Former Charles Manson Disciple Leslie Van Houten Denied Parole for 16th Time in California
FRONTERA, Calif. – Leslie Van Houten, the former Charles Manson follower convicted of taking part in a murderous rampage that terrorized Los Angeles 37 years ago, was denied parole Thursday for a 16th time.
The once raven-haired homecoming princess, now a gray-haired 57-year-old prison inmate, was convicted of murder and conspiracy for her role in the 1969 slayings of wealthy grocers Leno and Rosemary La Bianca.
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The La Biancas were killed in August 1969, one night after Manson’s followers killed actress Sharon Tate, celebrity hairdresser Jay Sebring, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, filmmaker Voityck Frykowski and Steven Parent, a friend of the Tate estate’s caretaker.
Van Houten did not participate in the Tate killings, but went along the next night when the La Biancas were slain in their home. Prosecutors said at Thursday’s hearing at Frontera’s California Institute for Women that she had felt “left out” of the first night’s carnage.
As she has during past hearings, Van Houten apologized to the victims’ families, but the parole board wasn’t swayed. Board members determined she was an “unacceptable public safety risk and a danger to society” and unsuitable for parole, said board spokesman Tip Kindel.
Van Houten, Manson and two other followers of the cult leader were originally sentenced to death, but their sentences were reduced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after California’s death penalty was briefly suspended in the 1970s. None of them have been released.
Although Thursday’s ruling keeps her in prison, Van Houten won one small victory when the board told her she may reapply for parole in one year rather than the usual two.
“She can’t do anything to change the day of the crime, but she improved herself and she is no longer a danger to society,” Van Houten’s attorney, Christie Webb, said afterward.