Leslie Van Houten

Charles Manson: Former cult follower demands secret tapes, says proof will get her out of prison

Leslie Van Houten, once one of Charles Manson’s youngest “family” members, wants old audio tapes released that she claims will prove she was completely brainwashed when she helped commit crimes that landed her in prison almost 50 years ago.

TMZ reports that Van Houten, 67, has an upcoming parole hearing in September, and in her desperation to make parole, she wants the 1969 audio tapes to prove how Manson had his followers under his complete spell. Van Houten’s lawyer, Richard Pfeiffer, recently filed a request to ban the L.A. District Attorney’s Office from attending Van Houten’s upcoming parole hearing because the office is reportedly holding on tightly to the tapes, refusing to release them.

The Los Angeles DA, however, argued that the tapes, allegedly recorded by Tex Watson, contain nothing that will help Van Houten. The DA said the tapes simply prove that Manson was strung out on drugs while he incoherently rambled about drugs, racial opinions, and unknown worlds beneath Death Valley.

In June 2016, California Gov. Jerry Brown denied parole for Van Houten after her lawyer unsuccessfully argued that she would not be a threat to society any longer. Although the governor acknowledged her good behavior in prison and her young age when the crimes were committed (she was 19 at the time), he also acknowledged how horrific her crimes were.

“Both her role in these extraordinarily brutal crimes and her inability to explain her willing participation in such horrific violence cannot be overlooked and lead me to believe she remains an unacceptable risk to society if released.”

Van Houten was a willing participant in the murders of Leno La Bianca and his wife, Rosemary on August 10, 1969, in Los Angeles. The murders occurred just a few days after Manson told other members of his cult following to carry out the murder of pregnant actress Sharon Tate in 1967. Van Houten was not present during the Sharon Tate murder, where several of Tate’s friends were also killed inside the California home.

After her parole hearing last year, Van Houten described in detail how she put a pillow over Rosemary La Bianca’s face and used a lamp cord to secure it while another Manson cult member started stabbing the victim. Van Houten claimed she regretted her participation in the killing and that it’s something she remembers frequently.

“I don’t let myself off the hook. I don’t find parts in any of this that makes me feel the slightest bit good about myself,” she said to the parole panel.

The judge still hasn’t ruled on the request to have the DA removed from Van Houten’s upcoming parole hearing.

[Feature Photo: AP/Nick Ut, File]