Sharon Tate’s sister says she fears freed Manson Family member Leslie Van Houten could kill again

Debra Tate said she feared Van Houten will return to her murderous ways after her release from prison for the infamous LaBianca killings

Bevan Hurley
Wednesday 12 July 2023 22:53 BST
Leslie Van Houten, follower of cult leader Charles Manson, released from California prison

The sister of murdered actress Sharon Tate says she believes Leslie Van Houten, the former Manson Family cult member who was freed this week after 53 years in prison, could kill again.

Debra Tate, who has long campaigned to keep Van Houten and other family members behind bars, told TMZ that California Governor Gavin Newsom should have fought harder to keep her locked up.

Van Houten, 73, was released on Tuesday after Mr Newsom dropped his opposition to a state appeals court ruling recommending her parole.

A California appeals court ruled in May that Van Houten should be released from prison for the infamous 1969 murders of Los Angeles grocers Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.

Debra Tate said she didn’t believe the parole board’s assessment that Van Houten had been rehabilitated, and said her family was terrified that she could return to her murderous ways.

Mr Newsom rejected Van Houten’s bid for parole three years ago, and has expressed his disappointment with a decision by the state’s Court of Appeals for the convicted killer to be released.

Van Houten is the first Manson Family member to be released over the LiBianca murders.

Former Manson Family cult member Leslie Van Houten was freed from prison after more than five decades this week (NBC News)

Tate and three friends Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, and Abigail Folger were brutally murdered on 8 August 1969 at her home in Benedict Canyon in Los Angeles while she was eight and a half months pregnant.

Van Houten was not present at the murders, but during her trial expressed the wish she had taken part.

The LaBiancas were killed the next day at their home by Van Houten and six other Manson Family members.

At her first trial in 1971, Van Houten described holding Rosemary LaBianca down with a pillowcase over her head inside her home while other Manson followers viciously stabbed her.

On an online petition that attracted more than 182,000 signatures, Debra Tate called on people to write to Mr Newsom demanding he block her release.

“We do NOT want this murderer who was convicted by two separate juries of her peers to be released into society,” Debra wrote.

The Independent has contacted Debra Tate for comment.

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