THE youngest member of Charles Manson’s killer cult family is set to be freed from prison after a parole board deemed her suitable for release.
Leslie Van Houten is currently serving life for her role in the gang’s infamous murder spree in August 1969, when she was aged just 19.
But the ultimate decision on whether to grant her parole will rest with California’s governor Gavin Newsom – after a review process that can take up to five months.
Before Wednesday’s news, Van Houten, 69, had already made several attempts to persuade prison bosses to release her early.
She was among the Manson Family members who stabbed to death wealthy grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary.
The teen testified to knifing the woman in the back and buttocks at least 14 times with a bayonet before using the blood to smear messages on the walls of their home.
The double murder came a day after director Roman Polanski’s pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, and four others were butchered in a Los Angeles mansion.
However, model prisoner Van Houten – who has earned a master’s degree behind bars – was deemed eligible for release back into society if Gov. Newsom agrees.
His predecessor and fellow Democrat, Jerry Brown, twice denied the board’s recommendation that she be set free.
Sharon Tate’s sister, Debra, has said she vehemently disagrees with the parole board’s decision.
She said: “I just have to hope and pray the governor comes to the right decision (and keep Van Houten incarcerated).”
Manson, who died in prison in 2017 at age 83, directed his mostly young, mostly female devotees to murder seven people in August 1969 in what prosecutors said was part of a plan to incite a race war.
Wednesday’s decision by the parole board capped the latest of 22 attempts by Van Houten to persuade the panel that she be deemed suitable for release.
She is currently being held at the California Institute for Women in Corona, California.
In a statement, the parole board said its latest ruling begins a 150-day review process during which the agency’s staff will “review all the facts and matters of law related to the decision.”
“If the grant withstands scrutiny, it will then be sent to the governor’s desk,” the board said.
The killer murder cult which shocked the world
Manson began to build his cult in 1967 when he started gathering his small group of young, largely female devotees – mainly from broken middle-class homes.
In the summer of 1969, he directed his followers to murder in what was part of a plan to incite a race war, according to prosecutors.
He ordered four of his followers – Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian, Patricia Krenwinkel and Charles ‘Tex’ Watson – to the Beverly Hills address of movie actress Sharon Tate with the instruction to kill everyone inside.
Less than 24 hours later, the gang tortured, murdered and mutilated wealthy LA couple Rosemary and Leno LaBianca.
They used their blood to write “Rise,” “Death to Pigs,” and “Helter Skelter,” a reference to the Beatles song, on the walls and refrigerator door.
Mansona and his accomplices were all sent down for the murders, apart from Kasabian who testified against them and played no direct part in the killings.
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