LISTEN LIVE KPR - On Air: Listen Live to classical, jazz and NPR news Schedule LATEST
KPR 2 - On Air: Listen live to KPR's all talk-radio service, KPR2 Recordings

Share this page              

California's Governor Denies Parole To Former Manson Follower

Former Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten confers with her attorney, Rich Pfeiffer, not shown, during a break from her hearing before the California Board of Parole Hearings in April in Chino, Calif.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has denied parole to former Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten, 66, who is serving a life sentence for her part in the cult's notorious killing spree in Los Angeles in 1969.

In April, a California parole panel had recommended that Van Houten — the youngest of the cult leader's so-called family — be granted parole after decades of good behavior in prison, as we reported.

But Brown disagreed. "She remains an unacceptable risk to society if released," he said in his decision, as Reuters reported.

"The shocking nature of the crimes left an indelible mark on society," Brown said. "The motive - to trigger a civilization-ending race war by slaughtering innocent people chosen at random - is equally disturbing."

Van Houten has admitted to stabbing Rosemary La Bianca more than a dozen times, and her accomplices killed La Bianca's husband, Leno. She was 19 at the time. The Los Angeles Times has more:

"Van Houten was part of a group that stormed into the LaBiancas' home in Los Feliz. As Charles 'Tex' Watson stabbed Leno LaBianca, Van Houten and another woman held down Rosemary LaBianca.

"After Watson stabbed Rosemary LaBianca with a bayonet, he handed a knife to Van Houten. She testified to stabbing Rosemary in the back at least 14 more times. The blood of the victims was used to scrawl messages on the walls, as had been done at the Benedict Canyon home."

Brown noted in his statement that Van Houten "earned bachelor's and master's degrees while in prison, where she has received positive commendations from staff," as Reuters reported.

As member station KPCC reported, Van Houten has argued that she was "emotionally troubled and under the sway of LSD and Manson's charismatic personality."

But Brown wasn't convinced, according to Reuters. "Van Houten's statements give the false impression that she was a victim who was forced into participating in the Family without any way out," he said.

Van Houten's attorney, Richard Pfeiffer, told the Times that it wasn't clear if she had heard the news yet. However, he said she "had prepared for Brown to reverse the parole board's decision, given the governor's track record of denying parole in high-profile cases, and that she is readying for a future parole hearing."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Tower Frequencies

91.5 FM KANU Lawrence, Topeka, Kansas City
96.1 FM K241AR Lawrence (KPR2)
89.7 FM KANH Emporia
99.5 FM K258BT Manhattan
97.9 FM K250AY Manhattan (KPR2)
91.3 FM  KANV Junction City, Olsburg
89.9 FM K210CR Atchison
90.3 FM KANQ Chanute

See the Coverage Map for more details

Contact Us

Kansas Public Radio
1120 West 11th Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Download Map
785-864-4530 (Main Line)
888-577-5268 (Toll Free)