• Susan Atkins 2005 Parole Hearing

Susan Atkins 2005 Parole Hearing

Monday, May 6th, 2013


May 6 – On Wednesday, June 1, 2005, a California parole board found Susan Atkins unsuitable for parole stating she needed “further therapy in order to develop insight into the commitment offense and the underlying cause of the offense.”

The hearing, which was held at the California Institution for Women in Corona, California, was attended by relatives of Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring, who along with Deputy District Attorney Patrick Sequeira voiced their opposition Atkins’ release.

“[Susan] was involved in brutal murders,” Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Patrick Sequeira told the parole board. “She continues to minimize her conduct. She does not have a true understanding of what a horrible murderer she is.”

Atkins’ husband/attorney, James Whitehouse, presented the board with a lengthy account of Susan’s post-conviction and parole history, arguing that she has been suitable for release for decades.

Atkins herself spoke to her suitability and read support letters from her neice, brother and a fellow inmate.

“I know that each family member here every day, they miss their loved one,” said Atkins. “Every second and every minute and I cannot give that back to them. I cannot take that pain away from them. I caused that pain. I wish with all my heart and I pray with all of my soul that one day they will be able to heal.”

Sharon Tate’s sister Debra Tate, and Jay Sebring’s sister and nephew, Margaret and Anthony DiMaria made victim impact speeches to the board, detailing the how the murders devastated their families.

Jay Sebring’s nephew described how the murder of his uncle dealt his family an unimaginable loss and unbearable suffering.

“The press following the slaughters was deplorable and in many ways was as repulsive as the murders themselves,” said DiMaria. “The exploitation and lies were lurid. It was impossible for us to imagine that uncle Jay, after being shot, stabbed and beaten to death, would be butchered again in the media as he lay defenseless in his grave. Sadly, each of the victims suffered the same malice.”

Patti Tate’s daughter, Marie, also attended, but did not speak on the record.

Susan Atkins was denied parole for four years. The hearing marked Atkins’ 12th parole denial since becoming eligible in 1976.


Susan Atkins

Susan Denise Atkins was born in California on May 7, 1948. Her mother was afflicted with cancer and died when Susan was still in her teens. Constantly fighting with her alcoholic father, Susan decided to hit the road; dropping out of school and moving to San Francisco. She got a job as a telemarketer for a company that sold magazine subscriptions, rented a room and soon found herself poor, lonely, and depressed. She eventually quit her telemarketing job and started waiting tables at a local coffee shop.
…Learn more


Coming this Summer: 3301

Friday, April 12th, 2013


Apr. 12 – The cielodrive.com Photo Archives return this summer with 3301. Enter 3301 Waverly Drive as it was in August of 1969 through never before published, digitally restored photographs presented in a truly unique viewing experience.


Audio Archives: Manson & Hypnotism

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

Apr. 8 – For this installment of the Audio Archives series, we will listen in on conversations with a pair of doctors regarding the power of hypnosis. This tape was not marked so I don’t know the names of the doctors, the interviewer or whether he is from LAPD or the District Attorney’s office. The tape was also not dated, but the conversation seems to indicate it took place in December of 1969, shortly after the indictments. At that time, Susan Atkins’ attorney Richard Caballero was telling the press that Susan was among several followers who were under Charles Manson’s “hypnotic spell.”


LAPD to Get Watson/Boyd Recordings

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013


Mar 26 – Judge Richard Schell Sunday ruled that recorded conversations between Manson family member Charles “Tex” Watson and his attorney Bill Boyd are no longer protected by the attorney-client privilege, according to a report by the Associated Press.

“The LAPD is pleased that the judge ruled in our favor,” said LAPD public information officer Andrew Smith. “We are looking forward to getting these tapes and thoroughly analyzing their content”

Smith indicated that there’s still is a 30 day window for Watson to appeal, and that detectives will wait for that time to transpire before they depart for Texas to take custody of the tapes.

Bill Boyd represented Charles “Tex” Watson in Texas after his arrest for the Tate-LaBianca murders in late 1969. Boyd fought Watson’s extradition to California long enough so that Watson wouldn’t be tried with Charles Manson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten.

Bill Boyd died in 2009, and his law firm, Boyd Veigel has since gone into bankruptcy. Department of Justice Trustee Linda Payne was put in charge of liquidating the firm’s assets. Among the thousands of legal files were audio recordings made between Charles Watson and Bill Boyd in 1970.

Upon learning about the recordings, detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department, Robbery-Homicide division became interested in them because of the possibility that they might discuss other unsolved murders the family may have committed. In March of 2012, Chief of Police Charlie Beck sent a letter to Department of Justice Trustee Timothy O’Neal asking for the tapes

Last May, Judge Brenda Rhoades ruled that the tapes were no longer protected by privilege because Watson had allowed Boyd to sell copies in 1976 to assist Chaplin Ray Hoekstra with Watson’s autobiography Will You Die For Me? Rhodes’ ruling prompted a series of appeals from Watson and his attorneys.

In October, the Los Angeles Police Department disclosed that Judge Schell had blocked their attempt to take possession of the tapes via a search warrant issued by the Fort Worth Police Department.

“The Manson crime spree is one of the most notorious cases in Southern California’s history,” said Smith. “We owe it to the victims and their families to ensure every facet of the case is thoroughly and completely investigated, and we plan to do exactly that.”


Leslie Van Houten’s 2007 Parole Hearing

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013


Mar. 19 – On Wednesday, August 30, 2007, a California parole board found Leslie Van Houten unsuitable for parole at a hearing held at the California Institution for Women in Corona.

Deputy District Attorney Patrick Sequeira, representing Los Angeles County, argued that for decades, Leslie Van Houten had minimized her role in the murder of Rosemary LaBianca.

“Whether it’s the LSD defense, whether it’s Charlie made me do it, whether it’s Tex made me do it, whether it’s Patricia Krenwinkel made me do it, these are all consistent games with her,” said Sequeria. “She dodges every issue every time. And I think this Panel will see, in looking at the entire scope of the evidence in this case, that the factors of unsuitability far, far outweigh any factors of suitability for this inmate, and I’d ask the Panel to find this inmate unsuitable for parole at this time and to make it a multiple denial.”

Christie Webb, attorney for Leslie Van Houten, told the board her client was temporarily ill at the time of the crime and that decades of psychiatric evaluations revealed Van Houten had no personality disorders and was unlikely to commit another violent crime.

“Please give her that second chance,” pleaded Webb. “She’s already served double the maximum time in your regulations for these offenses. There’s nothing more she can do to make herself more suitable. She can’t change the offenses.”

Louis Smaldino, nephew of Leno LaBianca, thanked the board for the opportunity to voice his family’s objections, but expressed frustration at the frequency of such hearings.

“We as a family are never able to share a holiday in the family’s home where these murders took place, or see the bright eyes of Leno and Rosemary again,” Smaldino told the board. “Never again for us. What Miss Van Houten did was permanent.”

The board praised Van Houten for her positive post conviction achievements, but said they did not outweigh the factors for unsuitability. Van Houten’s parole was denied for two years.


Leslie Van Houten

Leslie Louise Van Houten was born on August 23, 1949 in Los Angeles, California. She and her older brother grew up in a typical middle class household. Leslie’s father Paul was an automotive auctioneer, and her mother Jane was a schoolteacher. After Leslie, there were two more additions; the Van Houtens adopted a young boy and girl that had been orphaned in Korea. In 1963 Leslie’s parents divorced, Paul moved out and the children stayed with Jane. Meanwhile, Leslie began attending Monrovia High School, where she was twice elected homecoming queen. Like many at the time, she discovered hallucinogenic drugs, and her grades soon started to slip. She drifted away from her extracurricular activities, and shortly after, got pregnant and had an abortion.
…Learn more