Dianne Lake, a former member of Charles Manson’s family, is speaking out for the first time in 47 years about the gruesome murders that took place on the night of August 9, 1969.
At the age of 14 she encountered Manson in Topanga, California, and over the course of the next two years, she fell under his spell. In Member of a Family, to be released October 24the and exclusively excerpted to PEOPLE, Lake recalls her time with Manson and how he took her under his wing and the insanity that would eventually ensue and grip the nation.
“You have the [Beatles’] White Album, throw in a little acid and drugs and a little Scientology and the Bible and stir it all up with a madman being the dance master,” Lake spoke of the cult and the perfect storm that Manson had created.
While she wasn’t present for the murders that took the lives of seven people, then 16-year-old Lake, the youngest member of Manson’s family, did receive first-hand accounts of it from family members Susan Atkins, Paticia Krenwinkel, and Leslie Van Houten. “I was shocked. I was horrified,” she said upon learning of the slayings.
The murder spree marked a shift in life at Barker Ranch, where the group kept quiet until Manson was eventually linked to the murders. “It just went crazy. It escalated into horrible chaos, and I’m so glad I was not a part of it.”
After being institutionalized for a year, Lake would later go on to testify against Manson and other members that she had once considered her family.
“I survived and I prevailed during a dark time.”