Speaking to ABC News just days after Van Houten’s release to a “transitional living facility” after 53 years in prison, Debra Tate said, “Is she a nice girl? No. Is she an animal? I think she was then, and I fear that she still is.”
On Tuesday, Van Houten, 72, was granted parole after five failed attempts at parole since 2016; each time, the acting California governor overturned the parole board’s recommendation for her release, but current Governor Gavin Newsom announced earlier in the month that he would not contest the board’s decision this time around.
“The Governor is disappointed by the Court of Appeal’s decision to release Ms. Van Houten but will not pursue further action as efforts to further appeal are unlikely to succeed,” a spokesperson for the governor said in a statement.
While Van Houten was not involved in the murder of Sharon Tate and four others at the actress’ home — she was convicted in the 1969 murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, admitting in court that she, then 19 years old, stabbed the latter 14 to 16 times — Debra Tate told ABC News that her involvement with the Manson Family should have disqualified her from release.
“We’re talking about one of the most murderous cults in America. Is it worth giving that a free pass?” Debra Tate, who has reportedly attended the parole hearings of all the Manson Family members, said. “There are a lot of people that I would give a free pass, but these people are not amongst them.”
Debra Tate added, “I prayed until I was gritting my teeth that in every kiss or every smile or every pleasurable action that [Van Houten] might have during freedom, she gets a flashback of the screams, the grunts, the blood.”
Cory LaBianca, the daughter of Van Houten’s victims, said in a statement to ABC News, “[Van Houten’s] release may be considered legal, but to me and my family, it is ethically and morally wrong.”