A California parole board’s decision to release a follower of cult leader Charles Manson has been overturned.
The follower, Leslie Van Houten, was 19 years old at the time of the infamous Manson murders in 1969.
Now aged 69, the youngest member of the Manson cult is currently serving a life sentence in a California prison for her role in the killings.
Her reported good behaviour and rehabilitation in prison led to a parole board recommending her release earlier this year, but this was overturned on Monday by California governor Gavin Newsom.
In a statement, Mr Newsom commended Ms Van Houten’s “efforts at rehabilitation” and acknowledged her age, but said he remained “concerned about her role in these killings and her potential future for violence”.
Ms Van Houten was one of several cult members who stabbed Los Angeles grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, to death in August 1969.
The group then carved a message into Mr LaBianca’s corpse, and used the victims’ blood to smear further messages on the refrigerator and walls.
One message read “Death to Pigs”, and another “Healter Skealter”, which makes reference to a song by the Beatles.
Mr Newsom noted in his decision on Monday that he took particular offence at Ms Van Houten’s decision to drink chocolate milk from the LaBiancas’ refrigerator after the killings, before leaving the scene.
He added: “The gruesome crimes perpetuated by Ms Van Houten and other Manson Family members in an attempt to incite social chaos continue to inspire fear to this day.”
Ms Van Houten first met Manson in 1968 while travelling on the US west coast, before joining his “family” on the outskirts of Los Angeles.
His “family” went on to conduct a number of random killings in a bid to spark social unrest and a race war.
The night before the LaBianca murder, a group of cult members – not including Ms Van Houten – broke into the home of Hollywood actress Sharon Tate, before murdering her and four friends inside.
Tate, who was married to filmmaker Roman Polanski, was heavily pregnant at the time of her death.
Manson never carried out the killings himself, having delegated such tasks to his “family”.
He was eventually found guilty of ordering the murders and was sentenced to death along with his followers, but these were later converted to life sentences.
He died in prison in 2017 of natural causes.
Ms Van Houten has now had three parole recommendations rejected by California governors.
Former governor Jerry Brown stepped in on two occasions to halt her release in a decision that was later upheld by a Los Angeles Superior Court.
It maintained that she had not accepted enough responsibility for her role in the murders – a reason that Mr Newsom has again stipulated.
But Ms Van Houten’s lawyer Rich Pfeiffer refutes this reason, saying earlier this year that the former cult member “chose to go with Manson”.
“She chose to listen to him,” he said. “And she acknowledges that.”
He added: “Nobody wants to put their name on her release, but when they’re speaking honestly or off the record, everyone wants her to go home.”
Source: SKY NEWS