Not just like us, really. Although many of them were, and many of them are again, they claim. It's those pesky murderous years in between that complicate everything.
I wasn't yet born when the Tate/LaBianca murders occurred but I've read about them in detail, even passing by Mason's former home in San Francisco (it's as creepy looking as I thought it would be). It was a maniacal group of people, chaotic and serene, carefree and evil.
One of the "Manson girls", Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme is scheduled for release this week; she's the first of the girls out, although she was not imprisoned for the Tate/LaBianca murders on August 9th-10th 1969. She has been in prison for pointing a gun at then President Gerald Ford years later, in 1975. She remained a faithful follower and friend of Manson for many years - long after the other 'girls' rejected his teachings, although there isn't much said about her contact with (or opinion of) him now. Since she has been granted parole, she obviously said the right things in order to be released.
I was listening to NPR yesterday and the director John Waters was being interviewed about his life and work. Waters is a champion of some of the former Manson women, particularly Leslie Van Houten who has been continually refused parole since her imprisonment decades ago. His view (shared by many) is that she was a young woman, still a teen, when she helped commit the terrible crimes on those hot August nights. She is now rehabilitated, has professed her sorrow many times, and is no longer a threat to society.
He advocates letting some of these women go; that they have paid the price for their crimes. His upcoming book, Role Models, will document Van Houten's life.
Like Fromme, and many of the other girls, Van Houten was an average, middle class, All-American teenager who allowed herself to become immersed into California's hippie, counter-culture of the late 60s.
But sex, drugs, peer pressure and the influence of an older man somehow convinced these former "average" girls that murder would awake the world to their vision and that a race war would ensue. They would win, and lead the earth to prosperity.
During their trial, they refused to testify against Manson and steadfastly hung on to his words, his beliefs and his commands. What he told them to do, they did.
But as the years went by, his influence faded, and ultimately ended. Most of these women have expressed deep remorse over their actions and bitter regret that they, as teenagers, were so gullible to follow him as they did. Van Houten has been a leader in expressing sorrow and regret for her actions.
Most of them have had fairly uneventful prison lives, and have taken part in various rehab programs, as well as educational opportunities and have taught other prisoner to read and write. Most have been active in AA and NA, sponsoring other addicts in prison. All have been denied parole many times.
Some argue that Lynette Fromme is actually the most dangerous and least rehabilitated Manson girl. Aside from pointing a gun at the President in the 70s, she attacked another inmate with a hammer, stalked a rock star, insisting she could foresee his death and escaped from prison in the late 80s, in an attempt to visit Manson. She will be freed this coming Saturday.
What happened to these all-American girls, to make them do what they did? Did they suffer from mental illness or was it simply an evil choice to appease an evil leader? Do you think any of these women should get parole? Do you worry that Lynette Fromme still poses a risk?
All user-generated information on this site is the opinion of its author only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. Members and guests are responsible for their own posts and the potential consequences of those posts detailed in our Terms of Service.