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What “Manson girl” new interview means to us

"Katie" in 1969 and "Krenny" in 2014.
"Katie" in 1969 and "Krenny" in 2014.

Crimes define us as a society. Some mark timelines like ugly notches. For example, people can tell you where they were when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, when the Murrah Building was bombed, and how they watched the Twin Towers fall. Others will tell you how they watched O.J. Simpson flee in the white Bronco. There are still folks who can tell you where they were on in early August 1969 when they heard the news of actress Sharon Tate and her friends being found murdered.

They called it the end of the hippy era, the love and peace era, and a first - time look into the seedy world of drugs, cults, and thrill kill. Charles Manson and his group of ragtag followers viciously murdered a pregnant woman, an innocent bystander, and three of her best friends in the woman’s home. The victims were part of the elite, the rich and beautiful, supposedly safe in their cocoon of money and popularity. Then evil jumped the fence and all hell broke loose.

45 years later, Google the name “Charles Manson” and you get about 3,490,000 results. Search and there are at least twenty pages of books, CD’s, videos, and T-shirts. There are too many webpages to count devoted to Manson and his followers. People who were not even born before or near 1969 are interested. Each time an event occurs with the previous followers, and Manson himself, it makes the news. Recently, a chapter to the story was added.

Patricia Krenwinkel has given her first on - camera interview in 20 years for a documentary called “My Life After Manson.” In the video, she explains how Manson took advantage of her, a lost girl who was seeking refuge, an answer of some sort.

Those who read the books, see the films, or, out of interest immerse themselves in learning everything possible about the crimes will argue: Does Krenwinkel deserve parole? The girl who was called “Katie” and now goes by “Krenny” has never had a disciplinary issue behind bars. She has received a Bachelor’s Degree, volunteers with programs and assists other inmates, fights forrest fires as a member of the prison Forestry Department, and is respected among her peers. "Krenny" is the longest - serving woman in the California prison system. Her next parole date is 2018. She has been denied parole fourteen times.

On the flip side of the criminal coin, “Katie” stabbed Abigail Folger so many times the coffee heiress’s wounds could not be counted correctly. She assisted in corralling Sharon Tate, Wojciech Frykowski, and Jay Sebring together; these people were stabbed, shot, and bludgeoned to death. According to one of the killers, Sharon’s last words were cries for her mother. The next night, “Katie” and her cohorts went into the home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. “Katie” stabbed Rosemary to death and someone wrote words in blood and carved Leo’s flesh. All of the victims have families and friends who love and cherish them. There are still unsolved crimes probably linked to the Manson group, but none that made such headlines or involved such gore.

Should “Krenny” be held responsible for what “Katie” did so many years ago? Her coming forth on camera brings this issue to us as a society, and reminds us crime is always there, that no one is immune. It also reminds us how crime in history shapes us, our role in “the big picture.” Sometimes our role is the person switching on the news to watch the horrific footage. Others, we are lost children who seek answers and find them in people like Manson.

Judith A. Yates lectures on crime prevention & personal safety. See more HERE
Photo of J.A. Yates credit HERE

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