A former paramour of notorious cult leader Charles Manson has spoken out about her time as a member of his infamous "family," saying she thought Manson was "the closest thing to Jesus" and his devotees "listened to everything he said like it was gospel."
Catherine Share, 76, told the Australian TV show "60 Minutes" that she joined Manson at the cult's ranch north of Los Angeles in 1969, months before they carried out a string of notorious murders -- with pregnant actress Sharon Tate among the victims -- that shocked the world and plunged Southern California into fear.
"We would do anything for each other to the point where we die for each other," Share said of Manson's hold over his group of female followers. "It just had to be done. Charlie is always right."
Share had no role in the murders of Tate, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, Stephen Parent, and Leno and Rosemary LaBianca -- for which Manson and four "family" members were convicted and sentenced to death, and maintained she would rather have died than taken part in them.
"I might have been killed," she said. "I would have been willing to be killed rather than do it. It’s just that I was older and more of a human and less susceptible."
However, Share said that all those involved in the killings who are still in prison should be released.
"They’ve just done the work on themselves for years and years and years. They’re just not the same people they were when they were 20 and 18 at all," she said, adding "It's time."
Manson died in 2017 while serving a life sentenced after California invalidated its death penalty statute in 1972. Susan Atkins, who was convicted in the Tate-LaBianca murders along with Manson, died in 2009. Patricia Krenwinkel, Leslie Van Houten (who was convicted of her role in the LaBianca murders) and Charles "Tex" Watson (who was convicted in a separate trial for his role in the Tate-LaBianca murders) have remained in prison.
Earlier this year, the California Board of Parole Hearings recommended for a third time that the 69-year-old Van Houten be granted parole. Former California Gov. Jerry Brown had blocked Van Houten's release on two separate occasions after determining that she had laid too much blame on Manson for her role in the killing. Van Houten is the second-longest incarcerated female inmate in California's prison system, trailing only fellow "family" member Krenwinkel.
California's new governor, Gavin Newsom, is to decide whether Van Houten should be granted parole at the end of a 150-day review process.