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Thursday, May 26th, 2022
May 26, 2022
RE:Patricia Krenwinkel CDC# W-08314
Dear Commissioners Dianne Dobbs & Dale Pomerantz,
My name is Anthony DiMaria, nephew of Jay Sebring.
Before I begin my statement I’d like to address that a week and half ago or so, my mother and I made a request for her to be present and speak at today’s hearing. That request was denied due to the 30 day rule. We certainly respect rules but I’d like to ask if the board could consider realities our families deal with regarding family, business and medical demands before these hearings particularly with regard to vetted victim’s next of kin. My mother, Margaret DiMaria, Jay Sebring’s sister, has been vetted by CDCR since 2004.
Today’s hearing is the fourth we have attended in the past 7 months related to the Manson Crime Organization. It bears acknowledging that the Manson family is no hippie cult, it is defined by its extensive crimes as a violent crime organization that conspired, tortured, mutilated, and killed collectively as a syndicate. Patricia Krenwinkel is no “follower,” she is a cold-blooded killer of eight people.
The more accurate number of Krenwinkel’s victims is eight, as I include the murder of Sharon Tate’s unborn son.
To be clear, our family’s involvement in today’s hearing has nothing to do with anger, revenge or hatred towards Ms. Krenwinkel, rather we are present out of love to speak for eight people who remain voiceless in their graves. The only hatred I feel is for the actual crimes and parasitical vermin who exploit these murders for profit and self-promotion.
Part of what continues to impact our families are these hearings and what is said in these hearings, past and present. This is exacerbated by the twisted legal and policy reforms that perversely favor Patricia Krenwinkel, at the expense of her victims.
For the 6 killed by Patricia Krenwinkel at Cielo Drive, there is no Youthful or Elderly Victim Programs. For the couple she butchered at Waverly Drive, there is no Next Step Program. There are no ‘Special Considerations’.
Under the current leadership of LA DA George Gascon, our loved ones have been stripped of their legal voice after Gascon’s sweeping mandates forbidding all representation from his office and/or any involvement with our families with regard to all Manson parole hearings. Violent killers are coddled, as the victims and our families are discarded like trash.
I remind the Commissioners that Patricia Krenwinkel is one of the most deplorable killers of the entire Manson family. She dealt more direct and fatal blows than Charles Manson.
Under California Department of Correction & Rehabilitation supervision, Patricia Krenwinkel and her cohorts have benefitted from doing numerous interviews with Diane Sawyer, Larry King, Rolling Stone magazine, writing books, etc., etc. In 2014, Patricia Krenwinkel produced her own documentary titled LIFE AFTER MANSON: THE UNTOLD STORY OF PATRICIA KRENWINKEL, available for purchase on Amazon and on its own website. The petitioner’s role as producer is irrefutable as the film’s director Olivia Klaus states Patricia Krenwinkel “approached me to capture her story.” Commissioners, I wonder if you might understand that, from the victim’s perspective, the world has been perversely twisted upside down.
There is talk today about pre-commitment offense influences, prison programming, good behavior, Elderly Offender & Youthful Offender Programs, Twelve Step Programming, Coping Mechanisms, Sponsorship Support, the Parole Board’s investigative conclusion that Ms. Krenwinkel is an Intimate Partner Abuse Victim, rehabilitation and suitability for parole.
I appreciate the opportunity to address these:
But first, I direct each of us in this hearing – to LAWRENCE.
If ever murders could be described as “Crimes of the Century,” Ms. Krenwinkel’s actions embody this heinous standard. The unspeakable number of stab wounds, mutilations, Ms. Krenwinkel’s threats smeared in her victims’ blood of DEATH TO PIGS and HELTER SKELTER on the walls at her crime scene terrified the nation. Patricia’s obscene behaviors throughout her trial not only spit on the memory of her victims and tormented our families, but directly created the destructive Manson family mystique, causing permanent scars on American history.
As noted author Joan Didion writes in THE WHITE ALBUM, “the Hippie Movement ended abruptly on August 8, 1969,” the exact night Patricia Krenwinkel killed 5 people and an unborn child at Cielo Drive. The “rare, severe, egregious nature” of the petitioner’s killings meet every criteria defined by LAWRENCE. The severity of her actions are so profound that her lethal legacy has been influential in similar horrific murders well after her incarceration.
Detective Don Ryan describes the crime scene of Vivian French’s murder March 7, 1977: “As I entered the residence I could hear ‘The Pigs Are Coming’ song that was playing over and over again. When we walked in, I observed a white female, later identified as Vivian French, lying on her back. She was nude and I noticed what appeared to be a black handled knife in her right side just above the breast. I noticed on the wall there were some things written in blood: ‘Helter Skelter’ and ‘All Pigs Must Die’…”
“HELTER SKELTER” & “ALL PIGS MUST DIE”—— the same words written by Patricia Krenwinkel in her victims’ blood at the LaBianca crime scene.
On May 30, 2003, Jason Sweeney was murdered by four teenagers, ages 15 to 17. The weapons used to massacre the young man were a hammer, a hatchet, and several large rocks. At one point during the attack there was a hammer blow so severe that it remained protruding from Jason’s scull, as he continued to fight for his life.
During the trial, the teenaged killers testified listening to “Helter Skelter” over and over repeatedly for several hours before committing the murder. “Helter Skelter”…
The prosecuting attorney, Jude Conroy, stated, “It is really amazing that teenagers in Philadelphia, Memorial Day weekend, are attuned to the whole Helter Skelter mythology. It’s a sad testament to the twisted, brutal legacy those murders have left behind such that it attracts 15, 16, 17-year-olds.Over forty years later. 3,000 miles across the country. It is a powerful legacy.” (END QUOTE)
Charles Manson did not write HELTER SKELTER in blood, Patricia Krenwinkel did. There can be no Manson-blaming in this. Patricia Krenwinkel is the author that ignited what would become an endless cultural cancer with sinister and deadly consequences.
One of the things my mother wanted to share in this hearing was an incident involving her daughter, my sister, Mishele. Just a couple years ago she was at a concert. When the lead singer came out in a “Charlie’s Angels” shirt she was so disturbed and traumatized she immediately left the concert. On the T-shirt was Patricia Krenwinkel, Leslie Van Houten and Susan Atkins laughing on their way to court.
For many vulnerable and depraved minds in pop culture and among some youth- these crimes are almost cool. And in several circles- Patricia Krenwinkel and the other killers have attained serial killer rock-star status. You have only to reference the internet to evidence this.
The nexus of current dangerousness, and the threat of Patricia Krenwinkel and her crimes to society today——direct, symbolic and cultural——is permanent, lethal and malignant.
REGARDING MINIMIZATION & DEFLECTION:
Glaring to our families is Ms. Krenwinkel’s extensive pattern of deflection and minimization for decades in these hearings, in public interviews and through her documentary.
At today’s hearing, Ms. Krenwinkel describes “allowing” and “allowed” as in “I allowed these things to happen” & “I allowed to lead me in this direction.”
After having lived with the loss and suffering caused by Patricia Krenwinkel for decades- any use of the words “allow”, “allowed”, “allowing” is quite disturbing.
Particularly painful and disturbing to our families were decisions and judgements that occurred at Patricia Krenwinkel’s last two hearings, on December 29, 2016 and June 22, 2017, when the Parole Board and CDCR decided to initiate an extensive investigation into whether Patricia Krenwinkel——the convicted killer of seven and an unborn child——was an abuse victim.
As I stated to Don Thompson of the Associated Press, “for this investigation to be initiated at this point——after several decades——is mind boggling. I don’t understand how we go from being a murderer——convicted killer of eight——to an ‘intimate partner victim’. It’s absurd. It’s like the world is upside down. How do you kill eight people, and then become the victim?!”
Just as sick and twisted at the initial December 29th hearing was Ms. Krenwinkel’s admission that she was in charge of watching the children at Spahn Ranch, and her knowledge that Charles Manson was raping the children there.
From page 124 of the transcript: “There was people that took care of the children…there’s a lot of people and there has to be a designation of labor…So I would take care of the children.”
Then on page 208, Ms. Krenwinkel refers to Manson as, “a pedophile. He slept with 12-year-olds at the Ranch. 13-year-olds. 14-year-olds. 15-year-olds.”
It was incomprehensible to hear this bombshell admission, and yet witness a rather feckless follow-up from Deputy Commissioner Nga Lam. The actual interaction is the following:
Deputy Commissioner Lam: “But you knew he was sleeping with 12, 13-year-olds then, right?”
Inmate Krenwinkel: “Yes. I never thought about it…yes.”
Commissioner Lam: “Did that—— did it bother you then?”
Inmate Krenwinkel: “A couple of times things that he did, I mean, his violence against some of these PEOPLE. But I didn’t think about it because we were all—— it was all this communal living.”
So, how does this rationale work? The inmate didn’t think too much about the rapes of children because it was “communal living”? This selective reasoning is sociopathic. Ms. Krenwinkel was also cunning enough to swap nouns after asked if Manson’s rapes of children bothered her. Her response: “A couple times things he did, I mean his violence against these people…”
PEOPLE? She was asked about crimes against children.
It has been established in several past hearings that Patricia Krenwinkel & Leslie Van Houten were the main caretakers of children at Spahn Ranch. In addition to Ms. Krenwinkel’s testimony, Leslie Van Houten revealed at her hearing 9/6/2017 (p.118 ll.18-9) “Pat and I were taking care of the children.”
I immediately filed a complaint and request to CDCR’s Jennifer Shaffer and Jennifer Neill, demanding a formal investigation focused on the rapes of children at the hands of the Manson family at Spahn Ranch. Quoting from my initial complaint:
“Since the Board is now opening investigations in addition to its chief role of determining suitability of parole, I demand an investigation to determine if Patricia Krenwinkel was an accessory in the rapes of children. If these children were ABUSE VICTIMS of Patricia Krenwinkel or any of the clan at the ranch.
Let there be no distraction from who the ACTUAL victims are…with regard to these murders. Or in the rapes of children.
When authority and judgement are formed selectively or politically, the scales of justice are thrown in the trash, leaving us all blindfolded. This is madness. I ask that this be entered in to the record.”
Commissioners, do you have this document in your records?
I am going to read a passage from Dianne Lake’s book MEMBER OF THE FAMILY. On page 125, “Lynette and a girl named Patty (inmate Krenwinkel) stroked my hair and passed me a joint while Charlie strummed out more tunes on the guitar…there was a lot of unspoken communication between Charlie and the girls. His expression changed slightly, and as if the scene had been rehearsed, Patty took his guitar from him. He stood, took my hand, and led me outside. We walked hand in hand to the black bus.” According to Ms. Lake, this is when Charles Manson first raped the 14-year-old.
Petitioner Krenwinkel might describe this incident as “communal living”, but a vast majority in civil society know this to be contributing to the delinquency of a minor, grooming & facilitating the rape of a 14-year-old child.
Ultimately, a formal investigation was initiated. It concluded that Patricia Krenwinkel was an intimate partner of Manson…and a victim. To date, no inquiries or investigations have been conducted by CDCR or the Parole Board delving into Ms. Krenwinkel’s admission that children were being raped at the Ranch. One can only imagine that the extent of Patricia Krenwinkel’s knowledge and/or possible involvement of child molestation at the Ranch would be of profound relevance in the calculus to determine suitability for release. But, no such regard or investigation for those crimes or those victims.
Commissioners, I point you to CDCR Executive Director Jennifer P. Shaffer’s response dated February 14, 2017 to my initial complaint. Quoting:
“Lastly in light of the fact that the board is opening an investigation into inmate Krenwinkel’s claim of intimate partner battering, you requested that the board also investigate allegations that inmate Krenwinkel may have been involved, or was an accessory in the rapes of children by Charles Manson around the times the murders took place, based on her testimony 12/29 hearing. I appreciate your desire for additional investigation into these allegations.
However, as I have explained above, the board is specifically required by law to investigate claims of intimate partner battering that were not admissible at the time of her trial. In rare occasions other investigations (that are not mandated by statute) can be requested by a hearing panel if necessary for determining an inmate’s current risk of dangerousness. No investigation has been requested.”
In light of Patricia Krenwinkel’s revelations of the rapes of children, Dianne Lake’s corroborating accounts- clearly Ms. Krenwinkel’s knowledge and/or involvement in these crimes against children at Spahn Ranch, her lack of regard for these children and her veiled secrecy after more than 50 years of rehabilitation- is more than enough evidence raising concern for the petitioner’s current risk of dangerousness and suitability for release.
On March 17, 2017, Ms. Krenwinkel, in a primetime ABC tabloid said, “I learned choice at the most horrific cost.” SHE learned at “the most horrific cost?” NOT HER VICTIMS?!
This statement is frighteningly insightful in its ironic narcissism—— as only can be said by a sociopathic killer who feels entitled to usurp the realities and rights of her victims…by positioning herself in the role of the victim. It’s in her nature. She doesn’t even know she’s doing it. Or she does.
I’m going to read from a cover of the inmate’s film LIFE AFTER MANSON: THE UNTOLD STORY OF PATRICIA KRENWINKEL, which for the record can be purchased online for $15, $25—— and for only $250 the “Educational Package” is available, which includes a booklet of “Krenny’s” personal collection of poetry & photos, a Power Point Presentation, and licensing options for public libraries and classes Kindergarten through 12th grade. I screen-capped images for your reference if you’d like me to send?
Quoting from the DVD’s cover, “Now as California’s longest incarcerated woman, she continues to be demonized by the public and haunted by the suffering she caused over five decades ago.”
“Continues to be DEMONIZED by the public”?! It seems Ms. Krenwinkel and her production team lost sight of who the actual victims are in these murders…even after 53 years of supposed reflection and rehabilitation. So let us consider the untold stories of Patricia Krenwinkel’s dead:
LIFE AFTER KRENWINKEL: THE UNTOLD STORY OF ROSEMARY LABIANCA: Stabbed 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10…41 times with a bayonet and hunting knives.
LIFE AFTER KRENWINKEL: THE UNTOLD STORY OF LENO LABIANCA: Bound defenseless in a chair and stabbed throughout his abdomen and thorax dozens of times with his own butcher knife & carving fork.
LIFE AFTER KRENWINKEL: THE UNTOLD STORY OF ABIGAIL FOLGER: A death so horrifically unbearable that her last words were, “Please stop. I’m already dead.”
LIFE AFTER KRENWINKEL: THE UNTOLD STORY OF AN EIGHT AND A HALF MONTH UNBORN BABY SLOWLY SUFFOCATED TO DEATH WHILE HIS MOTHER IS BUTCHERED AS SHE SCREAMED FOR HIS LIFE.
LIFE AFTER KRENWINKEL: THE UNTOLD STORY OF MARGARET DiMARIA (my mother). Who was pregnant when her brother Jay was killed.
So traumatized she was by Jay’s murder that she lost her child (For the record, that makes two babies whose lives were stolen as a direct result of Patricia Krenwinkel and her crimes).
When I read that the petitioner is described as “California’s longest incarcerated woman,” I am haunted by the memories of our eight loved ones. All of them dead, for 53 years and counting.
All said, 424 years in their black, cold coffins.
Commissioners, you’ve asked the petitioner, “Who were you then? Who are you today?”
-I ask the same questions, “Steven, Abigail, Woyteck, Sharon, Jay: Who were you on the night of August 8, 1969? Who are you today?” “Leno, Rosemary: Who were you on the night of August 10, 1969? Who are you today?”
While the inmate, her attorney, and film team believe Ms. Krenwinkel has been rehabilitated and is a changed person, I remind the Board that her eight victims remain entirely unchanged. Unrehabilitated. Unparoled. As my mother has stated in past hearings, “They are just as dead today as when Patricia Krenwinkel sent them to their graves 53 years ago.”
As the attorney today invokes the law, you see blood relatives, Lou, Debra, Kay & myself, seeking justice. We implore you to indeed follow the law, particularly as defined in LAWRENCE.
For the rare, egregious, severe nature of Patricia Krenwinkel’s crimes: LAWRENCE. For how horribly her victims suffered: LAWRENCE. For her crimes against civilized society as she terrorized the nation with her blood-spattered threats and cruel, perverse behavior during her trial: LAWRENCE. For the permanent cultural, historical scars Ms. Krenwinkel has dealt with destructive consequences even today: LAWRENCE.
Commissioners, I reiterate the petitioner’s knowledge and grooming in crimes against children at Spahn Ranch as provided earlier in this statement. Again, I request an investigation to be conducted to determine the role of Patricia Krenwinkel & Leslie Van Houten in the rapes of children at Spahn Ranch crucial to current dangerousness and suitability of release of either inmate per Jennifer Shaffer’s response to my original request 1/30/2017.
I mentioned earlier how the world has been perversely twisted and turned upside down for the victims and our families. Commissioners, how you can make amends for Patricia Krenwinkel—— when nothing, no law, neither of you, can make amends for her dead or the diabolical destruction she has caused to society.
I urge the Board to consider parole for Patricia Krenwinkel, once you’ve paroled her victims from their graves.
As we acknowledge the cruel, severe nature of Krenwinkel’s crimes, the impact upon and threat to society, the pattern of minimization, the number of Krenwinkel’s victims and how horribly they suffered…
We ask for a parole denial, and for the longest period of time.
Thursday, May 26th, 2022
May 26 – Patricia Krenwinkel, 74, was found suitable for parole, at a hearing held today by the California Board of Parole Hearings.
Krenwinkel is serving a life sentence for her role in the seven Tate-LaBianca murders. She was sentenced to death on March 29, 1971, but saw that sentence commuted to life when the death penalty was briefly outlawed in 1972. She has been denied parole 14 times since becoming eligible in 1977.
Today’s decision will undergo a review by the Board of Parole Hearings. Then it will be reviewed by Governor Gavin Newsom, who will either confirm, reverse, modify or take no action on the grant. The decision will be finalized no later than October 23, 2022.
Tuesday, March 29th, 2022
GOVERNOR NEWSOM’S RULING ON LESLIE VAN HOUTEN’S 2021 PAROLE RECOMMENDATION
Mar. 29 – In 1968, Leslie Van Houten met Charles Manson and began living as a member of Mr. Manson’s cult, which they called “The Family.” The cult believed that an apocalyptic race war, which they referred to as “Helter Skelter,” was imminent. The cult members planned to hide in the desert until the race war ended, at which point they planned to seize control of the world. In 1969, however, Mr. Manson decided it was the cult’s responsibility to initiate Helter Skelter by killing white victims, thereby inciting retaliatory violence against Black people.
Ms. Van Houten’s crime was one in a string of brutal attacks that the Family perpetrated in Los Angeles, starting on August 8, 1969. Members of the Family brutally murdered actress Sharon Tate, who was eight months pregnant, and her friends Steve Parent, Abigail Folger, Wojiciech Fryowski, and Jay Sebring.
Two days later, on August 10, 1969, Ms. Van Houten, along with Family members Charles “Tex” Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel, Linda Kasabian, Mr. Manson, and Steve Grogan, drove to the home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Mr. Manson and Mr. Watson entered the house, woke up Mr. and Mrs. LaBianca, tied them up and returned to the group outside. Mr. Manson instructed Ms. Van Houten and Ms. Krenwinkel to enter the house and follow Mr. Watson’s instructions, then he drove away with Mr. Grogan and Ms. Kasabian.
Ms. Van Houten, Ms. Krenwinkel, and Mr. Watson entered the La Biancas’ home. Mr. Watson, armed with a bayonet, ordered the LaBiancas to give them cash. Mrs. La Bianca gave him a small box of money. Mr. Watson then told Ms. Van Houten and Ms. Krenwinkel to take Mrs. LaBianca into a bedroom and kill her. Ms. Van Houten and Ms. Krenwinkel then transferred Mrs. LaBianca to a bedroom, and Ms. Krenwinkel retrieved two knives from the kitchen. Ms. Van Houten put a pillowcase over Mrs. LaBianca’s head and wrapped a lamp cord around her neck. Meanwhile in the living room, Mr. Watson covered Mr. LaBianca’s head with a pillowcase, tied his hands behind his back with a leather thong, and tied an electrical cord around his neck. Mr. Watson stabbed Mr. LaBianca multiple times.
After hearing her husband’s screams, Mrs. LaBianca grabbed a lamp and swung it at Ms. Van Houten. Ms. Van Houten knocked the lamp from Mrs. LaBianca’s hands, wrestled her back onto the bed, and pinned her down. Ms. Krenwinkel stabbed Mrs. LaBianca in the neck and struck her collar bone, which bent the knife’s blade. Ms. Van Houten called for Mr. Watson, who came into the room and stabbed Mrs. LaBianca numerous times. Mr. Watson handed Ms. Van Houten a knife and instructed her to “do something.” Ms. Van Houten stabbed Mrs. LaBianca approximately 16 times. Ms. Van Houten then wiped down surfaces in the house to eliminate fingerprints, changed into Mrs. LaBianca’s clothes, and drank chocolate milk from the LaBiancas’refrigerator. The group then fled.
The next morning, Mrs. LaBianca’s teenaged son discovered Mr. LaBianca’s body with a knife stuck in his neck, a carving fork protruding from his stomach, and the word “war” carved into his skin. The phrases “Death to Pigs,” “Rise,” and references to Helter Skelter were written in the victims’ blood on the walls and the refrigerator.
Ms. Van Houten was arrested on November 25, 1969. In 1971, Ms. Van Houten was convicted of two counts of first degree murder and one count of conspiracy and sentenced to death. In 1972, following a change in California law, Ms. Van Houten’s sentence was modified to life in prison with the possibility of parole. In 1976, Ms. Van Houten’s conviction was overturned on appeal because of legal errors in her trial, which resulted in a retrial. The retrial ended in a mistrial when the jury deadlocked. In 1978, Ms. Van Houten was tried a third time and convicted of two counts of first degree murder and one count of conspiracy. She was sentenced to a term of seven years to life.
The Board of Parole Hearings (Board) has conducted 21 parole hearings for Ms. Van Houten since 1982. Since 2016, the Board has found her suitable for parole five times. Governor Brown reversed parole grants in 2016 and 2018. Governor Newsom reversed parole grants in 2019 and 2020. This decision follows her November 9, 2021 parole grant.
The California Constitution grants me the authority to review proposed decisions of the Board. (Cal. Const. art. V, § 8, subd. (b).) I am given broad discretion to determine an inmate’s suitability for parole and may affirm, reverse, modify, or refer back to the Board any grant of parole to a person convicted of murder serving an indeterminate life sentence. (Id.; Pen. Code, § 3041.2; see In re Rosenkrantz (2002) 29 Cal.4th 616, 625-26; In re Dannenberg (2005) 34 Cal.4th 1061, 1080, 1082, 1088.) I am authorized to identify and weigh all “factors relevant to predicting ‘whether the inmate will be able to live in society without committing additional antisocial acts.'” (In re Lawrence (2008) 44 Cal.4th 1181, 1205-06, quoting In re Rosenkrantz, supra, 29 Cal.4th at p. 655.)
When the Board proposes that an inmate convicted of murder be released on parole, I am authorized to conduct an independent, de novo review of the entire record, including “the facts of the offense, the inmate’s progress during incarceration, and the insight he or she has achieved into past behavior,” to determine the inmate’s suitability for parole. (In re Shaputis II (2011) 53 Cal.4th 192, 221.)
My review is independent of the Board’s authority, but it is guided by the same “essential” question: whether the inmate currently poses a risk to public safety. (Cal. Const. art. V, § 8, subd. (b); Pen. Code, § 3041.2; In re Shaputis II, supra, 53 Cal.4th at pp. 220-21.)
The circumstances of the crime can provide evidence of current dangerousness when evidence in the inmate’s pre- or post-incarceration history, or the inmate’s current mental state, indicate that the crime remains probative of current dangerousness. (In re Lawrence, supra, 44 Cal.4th at p. 1214.) In rare cases, the aggravated nature of the crime alone can provide a valid basis for denying parole, even when there is strong evidence of rehabilitation and no other evidence of current dangerousness exists. (In re Lawrence, supra, 44 Cal.4th at p. 1214.)
I am also required to give “great weight to the diminished culpability of youth as compared to adults, the hallmark features of youth, and any subsequent growth and increased maturity of the prisoner” when determining a youthful offender’s suitability for parole. (Pen. Code, § 4801, subd. (c).) I further must afford special consideration to whether age, the amount of time served, and diminished physical condition reduce the inmate’s risk of future violence. (See Feb. 10, 2014 order issued in Coleman v. Brown, Case No. 2:90-cv-0520 LKK-DAD (PC) (E.D. Cal.) and Plata v. Brown, Case No. C01-01351 TEH (N.D. Cal.).)
The Manson Family murders are among the most notorious and gruesome in American history. Beyond the immeasurable suffering Ms. Van Houten caused the LaBianca family, Ms. Van Houten’s grisly acts have haunted people in California and beyond for more than half a century.
Ms. Van Houten herself described the impact of the crime in a letter to the Board in 2016. She wrote that her crime, designed to incite social unrest, “did not begin a revolution. What it did was create fear and panic across Los Angeles and the entire country for months to come. Parents kept their children home from school, doors and windows were kept locked in spite of the summer’s heat, and the love and peace movement ended. The murders occurred in the privacy of a total stranger’s home, which meant it could have happened to anyone. This heightened awareness of everyone’s personal vulnerability and caused traumatic reactions to many.”
While Ms. Van Houten’s understanding of the gravity of her crime and its ongoing harm is an encouraging sign of her developing insight, I have concluded that she remains unsuitable for parole because she poses a current threat to public safety. Ms. Van Houten continues to lack sufficient insight into the risk factors that led to her violent conduct in the past and the skills to protect against her becoming susceptible to similar pressures in the future.
In November 2020, I reversed Ms. Van Houten’s July 2020 parole grant based in part on her significant gaps in insight. I concluded that Ms. Van Houten needed to develop a deeper understanding of the factors that caused her to seek acceptance from a violent cult and to commit brutal acts of violence on its behalf. Following this parole reversal, Ms. Van Houten committed herself to improving her insight, and she made the decision to step away from her post as the chairperson of the Inmate Advisory Council in order to focus on her self-development. Ms. Van Houten entered Integrated Substance Use Disorder Treatment (ISUDT). Ms. Van Houten told the Board in 2021, “a lot of the ISUDT program has been focusing on what for me was my early years of… the drug use and who I was, revisiting it. And…I have been getting to the point where I can—not just remember who I was, but also feel who I was at those ages.” While I commend Ms. Van Houten for taking this step forward in her rehabilitation, I find that her insight is still lacking.
Ms. Van Houten requires additional work to internalize her programming in ISUDT, given the nexus between her substance abuse history, her past feelings of stress within relationships, and her history of violence. For example, the evaluating psychologist in 2021 concluded that, “Substance abuse and problematic relationships contributed significantly to Ms. Van Houten’s commission of the life crime.” The psychologist also diagnosed Ms. Van Houten with Cannabis, Amphetamine, and Other Hallucinogen Use Disorders, in sustained remission in a controlled environment. The psychologist also noted that, “Ms. Van Houten will face significant stress if granted parole supervision,” especially due to her “notoriety,” and that her response to these stressors remain relevant to her risk for future violence. Ms. Van Houten has historically responded to stress in interpersonal relationships and feelings of isolation by using drugs, which ultimately led her to commit extreme acts of violence. Before she can be found suitable for parole, Ms. Van Houten must demonstrate that she has sufficient coping skills to prevent substance abuse relapse in the community.
Ms. Van Houten must also better understand the internal processes that led her to commit the crimes and hone the skills to control them. While Ms. Van Houten has demonstrated some insight into the crime and shown remorse, I note that since 2020, Ms. Van Houten’s explanation of her path to violent conduct focuses on external factors. She connects her initial decision to join the Manson family cult with the adverse experiences of her parents’ divorce and being coerced by her mother to have an abortion. While these events may have left Ms. Van Houten vulnerable to cult recruitment when she was young, she continues to lack insight into the internal processes that led her to respond to her own trauma with brutality against Ms. La Bianca.
At her 2021 hearing, the Board asked her why she remained in the cult even after their extremely violent conduct escalated, Ms. Van Houten explained that at the time she believed Mr. Manson “was a reincarnation” of Jesus Christ and she imagined herself as a kind of disciple. This explanation also focuses on the acts of Mr. Manson rather than her own internal processes that led her to adopt this dangerous system of beliefs, and violently act on them. Ms. Van Houten, because of her self-imposed notoriety, will almost certainly experience complex, external triggers if she is released on parole. She has not demonstrated that she has the self-awareness and coping strategies to respond to externalities in a prosocial way before she can be safely released.
Finally, I am required to consider the additional factors that are legally relevant to Ms. Van Houten’s suitability for parole. As explained below, I have weighed these factors and conclude they do not outweigh the substantial evidence of her current dangerousness.
First, in the cases of inmates who commit their crimes when they are under 26 years old, as in Ms. Van Houten’s case, I am required to review the record for evidence of factors relevant to their diminished culpability as youthful offenders and any subsequent growth and increased maturity. Ms. Van Houten was 19 years old when she committed the life crime. I have carefully examined the record for evidence of youthful offender factors and find that, at the time of her crime, she exhibited some of the hallmark features of youth. I note that the psychologist who evaluated Ms. Van Houten in 2021 wrote, “At the time of the life crime, Ms. Van Houten displayed hallmarks of youth such as naiveté, excessive risk-taking, attenuated ability to anticipate and appreciate consequences, and reduced ability to manage negative emotions.”
I have also examined the record for evidence of Ms. Van Houten’s subsequent growth in prison and increased maturity and rehabilitation. I acknowledge that Ms. Van Houten has made significant efforts to improve herself in prison through self-help programming and other prosocial efforts. She has participated in and facilitated self-help programming, including anger management, violence prevention, and substance abuse prevention courses. She has earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and completed vocational training. Ms. Van Houten has consistently engaged in individual and group therapy while in prison. She also has a laudable disciplinary record. I have given great weight to her subsequent growth in prison during my consideration of his suitability for parole. While Ms. Van Houten has certainly matured in many ways over the last 51 years, her current gaps in insight demonstrate that she has not internalized her rehabilitation programming sufficiently to reduce her risk for future dangerousness. Consequently, even after according these youthful offender factors great weight, I conclude they are outweighed by negative factors that demonstrate that she remains unsuitable for parole at this time.
Second, I have given special consideration to the Elderly Parole factors in this case. Ms. Van Hoten is 72 years old and has served 51 years and 10 months. After nearly 52 years in prison, she still has not adequately addressed why she joined and remained in a violent cult or the triggering factors that led her to murder Mrs. La Bianca. Ms. Van Houten’s physical strength has lessened over the years, she was diagnosed with several chronic medical conditions that the evaluating psychologist concluded, “somewhat decrease[s] her risk of violence.” I have concluded that Ms. Van Houten’s age and diminished physical strength do not sufficiently mitigate her current risk to public safety.
Because of Ms. Van Houten’s history of obedience to a cult, the most relevant risk factor in this case remains her negative response to adverse external factors, and her susceptibility to them. Specifically, Ms. Van Houten has not sufficiently mitigated her risks for substance use relapse and distorted thinking leading to antisocial conduct in response to stressors. Accordingly, her release is not consistent with public safety.
I commend Ms. Van Houten for her significant efforts in rehabilitation to-date and acknowledge that her statements of remorse for her crime appear sincere and deeply felt. I encourage her to continue on this positive path.
I have considered the evidence in the record that is relevant to whether Ms. Van Houten is currently dangerous. When considered as a whole, I find the evidence shows that she currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison at this time. Therefore, I reverse the decision to parole Ms. Van Houten.
March 29, 2022
Governor, State of California
Friday, January 28th, 2022
Jan. 28 – Bobby Beausoleil was found unsuitable for parole at a hearing held today by the California Board of Parole Hearings.
Beausoleil, 74, is serving a term of 7-years-to-life, for the 1969 murder of Gary Hinman. He was tried twice; first in November of 1969 resulting in a hung jury, and again in April of 1970, resulting in a conviction of first degree murder. He was sentenced to death on April 15, 1970. In 1972, his death sentence was commuted to life when the death penalty was briefly outlawed.
Beausoleil has now been denied parole 20 times since becoming eligible in 1976. He was recommended for parole in 2019 but Governor Gavin Newsom reversed the grant due to the heinous nature of the crime and Beausoleil’s limited insight regarding it. Beausoleil was denied parole in 2020, but successfully petitioned to have a new hearing.
Beausoleil will not be eligible for parole until 2025.
Thursday, November 18th, 2021
Nov 18 – California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal today ordered the state’s Attorney General to reveal the date when Leslie Van Houten’s 2020 parole grant was sent to Governor Gavin Newsom.
Van Houten was recommended for parole on July 23, 2020. The Board of Parole Hearings normally has 120 days to review parole decisions, but due to COVID-19 protocols, the review period was shortened to 90 days. After the BPH review, the decision is sent to the governor who has an additional 30 days to weigh in before the grant is finalized.
Newsom reversed the grant on November 27th, seven days after the cut off.
Van Houten’s attorneys have been trying to pinpoint who was late, BPH or Governor Newsom. The Attorney General has refused to confirm the actual date the grant was sent to Newsom, arguing Van Houten isn’t entitled post-conviction discovery. Superior Court Judge Roanld Coen, sided with the Attorney General, denying Van Houten’s motion back in August.
Additionally, the Court of Appeal has ordered the Attorney General answer whether a failure to act within the 30 day period is a jurisdictional bar to the Governor’s power to review the decision.