SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California parole panel recommended the release of Patricia Krenwinkel for the first time Thursday, more than five decades after she and other followers of cult leader Charles Manson terrorized the state and she wrote “Helter Skelter” on a wall using the blood of one of their victims.
Krenwinkel, 74, was previously denied parole 14 times for the slayings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four other people in 1969. She helped kill grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary the next night in what prosecutors say was an attempt by Manson to start a race war.
The parole recommendation will be reviewed by the state parole board’s legal division before likely going to Gov. Gavin Newsom before year’s end. He has previously rejected parole recommendations for other followers of Manson, who died in prison in 2017.
New laws since Krenwinkel was last denied parole in 2017 required the parole panel to consider that she committed the murders at a young age and is now an elderly prisoner, though parole board spokeswoman Terry Thornton could not provide specific reasons for the commissioners’ decision.
She remains incarcerated at the California Institution for Women east of Los Angeles.
Commissioners five years ago rejected her parole despite arguments then that she was affected by battered women’s syndrome when she helped in the bloody slayings.
Krenwinkel was a 19-year-old secretary living with her older sister when she met Manson, then age 33, at a party. She testified in 2016 that she soon left everything behind to follow him because she thought they might have a romantic relationship.
But she said Manson abused her physically and emotionally and trafficked her to other men for sex. She said she fled twice only to be brought back and that she was rarely left alone and usually was under the influence of drugs.
At her last parole hearing, Krenwinkel told how she repeatedly stabbed Abigail Folger, 26, heiress to a coffee fortune, at Tate’s home on Aug. 9, 1969.
The next night, she said Manson and his right-hand man, Charles “Tex” Watson, told her to “do something witchy,” 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 initially sentenced to death. But they were resentenced to life with the possibility of parole after the death penalty in California was briefly ruled unconstitutional in 1972.
Krenwinkel became the state’s longest-serving female inmate when fellow Manson follower Susan Atkins died of cancer in prison in 2009.
Krenwinkel’s attorney, Keith Wattley, did not immediately comment on the parole panel’s recommendation.