This look at another one of the people commanded to kill by that "hero" of the sixties counter culture, Manson, shows that she was less culpable than Watson, Atkins & Krenwinkel, in that she participated in only one set of murders, whereas the others took part in both. This does not diminish in any way the horrific murders she participated in. She helped murder Leno & Rosemary La Bianca, and she has been in jail since, despite two retrials later in the seventies.
Leslie Louise Van Houten was born on 23rd August 1949. Details of her early life are sketchy. It was in the summer of 1968 that in San Francisco that she met Catherine Share & Bobby Beausoleil. He would later be convicted for the murder of Gary Hinman. These two spoke of the small man with a guitar that had an outlook on life that was so appealing to them. Later, Van Houten met Manson and was immediately drawn to his philosophies and laid back approach to life, so she joined up with his fledgling "Family" in September 1968 and went out to Spahn Ranch in the California desert. Manson showed no interest in her, which left her needing to prove herself to everybody.
August 9th, and Manson took Van Houten, Watson, Atkins, Krenwinkel, Steve Grogan & Linda Kasaban to Waverly Drive in Los Feliz. Watson and Manson went into the house forcing the La Biancas at gunpoint to be tied up, then this "hero" went outside and commanded Atkins, Van Houten, Grogan & Krenwinkel to join Watson inside and kill the occupants. They did willingly. After the slaughter, Van Houten cleaned up where there may have been fingerprints, changed clothes, taking some belonging to their victim, Rosemary La Bianca, then helped herself to some food. Watson had later gone to Texas, where he was arrested and fought extradition. Van Houten was put on trial in Los Angeles along with Manson, Krenwinkel, & Atkins. She was convicted and sentenced to death. This was revoked to life imprisonment when executions wee halted in California. During the trial, she was unruly, showed no remorse and laughed when the gruesome evidence of the murders were shown.
Van Houten won a retrial in 1977 because her original lawyer, Ronald Hughes disappeared. He is thought to have been killed by members of the "Family" but it has never been proved. Her second trial ended in a stalemate, but the third reaffirmed the guilty verdict. She was again sentenced to life. She has applied for parole twenty times but has been continuously knocked back. Her next application will be in 2018. Verdict? She willingly slaughtered two people just to please a little megalomaniac who, like the big man he was, came out of the house to get his acolytes to do his dirty work. Watson later said that Manson ordered him to make sure all of them "Got their hands dirty" What a hero! As the saying goes, "You do the crime, you do the time!"