Forty-seven years after Sharon Tate was killed in a two-night murder spree, her sister believes the Manson Family remains a danger to society and should never again know freedom.
Debra Tate, the only surviving family member, continues to fight for justice for her sister — a one-time Richland beauty queen who went on to be a Hollywood actress, before her brutal death at the hands of Charles Manson’s disciples.
After learning April 14 that a California parole board had recommended the release of Leslie Van Houten, the sister took to Change.org to drum up support for keeping the Manson follower behind bars.
Two weeks later, more than 96,000 people have signed the petition. The goal is to reach 150,0000.
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“Governor Jerry Brown must know that society cannot trust someone who committed such a heinous murder without showing any remorse for years,” Debra Tate writes in her petition. “If you do not want this random murderer who was convicted by two separate juries of her peers to be released early into society, please sign this petition.”
Sharon Tate and her family lived in the Tri-Cities while her father did a tour at Camp Hanford.
Tate was a 16-year-old student at what was then known as Columbia High School in Richland when she was chosen Miss Richland during the 1959 Atomic Frontier Days. She also had been named Miss Autorama of 1958-59.
Tate had to abdicate two weeks later when her father, Maj. Paul J. Tate, was assigned to Italy.
She later went to Hollywood for a promising film career, including a leading role in Valley of the Dolls.
Tate married film director Roman Polanski and was 8 1/2 months pregnant when Manson sent four of his disciples to the home to kill anyone who was on the property.
Polanski was not at home Aug. 9, 1969, but in London finishing up work on a film.
Tate, 26, was the last to be killed, begging for the life of her unborn child, her sister said on The Tate Family Legacy website. She was stabbed to death and her blood was used to write the word “Pig” on the front door of the mansion.
Van Houten, 19, was not part of those murders, but she did help kill Rosemary and Leno LaBianca the following night. Her convictions include conspiracy for the mass killings involving Tate.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Van Houten’s supporters describe her “as a misguided teen under the influence of LSD on the night of the killings. They also say she was a victim of Manson’s ‘mind control.’”
Van Houten was sentenced to death, but it was automatically commuted to life in prison when California temporarily abolished the death penalty in 1972.
She is being housed in the California Institution for Women in Chino, and has been denied 19 prior parole attempts. Now 66, the state’s parole behavior reportedly believes that her good behavior while in prison warrants release.
The recommendation now goes to the parole board’s legal team for review.
If upheld, Gov. Brown will have final approval of Van Houten’s release. It may take several months for that decision.
Brown rejected parole for a Manson associate this January.