Charles MAnson

From Manson to Murder: Youngest Manson Cult Member Pens Memoir

At age fourteen she became one of Charles Manson’s girls. At seventeen she helped put him in prison. Here is her story. 


This is what Dianne Lake proclaims on the front of her recently released memoir, Member of The Family. Lake’s name may not be as famous as her fellow acquaintance, cult leader Charles Manson, but her story is just as disturbing.


The front was going to collapse under the weight of my former life and the shame I’d concealed for years. Now I would have to tell my children what really happened during those two treacherous years in California. – D.L., The Newsweek


Lake spent two years in Manson’s control, allegedly enduring “manipulation, psychological control, and physical abuse as the harsh realities and looming darkness of Charles Manson’s true nature revealed itself,” according to the synopsis of her memoir. 


Manson was a charismatic cult leader who persuades tons of women to commit violent and bizarre acts in order to start a race war, which he termed “Helter Skelter.” Though Manson is often referred to as a serial killer, he himself never committed murder. He did, however, persuade his followers to murder seven innocent victims including famed Hollywood actress Sharon Tate who was eight months pregnant at the time of her death in 1969.


In 1971 Manson was found guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder and handed down the death penalty (though later reduced to life imprisonment). He is still in prison today. Lake, however, is seeking to escape her emotional imprisonment through her memoir.


dianne lake

Image Via People/Harper Collins


As every tale goes, Lake was initially unsuspecting of Manson’s true nature. She became a fan of Manson upon hearing about him and said that meeting him for the first time felt like “magic.” Yet during her two year journey with the cult leader her standpoint began to change. 


Charlie had this ability to make sense out of nonsense…He was a chameleon, and he could find people’s weaknesses that way. He preyed on them, and he wanted to teach us how to do it too. – D.L. The Newsweek


Lake did not participate in the heinous murders carried out by fellow cult members on Manson’s request and at only the age of seventeen became a key witness for the prosecution in Mason’s trial.  Her testimony undoubtedly helped convict him.


I was worried that he would still have a hold on me by looking at me. I was afraid that the memories of my being in love with him would draw me back in, but the spell was broken. – D.L., Cosmo


Though Lake avoided any prosecution, and went on to escape the Manson cult and return to civil society, she has been haunted by Manson and her time with him until now.


Tracing the history of her upbring living in communes with her parents, to her drive towards Manson, to falling under (and out of) his spell, to her rescue and life after the Manson cult, Lake tells it all. And she has a lot to say.   


Member of The Family is available to buy now and you can find it here.


Featured image courtesy of the Los Angeles Times