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Dianne Lake


While the country was still in shock from the news of a two-day murder spree that left seven people dead, a 16-year-old teenager named Dianne Lake, aka Snake, was getting first-hand details about the massacres.

Lake's parents embraced the hippie lifestyle and brought their young daughter with them to Wavy Gravy’s Hog Farm Commune in southern California. In 1967, just before Lake turned 14, she met Charles Manson at a party in Topanga Canyon. Manson took an affinity to the auburn-haired teenager, and it was not long before she became a permanent fixture on the black magic bus. She joined the Manson Clan with her parent's permission.

The Family moved to Spahn Ranch and Lake lived the commune hippie lifestyle, rummaging through dumpsters for food and taking care of the horses on the ranch. Lake was closest with Lynette Fromme, Susan Atkins would often give her a hard time. This changed when Lake was tasked with delivering Atkins' baby. When the baby boy was born, Manson asked Lake to cut the umbilical cord with her teeth.

In October 1969, Lake was arrested during the Barker Ranch raid. In December, after two months in jail, Lake broke her silence, and she provided the District Attorney with lots of incriminating evidence against Manson and his Family.

Detective Jack Gardiner, an Inyo County officer, and his wife Carol, took Lake under their wings, and she moved in with them. The couple became Lake's foster parents. Lake became a witness for the prosecution and testified against Manson while Manson looked her straight in the eye. After the trial, Lake moved on with her life. She got married, had three children, and received a master’s degree in education.

In 2017, Lake released a book about her time with the Manson Family. In her book, Member of the Family, Lake explains how she got the nickname “Snake”. There were rumors that Lake received the moniker because of her sexual performance, but it turned there was a much more innocuous explanation. On a sunny day, Lake was laying down in a meadow, when she imagined what it might be like to be a snake slithering between the blades of grass. She told the others about her thoughts, and from then on, she was named Snake.