Leslie Van Houten, a former Charles Manson follower who played a role in the gruesome double murder of a Los Angeles couple in the summer of 1969, was released on parole on Tuesday after serving more than half a century in prison, The Associated Press reported.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation told The Associated Press that Ms. Van Houten was released on parole supervision, and her lawyer, Nancy Tetreault, said she was taken early Tuesday morning to transitional housing.
The office of California Gov. Gavin Newsom said this month that it would not challenge her release. Mr. Newsom had reversed Ms. Van Houten’s parole grant three times since taking office, most recently in March 2022.
“The Governor is disappointed by the Court of Appeal’s decision to release Ms. Van Houten but will not pursue further action as efforts to further appeal are unlikely to succeed,” a spokeswoman for the governor said.
Ms. Van Houten was 19 when she and other members of the so-called Manson family broke into the home of wealthy grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, and stabbed them dozens of times on Aug. 10, 1969.
The LaBiancas were murdered one night after five people were killed at the home of movie director Roman Polanski — including his pregnant wife, the actress Sharon Tate. The murders were carried out at the direction of Charles Manson, one of the most notorious murderers of the 20th century, who died in 2017 at age 83.
In 1971, Ms. Van Houten was convicted on two counts of murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder. She was initially sentenced to death, but her sentence was reduced to life in prison when capital punishment was outlawed in California the next year.
Ms. Van Houten has not been shy about her role in the killings, saying in a parole board hearing in 2002 that she had pinned down Ms. LaBianca while another Manson family member, Patricia Krenwinkel, stabbed her in the collar bone. Charles D. Watson, another figure in the attack, stabbed Ms. LaBianca with a bayonet eight times before Ms. Van Houten then stabbed her in the abdomen 14 to 16 times.
At the crime scene, Ms. Van Houten had wiped down surfaces for fingerprints, changed clothes and drank chocolate milk from the couple’s refrigerator, parole records showed.
Years later, Ms. Van Houten said that she regretted taking part in the murders and that she had been mentally ill, a condition aggravated by LSD use.
“I believed that he was Jesus Christ,” Ms. Van Houten said of Mr. Manson. “I bought into it lock, stock and barrel.”
Orlando Mayorquin contributed reporting.