The Family

By | Aug 10, 2012

During first days of August of 1969 many young Americans were in the planning stages to attend the music festival in Woodstock New York that would begin in mid month. But in Los Angeles during the early hours of August 9th and then again in late hours of the same day and into August 10th, two of the most horrific murders to happen in any city occurred.

The story has been related many times on how Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Linda Kasabian, all members of the cult following of Charles Manson, shortly after midnight entered the gates at the house rented by Roman Polanski and his wife Sharon Tate. Polanski wasn’t here, but the 8 month pregnant Tate was entertaining guests, Abigail Folger, her lover, Voytek Frykowski and hair stylist Jay Sebring. The Family gruesomely murdered these four as well as Steven Parent, who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time leaving the house after a visit with the house caretaker, William Garretson. Garretson hid in the caretaker cottage and was left unharmed.

The next night these four along with Leslie Van Houten went to the house of Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary. After Watkins and Manson had entered the house Manson returned to the car where the others waited and sent Krenwinkle and Van Houten into the house, where the three murdered the couple.

Susan Atkins was one of the reasons that the Manson Family and Charlie’s plan, he termed it Helter Skelter, came as quick as they did to trial. After she was arrested a few months later and while she was being detained she told the horrific story to fellow inmate Virginia Graham. Word soon got to the LAPD. Later a grand jury returned murder indictments against Manson, Watson, Krenwinkel, Atkins, Kasabian, and Van Houten. Kasabian turned state witness. Watson was fighting extradition while the rest went on trial.

The trial lasted months with the final verdict as guilty. Watson would be tried later with the same result. The five (Manson, Atkins, Kernwinkel, Van Houten and Watson) were sentenced to death, but it would be changed to life when the California Supreme Court ruled that the state’s death penalty law was unconstitutional. None of them have been granted parole and each still remain in prison. Atkins, died in prison on September 24, 2009, was at the time the current longest serving female prisoner in California. Van Houten was granted a new trial in 1977 because during the original trial her defense attorney was first missing then discovered dead. The appeals court ruled that her portion of the trial should not have been continued. Of these five, it is thought that Leslie Van Houten has the best chance to ever be given parole since the evidence and testimony shows that she may have stabbed a dead body.

In September 1974 another of Charlie Manson’s followers made the news. Lynette ‘Squeaky’ Fromme attempted to assassinated President Gerald Ford on September 5th. Fromme was a part of the Family in August of 1969, but she was not involved in either of the two murders. She was one of the Family members that camped outside of the trail and tried to keep people from testifying at the trail. For her attempt to assassinate President Ford she was given a life sentence. She was granted parole and was released in August of 2009.


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