Who Is Leslie Van Houten? New Details On The Manson Family Member Who Was Just Denied Parole For A Third Time

Photo: California Dept. of Corrections
Who Is Leslie Van Houten? New Details On The Manson Family Member Who Was Just Denied Parole For A Third Time

She was a member of the notorious "Manson family" whose gruesome crimes live in infamy to this day. And now, more than 50 years after she played her part in the brutal murders that claimed the lives of Sharon Tate and her unborn child — amongst others — she's been denied parole for a third time. Who is Leslie Van Houten?

The Manson Family Murders have gone down in history as some of the most brutal murders of the 20th century. The names behind the murders — Charles Manson, Patricia Krenwinkle, Leslie Van Houten, Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian, and Tex Watson — will forever live in infamy as helping to sound the death knell of the so-called “Free Love” era of the 1960s, and ushering in a more cynical era from the 1970s on forward.

While both Susan Atkins and Charles Manson died behind bars, there are a few members of the Manson family who are still alive today, hoping to get a “second chance” at life. One such member is Leslie Van Houten, who was recently denied the chance for parole for a third time.

Here’s what we know about this infamous “Manson Family member” and why she was denied parole.

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1. She was only 19 when she committed her crimes.

According to Newsweek, at an age when most women are going to college or learning a trade for the first time, Leslie Van Houten was stabbing Rosemary LaBianca to death.

The outlet reports that, on the night of the so-called “LaBianca Murders,” Van Houten stabbed Rosemary 47 times, causing her to bleed to death. Many of the wounds to Rosemary were inflicted post-mortem, meaning that Leslie Van Houten continued to stab Rosemary even though she was already dead.

Leslie Van Houten was only 19 when she stabbed Rosemary LaBianca to death.

2. Leslie Van Houten tried to be a “model prisoner” so she could be released.

People Magazine reports that when Leslie began serving her prison sentence, she tried to become a “model prisoner.” She completed both her bachelor’s and her master’s degrees, and even wrote her thesis on sustained rehabilitation. Through her attorney, Van Houten said that she wanted to implement her ideas on sustained rehabilitation throughout Europe if she was released.

“She has a master’s degree and her thesis is on sustained rehabilitation. They are using her thesis as a model for setting up rehabilitation programs in Europe. She is a special person,” attorney Rich Pfeiffer told the outlet.

Leslie Van Houten was once a proud member of the Manson Family. 

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3. It was the California Governor who denied her request for parole.

According to Oxygen, while the parole board took note of Leslie Van Houten’s efforts for rehabilitation, California Governor Gavin Newsom felt that she was still a threat to society.

“While I commend Ms. Van Houten for her efforts at rehabilitation and acknowledge her youth at the time of the crimes, I am concerned about her role in these killings and her potential for future violence. Ms. Van Houten was an eager participant in the killings of LaBiancas and played a significant role,” he said, according to the outlet. “When considered as a whole, I find the evidence shows that she currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison at this time.”

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Charles Manson died behind bars.

4. According to Leslie Van Houten’s attorney, she isn’t being released because the Governor is courting votes for bigger political reasons.

In what must be the most convoluted logic in history, Rich Pfeiffer is claiming that Governor Newsom — like Governor Jerry Brown before him, who denied Leslie Van Houten’s request for parole two times — doesn’t have altruistic reasons for not releasing his client. Rather, he claims that Newsom has political aspirations that go beyond the governorship, and to keep his voters happy, he’s choosing to keep Leslie Van Houten behind bars.

“Nobody wants to put their name on her release, but when they’re speaking honestly or off the record, everyone wants her to go home,” he said, according to The Cut. “[He] is going to have more political aspirations that go well beyond the state of California, and he doesn’t want this tagging behind him. They are bound by law to enforce the law independently. They have to do it whether or not it’s popular with the public … and the law is that she should be released.”

Leslie Van Houten will continue to remain behind bars.

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Bernadette Giacomazzo is an editor, writer, and photographer whose work has appeared in People, Teen Vogue, Us Weekly, The Source, XXL, HipHopDX, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and more. She is also the author of The Uprising series. Find her online at www.bernadettegiacomazzo.com and www.longlivetheuprising.com.