Dianne Lake was the youngest member of the infamous Manson family, and even though it’s been over 50 years since the then-14-year-old was wrapped up in Charles Manson’s cult, she still remembers the first time she met Manson as if it were yesterday.
Lake described to People how Manson’s incredible smarts and wits allowed him to gaze into the emotions of his followers and exploit them for his own murderous agenda. “He was extremely intelligent. He had the incredible ability to pick up on other people’s weaknesses and their needs and their desires, and he could fulfill those.”
A new book written by Lake titled Member of the Family was released on Oct. 24, 2017 and it describes Diane’s time spent with the Manson family in great deal, including how Charles Manson managed to seduce her, along with how she managed to pry away from his grasp and aid police officials in arresting him.
It was 1967 and Dianne was only 14 years old when her parents emancipated her and decided to “drop out” of society. A few months after her emancipation, she met Charles while attending a party in Topanga, California.
“I needed love and affection, and I needed a family. I needed to feel like I belonged somewhere,” Dianne said. “And he perceived that from the get-go.”
Lake recalled how Manson grew more and more violent and paranoid over the two years that she was a part of his posse, but she still remained trusting and loyal towards him. Lake, however, was not involved in the two-day killing spree that consisted of Manson and some of his “family” members killing seven people: Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, Steven Parent, Jay Sebring, and Sharon Tate.
Dianne Lake was institutionalized at the age of 17 following Manson’s seduction, and she didn’t see him again until she was called to testify against him and some of his followers (such as Susan Atkins and Leslie Van Houten) in court.
“He just looked crazy, but I was able to look at him,” Lake said as she recalled the hearing. “I had been pretty deprogrammed at this point, so I felt pretty safe.”
Even though she realized what Manson had done was disturbing and wrong, many of his “girls” still followed him and didn’t give up on him. Lake said, “The girls with the X’s on their foreheads? That part always blew me away. They continued to hang on, be groupies.”
Since Charles Manson’s arrest, Dianne has been able to move on with her life and now has a husband and three children. She hopes that her book Member of the Family will help curious minds delve deeper into what it was like to be a part of the Manson family.
“It’s an interesting story, but it’s also a cautionary tale,” she said. “I hope that my story sheds a little light on to this very dark time.”