Patricia Krenwinkel

Patricia Krenwinkel was a member of the Manson Family. Krenwinkel was a participant in the infamous murders on August 9, 1969 at 10050 Cielo Drive, home of actress Sharon Tate and director Roman Polanski.

Patricia Krenwinkel, aka Big Patty, was born in Los Angeles, California. She attended University High School and then Westchester High School, both in the Los Angeles area.

Patricia was often bullied at school by other students, suffered from low self-esteem, and was frequently teased for being overweight and for an excessive growth of body hair caused by an endocrine condition.

After her parents divorced, seventeen-year-old Krenwinkel remained in Los Angeles with her father until she graduated from High School. For a time she taught Catechism and considered becoming a nun.

Charles Manson

She met Charles Manson in Manhattan Beach in 1967, along with Lynette Fromme and Mary Brunner. Krenwinkel said that she had slept with Manson the first night they met, and that he was the first person who told her she was beautiful. Mesmerized by Manson’s charisma and starved for attention, she decided to go to San Francisco with him.

As the Manson Family grew, Krenwinkel and the others went on a drug- and sex-filled 18-month tour of the American west in an old school bus. She would later recount an idealized version of The Family’s early days: “We were just like wood nymphs and wood creatures. We would run through the woods with flowers in our hair, and Charles would have a small flute”.

Dennis Wilson

In the summer of 1968, Krenwinkel and fellow Family member Ella Jo Bailey were hitchhiking around Los Angeles when Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson picked them up. After being invited to his home while he continued on to a recording session, Krenwinkel and Bailey contacted The Family and told them of their new crash pad.

When Wilson returned later that evening, he found Manson and the rest of the Family eating his food, sleeping in his bedrooms, and partying inside and outside his home. The encounter with Dennis Wilson would eventually lead to the death of Sharon Tate and her friends.


Krenwinkel was a participant in both the Tate and LaBianca murders. Krenwinkel was arrested in Mobile, Alabama on December 1, 1969. The following day, Krenwinkel was indicted for seven counts of first-degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder. At the end of the nine-month trial, Krenwinkel was convicted of all counts and sentenced to death on March 29, 1971.

During a 2004 parole hearing, when asked who she would place at the top of the list of people she has harmed, Patricia Krenwinkel responded, “Myself.” She was denied parole following that hearing because, according to the panel, Krenwinkel still posed an “unacceptable risk to public safety”.

Following the 2009 death of fellow Manson Family member, Susan Atkins, Krenwinkel is now the longest-incarcerated female inmate in the California penal system.

Related: The Tate Murders | The LaBianca Murders