Leslie Van Houten biography
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, 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.
The Manson 'Family'
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, where she remains after more than a dozen parole hearings.