Trapped in drab institutional waiting rooms, they realized they were the same age and shared similar middle-class upbringings. Both were divorced mothers who raised daughters on their own. In 2006, when Manson associate Bruce Davis was up for parole for another murder Manson had orchestrated, the two had time to talk.
"I discovered that I really like Barbara," said Tate, who now works for victims' rights through her website www.sharontate.net. "She is a good person. She has a good soul and a good spirit and she has come through for us when it was very iffy whether these core members were going to get out."
As the friendship developed, Tate realized that Barbara has suffered from the murders as much as she had. "She flew under such a horrible social stigma for so long," Tate said. "For Barbara to have suffered the same stigma as those other sociopaths, well it just wasn't right."
Hoyt didn't appear Wednesday for the 77-year-old Manson's 12th and probably final parole hearing because she knew the prospects were virtually nil that the state would release such a notorious killer.
That left Tate alone to listen anew to the gory details of her sister's death, her hands tightly clasped, her lips pursed and her foot tapping.
They will be together again in June when Davis comes back up for a hearing at the California Men's Colony near San Luis Obispo. The parole board found him suitable for release in 2010, but then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger overruled the decision.
"We have been involved in this case since we were teenagers," Tate said. "Even if we could let go, the world would never let it go."
Both are adamant they will maintain the fight to keep all of them behind bars. Even though it is unlikely Manson's core group will ever be let go, they hope their resolve inspires other victims of crime.
"Both of us have been attacked by websites, viciously attacked over many, many years," Hoyt said. "I'd like to be an example to anyone who is ever a witness to a crime to come forward and be brave. Evil can be stopped, but it's up to us as people to do it."
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