LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA — Former Charles Manson devotee and notorious murderer Patricia Krenwinkel, 69 (above), appeared before a California parole board last week. Having now done 47 years behind bars, Krenwinkel is presently the state’s longest-serving inmate. It was Krenwinkel’s 14th such bid for freedom since being convicted for her active role in the infamous 1969 Tate-LaBianca massacres.
Unlike the 13 previous fast and decisive “no” responses, however, the parole board is delaying a response this time to consider a new filing from Krenwinkel’s attorney, Keith Wattley.
Wattley is arguing that Krenwinkel committed the crimes while suffering from “intimate partner battery.” In essence, that means cult leader Manson and another individual physically savaged and psychologically terrorized Krenwinkel to a point where she should not be responsible for her actions. Similar defenses have been used in the past to acquit women for killing their abusive husbands.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation stated that the parole board “felt information discussed at the hearing was cause for an investigation.” As a result, a parole decision is now expected to be delivered in about six months.
Krenwinkel was last denied parole in 2011. At that time, Krenwinkel pointed out that her disciplinary record is spotless and that, while incarcerated, she has earned a bachelor’s degree, while also teaching illiterate inmates to read and training service dogs for the disabled.Family members of the victims have expressed anger at the prospect of Krenwinkel ever being freed. They and other critics have again cited the barbarity of the crimes she committed with other members of the Manson Family cult over two nights of mass slaughter in August 1969.
Krenwinkel was convicted as being one of the most prolifically violent among the killers. Among other heinous transgressions, she was found guilty of helping to murder pregnant Hollywood actress Sharon Tate and carving the word “WAR” into the stomach of supermarket executive Leno LaBianca.
In addition, Krenwinkel said she created one of the most chilling images of the incident when she wrote “Healter Skelter [sic]” on the LaBianca’s refrigerator, using the victims’ blood. Krenwinkel was 22 at the time.
Even if the two-member parole panel recommends Krenwinkel for release, however, she will face other challenges before she can just walk out of jail. By law, Governor Jerry Brown must approve her parole. Brown has made it clear he believes Manson’s homicidal followers should be kept behind bars.
In September 2016, Brown shut down a parole recommendation for Leslie Van Houten, another Manson associate involved in the killings to a less severe degree than Krenwinkel.
In his denial statement regarding Van Houten, Brown wrote: “Both her role in these extraordinarily brutal crimes and her inability to explain her willing participation in such horrific violence cannot be overlooked and lead me to believe she remains an unacceptable risk to society if released.”
Main photo: Patricia Krenwinkel, LAPD mugshot following the 1969 Spahn Ranch raid