They called them the Manson Girls. These women were forever defined by their relationship to Charles Manson, a notorious cult leader and orchestrator of a mass murder. "Our lives started when we met Charlie," Patricia Krenwinkel (played by Sosie Bacon) says in the movie Charlie Says, out May 10 in the US (UK release TBC).
The movie Charlie Says focuses on three women who fell under Manson's charismatic sway and were persuaded to commit the shocking murders of nine people, including actor Sharon Tate, on the evenings of August 8 and 9, 1969.
But maybe "Manson Girls" isn't a fair nickname. Charlie Says repositions Leslie Van Houten (Hannah Murray), Susan Atkins, (Marianne Rendon), and Patricia Krenwinkel (Bacon) — the perpetrators of the murders, among other members of the Family — as victims of Manson's manipulations. They were independent women before they became Manson's. Charles Manson died in prison in 2017. How did the women in his so-called Family fare?
Leslie Van Houten
Who Is She: In late 1968, a 19-year-old Leslie Van Houten met Charles Manson and became entranced by his commune. Less than a year later, she was directly involved in the awful crime he orchestrated. Specifically, she stabbed Rosemary LaBianca 16 times.
Where Is She Now: Like Manson and the other two women in Charlie Says, Van Houten was sentenced to death in 1971, but was eventually given life in prison after the California Supreme Court ruled capital punishment unconstitutional. Every year since 2016, a parole board has recommended Van Houten be released, as she's no longer a threat to society. Each time, former governor Jerry Brown blocked the release. As of January 2019, her case is being reviewed once again.
Who Is She: Patricia Krenwinkel met Charles Manson in coffee houses in the '60s. She and Manson were sexually involved.
Where Is She Now: On the day of her sentencing, Krenwinkel walked into the courtroom with Atkins and Van Houten, laughing. That legacy as a remorseless killer stayed with her. " It took five years for those women to feel anything for their victims," Nikki Meredith, who wrote a book about Krenwinkel and Van Houten, told AETV. Yet her mind has been changed about Manson. "Pat does needlepoint and she described it…as having this big ball of thread. One strand at a time, she looked at her relationship with [him] and started to understand how he had seduced her and perverted her views," Meredith continued.
Krenwinkel has yet to be granted parole, and is now state of California's longest-serving woman prisoner. She received a Master's degree while in prison.
Who Is She: Atkins was a devoted Manson Family member — and one of its most violent. She claims to have murdered Sharon Tate. Before joining the Family, she worked as a stripper in San Francisco. Manson renamed her Sadie Mae Glutz.
Where Is She Now: In 2009, Atkins passed away from brain cancer at age 61 while serving a life sentence in prison.
Who Is She: Kasabian was the Family member who eventually turned on the Family. She kept a lookout during the Tate-LaBianca murders, but didn't participate. Eventually, she testified against the perpetrators, saying that Manson was the "devil, not this wonderful man that I was led to believe." Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi said he doubted Manson would have been convicted without her testimony.
Where Is She Now: Kasabian got immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying. She spent 18 days on the witness stand. Documentarian Nick Godwin tracked Kasabian down to where she was living, in a trailer park under an assumed name. She participated in Godwin's TV documentary, Manson. Kasabian is played by India Ennega in Charlie Says.
Charlie Says is out in the US on May 10 (UK release TBC).