Who is Patricia Krenwinkel?

“I stabbed her and I kept stabbing her.” Those were the chilling words Patricia Krenwinkle offered on the stand following the Tate-LaBianca murders which shook the world back in 1969 — and served as a brutal bookend to the swinging 60s. Krenwinkle took part in both nights of the murder spree, organized by cult leader Charles Manson, that left five dead: Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, Steven Parent, Jay Sebring, and the pregnant Sharon Tate, and the following day, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. 

The Early Life of Patricia Krenwinkel

Krenwinkel grew up in Los Angeles, raised by an insurance salesman and a stay-at-home mom. Despite an apparently ordinary childhood, though, she was unhappy and often bullied over her appearance. When Krenwinkel first met Manson in 1967, she was 20 years old and was easily won over by his infamous charisma. She quickly left home to follow him, along with fellow Family members Lynette Fromme and Mary Brunner, on the road.

Before settling into the Spahn Ranch in Los Angeles 18 months, they traveled the American west in a school bus. “We were just like wood nymphs and wood creatures. We would run through the woods with flowers in our hair, and Charles would have a small flute,” Krenwinkel said at her sentencing, reflecting on the group’s early hippie days.

But it was not long before Krenwinkel, and the other girls, were dependent on drugs and obeying Manson’s every word…

The Manson Family Murders

On the night of August 8, 1969, Manson instructed his disciples to “totally destroy” everyone inside 10050 Cielo Drive. And what happened there is not just Hollywood but national history.

At the time, the actress Sharon Tate was eight months pregnant. And while her husband director Roman Polanski was, she was staying at their home on Cielo D33rive with a few friends: hairstylist Jay Sebring, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, and writer Wojciech Frykowski. But their casual night in was interrupted when Krenwinke, plus fellow Manson followers Susan Atkins and Tex Watson, broke into the house, reeking bloody Helter Skelter havoc.

Everyone on the property, except caretaker William Garretson, was stabbed to death. Folger tried to escape, running from the house but was assailed by Krenwinkel on the front lawn. Tex Watson, finished her off. In the end, Folger was stabbed 28 times.

Although the Family members did as they were told, Manson was unsatisfied and led Krenwinkel, Watson, Atkins, Krenwinkel, as well as Leslie Van Houten and Le Steve “Clem” Grogan out the next night, to kill again. This time at the LaBianca residence, taking two final victims: Rosemary LaBianca and her husband Leno LaBianca.

Krenwinkel was not arrested for the crimes until months later, in December, in Mobile, Alabama. She was then returned to California to stand trial with the other defendants. And throughout the proceedings, she gained even further notoriety, carving Xs into her head with Atkins and Van Houten and showing little to no remorse on the stand.

Possible Parole?

On May 27, 2022, Krenwinkel was recommended for parole today for the first time in her 51-year imprisonment. However, that recommendation must now be reviewed by the state parole board’s legal division before heading to Gov. Gavin Newsom for a final decision — which will likely happen within the next five months.  Currently, she is the longest serving female prisoner in the state of California.

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