In the present day, the chilling Manson Family is known for the notorious two-day killing spree that took the lives of several innocent people and haunted the Hollywood Hills back in the 1960s. However, while Charles Manson and those close to him were orchestrators of violence, not every member of the psychedelic doomsday cult was a killer.

After Manson and his goons were charged with murder and placed in prison, the innocent members who clung to his cult for security (and those who had abandoned the unsettling environment) were forced to face the music about their terrorizing leader.

Now, many of the surviving members of the Manson Family are able to look back and recall some of the stunning details of their lives on Spahn Ranch, the gruesome components of the devastating murders, and horrifying traits of the Manson Family’s founding father, Charles Manson.

Dianne Lake: Manson’s former lover

When Dianne Lake was merely 14 years old, she became one of the lovers of 32-year-old Charles Manson. She joined the Manson Family cult and stayed with Manson for a stunning two years until he committed his savage murders in 1969.

She eventually became a key witness in the trials against Manson and the other star-striking murderers. Although Lake wasn’t in on any of the murders, particularly the media sensation of the slayings of Sharron Tate and her colleagues, she is able to shed some light on what made Charles Manson so easy to follow. In her eyes, the Manson she knew was fun, goofy, childish, and bright. His joyful personality made it easy for him to seduce her young, hippie self into his deadly cult.

After all, Lake was looking for some guidance: she was emancipated from her parents, eagerly participating in group sex, bingeing on LSD, and was thrilled to receive attention from the handsome, charismatic, charming Charles Manson.

At first, living on his ranch was a dream. “Charlie made me feel very special and meeting him and his girls was like magic,” Lake said. “This is how people are drawn into communities like the family. Charlie was offering me far more than just sex. He told me I should forget my parents and give up my inhibitions. He made it clear that he wanted me to be part of the group – his group. I felt as if there was no turning back.”

However, Manson’s peaceful personality soon turned violent as he spoke of revolution and war, teaching many of his followers, including his Manson Girls, how to stab people with knives. Lake wasn’t present for the murders that made the Manson Family famous, yet the many murders were described to her in striking detail when the vehicle full of killers got back to Spahn Ranch.

Of Patricia Krenwinkel, one of the murderers, Lake said, “I listened to her talk about the blood and how she dragged a woman, Abigail Folger, from her bedroom to the living room. After she had stabbed her the woman got up to run and Patty said she tackled her.

She then stabbed her until she saw the life leave her eyes.” She also recounted the words of Tex Watson, who killed Sharron Tate: “I killed her. Charlie told me to. It was fun.” These chilling admittances froze poor Lake to her core. “They continued to compare notes like teenage girls discussing make-up and the boys they liked at school. I slowed my breathing so that my face would not betray my emotions.”

Linda Kasabian: Driving the getaway car

Linda Kasabian was only four-weeks into her stay at the Manson Family cult’s ranch when she found herself tied up in the horrific murders that Charles had been planning in the previous months. While she was at Sharon Tate’s house the night of the murders (and delivered the killers to Leno and Rosemary LaBianca’s house the following night), she wasn’t one of the members directly participating in the slayings.

Instead, she drove the getaway car that took the murderers away from the scene of the bloody, ferocious crime. Fortunately for Kasabian, she received immunity from her part in the horrendous murders through her testimony against Charles Manson and the rest of the killers in the Tate household. However, she still struggles to forgive herself for how she participated in the crimes, especially after seeing the gruesome aftermath of what occurred.

During the trial, Kasabian shared, “I heard a man scream out, ‘No! No!’ Then I just heard screams. I just heard screams at that point. I don’t have any words to describe how a scream is. I never heard it before… It seemed like forever, infinite.” She also said, “There was a man just coming out of the door and he had blood all over his face and he was standing by a post, and we looked into each other’s eyes for a minute, and I said, ‘Oh, God, I am so sorry. Please make it stop.’ And then he just fell to the ground into the bushes. And then Sadie came running out of the house, and I said, ‘Sadie, please make it stop.’ And then I said, ‘I hear people coming.’ And she said, ‘It is too late.'” To highlight one of the sadder details, Kasabian told the Guardian, “I saw a woman in a white dress and she had blood all over her and she was screaming and she was calling for her mom.”

Kasabian testified that, after the murders, the crew of killers was (ironically) complaining about the injuries that they had sustained during the slayings, indifferent to the crimes that they had committed.

“They complained about their heads, that the people were pulling their hair, and that their heads hurt. And Sadie even came out and said that when she was struggling with a big man, that he hit her in the head. And also Katie complained of her hand, that it hurt.”

While these testimonies are disturbing and spine-chilling, Kasabian may be one of the only people who can fully recount the events of those gruesome nights who didn’t end up behind bars.

Catherine ‘Gypsy’ Share: The inescapable cult

Catherine “Gyspy” Share once put her full faith into Charles Manson, sharing, “I thought he was the closest thing to Jesus.” However, her belief in him quickly waned when she began to see how inescapable and cruel the cult leader truly was.

He had built a masterful web in which he could trap the cult’s participants, and, when some began to try to escape, Share soon found that Manson was more corrupt and twisted than any human she had met before.

Share even spoke up in the defense of Leslie Van Houten, one of the Manson Family murderers, at a court hearing for her parole. She believed that Van Houten, much like herself, felt unsafe to try to leave the Manson Family with fear of violent repercussion.

According to Share, Manson and other members of the cult had threatened to beat and batter Van Houten if she attempted to break away from the family. Although her plea didn’t help Van Houten earn parole, Share continues to speak out about the living victims of the Manson Family murders: those who believed in Charles Manson who are now struggling to find hope and readapt to the real world post-Manson Family murders.

In one article, Share detailed the devastation that Charles brought upon his followers that tore apart the lives of each person who believed in his cause. Share became aware of the power of Manson’s abuse as he sunk his claws deeper into her manipulatable mind.

“Let me tell you,” she said, “I was just short of murdering for him. If he had told me to get some black clothes and get in a car, I would have.” So, why did she stay? “Some people could not leave. I was one of them that could not leave,” she shared. “Manson made a lot of victims besides the ones he killed. He destroyed lives. There are people sitting in prison who wouldn’t be there except for him. He took all of our lives.”

While the deceased victims of those killed in the murder spree lost the most from the Manson Family out of anyone, those who stuck by Manson to survive are still deeply affected by their participation Charles’ criminal cult.