Parole recommended for California follower of Charles Manson

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California parole board recommended the release of Patricia Krenwinkel for the first time Thursday, more than five decades after she and other supporters of cult leader Charles Manson terrorized the State and that she wrote “Helter Skelter” on a wall with the blood of one of their victims.

Krenwinkel, 74, had previously been denied parole 14 times for the murder of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in 1969. She helped kill grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary at night next in what prosecutors say was an attempt by Manson to start a race war.

The parole recommendation will be reviewed by the legal division of the state parole board before likely being forwarded to Governor Gavin Newsom before the end of the year. He previously rejected parole recommendations for other supporters of Manson, who died in prison in 2017.

New laws since Krenwinkel was last denied parole in 2017 have forced the parole board to consider that she committed the murders at a young age and is now an elderly prisoner, although parole board spokeswoman Terry Thornton could not provide specific reasons for the commissioners’ decision.

She remains incarcerated at the California Institution for Women in East Los Angeles.

Five years ago, commissioners denied her parole despite arguments at the time that she had battered woman syndrome when she helped in the bloody murders.

Krenwinkel was a 19-year-old secretary living with her older sister when she met Manson, then 33, at a party. She testified in 2016 that she quickly left everything to follow him because she thought they might have a romantic relationship.

But she said Manson physically and emotionally abused her and trafficked her to other men for sex. She said she ran away twice to be brought back and was rarely left alone and was usually under the influence of drugs.

During her final parole hearing, Krenwinkel recounted how she repeatedly stabbed Abigail Folger, 26, heiress to a coffeehouse fortune, at the Tate home on August 9, 1969.

The following night, she said Manson and his right-hand man, Charles “Tex” Watson, told her to “do something wizarding,” so she stabbed La Bianca in the stomach with a fork, then took a rag and wrote “Helter Skelter”, “Rise” and “Death to Pigs” on the walls with his blood.

She and other participants were first sentenced to death. But they were sentenced to life with the possibility of parole after California’s death penalty was briefly declared unconstitutional in 1972.

Krenwinkel became the state’s longest serving inmate when Manson follower Susan Atkins died of cancer in prison in 2009.

Krenwinkel’s attorney, Keith Wattley, did not immediately comment on the parole board’s recommendation.