The Manson cult is one of the most infamous in history, due in large part to a horrifying two-day murder spree across Los Angeles in 1969 that left seven people dead, including pregnant actress Sharon Tate. The case, the cult and the man behind it all have been the source of endless morbid fascination for the past 40 years, as people have been insatiable for more details about what led Manson's young female followers to commit these heinous crimes.
And now Dianne Lake, a member of Manson's cult who helped put the man behind bars when she was just 17 years old, is telling her version of events for the first time in her memoir, Member of the Family. Due to hit shelves on October 24, the book details how, at age 14, Dianne Lake—with little more than a note in her pocket from her hippie parents granting her permission to leave them—became one of “Charlie’s girls,” a devoted acolyte of cult leader Charles Manson.
Over the course of two years, the impressionable teenager endured manipulation, psychological control, and physical abuse as the harsh realities and looming darkness of Charles Manson’s true nature revealed itself. From Spahn ranch and the group acid trips, to the Beatles’ White Album and Manson’s dangerous messiah-complex, Dianne tells the riveting story of the group’s descent into madness as she lived it.
Lake never participated in any of the group's gruesome crimes...and in an excerpt from the book shared in People, she claims complete ignorance of the murderous plans. "I was shocked. I was horrified,” Lake writes, about the night she listened to Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten discuss how they committed murder.
Though she had no part in the crimes, Dianne was arrested with the rest of the Manson Family, though she eventually learned enough of the details to join the prosecution’s case against them; and help convict Manson to life imprisonment.
“He just looked crazy, but I was able to look at him,” Lake says in People. “I had been pretty deprogrammed at this point, so I felt pretty safe.”
And with the help of good Samaritans, including the cop who first arrested her and later adopted her, Lake eventually found redemption and grew up to lead an ordinary life. While much has been written about Charles Manson, this riveting memoir from an actual Family member promises to be a horrifyingly vivid account of one of the darkest and most fascinating chapters in modern American history.