Caitlin Gallagher
November 21, 2017 2:57 pm
Bettmann via Getty Images

With Charles Manson dead, it may seem like the pain and anguish he caused can officially be put in the past. However, members of Manson’s cult — known as the Manson Family — are still alive. These cult members committed violent crimes on Manson’s orders, and four women in the Manson Family were responsible for murdering people. So who exactly were the Mason Family women who killed for their leader? And where are they now?

The Manson Family’s most infamous murders took place over two days in August 1969. Cult members killed Sharon Tate (who was pregnant), Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, and Steven Parent at Tate and Roman Polanski’s home on August 9th. The following night, they killed husband and wife Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Before this two-day massacre, another murder took place in July, of Manson Family friend Gary Hinman.

The three women who participated in the Tate and LaBianca murders were Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten, and Patricia Krenwinkel. Atkins and Mary Brunner were involved in Hinman’s murder. But these were just the women who killed for Charles Manson — he had many others under his thumb.

Linda Kasabian acted as the lookout during the August murder spree and became the prosecution’s key witness against the Manson Family, which allowed her to receive immunity. Another notable woman of Manson’s cult was Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, who would have been a murderer if her assassination attempt on President Gerald Ford had been successful. Sandra Good and Susan Murphy were also a part of the Manson Family and ended up in jail, in 1976, for sending threatening letters.

While these are some of the more well-known women, even more women followed Manson. According to a recent article in The New York Times,

Despite being under Manson’s influence, the four women who murdered for him still need to be held accountable for their actions. With that in mind, here are the female killers of the Manson Family:

Mary Brunner

Mary Brunner worked at the University of California, Berkeley library before she became Manson’s first follower, according to Rolling Stone. She had a child with Manson, named Valentine. Brunner was in jail for credit card fraud during the August murders, but she killed for Manson just a month earlier in July. Manson follower Bobby Beausoleil stabbed Gary Hinman, and Brunner finished the job by smothering Hinman with a pillow. After the Tate murders, she testified against the Manson Family but later tried to help free Manson from jail.

Brunner was released from prison in 1977 and is still alive, though she has changed her name. Her son with Manson was raised by her parents and goes by the name Michael Brunner. Her relationship with Manson was featured in the fictional NBC show Aquarius.

Susan Atkins

Susan Atkins, known as Sadie Mae Glutz by the Family, was also involved in the murder of Gary Hinman, but she’s more notorious for her role in the Tate murders. She died of brain cancer in 2009 while still serving time in jail for the 1969 massacre. As CNN reported, she held Tate down while the actress was stabbed 16 times. And during a 1993 parole board hearing, Atkins said Tate “asked me to let her baby live…I told her I didn’t have any mercy on her.” At the age of 21, Atkins was also involved in the murders of the LaBiancas the night after the Tate murders.

As Rolling Stone reported, Atkins had a troubled past before she joined the Manson Family, including bank robbery and involvement with the Church of Satan.

Leslie Van Houten

Although Leslie Van Houten wasn’t present for the Tate murders, she stabbed Rosemary LaBianca the next night more than 14 times. Van Houten is currently up for parole. However, as the Los Angeles Times reported, it’s up to California Governor Jerry Brown to approve her release from prison, and he denied her parole last year.

Over the past four decades, Van Houten has become a “model prisoner,” according to Jezebel, and filmmaker John Waters has been outspoken about his support for her release.

Patricia Krenwinkel

During the two-day murder spree, Patricia Krenwinkel chased and killed Abigail Folger (the heiress to the coffee company) after she attempted to escape from Tate’s house. CNN reported Krenwinkel stabbed Folger 28 times. She then helped to kill the LaBiancas the next night, and the AP reported that she stabbed Leno in the stomach with a fork and then wrote on the wall with his blood. In June 2017, Krenwinkel was denied parole for the 14th time, making her the longest-serving female inmate in the state of California.

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