Dianne Lake, a 64-year-old author was once the youngest member of the Mason Family whose leader, Charles Mason famously inspired a group of followers to murder seven people in 1969.
Mrs. Lake recounts what it was like to spend time with the mass murder for the first time in a new memoir, Member of the Family. In an interview with Good Morning America, she said how she was seduced by Mason –who is still locked up following the murders –at age 14.
In August 1969, Mason ordered four of his followers –Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian, Patricia Krenwinkel and Charles ‘Tex’ Watson – to the Beverly Hills address of movie actress Sharon Tate with the instruction to kill everyone in the house. As a result, a pregnant Tate and four other people were murdered at the property that fateful night.
At the time Dianne Lake testified in court against Mason. When she was asked if she still loved him, she told the court “I guess so.”
Lake had been seduced by the older Mason after she met him Los Angeles while she was a teen. The two became heavily involved and she revealed he even made her feel ‘special’ and ‘loved’ despite she shared him with other girls.
For two years, the then teen in need of love and a family, became loyal to Mason and lived with him and other members of the Mason family.
Dianne Lake was born in the December of 1953. She first met the cult leader in 1967 at a party in Topanga, California. With permission of her parents to live on her own, after they “dropped out” of society –she was free to do what she wanted.
She and Mason embarked in an intimate relationship of which she says “I needed love and affection, and I needed a family. I needed to feel like I belonged somewhere,” “And he perceived that from the get-go.”
However, Lake was not involved in the killings Mason had orchestrated, and despite her feelings she helped send him to jail. In October of 1969, Dianne was arrested with the family in the second Barker Ranch raid. In early 1970, Dianne was admitted to Patton State Hospital, where she was labeled “schizophrenic” due to an emotional trauma and was eventually declared competent to testify at the murder trials.
She faced Mason again at age 17 during her court appearance, at that moment she realized how much of a fraud he was, despite many of the girls kept loyal to him.
Once the trial was over and first-degree murder convictions were returned against Manson, Lake tried to move forward with her life.
She was taken in by Jack Gardiner – an Inyo County officer – and his wife. She not only graduated high school but also attended college and earned a master’s degree in education.
Dianne also married and became the mother of three children. The 64-year-old is now a retired special-education teacher who leaves outside of Los Angeles.
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