Leslie Van Houten, a onetime homecoming princess, took part in the killings of Leno La Bianca and his wife Rosemary one day after the murders of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in August 1969.
Leslie Van Houten, also known as Lulu, was born on August 23, 1949 in Los Angeles, California. Her father, Paul, was an auctioneer, and her mother, Jane, was a schoolteacher. Leslie is of Dutch descent, as her surname translates to “From Houten” – Houten being a small town in the Netherlands.
When Van Houten was fourteen, her parents divorced. Her father moved out, leaving her to live with her mother. This was when she started experimenting with drugs, like hashish, and marijuana. She often argued with her mother and ran away from home frequently.
Van Houten was sexually active early on, and she became pregnant while still a teenager. Her mother forced her to have an illegal abortion. The abortion was performed when Van Houten was already quite advanced in her pregnancy, and they buried the fetus in the backyard.
After this traumatic event, Van Houten became mentally unstable and ran away from home. She eventually returned and went on to finish high school in 1967. During this time, she also completed a year of secretarial training. After graduation, Van Houten moved in with her father and developed an interest in spiritualism, wanting to live in a spiritual yoga commune.
In the summer of 1968, Van Houten visited some friends in San Francisco. During her stay, she encountered Catherine Share, Bobby Beausoleil and his wife Gail, who were all associated with the notorious Family. Van Houten joined them on their travels. In September, they brought her to Spahn Ranch to meet Charles Manson in person.
A few weeks after her initial visit to the ranch, she returned and made it her permanent residence. Van Houten then phoned her mother and informed her that there would be no further communication between them. Her mother did not hear from her daughter again until her arrest.
On August 10th, 1969, the day after the Tate murders, Van Houten, Watson, and Krenwinkel accompanied Manson to the LaBianca residence on Waverly Drive. After tying up both Leno and Rosemary, Manson left the scene. Van Houten, Watson and Krenwinkel then slaughtered Leno and Rosemary.
Van Houten was apprehended on August 16, 1969, during the Spahn Ranch raid, and again on October 10, 1969, during the raid on Barker Ranch. During police interrogations, Van Houten became overwhelmed and revealed information about Susan Atkins and the murder of Gary Hinman.
She informed the police about the Tate killings, adding that Linda Kasabian was the only one who didn’t partake in the slayings. Van Houten was apprehended for being complicit in the LaBianca murders shortly afterwards.
Death Of Lawyer
Van Houten’s attorney, Ronald Hughes, disappeared while on a camping trip during a recess of the Tate/LaBianca trial. They found his body in March 1971. His body was in a state of severe decomposition, and no cause of death could be determined.
Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor in the infamous Manson trial, wrote in his book ‘Helter Skelter’ that Sandra Good had reported that the Family had committed between 35 and 40 murders. Additionally, Ronald Hughes, the attorney representing Manson cohort Van Houten, was allegedly murdered in retribution.
Stephen Kay, another attorney involved in the trial, testified that Manson had expressed open contempt for Hughes in the courtroom. In Kay’s words, the last words Manson said to Hughes were, “I don’t want to see you in the courtroom again,” and Hughes was never seen alive again.
Van Houten initially worked with the authorities; however, during the trial, she became a true ‘Manson Girl’. She exhibited strange behaviour such as chuckling, singing and dancing with the other girls on the way to the court.
Van Houten had no involvement in the Tate murders, so her attorney unsuccessfully attempted to secure her a separate trial. On March 29th, 1971, she was found guilty of her involvement in the LaBianca murders.
Leslie Van Houten, convicted of two counts of premeditated murder and one count of conspiring to commit murder, was originally sentenced to death. Later, however, her sentence was changed to life imprisonment.
Van Houten has been recommended for parole a number of times, but her parole has been blocked by the Governor every single time.