Which Manson Family Members Are Still Behind Bars?

three female members of the manson family sit inside a police vehicle with cars on the window
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As the leader of a messianic cult situated in a desert commune in California, Charles Manson prophesied that a race war was on the horizon and that he and his followers would have to be armed and ready. Moreover, he believed it was his duty to usher in the war by ordering his Manson family followers to go on a killing spree.

On August 8, 1969, the Manson family, on orders from their leader, murdered pregnant actor Sharon Tate, who was married to director Roman Polanski, and four others—Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, Abigail Folger, and Steven Parent—at 10050 Cielo Drive. A day later, they killed wealthy grocery store owners Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.

Although the majority of the Manson Family members who took part in the massacres were condemned to death after being tried and convicted, the state of California banned the death penalty in 1972 and commuted their sentences to life imprisonment. Manson and his followers would ultimately claim they had killed a total of 35 people and buried their bodies in the desert.

Regardless of the actual number of victims, the random and brutal acts of violence orchestrated by Manson and committed by his hippie communers–turned-murderers ended the decade of love and continues to haunt and confound the world.

Here are the key members of the Manson Family who were convicted of committing murder in the summer of ’69 and where they are now.

Susan Atkins

Murdered Sharon Tate

susan atkins stands with a neutral expression on her face, a man in a suit stands to her left
In December 1969, Susan Atkins stands outside a courtroom after testifying against accused murderer Charles Manson in Los Angeles.Getty Images

On May 7, 1948, in San Gabriel, California, Susan Atkins was born to alcoholic parents. A shy child, Atkins was left vulnerable as her family life continued to deteriorate. After her mother died of cancer, Atkins’ father eventually abandoned her and her brother. Bouncing from various relatives’ homes, Atkins met Manson in 1967, and he asked her to join his commune.

Believing Manson was Jesus, Atkins became an ardent follower. She was charged with murdering actor Sharon Tate, who was eight months pregnant at the time, and later admitted that she wasn’t sure of why she did. Although she ended up expressing remorse, she was denied parole. She died from brain cancer in 2009 at age 61.

Leslie Van Houten

Murdered Leno and Rosemary LaBianca

a parole board member sits at a table and listen to leslie van houten, who wears a gray sweatshirt and speaks as several people watch from seats in the background
Sheron Lawin, a member of the Board of Prison Terms commissioners, listens to Leslie Van Houten after her parole was denied in June 2002.Getty Images

Born on August 23, 1949, in Los Angeles, Leslie Van Houten began using drugs at 15 and ran away from home, only to return briefly to finish high school. Her mother forced her to have an abortion at 17, and she eventually fled to a hippie commune where she found her way to Manson and became a heavy user of LSD and other psychedelic drugs.

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Now 73, Van Houten was only 19 when she was charged for murdering the LaBiancas. During her time in prison, Van Houten publicly said she took responsibility both for her murders and the role she part she played in “helping create” Manson. During her five decades in prison, Van Houten had 23 parole hearings and was recommended for parole five times, but California Governors Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom vetoed each of those decision. Newsom’s final veto was overruled by a state appeals court, and Van Houten was released from prison on July 11, 2023.

Patricia Krenwinkel

Participated in murders of Sharon Tate and Rosemary and Leno LaBianca

three women walking out of a courtroom laughing, while other people follow them from the doorway
Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Leslie Van Houten laugh after receiving the death sentence in 1971.Getty Images

Born on December 3, 1947, in Los Angeles, Patricia Krenwinkel grew up as an insecure, overweight child who was bullied in school. After graduating from high school, she considered being a nun but decided instead to attend a Jesuit college, only to drop out after one semester.

Shortly after she met Manson, the two had sexual relations. At 21, she was convicted of brutally stabbing coffee bean heiress Abigail Folger 28 times and Rosemary LaBianca 16 times. Writing “Death to Pigs” in the victims’ blood, she also participated in stabbing wealthy grocery store executive Leno LaBianca, who had already died at the hands of Manson Family member Charles “Tex” Watson.

Denied parole more than a dozen times, the 75-year-old has made recent claims that Manson had been abusing her before the multiple murders occurred. She was granted parole in May 2022, but California Governor Gavin Newsom reversed the decision. Krenwinkel remains incarcerated, with her next parole hearing scheduled for November 17, 2023.

Charles “Tex” Watson

Participated in murders of Sharon Tate and Rosemary and Leno LaBianca

a man wearing a buttoned shit is led while handcuffed down a hallway, escorted by two people
Charles “Tex” Watson arrives for an arraignment hearing in March 1971.Getty Images

Born on December 2, 1945, in Farmersville, Texas, Charles “Tex” Watson was an honor student and athlete. He attended the University of North Texas, joined a fraternity, and eventually got a job as a baggage handler at an airline in 1967, allowing him to access free airfare.

Taking advantage of a free ticket, he flew to Los Angeles where he immersed himself into the drug and music scene. It was there that he met some of the Manson family women who introduced him to the cult leader at the infamous Spahn Ranch.

Leading the charge in the Tate and LaBianca murders, Watson claimed he was the devil. After the murders, he escaped to Texas and resisted being extradited to California for nine months. Watson was convicted of murder in 1971 and is currently serving a life sentence in Sacramento, California. The 77-year-old has since turned to religion, becoming a minister, and earned a business degree. He has been denied parole 18 times and won’t be eligible for parole again until 2026.

Bobby Beausoleil

Murdered Gary Hinman

a man in a suit and tie is surrounded by reporters who put microphones near him in a courthouse
Bobby Beausoleil talks to reporters after his murder conviction in April 1970.Getty Images

Born on November 6, 1947, in Santa Barbara, California, Bobby Beausoleil grew up in a large Catholic family. At 15, he was sent to a reform camp for delinquent behavior and soon after fled to Los Angeles and San Francisco, getting involved in the music scene. It was during this time he befriended and moved in with Gary Hinman, who was a Manson follower.

By the time the Tate murders occurred, Beausoleil was already in jail for the July 1969 murder of Hinman, whom he stabbed to death on orders by Manson for not paying the latter money he felt he was owed.

Beausoleil, 75, is serving a life sentence and spends his time creating music and selling art. After having previously rejected his parole requests 18 times, the California Board of Parole recommended Beausoleil’s release in 2019, but Governor Newsom reversed the decision.

Steve “Clem” Grogan

Murdered Donald Shea

a man smiles slightly as two police officers escort him in handcuffs down a hallway
Steve Grogan is led from the courtroom following his murder conviction in October 1971.Getty Images

Born on July 13, 1951, Clem Grogan was an artistically inclined high school dropout who was involved in petty crimes before he joined Manson’s cult. Long before Manson and his followers found shelter at Spahn Ranch, Grogan was working odd jobs there, where he met ranch hand and stuntman Donald Shea.

Believing Shea had snitched to the police about some of the Manson family’s criminal activities, Manson ordered Grogan and fellow follower Bruce Davis to murder Shea on August 26, 1969.

Although Grogan was originally sentenced to death, the presiding judge reduced his sentence to life in prison, because he felt Grogan was too intellectually inept and high on drugs to have planned the murder. Grogan received parole in 1985 after revealing to authorities the location of Shea’s remains. The 71-year-old currently lives in the Bay Area, where he plays music with several different bands.

Bruce Davis

Murdered Gary Hinman and Donald Shea

a man with an x carved in his forehead smiles as he is led away from a courthouse in handcuffs next to a man in a trenchcoat
Bruce Davis, with the Mansion family “X” carved in his forehead, walks with his attorney Daye Shinn after surrendering to authorities in December 1970.Getty Images

Born on October 5, 1942, in Monroe, Louisiana, Bruce Davis was the editor of his high school yearbook and attended college in Tennessee for a few years before traveling to California in the early 1960s. He met Manson and some of his female followers in Oregon and eventually became Manson’s right-hand.

Davis was present during the murder of Gary Hinman and actively participated in the torture and killing of Donald Shea. Although he was temporarily on the lam for a time, he turned himself in to authorities in 1970. Having become a preacher in prison, the 80-year-old is currently serving a life sentence and has been continuously denied parole, most recently in 2022, during which time the parole board said he lacked empathy.

Linda Kasabian

Follower who testified against Manson and his followers

a woman in a brown dotted dress speaks into several microphones at a table, seated next to two men in suits
Linda Kasabian speaks at a press conference in August 1970.Getty Images

Born on June 21, 1949, in Biddeford, Maine, Linda Kasabian moved to Los Angeles in 1968. She met Mason through Catherine “Gypsy” Share and moved to the Spahn Ranch with Manson and his followers.

At first, Kasabian found Manson’s message to be peaceful, but his tone eventually changed to one of violence and paranoia. She was sent to 10050 Cielo Drive to assist in the Tate murders but never went inside the house as Watson told her to stay outside the residence. She also stayed in the car during the LaBianca murders, eventually leaving the scene with Manson.

Kasabian turned herself in December 1969 and received immunity after becoming a lead witness in the trials against Manson and his followers. She died on January 21, 2023, at age 73.

Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme

Attempted to kill President Gerald Ford

a woman in a red hooded jumpsuit being led in handcuffs out of a courthouse, holding a pad and papers
Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme is led out of a courthouse on August 23, 1975.Getty Images

Although she was one of Manson’s most trusted associates, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme had no hand in the Tate-LaBianca murders. Born on October 22, 1948, in Santa Monica, California, she wasn’t present at either murder scene. However, she was a fixture in front of the Los Angeles courthouse during Manson’s trial, remaining loyal to him throughout. After Manson was convicted, he was moved from prison to prison, and Fromme moved from town to town to be near him.

In September 1975, she pulled a gun on President Gerald Ford in Sacramento, but it didn’t go off, and she was immediately restrained by the Secret Service. She was convicted of the attempted assassination and sentenced to life in prison. The trial ended with Fromme throwing an apple at the face of the prosecuting attorney, knocking off his glasses.

In December 1987, Fromme escaped from a West Virginia prison in an attempt to meet up with Manson, who she heard had developed cancer. She was captured and imprisoned for several more years but was granted parole in 2008. Fromme was released a year later, after which she moved into a home decorated with skulls, living with an ex-convict boyfriend who was obsessed with Manson. Now 74, Fromme published a book about her life in 2018 and said in an interview the next year: “Was I in love with Charlie? Yeah, oh yeah, oh, I still am, still am. I don’t think you fall out of love.”

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