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Leslie Van Houten was a member of Charles Manson's "Family," and was convicted of the 1969 murder of Rosemary LaBianca, orchestrated by Manson.
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Leslie Van Houten was born into a middle-class family in California in 1949. In late 1969, she met Charles Manson and his "Family," moved onto their ranch and became infatuated with Manson. Less than a year later, Van Houten stalked into the house of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca and participated in Rosemary's murder,
"I know that the pain goes on generationally. I want the victims to know I'm deeply ashamed of what I have done."
stabbing her 16 times. Van Houten was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. Her sentence was commuted to life in prison when California banned the death penalty.
Born in 1949, Leslie Van Houten was described as outgoing and athletic in her youth. Her parents split up when she was 14, and in high school she became homecoming princess and began experimenting with drugs such as marijuana, hashish and LSD. She also ran away briefly with her boyfriend to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, a hub of the counterculture.
In the summer of 1968, Van Houten met Bobby Beausoleil and Catherine "Gypsy" Share, and began traveling with them. Soon, Share began telling Van Houten about a man named Charles Manson and how he was Christlike and had answers to questions they all seemed to have. By fall of that year, Van Houten and the others were living with Manson, but in 1969, Manson's message would change from that of a peaceful hippie to one of revolution and violence.
Soon, Van Houten said, "All we did was listen to the Beatles' White Album and read [the biblical book of] Revelations." Manson had visions of a race war, and he had a bizarre plan to instigate it, beginning with the murders of Sharon Tate and others in the Tate house.
While Van Houten was not directly involved in those murders, she participated in the murder of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca the next night, stabbing Rosemary a reported 16 times of the total 42 stab wounds she received.
In October 1969, the entire Manson Family was arrested, and they were later tried for the murders. The ensuing trials were circuslike, with both the defendants' bizarre behavior and the media frenzy playing roles.
On March 29, 1971, Van Houten was found guilty and sentenced to death. California's subsequent ban on the death penalty changed her sentence to life in prison. After serving 44 years in prison and attending her 20th parole hearing in 2013, Van Houten remains in prison.
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Charles Manson's eerie ability to control his "family" of young hippies in California remains as mysterious and intriguing today as it did in 1969, when Manson orchestrated the infamous murders of Sharon Tate and Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Many Manson Family members were sentenced to life in prison for participating in those murders, including Squeaky Fromme, Susan Watkins and Patricia Krenwinkel. Members Bobby Beausoleil and Steve Grogan, under Manson's bizarre influence, committed other murders. Examine our list of Manson Family members and find out about life on the Spahn Movie Ranch, Charles Manson's uncanny hold over his followers, and the random and brutal crimes that ensued.
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