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Claim to Fame
Charles Manson Follower and Murderer
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Leslie Louise Van Houten (born August 23, 1949 in Altadena, California) is a former member of Charles Manson`s "Family" who was convicted of the murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Van Houten was born in Altadena, California to an automotive auctioneer and a schoolteacher. She grew up in a middle class household with an older brother, along with a younger brother and sister adopted from Korea. Van Houten attended Monrovia High School, where she was twice elected homecoming princess. In 1963, her parents divorced, with her father moving out while the children stayed with their mother. Van Houten took the divorce very hard and later started experimenting with hallucinogenic drugs and marijuana. At 15, she became pregnant and her mother arranged an abortion. She wanted to keep the child, but was forced to undergo the abortion. Van Houten was deeply angered, and the relationship with her mother became extremely difficult. Van Houten graduated from high school in 1967. She moved in with her father and began attending business college, studying to become a legal secretary. She became very interested in spirituality and considered becoming a nun in the Self-Realization Fellowship spiritual community in Los Angeles.
In the summer of 1968, Van Houten met Catherine Share and Bobby Beausoleil in San Francisco. It was through them that she heard of Charles Manson and his community. She was told that Manson was "like Jesus Christ and that he had the answers." When she met Manson, she was immediately captivated by him and the people associated with him. His way of life intrigued her, and she joined his group in September 1968, moving to the Spahn Ranch. Although Van Houten was devoted to Manson, he was never very interested in her and treated her as if she "belonged to Bobby" since she had been Beausoleil`s girlfriend when she arrived at the ranch in 1968. Manson`s attitude left her with a strong need to prove herself to him and the rest of the family. Like the other members of Manson’s group, Van Houten was a heavy user of LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs, which rendered her susceptible to Manson’s concept of "Helter Skelter," an apocalyptic race war that he envisioned occurring between blacks and whites and that he believed - or claimed to believe - would put him in a position of leadership.
Van Houten was tried in Los Angeles along with Manson, Krenwinkel, and Atkins for her part in the LaBianca murders. All of the defendants were found guilty of murder and were sentenced to death on March 29, 1971. The death sentences were automatically commuted to life in prison after the California Supreme Court`s People v. Anderson decision resulted in the invalidation of all death sentences imposed in California prior to 1972.
Van Houten was denied parole on August 25, 2004. She was again denied parole on September 7, 2006, her 16th unsuccessful application. At this hearing she was informed she may apply again in one year as opposed to the usual two years She was once again denied parole on August 30, 2007. She is eligible to apply for parole again in 2009. Van Houten remains housed in the California Institution for Women in Chino, along with Krenwinkel. Filmmaker John Waters has advocated for Van Houten`s parole.
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Full Name at Birth
Leslie Louise Van Houten
Leslie Louise Van Houten (born August 23, 1949) is a former member of Charles Manson's "Family" who is in prison (convicted 1971) for the murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Van Houten was initially convicted at the main Charles Manson trial. At trial Van Houten repeatedly dismissed defense lawyers for blaming her actions on Manson's control over her. She also confessed to a murder she had not committed in an attempt to clear Manson.
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