Patricia Krenwinkel: Charles Manson follower who wrote 'Death to Pigs' on wall denied parole 15th time

Patricia Krenwinkel: Charles Manson follower who wrote 'Death to Pigs' on wall denied parole 15th time
Patricia Krenwinkel becomes the longest serving female convict in US history (NYT screenshot)

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA: On October 14, more than 50 years after Patricia Krenwinkel wrote ‘Helter Skelter’ and 'Death to Pigs' on crime scene walls using the blood of one of their victims, the governor of California vetoed her request for release. It was the 15th time her request was denied over the course of her lengthy prison sentence. Krenwinkel, aged 74, is still too much of a menace to the public's safety, according to Governor Gavin Newsom.

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"Ms. Krenwinkel fully accepted Mr. Manson’s racist, apocalyptical ideologies," Newsom said. “Ms. Krenwinkel was not only a victim of Mr. Manson’s abuse. She was also a significant contributor to the violence and tragedy that became the Manson Family’s legacy.” After Krenwinkel had previously been rejected parole 14 times, a two-member parole panel recommended her release for the first time in May. For other Manson devotees who died in jail in 2017, Newsom has already rejected recommendations for parole. When fellow Manson follower Susan Atkins was pronounced dead in prison in 2009 from cancer, Krenwinkel became the state's longest serving female prisoner. 

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Krenwinkel is now believed to be the longest-serving female official in the US, according to her attorney Keith Wattley as reported by USA Today. She terrified the state with other members of the cult leader's followers in the late 1960s, committing acts that Newsom claimed “were among the most fear-inducing in California’s history.” She was found guilty of killing actress Sharon Tate, who was pregnant at the time, along with four other people in 1969. The following night, she participated in the murder of a grocery store owner Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary in what the prosecution said was Manson's attempt to incite racial conflict.

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She has adhered to numerous rehabilitative and educational programs, completed them all, and "demonstrated effusive remorse," according to Newsom who also agreed that she had behaved well in prison. He came to the conclusion that “her efforts have not sufficiently reduced her risk for future dangerousness.” According to Newsom, she still lacks sufficient understanding of her “triggers for antisocial thinking and conduct” during unfavorable relationships or what led her to perpetrate the killings. “Beyond the brutal murders she committed, she played a leadership role in the cult, and an enforcer of Mr. Manson’s tyranny. She forced the other women in the cult to obey Mr. Manson, and prevented them from escaping when they tried to leave,” he said.

Anthony DiMaria, the nephew of one of Krenwinkel's victims, Jay Sebring, had pleaded with Newsom to prevent Krenwinkel's release “due to the rare, severe, egregious nature of her crimes.” The Helter Skelter legacy, which left behind irreparable historical scars, was sparked by her deeds, he claimed, and at least two ritual executions were carried out as a result years later. The parole panel had to take into account that Krenwinkel committed the killings when she was a young woman and is now elderly because of new rules that have been passed after she was last denied release in 2017. In accordance with District Attorney George Gascón's policy, prosecutors should not be engaged in decisions regarding whether prisoners are ready for release, it was also the first time that Los Angeles County prosecutors were not present at the parole hearing to raise objections. She and the other participants were originally given the death penalty. However, once California's death penalty was briefly deemed unconstitutional in 1972, the defendants were resentenced to life in prison with the chance of parole.

When Krenwinkel first encountered Manson, it was at a party when she was 19 years old and allegedly felt lost and alone. “He seemed a bit bigger than life,” she testified in May, and she started feeling “that somehow his take on the world was the right, was the right one.” She claimed she departed with him in search of a connection with "the new man in my life," who, in contrast to others, told her he loved her and thought she was gorgeous. Manson “had answers that I wanted to hear ... that I might be loved, that I might have the kind of affection that I was looking forward to in my life,” she said according to USA Today.

As a result of her testimony, the parole panel came to the conclusion that Krenwinkel had been the victim of intimate partner battery at the time. She claimed that Manson had instead tortured her and others physically and emotionally while demanding that they have complete faith in him. Abigail Folger, 26, the heiress to a coffee business, was stabbed multiple times at Tate's house on August 9, 1969. Krenwinkel discussed this incident during her parole hearing in 2016 and during her subsequent trial. Debra Tate, the sister of Sharon Tate and the last surviving member of her immediate family, was one of the victims who disagreed with Krenwinkel's assertion that her drinking and unsupportive family during her formative years contributed to her decision to join Manson.

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