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Patricia Dianne Krenwinkel

Patricia Krenwinkel after her arrest in 1969
Born December 3, 1947 (1947-12-03) (age 62)
Los Angeles, California
Known for Tate-LaBianca murders

Patricia Dianne Krenwinkel (born December 3, 1947) is an American convicted murderer and a former member of Charles Manson's murderous commune, known as "The Family". During her time with Manson's group, she was known by various aliases such as "Big Patty", "Yellow", and "Mary Ann Scott", but to The Family she was most commonly known as "Katie". Following the death of fellow Manson gang member Susan Atkins she is now the longest-incarcerated female inmate in the California penal system.[1]


Early life

Krenwinkel was born in Los Angeles, California to an insurance salesman father and a homemaker mother. She attended University High School and then Westchester High School, both in the Los Angeles area. She was often bullied at school by other students, she suffered from low self-esteem and was frequently teased for being overweight and for an excessive growth of body hair caused by an endocrine condition.

After her parents divorced when she was 17, Krenwinkel remained in Los Angeles with her father until she graduated from Westchester High School. For a time she taught Catechism, a type of Roman Catholic religious instruction, and considered becoming a nun. She decided to attend the Jesuit college, Spring Hill College, in Mobile, Alabama. Within one semester, however, she dropped out and moved back to California. Moving into her step-sister's apartment in Manhattan Beach, she found an office job as a processing clerk.

Early years of "The Family"

She met Charles Manson on Manhattan Beach in 1967, along with Lynette Fromme and Mary Brunner, who were already known as "Charlie's Girls". In later interviews, Krenwinkel stated that she had slept with Manson the first night they met, and that he was the first person who had told her she was beautiful. Mesmerized by Manson's charisma and starved for attention, she decided to go to San Francisco with him and the other two girls, leaving behind her apartment, car, and last paycheck.

As the Manson Family grew, Katie (as Krenwinkel was now known) and the others were now on a drug-and-sex-filled 18-month tour of the American west in an old school bus, would later recount an idealized version of The Family's early days: "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". In the summer of 1968, Krenwinkel and fellow Family-member Ella Bailey were hitchhiking around Los Angeles when Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson picked them up. After being invited to his home while he continued on to a recording session, Krenwinkel and Bailey were able to contact the Family and tell them of their new "crash pad". When Wilson returned later that evening, he found Manson and the rest of the Family eating his food, sleeping in his bedrooms, and partying inside and outside his home. After causing Wilson financial problems, Manson and the rest of the Family left his mansion behind.

After the hippie movement started to end in 1969, Krenwinkel and the Family decided to live in isolation from the rest of society. After convincing the blind and elderly George Spahn to allow them to live on his property, they all converged on Spahn's Ranch in the hills above the San Fernando Valley. While placing herself as a surrogate mother to the Family's several illegitimate children and babies, Krenwinkel was seen as an intense and devoted follower to Charles Manson

Tate-LaBianca murders

Krenwinkel was a participant in the infamous murders on August 9, 1969 at 10050 Cielo Drive, home of actress Sharon Tate and director Roman Polanski. After fellow Family member Charles "Tex" Watson shot and killed teenager Steven Parent in his car in the driveway of the estate, the group of three (Watson, Susan Atkins, and Krenwinkel) entered the house - surprising all inside. When mayhem ensued, Krenwinkel dragged coffee heiress Abigail Folger from her bedroom to the living room, fought with her, and stabbed her. When Folger tried to escape, Krenwinkel was said to have chased Folger as she ran outside screaming following the first round of stabbing. According to Krenwinkel, after she pinned Folger to the ground and further stabbed her, the victim pleaded with her to stop by saying, "I'm already dead." Krenwinkel continued to stab her so brutally that Folger's white nightgown is reported to have appeared red to police investigators the following day. While she was stabbing her, she also called to Watson, who also stabbed Folger. During her trial, Krenwinkel was quoted as saying, "I stabbed her and I kept stabbing her." She was also asked how it felt, to which she replied, "Nothing, I mean, what is there to describe? It was just there, and it was right."

With Manson's orders to do so, the following night found Krenwinkel a willing participant in more killing. Along with Krenwinkel and Manson, Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Steve Grogan, Leslie Van Houten, and Linda Kasabian went to the home of Southern California grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles. After Manson and Watson tied up the couple, Manson left, giving orders to Van Houten and Krenwinkel to join Watson and kill the LaBiancas. Leaving Manson, Atkins, Grogan and Kasabian in the car outside, the trio proceeded to torture and kill the couple. Mrs. LaBianca, who was being held in the master bedroom, could hear the screams and struggling of her husband, who was being held in the living room, as Watson began stabbing him. She began to struggle. Once again wielding a knife, Krenwinkel attempted to stab Mrs. LaBianca while Van Houten held her down. However, her weapon was a dull kitchen knife and she was unable to actually stab the struggling woman. She and Van Houten called to Watson, who came into the master bedroom and stabbed her with a sword-bayonet the group had brought with them. They also then repeatedly stabbed her.

According to Watson's book, Will You Die for Me?, he carved the word "WAR" on the abdomen of the dead Leno LaBianca, although the act is sometimes attributed to Krenwinkel. Watson further claims that while he was washing off the LaBianca's blood in their own shower, Krenwinkel repeatedly stabbed the dead Leno LaBianca and left a carving fork embedded in his abdomen and a small steak knife protruding from his neck. In an interview, Krenwinkel admitted to stabbing Mr. LaBianca with the fork and leaving it in his abdomen. Both utensils were taken from the LaBiancas' kitchen. Krenwinkel then wrote "DEATH TO PIGS" in blood on the wall, and "HeaLter SkeLTter" [sic] on the refrigerator. When later questioned, Krenwinkel claimed that the only thing going through her mind at the time was that "now he won't be sending any of his children off to war." Before hitchhiking back to Spahn, the trio stayed a while in the LaBianca home - eating food, showering, and playing with the LaBiancas' two dogs. Meanwhile, Manson, Atkins, Kasabian, and Grogan drove around Los Angeles looking for someone else to kill, to no avail.


While the Los Angeles police were busy investigating any leads they could find, back at Spahn Ranch rumors of the involvement of Katie and the others in the now-famous murders began to circulate. Due to an unrelated investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, parts of stolen cars were spotted in and around the ranch by helicopter. One week after the murders on August 16, 1969, Krenwinkel, Manson and other Family members present were rounded up by police and arrested on suspicion of auto theft. Because of a date error, the search warrant was later ruled invalid and the group was released. Following this incident, the Family started to lose members one by one, due to the raid, the possible involvement of the Family in the Tate-LaBianca murders and the newly-rumored murder of Spahn Ranch hand Donald "Shorty" Shea.

Because of the August 16th raid, Manson decided to move his "Family" to another ranch, this time near Death Valley. Barker Ranch now became home for the Family, including Krenwinkel. During their stay from August through October, the group spent their time converting cars they had stolen into dune-buggies, but it didn't take long for law enforcement to catch up with Manson and his followers. On October 10, 1969, the group was once again arrested. This time, Krenwinkel's father bailed her out of jail, but she immediately returned to Barker Ranch. Upon her return, Manson (who was not present at the October 10 raid), ordered her to go to Alabama and live with her mother until he sent word for her to come home. The orders to return never came, however, because of Manson's subsequent arrest on October 12 at Barker Ranch.

Meanwhile, still in jail, Susan Atkins began to tell all about their involvement in the Tate-LaBianca murders to cellmate Veronica "Ronnie" Howard. Because of Atkins' confessions and Howard's disclosure, Krenwinkel was arrested near her aunt's home in Mobile, Alabama, on December 1, 1969. The following day, Krenwinkel was indicted for seven counts of first-degree murder and one count conspiracy to commit murder. After her Alabama arrest, Krenwinkel claimed that she had gone to Alabama because she feared Manson would find her and kill her, hence her attempt to fight extradition to California. Finally in February 1970, she waived extradition proceedings and voluntarily returned to California to stand trial with defendants Manson, Van Houten, and Atkins. Watson was tried separately at a later date after unsuccessfully fighting extradition from his home state of Texas.


Krenwinkel's trial attorney, Paul Fitzgerald, suggested that although her fingerprints were found inside the Tate home, she might just have been "an invited guest or friend." Seemingly unfazed by the possibility of a guilty verdict, Krenwinkel reportedly spent much of the trial drawing doodles of devils and other satanic figures. All during the trial, she remained loyal to Manson and the Family. Demonstration of this unity included walking hand-in-hand with the other two female defendants singing songs written by Manson, as well as shaving their heads and carving an "X" in their foreheads, just as Manson was doing.

At the end of the nine-month trial, Krenwinkel was convicted of all counts and then sentenced to death on March 29, 1971. She and the other two women were transferred from Los Angeles to a brand new death-row facility built especially for them at the California Institution for Women (CIW) near Corona, California. [2]

Prison life

The death sentence given to Krenwinkel (as well as Manson, Watson, Atkins, and Van Houten) was automatically commuted to life in prison after the California Supreme Court's People v. Anderson decision resulted in the invalidation of all death sentences imposed in California prior to 1972. At the beginning of her new life in prison, Krenwinkel remained loyal to Manson and the Family, but in time began to break away from them. In distancing herself from Manson, she has maintained a perfect prison record, and received a Bachelor's degree in Human Services from the University of La Verne. She is active with prison programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous and along with these involvements, she has also taught illiterate prisoners how to read. Reportedly, Krenwinkel writes both poetry and music, plays the guitar, plays on a prison volleyball team and gives dance lessons. She also participates in a service-dog training program.[3]

Krenwinkel remains incarcerated; now at the California Institution for Women in Chino, California. In an interview conducted by Diane Sawyer in 1994, Krenwinkel stated: "I wake up every day knowing that I'm a destroyer of the most precious thing, which is life; and I do that because that's what I deserve, is to wake up every morning and know that." During a 2004 parole hearing, when asked who she would place at the top of the list of people she has harmed, Krenwinkel responded, "Myself." She was denied parole following that hearing because, according to the panel, Krenwinkel still posed an "unacceptable risk to public safety."

In total, Krenwinkel has been denied parole 11 times, with her last hearing in 2008.


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