Van Houten was 19 in 1969 when the crimes took place. She's now 66.
Before the panel, Van Houten recounted how she held Rosemary [La Bianca] down with a pillow and lamp cord as Charles “Tex” Watson, another Mason Family member, stabbed her. Then he passed the knife to her, and Van Houten proceeded to stab Rosemary 14 times, later using the blood of the slain La Biancas to write messages on the walls of their home. The word “WAR” was carved on Leno La Bianca’s stomach.Here's Leslie Van Houten in 1994, talking to Larry King — "Leslie, what were you doing?" — 25 years after the murders:
“I took one of the knives … and we started stabbing and cutting up the lady,” Van Houten testified in 1971, as the Los Angeles Times noted. At a parole hearing in 1991, Van Houten said of Manson: “I thought he was Jesus Christ.”
Van Houten, who grew up in a Los Angeles suburb, was a homecoming queen who fell in with the counterculture. Her parents divorced when she was 14, and her mother forced her to have an abortion when she got pregnant not long after. As Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi recounted in the true-crime classic “Helter Skelter,” a psychiatrist who interviewed Van Houten called her “a spoiled little princess” unable “to suffer frustration and delay of gratification” who once beat her adopted sister with a shoe.