A member of Charles Manson's "Family," Patricia Krenwinkel and others, under Manson's orders, burst into a house in the Hollywood hills and murdered actress Sharon Tate and four other people on August 8, 1969. The next night, Krenwinkel participated in the grisly murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. She was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death, but later had her sentence commuted to life in prison.
Born on December 3, 1947 in Los Angeles, California, Patricia Krenwinkel's parents divorced when she was 17. After graduation, she moved from California to Alabama to live with her mother. She attended a Catholic college for one semester before moving to Manhattan Beach, California, to live with her step-sister, Charlene, a heroin addict.
The Manson 'Family'
Krenwinkel met Charles Manson soon after at a nearby house, where he was visiting along with Mary Brunner and Lynette Fromme, better known as Squeaky Fromme. Manson was playing a guitar and immediately captivated Krenwinkel, who slept with him that night. Krenwinkel had always had low self-esteem, and Manson manipulated her, telling her she was beautiful and pulling her into his sphere of influence.
Krenwinkel dropped everything and left her life behind to go on a lengthy tour of the United States with Manson and his followers, embracing the counterculture and taking LSD hundreds of times. It was while his followers were on LSD that Manson (who may or may not have been taking the drug) established his firm grip over his minions, posing as a Christlike figure to be worshipped.
By the spring of 1969, Krenwinkel and many others were fully enthralled with Manson and moved in with him to a secluded ranch in the California desert, where Manson's increasingly bizarre visions of a race war were propelling his every move.
On August 8, 1969, Manson sent four of his "Family" members, including Krenwinkel, to the house of director Roman Polanski and his pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate. By the end of the night, Tate and four others in the house were murdered, and Krenwinkel had stabbed Abigail Folger (of the coffee empire) countless times. The next night, Krenwinkel participated in another murder, this time stabbing Rosemary LaBianca to death and leaving a carving fork stuck in her husband's lifeless body. She then wrote "DEATH TO PIGS" on the wall in the victims' blood.
In October 1969, most of the Manson Family was arrested for auto theft and suspicion of arson, but their roles in the murders were quickly discovered. Krenwinkel was arrested two months later, in Alabama. The ensuing trials had a dark, carnival-esque mood, with each of the defendants carving and X on their forehead and singing songs with their arms locked, seemingly oblivious to what was happening around them.
On March 29, 1971, Krenwinkel was found guilty and sentenced to death, along with the other Manson Family defendants. California's 1972 ban on the death penalty changed her sentence to life in prison, and as of 2012, she is the longest-serving female inmate in the state of California.
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