California board grants parole for Manson ex-follower Van Houten

LOS ANGELES, Sept 6 (Reuters) - A California board granted parole on Wednesday to Leslie Van Houten, who as a follower of cult leader Charles Manson, took part in one of the most notorious murder sprees of the 20th century.

It was the second straight year that Van Houten, 68, was deemed suitable for parole, although California Governor Jerry Brown overturned last year's decision, saying at the time she "poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison.."

Van Houten is serving a life sentence for stabbing to death Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in their Los Angeles home on Aug. 10, 1969. The decision on Wednesday by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation starts a 150-day review process that will likely culminate in a final decision by Brown.

RELATED: Inside the Manson Family

Charles Manson and the Manson family cult
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Charles Manson and the Manson family cult

Photo of Charles Manson

(Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Bruce Davis is pictured in this undated handout photo courtesy of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. California Governor Jerry Brown denied parole on March 1, 2013, for a member of the Manson Family cult who was sentenced to life in prison for two murders in the 1970s, saying that he remained a danger to the public. In rejecting parole for Davis, who is now 70, Brown reversed the decision of a state parole board that had found him eligible for release after his 27th parole hearing last October.

(REUTERS/California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation/Handout)

Charles Manson is escorted to court for preliminary hearing on December 3, 1969 in Los Angeles, California.

(Photo by John Malmin/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Here's Charles Manson and his 26-year old girlfriend, who he just got a license to marry:

In this handout photo from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Charles Manson, 74, poses for a photo on March 18, 2009 at Corcoran State Prison, California. Manson is serving a life sentence for conspiring to murder seven people during the 'Manson family' killings in 1969. The picture was taken as a regular update of the prison's files.

(California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via Getty Images)

The three female defendants in the Tate/LaBianca murder trial leave the Los Angeles courtroom after being convicted of first degree murder, 25th January 1971. From left to right, Patricia Krenwinkel, Susan Atkins and Leslie Van Houten were found guilty of the murders of actress Sharon Tate and six other people, in collaboration with Charles Manson. (Photo by Bride Lane Library/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

Charles Manson who led a cult that committed murders in Los Angeles in the sixties is clean shaven in closeup photo.

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

Charles Manson talks during an interview August 25, 1989.

(STR New/Reuters)

The three female members of Charles Manson's 'family' ham it up for photographers through the window of the sheriff's van as they arrive at the courthouse to continue the murder trial in the Tate-LaBianca case. Patricia Krenwinkle (left) makes a face as Leslie Van Houten and Susan Atkins (right) smile. August 5, 1970.

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

Charles Manson clowns around as he is led to his cell upon the conclusion of his exclusive interview with Reuters August 25, 1989.

(STR New/Reuters)

Steve Grogan (left) and Bruce Davis (right), defendants in the murder of movie stunt man, Donald (Shorty) Shea are taken into court December 23. Davis, along with Charles Manson (not present) was accused of both the Gary Hinman and Shea murders, while Grogan was a defendant in the Shea case only. Grogan was later paroled, the only member of the 'Manson Family' to be paroled from a murder conviction.

Pittsburg Coroner Dr. Cyril Wecht, MD, JD. is seen in this photo taken January 22, 1998. Dr. Wecht is a nationally-known forensic pathologist who is often consulted on high-profile murder cases such as the John F. Kennedy assassination, O.J. Simpson case, Jon Benet Ramsey and the Helter Skelter murders of Charles Manson. The first non-governmental forensic pathologist to be granted access to autopsy materials in the 1963 Kennedy assassination, he said there was not enough information to challenge the Warren Commission's conclusion that a lone gunman killed the president and that investigators failed to find all those responsible for the killing.

(STR New / Reuters)

Charles Manson is led to court on March 29, 1971.

(Photo by Rick Browne/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Leslie Louis Van Houghten, (yellow dress), is taken by policewomen to a jail cell in the Hall of Justice, after she and two other girls waive arraignment on murder charges in connection with the Tate-LaBianca slayings. The three allegedly were members of a hippie cult led by Charles Manson.

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

Charles Manson on his way to court in 1970.

(Photo by Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Leslie Van Houten listens during her parole hearing in Corona, California, June 28, 2002. Los Angeles' top prosecutor on June 28, 2016, urged California Governor Jerry Brown to keep former Charles Manson follower Van Houten behind bars, despite the recommendation of a parole board that she be released.


Charles Manson prior to his appearance in Dept. 106 on March 6, 1970 in Los Angeles, California.

(Photo by Frank Q. Brown/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

One of many historic photos that is part of L.A.'s longest mural, depicting 150 years of history in the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Building a.k.a. the Criminal Courts Building, Wednesday afternoon in downtown L.A. The mural covers 2,300 square feet, 18 walls, two floors and has 625 images. This is a photo of Charles Manson as he's escorted back to his cell after his arraignment.

(Photo by Richard Hartog/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

A trio of suspects in the Sharon Tate murder case sing as they march to court for a hearing. Left to right: Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten march abreast along a corridor toward the courtroom where Judge William Keene set April 20th as the date for their trial with fellow suspect, Charles Manson.

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

Charles 'Tex' Watson. Watson was convicted of murder for his part in the killings of Sharon Tate and others while a member of the 'Manson Family'

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

Three days before he ran away from Boy's Town, Charles Manson poses in a suit and tie.

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

(Original Caption) Bruce Davis, the Manson Family 'X' carved in his forehead, walks with his attorney Daye Shinn (right) after he surrendered himself to authorities outside the Hall of Justice. Davis is under indictment by the Grand Jury for the 1969 murder of Gary Hinman.

A TV picture of American musician, cult leader and murderer Charles Manson, September 1975. The image was broadcast around the time that Manson acolyte Lynette 'Squeaky' Fromme was arrested after an attempt to kill US President Gerald Ford.

(Ernst Haas/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Charles Manson as an adolescent. He would later become infamous for attempted to foment social chaos by murdering prominent celebrities.

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

Accused murderer being led to and from court house in Inyo County, California. He is Charles Miller Manson, aged 34 years. 

(Photo by Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

Accused murderer being led to and from court house in Inyo County, California. He is Charles Miller Manson, aged 34 years.

(Photo by WATFORD/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

Charles Manson sits in the courtroom during his murder trial in 1970 in Los Angeles, California.

(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

American actress Sharon Tate, on her wedding day to film director Roman Polanski. She was murdered by Charles Manson in California, 1969.

(Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Charles Manson, accused leader of a hippie cult charged with the Tate-LaBianca murders, is heavily guarded as he leaves the Hall of Justice following arraignment December 11th. He is shown being taken to a police van for removal to a jail cell and peering through the barred windows of the police van. Bearded, short of stature, he is wearing a fringed buckskin outfit.

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

Polish film director Roman Polanski with his wife actress Sharon Tate in London. Sharon Tate was murdered in 1969 by Charles Manson and his followers.

(Photo by Hulton-Deutsch/Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis via Getty Images)

Charles Manson, convicted hippie leader, is sullen as he is led back into the courtroom to hear the penalty he and this three female followers must pay for the Tate-LaBianca murders of August 1969. Manson and his followers, Denise Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Leslie Van Houten were decreed the gas chamber by the jury following a nine month trial.

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

A portrait of American criminal Charles Manson. 1970s

(Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

Susan Atkins testified before the Los Angeles Grand Jury in December 1969, which indicted five individuals, including Atkins, and Charles Manson for the Tate-LaBianca killings.

(Bettmann via Getty Images)


Brown's office was not immediately available for comment on the most recent parole decision.

Manson, also serving a life sentence, directed Van Houten and his other mostly young, female followers - known as the Manson Family - to murder seven people in August 1969 in what prosecutors said was part of a plan to incite a race war between whites and blacks.

Van Houten was found guilty of the LaBianca murders in 1971 and sentenced to death, but that conviction and sentence were overturned on appeal. She was retried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1978.

The LaBiancas were stabbed to death, after which the killers used their blood to write "Rise," "Death to Pigs" and "Healter-Skelter," a misspelled reference to a Beatles song, on the walls and a refrigerator door.

Among the victims of the Manson Family that month was actress Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of filmmaker Roman Polanski. She was stabbed 16 times by cult members.

Most infamous cults in history

Most infamous cults in history
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Most infamous cults in history

The Manson Family

Charles Manson led a group known as the Manson Family in California during the late 1960s. The group targeted some of Hollywood’s biggest names in an attempt to incite a race war -- what they called “Helter Skelter.” They committed a series of seven murders in 1969, including the murder of Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of director Roman Polanski. Charles Manson was sentenced to life in prison in 1971.

(Photo by John Malmin/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Children of God 

The Huntington Beach, California cult was established by David “Moses” Berg in the last 1960s. Though the group considered themselves a form of Christianity, they condoned sex with children and often used young women to lure in new followers. Joaquin and River Phoenix and Rose McGowen were raised in the Children of God before leaving. 

Photo Credit: Reuters 

The People's Temple

The leader of the cult, Jim Jones, began preaching social equality for all and other progressive views by the late 1950s in Indianapolis. After amassing many followers, he moved them to California to build a commune. Jones grew increasingly paranoid and eventually relocated the cult to a compound in Guyana, South America in 1977.

In 1978, California Congressman Leo Ryan visited Jonestown with reporters to investigate claims that members were being held in Guyana against their will. When Ryan attempted to leave with several defectors, Jones’ men ambushed him. The congressman and four others were shot and killed at the airport. That night Jones instructed and forced followers to drink juice that contained cyanide. At least 900 people died. 

(Photo by Don Hogan Charles/New York Times Co./Getty Images)

The Branch Davidians 

Branch Davidians started when David Koresh became the self-appointed prophet of the small religious community in Waco, Texas.

He was suspected of stockpiling weapons, polygamy and having sex with underage girls.

Koresh’s cult compound in Mount Carmel was raided in February 1993, resulting in a shoot out that killed four FBI agents and five cult members. After being tipped off that there were women and children inside the compound, the FBI stood down and re-strategized their raid.

Using bulldozers, loud music and tear gas — the FBI stood on the compound for 51 days before the compound was lit in a fire and incinerated.

Source: NPR

Heaven's Gate

The cult’s leader Marshall Herff Applewhite was convinced that Earth was going to be "recycled," and that they needed the help of extraterrestrials to transcend into a new body. The group believed that after the 1996 Hale-Bopp, a spaceship would follow. Applewhite and 38 followers committed mass suicide in 1997 at a mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, California. 

(Photo by Brooks Kraft LLC/Sygma via Getty Images)

Order of the Solar Temple

Based on the Knights Templar, the Order of the Solar Temple is a suicide cult founded by Joseph Di Mambro and Luc Jouret in 1984 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Jouret saw himself as Jesus Christ and centered the cult around sex and money. In October 1994, 23 bodies were discovered in a Swiss canton while another 25 bodies were found in Valais. Another couple and their infant son has also been found stabbed to death with a wooden stake in Canada — believed to be the Antichrist.

Foreseeing an end of the world due to disaster, cult members -- including both founders -- took part in a mass suicide/murder. The cult is now believed responsible for 74 deaths.

Source: Bizarrepedia

Aum Supreme Truth, Shoko Asahara

Aum Shinrikyo, or “supreme truth,” began in the 1980s primarily as a spiritual group based on Hindu and Buddhist doctrine. Later, though, the group’s leader — Shoko Asahara — claimed to be the first “enlightened one” since Buddha.

Eventually, the group turned into an anarchist cult. The cult infamously carried out a rush-hour attack in Tokyo in 1995 when they released opened bags of sarin on the train lines. Thirteen people were killed and thousands were injured.

Source: BBC


Four other people were stabbed or shot to death at Tate's home on Aug. 9, 1969, by Manson's followers, who scrawled the word "Pig" in blood on the front door before leaving. Van Houten was not involved in the Tate murders.

Manson is serving his sentence at Corcoran State Prison in California for the seven Tate-LaBianca killings and the murder of another man, Gary Hinman, in July 1969. (Reporting by the Los Angeles Bureau; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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