The Manson Slayings 35 Years Later

ByABC News via GMA logo
August 9, 2004, 10:21 AM

Aug. 9, 2004 -- Thirty-five years after the infamous slayings by Charles Manson's followers, relatives of the victims united in their grief and determination to keep the former "family" members behind bars.

In August 1969, the nation was stunned by the slayings of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca and actress Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of director Roman Polanski, and four of her friends Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, Voyek Frykowski and Steve Parent. The victims were killed on two separate nights as part of a killing spree, marked by multiple stabbings and bloody scrawlings at the crime scenes.

Charles Manson and his cult "family" members, Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel and Susan Atkins, were convicted of the Tate-LaBianca slayings in 1971. Manson had inspired his followers to commit the murders to start a race war in America with the hopes of rising to leadership and re-enslaving African-Americans. Initially, Manson and his three co-defendants were sentenced to death, but their sentences were commuted to life terms when the death penalty was abolished in California in 1972. (It has since been reinstated.)

Some legal experts have said Manson will never be paroled and will eventually die in prison. In the three-and-a-half decades since the Manson family slayings, former followers Van Houten and Krenwinkel have made multiple bids for parole. Krenwinkel has been denied parole 11 times, most recently last month; Van Houten's petition has been turned down 13 times.

Both have insisted they are changed women and are repentant for the killings. But various relatives of their victims do not believe their pleas and say they will continue to attend their hearings and oppose their parole.