Charles Manson follower Patricia Krenwinkel has slim chance at paroleLinda Deutsch
CORONA, Calif. - A follower of Charles Manson who has been imprisoned longer than any other woman in California is facing a parole hearing on her conviction in the Sharon Tate killings.
Grey-haired Patricia Krenwinkel, one of Manson's two surviving female followers, has maintained a clean prison record in her four decades behind bars, but her chances for release appear slim following the parole officials' rejections in other Manson cases.
Krenwinkel, 63, was convicted along with Manson and two other female followers in seven 1969 murders, considered among the most notorious crimes of the 20th Century.
None of those convicted has ever been paroled and one of them, Susan Atkins, died in prison last year after being denied compassionate
Leslie Van Houten, 61, the youngest of the women convicted, was long thought to be the most likely to win eventual release. But she was denied a parole date last summer by officials who said she had not gained sufficient insight into her crimes.
Parole boards have repeatedly cited the callousness, viciousness and calculation of the seven murders committed by members of the Manson Family.
Krenwinkel admitted during her trial that she chased down and stabbed heiress Abigail Folger at the Tate home on Aug. 9, 1969 and participated in the stabbing deaths of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca the following night. Both homes were defaced with bloody scrawlings. She was convicted along with Manson, Van Houten and Atkins. Another defendant, Charles "Tex" Watson was convicted in a separate trial.
All were sentenced to death but their sentences were commuted to life when the U.S. Supreme Court briefly outlawed the death penalty in 1972.
In her 40 years at the California Institution for Women, Krenwinkel has earned a bachelor's degree and participated in numerous self help programs as well as teaching illiterate prisoners how to read. In recent years, she has been involved in a program to train service dogs for the disabled.
She has had a discipline-free record in prison. But so have a number of other Manson followers who have been refused parole. Last year, a number of them came before parole panels but were turned away.
Manson follower Bruce Davis was able to win a parole date only to have it revoked by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who said that his release would be a danger to society. The 67-year-old Davis was convicted of the 1969 murder of musician Gary Hinman but had no involvement in the Tate-LaBianca killings.
Robert Beausoleil, 63, also convicted in the Hinman murder, was denied parole last year and told to come back to the board in five years.
Cult leader Manson, 75, refused to appear at his most recent parole hearings where he was denied a release date. His multiple disciplinary violations and refusals to participate in rehabilitation activities make it likely that he will never be released. At times he has said that he does not want his freedom and considers prison his home.