Charles Manson cult follower Leslie Van Houten released from prison after serving over 50 years for gruesome murders | The SunJuly 12, 2023
A FORMER member of the Charles Manson family was released yesterday after more than half a century in prison for a gruesome double murder.
Leslie Van Houten, 73, was the youngest member of the bloodthirsty cult to be convicted in 1971.
She killed California grocer Leno La Blanca, 44, and his wife Rosemary, 38, during a horrific knife attack two years earlier aged just 19.
During the slayings – which took place just days after the murder of actress Sharon Tate and four others – Van Houten held down Mrs La Bianca while someone else stabbed her.
She later also admitted stabbing her after she died. The victims were stabbed dozens of times.
Five people – Van Houten, Manson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Tex Watson – were each tried and convicted for their roles in the murders.
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Van Houten was convcited on two counts of murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder.
Originally, each defendant received a death sentence – but in 1972, the Supreme Court of California ruled the laws were unconstitutional.
Van Houten left a women’s prison in California early on Tuesday morning and is now likely to be on parole for three years, her lawyer Nancy Tetreault said.
The killer, once a member of cult leader Manson’s warped gang, now hopes to find a job.
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Manson directed his followers to commit nine murders and hoped the killings would start a race war, called “Helter Skelter” after a famous song by the Beatles. He died in prison in 2017.
During her sentence, Van Houten earned both a bachelors and masters degree while in prison and worked as a tutor.
She was denied parole dozens of times, before California Governor Gavin Newsom said he would not challenge her release this month.
In a statement last week, the Governor said he remained disappointed at her release.
He said: “More than 50 years after the Manson cult committed these brutal killings, the victims’ families still feel the impact.”
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