California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Monday that Leslie Van Houten, the youngest murderer in the notorious Charles Manson cult, will remain behind bars. He overruled the parole board’s decision to grant the woman her freedom.
According to Newsome, 69-year-old Van Houten is a still a threat to the public, AP reports. The governor acknowledged that Van Houten has taken part in rehabilitation during her nearly 50 years behind bars, but he said the potential for future violence remains.
“While I commend Ms. Van Houten for her efforts at rehabilitation and acknowledge her youth at the time of the crimes, I am concerned about her role in these killings and her potential for future violence,” he wrote. “Ms. Van Houten was an eager participant in the killing of the LaBiancas and played a significant role.”
In August 1969, Van Houten, along with four other members of the notorious “family” cult led by Manson, entered a home at 3301 Waverly Drive in Los Angeles, owned by wealthy California couple, Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary LaBianca.
Under Manson’s directions, the family members tortured and stabbed the couple to death before writing “Death to Pigs” on a wall in the home, using the victims’ blood.
During her trial, Van Houten admitted she stabbed Rosemary LaBianca at least 14 times in the back. During her sentencing in 1971, Van Houten said “sorry is only a five-letter word” when asked if she felt remorse for taking part in the crime.
Van Houten apparently had a change of heart, or at least claimed she did while previously trying to get parole in 2017.
“I take responsibility for the entire crime. I take responsibility going back to Manson being able to do what he did to all of us. I allowed it,” Van Houten said during a previous parole hearing. “I learned that I was weak in character. I was easy to give over my belief system to someone else.”
None of the people who took part in the LaBianca murders have been released from prison.
[Feature Photo: Leslie Van Houten via AP]