The upcoming Lifetime movie Manson's Lost Girls tells the story through the state's key witness
For more than 45 years, the fascination surrounding the deaths of seven people at the hands of Charles Manson’s followers has never waned.
For two nights in August 1969 in Los Angeles, Charles Manson instructed a handful of his followers – including Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten – to kill seven people. Linda Kasabian, another Manson follower, became the state’s key witness and was granted immunity in exchange for her testimony.
In the Lifetime movie Manson’s Lost Girls, which airs Feb. 6, the story focuses on the days leading up to the gruesome murders of Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger and Wojciech Frykowski, Steven Parent and Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.
“Before Manson it was like free love,” says the film’s director, Leslie Libman. “After Manson, hippies looked evil. It became ugly.”
She was known as “Sexy Sadie” on Spahn Ranch, an abandoned movie set used as the group’s commune. Atkins was sentenced to death in prison, but the sentence was commuted to life in prison after the state changed its death penalty laws. She was denied parole 13 times before dying in prison from natural causes on Sept. 24, 2009, at age 61.
She was convicted of seven counts of first-degree murder in 1971 and is currently the state’s longest serving female inmate. A spokesperson for the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation in California tells PEOPLE that Krenwinkel, now 68, has not had any recent infractions.
Leslie Van Houten
A former homecoming princess, Van Houten was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder. She was granted a retrial in 1976 because her lawyer disappeared during her initial trial. She was found guilty and began her sentence in 1978. Van Houten, 66, will appear in front of the parole board on April 14.
After two failed marriages and the birth of her daughter Tayna, Kasabian joined Manson’s commune at Spahn Ranch in July 1969. During the Tate-LaBianca murders, Kasabian waited outside. The prosecutor called her a “star witness,” and was granted immunity in exchange for her testimony. At trial she told jurors Manson’s eomwn did “anything and everything” for him. Now 66, she reportedly changed her name and moved to the Pacific Northwest. Attempts to reach her were unsuccessful.
Lynette Squeaky Fromme
While these four women were on trial and testifying, Fromme and other members of the Family camped outside and spouted their devotion to Manson at passers-by and the media. Fromme was never linked to the Tate-LaBianca murders, but she was eventually charged and convicted for the 1975 attempted assassination of President Gerald Ford. Given a life sentence, she was released on parole in 2009. She is 67 years old and her whereabouts are unknown.