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Where Charles Manson's cult followers are now

Some of Manson's followers turned to Christianity in prison

Posted: November 20, 2017
Last Updated: November 20, 2017

Charles Manson followers Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten, (left to right) walk to court in 1970. Atkins has since died, while Krenwinkel and Van Houten remain in prison. (George Brich/The Associated Press)

Charles Manson, the convicted mass murderer and cult leader who died on Sunday at the age of 83, orchestrated the gruesome murders of seven people in August 1969 in California by his followers, a group of runaways and outcasts known as the "Manson Family."

Here is what has become of several of the members of Manson's cult:

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Charles (Tex) Watson, 71, described himself as Manson's "right hand man." On Aug. 9, 1969, he and three female accomplices murdered actress Sharon Tate and four visitors at her Beverly Hills home. The following night, they killed a couple, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, at their Los Angeles home. Watson remains in prison in California after repeatedly being denied parole. He became a minister in 1981, taking a path similar to some other ex-Manson Family members who also turned to Christianity.

Watson is seen reading a prepared statement at a parole hearing in 2011. (Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)

Susan Atkins, who took part in several of the slayings including those at the Tate residence and who wrote "Pig" in blood on a house wall, died of brain cancer in a California prison in 2009 at age 61. Atkins had been denied a request to be freed on parole as the fatal illness took hold.

Atkins attended her 2009 parole hearing in a bed. (Ben Margot/Associated Press)

Patricia Krenwinkel, 69, who took part in the murders of the LaBiancas and at the Tate residence, has become California's longest-serving woman prisoner. In June, commissioners again denied parole for Krenwinkel, after a six-month inquiry to look into allegations that she had been abused by Manson or someone else, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Krenwinkel listens to the ruling denying her parole in 2011. (Reed Saxon/Associated Press)

Leslie Van Houten, 68, is serving a life sentence for taking part in the murders of the LaBiancas, a result that stemmed from her third trial in 1978. She was actually free on bond for a time after her second trial, which ended in a hung jury. She had been granted a new trial after an original death penalty conviction, in part because Ronald Hughes, her attorney during the first trial, disappeared just before closing arguments. He was found dead months later, and a court ruled she was denied effective representation. 

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In this Nov. 24, 1981 interview, Vincent Bugliosi talks to the CBC's Hana Gartner about his impressions from working on the prosecution of Charles Manson.  1:13

In 2016, California Governor Jerry Brown overturned a parole board recommendation that she should be released, saying that Van Houten still posed an "unreasonable danger to society." In September, she was again granted her parole, in her 21st appearance before the board dating back to 1979, which started a 150-day review process that will likely culminate in a final decision by Brown.

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Van Houten confers with her attorney Rich Pfeiffer, not shown, during a break from her hearing before the California Board of Parole Hearings last year. (Nick Ut/The Associated Press)

Bruce Davis, 75, was sentenced to life in prison for the 1969 murders of music teacher Gary Hinman and stunt man Donald (Shorty) Shea. Brown has repeatedly overturned recommendations by the California parole board that Davis should be freed.

Davis, shown in 2012, has been recommended for parole five times. (Joe Johnston/The Tribune of San Luis Obispo via AP)

Robert (Bobby) Beausoleil, 70, is serving a life sentence for the 1969 murder of Hinman. A California parole board last denied his bid on Oct. 14, 2016. He will be eligible for a hearing again in 2019.

Lynette (Squeaky) Fromme, 69, was a member of the Manson Family and attended Manson's trial. In 1975, she was tackled by a Secret Service agent after she aimed a pistol at U.S. President Gerald Ford. Convicted of attempted assassination, she was sentenced to life in prison. She was paroled in 2009 and moved to Marcy in New York state, according to the New York Post.

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Notorious cult leader Charles Manson and three co-defendants were convicted in 1971 for a series of killings in the Los Angeles area in 1969. Most of Charles Manson's 'family' remain behind bars. (George Brich/Associated Press)
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On Aug. 9, 1969, American actress Sharon Tate was murdered in the home she shared with Polish film director Roman Polanski along with four others. Here are Polanski and Tate at their wedding in January 1968. (Evening Standard/Getty Images)
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Tate's body is taken from her rented house on Cielo Drive in Beverly Hills, Calif. At the time of her death, Tate was eight-and-a-half months pregnant with the couple's son. (Associated Press)
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Charles Manson walks into the courtroom as Susan Atkins, a member of his 'family' of followers, looks on in Santa Monica, Calif., in 1970. (Associated Press)
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Atkins was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2008. She was denied compassionate release in the same year after she was given just months to live. Atkins died in 2009, at age 61, at a prison hospital in Chowchilla, Calif. (Ben Margot/Associated Press)
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Defendants Leslie Van Houten, right, walks to court with fellow Charles Manson 'family' members Susan Atkins, left, and Patricia Krenwinkel in August 1970. ( George Brich/Associated Press)
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At age 19, Leslie Van Houten was the youngest Manson follower. Van Houten did not participate in the Tate killings but went along the next night when grocery store owners Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were slain. The LaBiancas were stabbed numerous times and the word 'war' was carved on the stomach of Leno LaBianca. Van Houten's 20th parole request, heard in 2016, was denied by California Governor Jerry Brown. (Nick Ut/Associated Press)
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Patricia Krenwinkel has also been denied parole multiple times. Manson said Krenwinkel and the others acted of their own accord and has always denied ordering the murders. (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation/AP)
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Charles 'Tex' Watson, left, is led back to jail from a courtroom after he was convicted of seven counts of first-degree murder and one of conspiracy to commit murder in the Tate-LaBianca slayings, in Los Angeles in 1971. (George Brich/Associated Press)
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While in prison, Watson wrote a book, Manson's Right-Hand Man Speaks Out, saying the charismatic Manson offered utopia then persuaded his followers to act out his 'destructive world view.' California officials denied parole for Watson in 2016, at the 17th parole hearing for Watson and 47 years after he helped plan and participated in the Tate slayings. (Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)
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Charles Manson's 'family' members Lynette 'Squeaky' Fromme and Catherine 'Gypsy' Share, during a court hearing on Jan. 27, 1970. Fromme was not implicated in the murders, but was convicted of trying to assassinate U.S. President Gerald Ford in 1975, for which she served more than three decades behind bars. She was also sentenced to an additional 15 months in prison after escaping prison in 1987 to be closer to Manson. (David F. Smith/Associated Press)
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Robert Beausoleil was an aspiring musician and actor before he joined the Manson 'family.' He originally was sentenced to die, but his sentence was commuted to life in prison when the California supreme court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional in 1972. He is serving a life prison term for the torture and murder of musician Gary Hinman in 1969. (David F. Smith/Associated Press)
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Manson followers Bruce Davis, left, and Steve Grogan leaving court after a hearing in Los Angeles on Dec. 22, 1970. (Harold Filan/Associated Press)
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After 43 years in prison, parole officials in August 2015 again recommended parole for Manson follower Bruce Davis, convicted in the 1969 slayings of musician Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald 'Shorty' Shea. California Governor Jerry Brown blocked the decision. (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation/Associated Press)
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In 1981, talk show host Tom Snyder conducted an exclusive interview with Manson for NBC's The Tomorrow Show, then known as Tomorrow Coast to Coast, at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, Calif. (Associated Press)
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The thick prison file of Charles Manson is shown at his 12th parole hearing at Corcoran State Prison in Corcoran, Calif., on April 11, 2012. (Tracie Cone/Associated Press)
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Former Los Angeles Sheriff jail guard George Meyer, 86, points to a vintage photo of Manson during the reopening of the Los Angeles Hall of Justice in 2014. (Nick Ut/Associated Press)
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A Life magazine with a photo of Charles Manson on the cover sits on a kitchen table in the abandoned Barker Ranch house where Manson lived in the 1960s, in California's Death Valley National Park in 2008. (Gary Kazanjian/Associated Press)

Steve (Clem) Grogan, 66, was in the car for the ride to the LaBianca killings but not pinned to the horrific scene inside the house. He was sentenced to death in 1971 for the killing of Shea but that sentence was later commuted to life. The presiding judge in his case declaring that Grogan was "too stupid and too hopped up on [drugs] to decide anything on his own." Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi said in a 1990s afterword to his book Helter Skelter that Grogan was "by all accounts the most unhinged and spaced out" of the Family members. Grogan's rehabilitation in prison was hailed by authorities and he was paroled in 1985, playing in jazz bands since his release.