Manson Family Parolee

The former Charles Manson follower is the first participant in the Tate-LaBianca murders of 1969 to be paroled

Leslie Van Houten, who in 1969 participated in a double murder at the direction of Charles Manson, was released from prison on Tuesday morning. Nancy Tetreault, a lawyer for Van Houten, confirmed her release to Rolling Stone and said the prison had kept the exact date and time confidential. “She is safely in her transitional living facility and doing well,” Tetreault says. She is the first participant in the notorious Tate-LaBianca murders to be released.

Van Houten, 72, was granted parole after five failed attempts at parole since 2016 and after serving more than 50 years behind bars. California Governor Gavin Newsom announced Friday, July 7, that he would not contest a decision to grant parole to the former Manson Family member. “The Governor is disappointed by the Court of Appeal’s decision to release Ms. Van Houten but will not pursue further action as efforts to further appeal are unlikely to succeed,” a spokesperson for the governor said in a statement released Friday. The governor’s office declined a request for further comment on Tuesday.

The decision came after a panel of three judges on a California appeals court voted two-to-one to reinstate a Board of Parole decision that found her suitable for parole, vacating Newsom’s most recent decision in late 2020 to overturn it. 

Prior to Tuesday, Van Houten had been serving a life sentence for her role in the 1969 murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, a married couple who ran a grocery store in Los Angeles. (She did not participate in the murders that took place a day earlier when Manson family members killed actress Sharon Tate and four others at Tate’s home). Van Houten was 19 at the time. At trial, she testified that she had stabbed Rosemary LaBianca 14 to 16 times in the couple’s home. In 1971, she was sentenced to death, but that ruling was overturned. 


She became eligible for parole starting in 1977 and, over the decades, applied for parole more than 20 times. The parole board first recommended her for release in 2016. While the decisions by Newsom and his predecessor, Jerry Brown, to overturn those parole board rulings were generally upheld on appeal, this time her efforts succeeded.

Manson died in prison in 2017.