences were commuted to life in prison when California's death penalty was briefly overturned in the 1970s.

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