Where Are Charles Manson's Followers Now? 'Manson's Lost Girls' Highlights Their Stories
Although Charles Manson will be featured prominently in the new Lifetime movie Manson's Lost Girls, the film focuses on the stories of his followers rather than Manson himself. It will mainly follow Linda Kasabian, a 20-year-old member of the "Manson Family" who acted as driver and lookout on the nights of the Tate-LaBianca murders in August 1969, according to CBS News. The outlet further reported she went on to serve as the prosecution's star witness during Manson's trial the following year and was granted immunity in exchange for her testimony. Unlike Kasabian, other members of the "family" allegedly physically carried out the murders and faced prosecution. Nearly 47 years after the horrific crimes, where are Manson's followers now?
In addition to Kasabian, Manson's Lost Girls will prominently feature Susan Atkins, Tex Watson, Leslie Van Houten, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, Bobby Beausoleil, and Patricia Krenwinkel, according to Lifetime's site. CNN reported that, in 1969, "Manson, Watson, Atkins, Krenwinkel, and Kasabian [were] indicted for the murders of Sharon Tate and her friends. The grand jury also [indicted] the five, plus Van Houten, for the LaBianca murders." All defendants except for Kasabian, who was later offered immunity, were found guilty in 1971, according to CNN, and Manson, Krenwinkel, Atkins, Van Houten, and Watson were all given the death penalty. But, their sentences were reduced to life in prison when the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily outlawed the death penalty in 1972.
Fromme was not involved in the Tate-LaBianca murders, but was later "convicted in 1975 of pointing a gun at then-President Gerald Ford in Sacramento, California," according to CNN. The news outlet also reported that Fromme was eventually granted parole and released in 2009. Beausoleil was not indicted in the Tate-LaBianca murders, but was convicted of killing musician Gary Hinman in 1969 and sentenced to life in prison, according to The Daily Mail. Here's the most recent recent information about where the rest of Manson's followers are today:
In 2009, CNN reported that Susan Atkins had died from brain cancer. At the time of her death, she was incarcerated at the Central California Women's Facility. According to The Los Angeles Times, Atkins, who admitted to killing Sharon Tate, turned to Christianity in prison and later apologized for her role in the crime. When she was diagnosed with cancer, Atkins requested a "compassionate release" from the California Board of Parole Hearings, according to CNN, which was denied after Tate's sister Debra Tate requested that Atkins remain imprisoned with an impassioned speech.
There has never been any hate in my heart for these people. I am incapable of hating. I commend them — always have commended them — for their good deeds that they have managed to accomplish within the walls of confinement. However, I do believe that the death of my sister, my nephew — which would be turning 40 years old right now, this week — is not an irrelevant cause.
At the time of her death, Atkins was California's longest-serving female inmate, CNN reported.
In 2011, The Huffington Post reported that he'd been denied parole for the sixteenth time and remains incarcerated at Mule Creek State Prison. The Huffington Post also reported that, while in prison, Watson fathered four children with his ex-wife. According to Watson's personal website, he's a born-again Christian — and he became an ordained minister in 1983. At the 2011 hearing he received a five-year denial, according to The Huffington Post, so we can probably expect him to apply for parole again in 2016.
Leslie Van Houten
In 2013, USA Today reported that she had been denied parole for the 20th time. At the hearing, as reported by USA Today, she attempted to explain and apologize for her actions, saying, "I feel that at that point I had really lost my humanity and I can't know how far I would have gone. I had no regard for life and no measurement of my limitations." Van Houten claimed at the hearing she had been reformed and has earned two college degrees while behind bars, according to USA Today. She can apply for parole again in 2018.
Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme
In August 2009, CNN reported that Fromme was to be released on parole after 34 years in prison. Although she did not participate in the Tate-LaBianca murders, Fromme continued to support Manson long after many of his other followers had denounced him, according to CNN, and she received a life sentence upon being convicted of attempting to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975. Since her release, Fromme has stayed out of the public eye. In 2014, The New York Post reported that she was allegedly living in upstate New York (although they noted no public records could confirm this).
In 2015, Vice interviewed Beausoleil who is still in prison. Although Beausoleil told Vice he feels rehabilitated, he has consistently been denied parole. "I don't think I belong in prison," he told the magazine. "I'm not a threat or a danger to anybody, so in that respect it doesn't make sense that I remain." According to Vice, Beausoleil has released six music albums while in prison and sells his visual art online.
Krenwinkel remains incarcerated at the California Institution for Women, according to The Daily Mail, which also reported that, during her time in prison, she earned a bachelor's degree and took part in self-help programs. She participated in an on-camera interview with filmmaker Olivia Klaus in 2014, which can be viewed on The New York Times website. Krenwinkel is eligible to apply for parole in 2018, according to the NYT.
After testifying against Manson and her former friends, Kasabian changed her name and moved to an undisclosed location, according to The Guardian. In 2009, The Guardian also reported that she agreed to be interviewed by filmmaker Nick Godwin for his TV documentary, Manson. Kasabian was also interviewed by Larry King in 2009, but she wore a disguise to protect her identity. She told both interviewers that she remains haunted by her role in the murders and thinks about them every day. Kasabian has not spoken publicly since 2009 and her exact location remains unknown.