A FORMER member of the Charles Manson family was released yesterday after more than half a century in prison for a gruesome double murder.
Leslie Van Houten, 73, was the youngest member of the bloodthirsty cult to be convicted in 1971.
She killed California grocer Leno La Blanca, 44, and his wife Rosemary, 38, two years earlier, when they were just 19, in a horrific knife attack.
During the killings – which took place just days after actress Sharon Tate and four others were killed – Van Houten held Ms. La Bianca down while someone else stabbed her.
She also later admitted to stabbing her after her death. The victims were stabbed dozens of times.
Five people – Van Houten, Manson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Tex Watson – were each tried and convicted for their involvement in the murders.
Van Houten was convicted of two counts of murder and one count of conspiracy to murder.
Originally, each defendant received a death sentence—but in 1972, the California Supreme Court ruled that the laws were unconstitutional.
Van Houten left a women’s prison in California early Tuesday morning and is now likely to be paroled for three years, her attorney Nancy Tetreault said.
The killer, once a member of cult leader Manson’s twisted gang, is now hoping to find a job.
Manson directed his followers to commit nine murders, hoping the killings would spark a race war dubbed “Helter Skelter,” after a famous Beatles song. He died in prison in 2017.
During her sentence, Van Houten earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree while in prison and worked as a tutor.
She was denied parole dozens of times before California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he would not appeal her release this month.
In a statement last week, the governor said he remained disappointed with her release.
He said, “More than 50 years after the Manson cult committed these brutal murders, the victims’ families are still feeling the effects.”