Love, sex, drugs, and murder were the life of the famous “Manson Family” convict Leslie Van Houten. She was only 19 years old when she committed the gory and disturbing LaBianca murders assigned to her by Charles Manson. Judges have ruled against her 20 times before, but now, she is out of jail and on parole. Learn more in our Leslie Van Houten wiki.
Leslie Van Houten wasn’t in her right mind (or maybe she was) when she joined the Manson Family. In the late ’60s, the murderous and twisted lunatic known as Charles Manson started a cult that practiced a dangerous and non-social culture in which he saw himself as a “Christ figure.”
Manson mainly picked out women from broken middle-class families and convinced them to commit heinous and bloody murders. Van Houten became a member of the Manson Family and was arrested after killing two people. Read on to learn more in this Leslie Van Houten wiki.
Who is Leslie Van Houten?
Leslie Van Houten was born in Los Angeles, California, on August 23, 1949. She was raised there in a middle-class family with an older brother and two adopted siblings from Korea.
Her parents divorced around 1963, and a then-14-year-old Van Houten was disturbed from then on. The following year, she started dropping acid.
By the time she was 17, Van Houten had become unruly and pregnant. Her mother forced her to get an abortion, calling it an “induced miscarriage” as the baby was not even close to developed.
After this scarring event, Van Houten’s anger only reached new heights, mainly directed toward her mother. To help manage her temper, she took to yoga, living the lifestyle of a hippie, and moved to a commune.
Van Houten was 19 years old when she met fellow commune dwellers Catherine Share and Bobby Beausoleil. She moved in with them and one other woman in 1968.
But things soon started to escalate. Problems and constant fights broke out between them, resulting in Share leaving to join Charles Manson’s commune and Van Houten following suit.
How Did Van Houten Get Involved with the Manson Family?
Charles Manson made his followers adhere to a particular culture of his own design, which had elements of the Buddhism he practiced while in prison. After being released, he met 23-year-old Mary Brunner, who introduced him to environmentalism, and he gave up consumerism.
Manson believed people could eat, sleep, and have sex with whomever they wanted. He preached positivity and, as a result, gained a predominantly female following in his Spahn Ranch, California base.
The ex-con would control the actions of his followers, giving them LSD (a little more than what he took) to keep them in a “saturated” state. Moreover, they were in a remote location isolated from all other influences, clearing the path for lectures about how women are supposed to be an “empty vessel.”
Van Houten said that Manson told her she “belonged to Bobby [Beausoleil],” who was not only close to Manson but became Van Houten’s lover after joining the commune. She soon became known as a leader in the Family and admitted that she was “saturated in acid” and could not imagine being clear-minded.
Drug Induced Criminals
Manson had his followers commit all kinds of crimes, from burglary to auto theft and even hateful murders in assigned groups. He already robbed his father’s home twice and believed he killed Bernard Crowe after shooting him, but that was not the case. Van Houten asked to be part of the group sent to kill Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.
They were neighbors of Phil Kauffman’s (once a close friend of Manson’s) rental house and were sleeping when the cult members entered their home. Van Houten, along with Tex Watson and Patricia Krenwinkel, were sent to kill the LaBiancas.
The two women found Rosemary asleep in her bedroom and Leno sleeping downstairs. Pillowcases were put over the LaBiancas’ heads.
While Watson had Leno tied up downstairs, Van Houten was in the couple’s bedroom and wrapped the cord of a lamp around Rosemary’s neck. She struggled and swung the lamp at Van Houten, who held Rosemary down, while Krenwinkel tried to stab her in her chest but instead hit Van Houten’s collarbone.
As Watson stabbed Leno, the victim’s screams were heard throughout the house, but quickly stopped as Van Houten called for help. Watson went into the bedroom and stabbed Rosemary, handing the knife to Van Houten so she could “do something,” as Manson’s orders included everyone participating in some way. She stabbed Rosemary over a dozen times and maintains that the victim was already dead.
Rosemary LaBianca’s autopsy confirmed that some of her 47 stab wounds were post-mortem, but it is not certain if Van Houten inflicted them.
Conviction and Trial
Leslie Van Houten was arrested and charged with the murders of the LaBiancas. While being interviewed, she denied any connection to Charles Manson. She defended him like all the others had, even after confessing to the murders.
Van Houten giggled while giving her testimony about the victims in court. She later said that it was because of the LSD in her system.
After almost two years, Van Houten was convicted of murder and became the youngest criminal in California’s history to be given a death sentence. However, in 1972, the state abolished the death penalty, so her punishment was altered to life imprisonment without parole.
Where is Leslie Van Houten Today?
After more than 40 years in prison and 20 pleas for her freedom, Leslie Van Houten has been granted parole. And the last time she was up for parole, Van Houten was tentatively granted it. But the late Sharon Tate’s sister, Debra, filed a petition with 140,000 signatures opposing the judgment.
As a result, Governor Jerry Brown overturned the decision to release Van Houten. He believed she failed to adequately explain how a model teenager from a privileged Southern California family could have turned into a ruthless killer.
However, this time around, Van Houten has been granted parole. And Gov. Brown now has a 120-day period to affirm, reverse, or take no action on the decision.
Latest Update: On May 30, 2023, a California Court of Appeal in Los Angeles overturned Governor Newsom’s rejection of Van Houten’s parole. Now, she became the first member of the Manson family to have a court decide in her favor for a recommendation of release.
In March 2022, Governor Newsom blocked Van Houten from receiving parole on the grounds she might be a risk to society. And since 2016, she has received five parole recommendations.
The Governor may appeal the judgment to the California Supreme Court to further prevent her release.