Manson Family Member Leslie Van Houten Denied Parole for the Fourth Time

Claudia Harmata
·2-min read

Leslie Van Houten, one of the convicted Charles Manson cult followers, has been denied parole for the fourth time in four years.

On Friday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom refused Van Houten parole after the state's parole board made the recommendation for the 71-year-old woman in January, CNN reported. The outlet obtained the official parole release review, in which Newsom stated that he believes Van Houten "currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison at this time."

"Given the extreme nature of the crime in which she was involved, I do not believe she has sufficiently demonstrated that she has come to terms with the totality of the factors that led her to participate in the vicious Manson Family killings," Newsom said, per CNN.

RELATED: Docuseries Takes New Look at Horror of Charles Manson Murders

Van Houten was among the handful of women in Manson's commune, who were all convicted in 1971 after the 1969 "Manson family" killing spree — which left nine dead. All of the cult members were given life sentences, avoiding execution after California temporarily banned the death penalty.

Van Houten was specifically charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder. She was granted a retrial in 1976 because her lawyer disappeared during her initial trial, but was found guilty again and began her life sentence in 1978. She is currently serving at the California Institute for Women in Corona.

Bettmann/Getty

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.

Van Houten, a former homecoming princess, was just 19 when she first met the cult leader. She then took part in the two-day killing spree in August 1969, when Manson and his followers murdered seven people, including 26-year-old actress Sharon Tate, who was pregnant at the time.

According to authorities, Manson had previously orchestrated the death of Gary Hinman, in July 1969, and would order his followers to kill a ninth victim, Donald Shea, before his arrest.

Bettmann/Getty

RELATED: Ghost Adventures' Zak Bagans Selling Home Where Charles Manson's Cult Followers Killed 2 People

The murders were part of a plot by Manson to start a race war, which he named “Helter Skelter” after the Beatles song. Each killing was infamously gruesome in nature.

"Before she can be safely released, Ms. Van Houten must do more to develop her understanding of the factors that caused her to seek acceptance from such a negative, violent influence, and perpetuate extreme acts of wanton violence," Newsom stated in the parole review.

This was Van Houten's 23rd appeal, but only the fourth time the board deemed her fit for parole.

Manson died in 2017 at the age of 83 of natural causes. He was serving nine life sentences in California’s Corcoran State Prison.