Leslie van Houten

Name: Leslie Louise Van Houten
Date of birth: 08/23/1949
Place of birth: Los Angeles, California
AKA: Lulu
Prisoner ID: W13378
Whereabouts: California Institute for Women (life sentence)
Documents: 2016 Parole Board Transcript
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Van Houten, a one-time homecoming princess, participated in the killings of Leno La Bianca and his wife Rosemary a day after other Manson family members murdered pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in 1969.

Van Houten was born on August 23, 1949, in Los Angeles. She grew up in a middle-class family along with an older brother and two adopted siblings. Her mother and father divorced when she was 14. She began taking LSD and hashish around age 15, running away for a time but returning to complete high school. At 17, she became pregnant and was forced by her mother to undergo an abortion. Van Houten’s mother informed her sometime later that the procedure could not be referred to as an abortion as the fetus was too far along. Van Houten stated that after this event, she felt very removed and harbored intense anger toward her mother. She had a period of interest in yoga and took a year-long secretarial course, but became a hippie, living at a commune.

After a few months in a commune in Northern California, Van Houten met Catherine Share and Bobby Beausoleil and moved in with them and another woman during the summer of 1968. The four broke up after jealous arguments, and Share left to join Charles Manson’s commune. Van Houten, then aged 19, followed Share. At this time, she phoned her mother to say she was dropping out and would not be making contact again.

On Manson’s orders, Van Houten participated in the murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Along with Manson, Watson, Atkins, Grogan, Krenwinkel, and Linda Kasabian, Van Houten went to the home of Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, on Waverly Drive. After Manson and Watson tied up the couple, Manson left, giving orders to Van Houten and Krenwinkel to go with Watson and to do whatever he said. Watson told Van Houten and Krenwinkel to take Mrs. LaBianca into a bedroom and kill her. Leaving Manson, Atkins, Grogan and Kasabian in the car outside, the trio proceeded to kill the couple.

Van Houten and Krenwinkel tied up Mrs. LaBianca with a lamp cord and put a pillowcase over her head. Mrs. LaBianca, who was being held in the master bedroom, could hear the screams and struggling of her husband who was being held in the living room as Watson began stabbing him while he pleaded for his life. She began to struggle. Van Houten ran for Watson in the other room; he told her “to do something.” Krenwinkel got a fork from the kitchen and stabbed Mr. LaBianca with it. Once again wielding the knife, Krenwinkel stabbed Rosemary LaBianca while Van Houten held her down. However, the knife bent and she was unable to actually stab the struggling woman. Van Houten and Krenwinkel called to Watson, who came into the master bedroom and gave Van Houten a knife. Van Houten then repeatedly stabbed Rosemary LaBianca in the back. According to testimony from the Los Angeles County deputy district attorney, Mr. LaBianca suffered 47 stab wounds.

Van Houten stabbed Rosemary’s lower back over a dozen times. Van Houten later told Dianne Lake that she had stabbed someone who was already dead. The autopsy indicated that some of the 47 stab wounds Rosemary suffered had been inflicted post-mortem.

Van Houten was arrested in December 1969. Unlike other members of the Family, Van Houten provided a great deal of information. Using the Manson family nicknames during interviews with police, Van Houten helped identify who had actively participated in the Tate and LaBianca murders, and who had been there but not killed anyone, thereby indicating that Kasabian was a crucial witness. Van Houten implicitly admitted to direct knowledge of the LaBianca murders in police interviews.

On March 29, 1971, Van Houten was convicted of murder. Van Houten was sentenced to death. she was the youngest woman ever condemned to death in California. No death row for female prisoners existed so a special unit was built. The death sentences were automatically commuted to life in prison after the California Supreme Court’s People v. Anderson decision resulted in the invalidation of all death sentences imposed in California prior to 1972.


A California review board recommended parole (April 14, 2016) for former Charles Manson family member Leslie Van Houten.

Leslie Van Houten’s 2016 Parole Board Transcript (PDF). The actual interview with Van Houten starts on page 22.

Van Houten was “numb” after the panel announced its decision following a five-hour hearing at the California Institution for Women in Chino. The decision will now undergo administrative review by the board of Parole Hearings. They have 120 days to review the commissioner’s decision. If upheld it goes to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has final say on whether Van Houten is released.

Cory LaBianca, who was 21 when her father, a wealthy grocer, and stepmother were slain in their Los Feliz home, said she was disappointed by the parole board’s decision and planned to lobby the governor to reject Van Houten’s release.

Update: California Gov. Jerry Brown denied parole for Leslie Van Houten.

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6 thoughts on “Leslie van Houten

    1. She was and she is. In Spain we have a saying that tell “the one what had, retain”. She is old, but still is a nice woman.

    1. More than her, deserves it her victim’s, but they can’t have it already, because they are dead. Do you think the criminal deserves more than her victim’s?

  1. what’s the name o the communal club that’s made for you and me-S-P-A-H-N ooh wee
    here you’re always welcome can’t you see-hi there hoo there hey there
    we’ll always hold our heads up high-high-high
    back in the 50’s and 60’s, when I was a cute young boy, having been dragged back and forth between countries I watched the Mickey Mouse Club and I though: so that’s what young Americans are, good looking, clean and happy-you know little Susan and Leslie were watching too and so was Cappy.
    Most of the gang at the Ranch didn’t know what was gonna go down on Aug 8 and 9
    Meanwhile, back at the ranch…
    Look at that hill, it just sits there, no matter what. 1925, 1968, 1969 and some of us thought, what are they talkin’ about. Leslie and Susan didn’t do what they said.
    Don’t you remember what your teacher said, she wore tortoise shell eyeglasses and a long dress. I kept looking at her shape..but she said, “remember, class, the easiest answer is almost always the right one, so remember the old saying, ‘the paralysis of analysis.'”
    And one night I had a dream just before daylight, and the Spahn girls were looking at me and they said,
    “not everything was a bad dream…”
    The difference between our girls at Spahn and others all round was that they had pizzaz and they had class. For to see them together with those nice looks and voices in one place you gotta wonder how all that came together. At the Ranch:
    here, down the old boardwalk and now here we are, at one of the communal living rooms and through that window we see sweet smile Sandy sittin’ and knittin’ away.
    Hello, lemme ask you girls, oh, is that you Catherine sittin’ across the room over there,
    it’s a commune, I think and do you like to Share, well, and isn’t that Dianne and, why, It’s Ruth Ann over there well I declare.
    And who’s pictures you all got on the wall there, well, forevermore why it’s some rock stars and whoa do we see Paul’s on that straight ahead corner wall right across from Sandy oh yeah, it’s Paul “pass the blondes this way” McCartney-in the 60’s anyway.
    And one a his lines was “hi girl, I like your face.” (I’ve used that line too)
    Well, I’m kinda jealous, but let’s face it, Paul’s been the best looking musician, so you can’t blame the silly Spahny cuties. I gotta tell ya, if Paul met Sandy, he wouldn’t stand a chance, see, a fore you know it, he’d walk closer to her a smilin’ and a jokin’ and before we know, he’s rubbin’ her shoulders and sayin’ smooth, mellow words,
    ooh and aahh, Paul, you lucky guy.
    By 1971, the Spahn Ranch burned down from the big Clampitt fire, it was said, but I’m sure several people made the walk nearby and made sure Spahn Ranch also went down.
    Also, in ’71, the trial was over for brother Charlie and the three girls. but the girls that were free, well, what are you gonna say or do, but wait, after all,
    “now’s the time to say goodbye to some of our family and bye for now for you all watching, all over the world and lands. Now see you real soon…why? because we like you! We have things to say and we’ll always hold our heads up high-high-high…S-P-A-H-N mighty nice mostly we’ll miss you, so Love Me Do and Good Day Sunshine

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