Where Are The Members Of The Manson Family Now?

This article heavily discusses murder and may not be suitable for all readers.

The Manson Family is not your typical brood, considering the group's infamous late '60s Southern California crime spree. Led by mastermind Charles Manson, the group's mission culminated with a terrifying murder spree in 1969. According to ABC7, "...actress Sharon Tate, who was 8 1/2 months pregnant, and four others — including celebrity hairdresser Jay Sebring, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, filmmaker Voityck Frykowksi and 18-year-old Steven Parent — were brutally murdered at the Beverly Hills home of Tate and her husband, director Roman Polanski." Collectively, the victims had a reported 169 stab wounds. The next night, the group randomly selected the home of grocery store owner Leno and his wife Rosemary LaBianca to continue the carnage.

Mind you, Manson and his followers were called a "family," but they weren't necessarily related by blood. Most of Manson's loyal, brainwashed supporters were sent to prison (for life) for their roles in those grisly murders. They would have been put to death had California not temporarily done away with capital punishment in the early '70s. Over five decades later, many members of the Manson Family are still kicking, albeit under the custody of the California penal system. 

Leslie Van Houten

Leslie Van Houten's parents divorced when she was 14, and that reportedly threw the young teenager for a psychological loop. According to NBC News, she adopted a hippie lifestyle, hanging out with misfits at her suburban Los Angeles school before hitting the road at age 17, with her boyfriend, to trek up to San Francisco — hippie central in the 1967 "Summer of Love." Living an itinerant lifestyle in California, she met Manson and apparently fell under his sickening spell.

According to NPR, 19-year-old Van Houten took an active role in the killings of the LaBiancas in August 1969. Van Houten was sentenced to death for her crimes (later changed to life in prison). 

In September 2017, Van Houten and her attorney stood before a California state parole board for the 21st time. That was the second time a panel recommended she be released... and the second time former governor Jerry Brown ordered Van Houten to stay behind bars, explaining that her decades spent in prison and the abuse inflicted on her by Manson were "outweighed by the negative factors that demonstrate she remains unsuitable for parole" (via NBC News). In 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom made the fifth overall decision to deny Van Houten parole.

Susan Atkins

Susan Atkins, one of the most devoted Manson Family members, was also among its most violent, contributing to the murders of Gary Hinman and Sharon Tate in 1969, according to Biography.

Atkins reportedly had a troubled childhood with alcoholic parents, and she alleged that she'd been a victim of sexual abuse, according to The New York Times. She left home at age 18 and soon fell in with the Manson group. In October 1968, Atkins, whom Manson had renamed "Sadie Mae Glutz," gave birth to a son that Manson saddled with the name Zezozose Zadfrack Glutz. According to LAist, Manson was not believed to be the father of Zezozose. A man named Bruce Hall, who was briefly a member of the Manson Family, may be the biological dad. 

After Atkins' conviction, her child was placed up for adoption, and, as recounted by Atkins in a 2002 interview with Diane Sawyer, Atkins had no further contact. She said of her son, "All I know is that he's lived his life unscathed with this" — meaning her life choices and their consequences — for which she was grateful. Atkins passed away from brain cancer at age 61 in 2009, while serving a life sentence.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Charles 'Tex' Watson

Every criminal overlord and cult leader has a right-hand man, and for Charles Manson, that loyal lieutenant was Charles Watson, nicknamed "Tex" because he was from Texas. According to Texas Monthly, Watson "shot and stabbed Tate, a fellow Dallas native; her three houseguests; and a teenager who had stopped by." He also helped end the lives of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. In the aftermath of the murders, as authorities closed in on the Manson Family, Watson reportedly fled California for Texas, but he eventually headed back to Los Angeles to face the music. After a brief stay in a mental health facility, Watson was tried on seven counts of murder, convicted for his crimes, and sentenced to death (later commuted to life in prison when California eliminated the death penalty).

Watson still managed to become a "family man" in prison, marrying a woman named Kristin Joan Svege, reported Cipher magazine. Via conjugal visits, the couple spawned four kids while Watson was incarcerated, but having more was rendered impossible in 1996 — the California corrections system banned conjugal visits for prisoners serving life sentences. Watson and Svege split up in 2003, and he remains behind bars. The murderer has been denied parole 18 times.

Linda Kasabian

Linda Kasabian served as a lookout for the Manson Family while members murdered the LaBiancas, Sharon Tate, and others, and she avoided jail time by testifying as a witness to the state, reported Rolling Stone. At the time of the killings, Kasabian had reportedly just joined the gang, arriving at the Family's ranch the month before with her one-year-old daughter, Tanya, in tow. Linda apparently had a falling out with her husband, Robert Kasabian. The same day she arrived at the commune, according to LAist, Linda slept with Tex Watson. The next day, she supposedly slept with Manson. In early August, she learned she was pregnant, so, feasibly, the father could have been Robert, Watson, or Manson. She gave birth to a son she named Angel.

A few days after the Tate-LaBianca murders, Linda extracted herself from the Family and reunited with her husband. Tanya (whose name is sometimes spelled Tonya) was reportedly placed into foster care, but Linda later regained custody. Angel was given up for adoption, according to LAist. The Daily Mail reported in 2018 that Linda had changed her name and was mother to four children total. She was arrested throughout her life for offenses such as meth possession, DUI, and indecent exposure, reported the Daily News, but did make a rare, partially disguised, appearance on "Larry King Live" in 2009.

In 2023, Linda died at age 73 in a Tacoma, Washington hospital. No cause of death was given at the time.

Dianne Lake

Dianne Lake was the youngest member of the Family. She met Charles Manson when she was just 14 years old in 1967. How did a child fall in with such a bad scene? According to her 2017 memoir, "Member of the Family" (via Newsweek), her parents fully embraced the '60s counterculture and encouraged her and her siblings to do drugs, which left her so emotionally vulnerable that she was easy pickings for Manson.

Lake didn't have a hand in the Tate-LaBianca murders, but she reportedly did know enough about them (along with the horrifying inner workings of the Manson collective) that she served as a star witness at Manson's trial, the one that resulted in his sentence. Police detective Jack Gardiner and his wife took in Lake as a foster child, and from there, she had a fairly normal upbringing. She finished school, got married, and started a family... all while trying to put that very dark period of her life behind her. She reportedly wrote the memoir as a way to heal and to help others. "People who have been victimized as children can carry that shame around like an awful weight as adults, and they don't have to," Lake said.

Patricia Krenwinkel

One of Sharon Tate's party guests on that horrible night in 1969 was Abigail Folger, heir to the Folgers coffee fortune. According to the Los Angeles Times, Folger died at the hand of Manson devotee Patricia Krenwinkel, who would later testify that she murdered Folger. When the Manson Family continued its reign of terror at the home of the LaBiancas, court documents indicated that Krenwinkel acted on orders to kill Rosemary LaBianca.

Like the other Manson Family members involved in the killings, Krenwinkel received a death sentence that was later commuted to life in prison. When Susan Atkins died in 2009, Krenwinkel became the longest-serving female inmate in California. Over the many decades, Krenwinkel has been denied parole 15 times, with Governor Gavin Newsom continuing to uphold her sentence in 2022.

Lynette 'Squeaky' Fromme

A professional dancer as a child, Fromme left home after high school for Venice Beach, California, which is where she met Charles Manson and became a lifelong acolyte, according to Biography. In the late '60s, she moved to the Spahn ranch where the Family lived. Fromme wasn't involved in the Tate-LaBianca murders, so she escaped prosecution and jail time (for that), but she was a constant presence at the courthouse during Manson's trial; "...she regularly held vigil outside of the courthouse and argued against his incarceration," reported Newsweek

In 1975, Fromme went behind bars for reportedly pointing a gun at U.S. President Gerald Ford. At her trial, she said she'd just wanted to talk to the president and merely used the unloaded gun to get his attention. She got his attention, all right, and was sentenced to life in prison for it. In 1987, she briefly escaped and was found wandering just a couple of miles away from the correctional facility. In 2009, she was paroled and has reportedly lived a quiet life since, although when "Inside Edition" found her at a Walmart in Rome, New York, in 2010, she tried to knock down the camera.

In an eerie 2019 ABC News appearance, Fromme said, "I feel very honored to have met [Manson], and I know how that sounds to people who think he's the epitome of evil."

Bobby Beausoleil

Like his criminal mentor Charles Manson, Bobby Beausoleil was also a musician, a guitarist specifically. According to Vice, he was a player in the bustling L.A. music scene of the mid-1960s who recorded tracks for Manson's album "Lie: The Love and Terror Cult," collaborated with Arthur Lee of the rock band Love, and even played with the Grateful Dead. In 1969, entrenched as an early member in Charles Manson's growing cult-like "Family," and under the control of his friend and leader, Beausoleil participated in the killing of musician Gary Hinman. According to Rolling Stone, it was the end result of a robbery, or a botched drug deal, as accounts of the crime vary. (Beausoleil maintains that the latter story is the true one.)

Beausoleil was sentenced to death in 1970, but his punishment was later commuted to life in prison. Parole boards have frequently considered the convicted murderer for supervised release, but each time he's remained behind bars as of a hearing in 2022, according to KABC

He's kept busy in his more than 50 years of incarceration, and Beausoleil returned to making music. He scored the 1972 cult film "Lucifer Rising," and Lady Gaga sampled that composition in her 2017 documentary "Gaga: Five Foot Two," according to TMZ. He also recorded several albums (assisted by other musicians he met while imprisoned), created visual art that he sells via his website, and started work on a digital animation project called "Professor Proponderus."

Mary Brunner

According to crime writer H. Allegra Lansing, Manson Family member (and mother of Manson's third son) Mary Brunner was at the scene when her cohorts murdered Gary Hinman. However, because she didn't directly participate in the killing, authorities struck a deal with Brunner — they granted her legal immunity in exchange for her cooperation. Her testimony on behalf of the prosecution directly led to the conviction of Bobby Beausoleil.

But there were apparently no hard feelings between Brunner and the rest of the Family. After she testified against the Family, she went right back into it. While other Family members were arrested and convicted for their roles in the 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders, Brunner served as an outside-prison advocate, calling for the release of everyone. Then her unwavering support turned illegal. 

In August 1971, Brunner was arrested after helping Family members rob a Western Surplus store, demanding all the firearms in stock and getting 100 into a van, per The New York Times. Police arrived before Brunner and company could get away, thwarting their reported plan to eventually hijack a plane and free Manson. She served around seven years in prison, and since her parole in 1977, she's reportedly retreated into private life.

Bruce M. Davis

Identified as Manson's top lieutenant or "right-hand man," according to the Los Angeles Times, Bruce Davis was charged with robbery, conspiracy to commit murder, and murder for taking part in the 1971 killings of ranch-hand and stunt performer Donald "Shorty" Shea as well as Gary Hinman. In a 2014 parole hearing (via Newsweek), Davis admitted to his culpability in holding musician Hinman at gunpoint. "I wanted to be Charlie's favorite guy," Davis said. Shea worked on the ranch that the Manson Family called home, until he earned their ire by trying to get the group off the land, per the Mail Tribune. Shea's body was later discovered after Manson and his men's brutal attack.

Davis was convicted, and since the early 1970s, he's been imprisoned. Behind bars, per the Los Angeles Times, he's never been written up for violent behavior, and has earned both a master's degree and a doctorate. Parole boards have recommended Davis' release several times, only for multiple governors to block the decision. In 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom denied Davis' release, attesting that the convicted murderer (who's now 80) "currently poses an unreasonable danger to society."

Sandra 'Blue' Good

Sandra Good, or "Blue" as she was known by the rest of the Manson Family, never went to prison for any of the cult's most salacious and shocking crimes. She lived with the rest of the Family at the Spahn Ranch and didn't participate in the murder of Gary Hinman. During the mass Tate-LaBianca murders, Good had just been taken into police custody for using stolen credit cards. After the Family's crime wave ended when many members were imprisoned for the Tate-LaBianca slayings, Good and fellow Manson acolyte Susan Murphy saw arrest for mailing about 200 death threats to corporations promising to murder executives who didn't adopt environmentally friendly business practices. Good served 10 years of her 15-year sentence. 

As part of her parole in 1985, Good wasn't allowed to live in California (where Manson remained imprisoned), so she reportedly lay low for a while in Vermont under a fake name. When her parole finished up, Good returned to California to be near Manson, but she wasn't permitted to visit him in prison. The AP reported that Good had initially rejected parole if it meant she couldn't associate with the Family.

She still regrets nothing about her connection to the Family. "I feel they saved my life," Good said in Oxygen's TV documentary "Manson: The Women." "I feel they really saved my health, my brain, my emotional health, my mental health, my physical health. I'm thankful to them all."

Clem Grogan

According to crime author H. Allegra Lansing, Steven "Clem" Grogan wasn't among the many directionless young people who fell in with the Manson Family. He worked and lived at the Spahn Ranch before Manson and his followers settled there. Before long, he was part of the Family, too, and committed one of the group's most notorious and gruesome crimes. According to the Mail Tribune, he was largely responsible for executing the murder of fellow ranch-hand and stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shea, knocking him in the head with a pipe wrench before Tex Watson took the man out of his car to let his Family accomplices kill him. 

A jury convicted Grogan of murder and recommended that he receive the death penalty. Judge James Kolts overruled, deciding, "Grogan was too stupid and drugged to act independently of Manson" (per KABC7), and commuted his sentence to life in prison. Less than 15 years later, Grogan was paroled. According to "Yesterday's Monsters," that release was the direct result of Grogan deciding to help out authorities in 1985 so that they could find Shea's remains. Grogan is the only Manson Family member to be convicted of murder and not spend the rest of their life behind bars. He's kept a low profile since.

Barbara Hoyt

Somehow, Barbara Hoyt joined up with the Manson Family, and lived at the Spahn Ranch in the late 1960s, and didn't participate in any of the murderous cult's violent and deadly crimes. She wasn't culpable in the deaths of Gary Hinman or Donald "Shorty" Shea, nor any of the Tate-LaBianca murders. After the wave of terror subsided and police rounded up and charged the most murderous Manson Family members, Hoyt agreed to provide damning testimony for the prosecution (per "Ladies and Gentlemen of the Prosecution: Greatest Closing Arguments"). The Family tried to persuade Hoyt against testifying by killing her. Summoned to Hawaii for a paid trip by Ruth Ann "Ouisch" Moorehouse, via Atlas Obscura, Hoyt ate a hamburger loaded with a large, presumably fatal dose of LSD. It didn't kill her, and she went on to testify in the Manson murder trials.

Hoyt attended college for nursing, and according to Newsday, she struck up an unlikely and enduring friendship with Debra Tate, sister of Family murder victim Sharon Tate. Hoyt died in 2017 at age 65.

Paul Watkins

In 1968, according to The Guardian, 18-year-old Paul Watkins had dropped out of high school and took to a life that many young people at the time were adopting, that of a hippie drifter in California. Watkins wound up hanging out at the Spahn Ranch outside Los Angeles, where followers believed Manson's declaration that he was the second coming of Jesus Christ. Watkins soon became a devoted and full-fledged member of the Family, engaging in sexual activity per Manson's request, and taking in Manson's "Helter Skelter" prophecy, of a coming apocalyptic race war, per Rolling Stone. At that point, he decided to leave Spahn Ranch and reported his former cohorts to the police after learning about the Tate-LaBianca murders.

In an alleged scheme to prevent Watkins from testifying against the Family, someone from the group, possibly Clem Grogan, seemed to have lit Watkins' van on fire while he was sleeping in it, severely burning his vocal cords. Nevertheless, Watkins still appeared in court, served no prison time, and became a speaker on substance abuse and cult psychology. He also wrote a memoir of his time in the Manson Family and formed a band called Desert Sun. In 1990, 40-year-old Watkins died of leukemia.

Charles Manson...and his sons

Charles Manson was sentenced to death for his role in the aforementioned killings, but after the California state Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional, he spent the rest of his life in prison instead (via the Los Angeles Times). Before the start of his long incarceration and before his death in November 2017, at age 83, Manson reportedly fathered three sons.

According to Newsweek, Charles Manson Jr. — later rechristened Jay White, using his stepfather's last name — was born to the elder Manson's first wife, Rosalie Jean Willis (whom he married in the '50s). In 1993, White died by suicide. "He just couldn't let it go," White's son, Jason Freeman, told CNN, referring to what he called a "curse" of being Manson's son. Like some kind of evil George Foreman, Charles Manson also named his second son after himself — Charles Luther Manson, whom he reportedly had with his second wife, Leona StevensAt the time of this writing, his whereabouts are unknown.

Manson's third son, Valentine Michael Manson, was born in 1968 to Mary Brunner, the Manson Family's first recruit. He was raised by his maternal grandparents in Wisconsin under the name Michael Brunner. After Charles Manson's death, per The Mercury News, Brunner filed to challenge a will produced by Jason Freeman. Brunner also became more curious about who his father was. In a rare 2019 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Brunner said: "I think the public has been fed some untruths, and this whole thing has been glorified and glammified and blown out of proportion. ... Did [Manson] order these crimes? I don't believe that he did."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.