Parole Recommended for Manson Follower for First Time

Patricia Krenwinkel is the longest-serving woman in California
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 27, 2022 1:31 AM CDT
Parole Recommended for Manson Follower Who Wrote 'Helter Skelter' in Blood
This March 13, 2020, photo provided by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation shows Charles Manson follower Patricia Krenwinkel.   (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via AP)

(Newser) – A California parole panel recommended the release of Patricia Krenwinkel for the first time Thursday, more than five decades after she and other followers of cult leader Charles Manson terrorized the state and she wrote “Helter Skelter” on a wall using the blood of one of their victims. Krenwinkel, 74, was previously denied parole 14 times for the slayings of pregnant actor Sharon Tate and four other people in 1969, the AP reports. She helped kill grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary the next night. Krenwinkel was a 19-year-old secretary living with her older sister when she met Manson, then age 33, at a party; she says he abused her physically and emotionally and trafficked her to other men for sex, and that she was suffering battered women's syndrome when she helped in the slayings.

The parole recommendation will be reviewed by the state parole board's legal division before likely going to Gov. Gavin Newsom for a decision within five months. He has previously rejected parole recommendations for other followers of Manson, who died in prison in 2017. New laws since Krenwinkel was last denied parole in 2017 required the parole panel to consider that she committed the murders at a young age and is now an elderly prisoner. Also, for the first time, Los Angeles County prosecutors weren’t at the parole hearing to object, under District Attorney George Gascón’s policy that prosecutors should not be involved in deciding whether prisoners are ready for release.

However, Krenwinkel’s attorney, Keith Wattley, said relatives of her victims offered the same objections at the hearing as prosecutors have in the past. What was different this time was that the parole panel was willing to follow the law, he said, recognizing that she has had no disciplinary violations and is no longer a danger to society. “She's completely transformed from the person she was when she committed this crime, which is all that it's supposed to take to be granted parole,” he said. Krenwinkel became the state’s longest-serving female inmate when fellow Manson follower Susan Atkins died of cancer in prison in 2009. Wattley said he understands she is the longest-serving woman in the United States. (Newsom in March rejected a panel's recommendation that another Manson follower be paroled.)

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