Charles Manson Dead at 83

CALIFORNIA — Charles Manson, the wild-eyed 1960s cult leader whose followers committed heinous murders that terrorized Los Angeles and shocked the nation, died Sunday of natural causes, according to the California Department of Corrections. He was 83.

The diminutive and charismatic Manson orchestrated a wave of violence in August 1969 that took the lives of seven people, spawned headlines worldwide and landed him and his “Manson Family” of followers in prison for most of the remainder of their lives.

Manson served nine life terms in California prisons and was denied parole 12 times. His notoriety, boosted by popular books and films, made him a cult figure to those fascinated by his dark apocalyptic visions.

“He was the dictatorial ruler of the (Manson) family, the king, the Maharaja. And the members of the family were slavishly obedient to him,” former prosecutor Victor Bugliosi told CNN in 2015.

To the point, they would kill for him.

The brutal killings began on August 9, 1969, at the home of actress Sharon Tate and her husband, famed movie director Roman Polanski. He was out of the country at the time. The first set of victims were Tate, who was eight months’ pregnant; a celebrity hairstylist named Jay Sebring; coffee fortune heiress Abigail Folger; writer Wojciech Frykowski; and Steven Parent, a friend of the family’s caretaker.

The next evening, another set of murders took place. Supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, were killed at their home.

Although Manson ordered the killings, he didn’t participate.

Over the course of two nights, the killers took the lives of seven people, inflicting 169 stab wounds and seven .22-caliber gunshot wounds. Both crime scenes revealed horrifying details. And a few details linked the two crime scenes.

The word pig was written in victim blood on the walls of one home and the front door of another. There was also another phrase apparently scrawled in blood: Helter Skelter (it was misspelled Healter). The reason for the disturbing writings, the prosecutor argued, was because Manson wanted to start a race war and had hoped the Black Panthers would be blamed for the killings.

On June 16, 1970, Manson and three of his followers — Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten — went on trial in Los Angeles.

All of those details came tumbling out in the trial that both mesmerized and horrified the nation. During the trial, Manson and his followers created a circus-like atmosphere in the court with singing, giggling, angry outbursts and even carving X’s in their foreheads.

The charges came after a major break in the case when Atkins, who was already in jail on another charge, bragged to a fellow inmate about the Tate murders. She said they did it “because we wanted to do a crime that would shock the world. …”

Manson was originally sentenced to death but the death penalty was briefly abolished in the state and his concurrent sentences were commuted to life in prison.

He also was convicted in the connection with the killings of Gary Hinman, a musician, and stuntman Donald “Shorty” Shea in 1969.

Early life

Charles Manson was born Charles Maddox in Cincinnati in 1934 to an unmarried 16-year-old mother. He later took his then-stepfather William Manson’s last name.

At age 12, Charles Manson was sent to Gibault School for Boys in Terre Haute, Indiana, for stealing. Over the next 20 years, he was in and out of reform schools and prison for various crimes.

In a 1987 prison interview with CNN, he said, “I spent the best part of my life in boys’ schools, prisons, and reform school because I had nobody.”

After marrying twice and spending half his life in prison, 32-year-old Manson made his way to Berkeley, California, by way of San Francisco in 1967. He established himself as a guru in the summer of love and soon shared a home with 18 women.

By 1968, race riots, the Black Panther movement, and anti-world violence convinced Manson that Armageddon was coming. He called it Helter Skelter after the famous Beatles song.

Charismatic figure

The so-called Manson Family made a dilapidated old movie set called Spahn’s Ranch near Los Angeles their home.

“I was mesmerized by his mind and the things he professed,” Manson Family member Leslie van Houten once said.

At the ranch Manson, who was 5-feet-2, hosted LSD fueled orgies and gave sermons. His followers were in thrall of Manson, who told them he was Jesus Christ — and the devil rolled into one.

“They worshipped Charlie like a god,” former Manson Family member Barbara Hoyt told CNN.

Music a part of his life

While in prison as a young man, Manson would listen to the radio. Inspired by the Beatles, he started writing songs and performing in prison shows.

Manson believed that the Beatles were speaking to him through the lyrics of the White Album, which was released in late 1968. The apocalyptic message, as Manson interpreted it: Blacks would “rise up” and overthrow the white establishment in a race war. Manson and his Family would be spared by hiding out in a “bottomless pit” near Death Valley until he could emerge to assume leadership of the post-revolutionary order.

After moving to California, Manson met Hinman, a music teacher who introduced him to Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys.

Wilson took one of Manson’s songs, “Cease to Exist,” and turned it into the Beach Boys’ “Never Learn Not to Love.” Manson was furious when he didn’t get a songwriting credit.

Wilson had introduced Manson to record producer Terry Melcher, the son of actress Doris Day. After initially showing interest in Manson’s music, Melcher declined to work with him further.

Melcher later moved out of his house, which was then leased to Polanski and Tate.

Cult figure

Manson got people everywhere to pay attention to him.

With their brew of violence, music and anti-establishment youth counterculture, the 1969 murders and ensuing trials established Manson as a perverse cultural icon that endured until his death. Along the way, the mastermind transcended his victims, and the Tate-LaBianca murders became known as the Manson murders.

Laurie Levenson, a professor at Loyola Law School who follows high-profile cases, described Manson in 2009 as the worst of the worst, evil incarnate.

“If you’re going to be evil, you have to be off-the-charts evil, and Charlie Manson was off-the-charts evil,” Levenson told CNN.

Manson’s image can still be found on posters and T-shirts. In 1998, the animated television series “South Park” featured Manson in a Christmas special. There have been books, a play, an opera and television movies about Manson and his followers.

40 comments

  • Supporter of America

    Just think of how mean of a mother***** he must have been to die in prison of natural causes, i.e. old age. How much money was wasted keeping him alive all those years, when a bullet would cost less than a $1?

  • trucker

    He inspired Bernardine Dohrn to shout,”Then they even shoved a fork into the victim’s stomach! Wild!” according to Weather Underground informant Larry Grathwohl. Manson was a hero to that movement.
    Ms Dohrn is the wife of Bill Ayers, a certain Community organizer launched his political career from their home.

  • finger

    This c-punt wanted to be famous. He didn’t deserve royalties or fame for how he helped to tear us down as a whole. Play “Imagine” “Bad Fish” “The Dance” or “Estranged” as a tribute to how beautiful our shared life is in totality. Inferiority complex’s will submit. The truth is that he was a coward that couldn’t commit.

  • finger

    Charlie don’t surf. He was supposedly writing songs with Dennis Wilson who wanted nothing to do with music and could care less about a usual hang on to somebody that didn’t want to be famous anyway. Charlie was a bitch that was laughed at and couldn’t take it. Short story. No need to remember any of the whining sucks that want war when they lack majority approval. Who shot John Lennon? I don’t care. Stop sucking and you’ll be something.

  • Mary K

    Mr Roman Polanski is next ask Samantha Gimer what he did to her at the age of 13 at Jack Nicholsons house.
    Lock him up good job to the Swiss but took 31yr’s.
    Send him home so hollywood could give that dirt bag another award what a joke!

  • Elijah John Zacharias

    Finally! If the US had any courage left they’d execute practitioners of magic like Manson instead of letting taxpayers foot the bill while they live out their lives in prison luxury! Enjoy hell, you damnable bastard!

    • SMDH

      You blame the U.S. in error. It is California that abolished the death penalty, thus allowing this dirtbag to continue breathing all of these years.

    • The Tic Tac Hero

      This is an underappreciated angle in relation to the human condition. I laughed a good bit. It is like that time Guns N’ Roses did that song about a crazy girl written by a crazy man. Nobody got the joke unless they were well read or crazy themselves.

  • Point Dexter

    The insanity of it all. Do you what could have been done with all the money that was spent feeding, housing, guarding and caring for this POS for 60 years?

  • People believe anything

    What a sad day! Hillary Clinton has asked congress to make his day of death another holiday and to fly flags at half staff today!

    • Sheeple Are The Sorest "Winners"

      I know, right? Meanwhile, President Doofus and his wife Caitlyn Jenner do dirties in the night with innocent little boys.

  • In a galaxy far far away

    Just think of how many $millions it cost us to keep him all these years! I’m surprized they couldn’t keep him alive longer with his quality health care you and I can’t afford. They should horsewhip the bleeding heart judges and politicians who abolished the death penalty condeming the taxpayers to pay to keep him all these decades!

  • seen it all

    Sad , That he died of natural causes , When the death penalty was found in his case and when “life” gives parole hearings 12 times , shoulda died 40 years ago by microwave .

    • Writer Girl

      He certainly didn’t come from the best circumstances and should have been treated in a facility when he begged them not to let him out of jail. He knew there was something wrong with him. He had enough charisma to get other people to kill for him. It’s a shame he didn’t use it for better things. A perfect example of a psychopathy case that fell through the cracks and should have gotten the death penalty. Now, he will get his judgement. Rest in peace, Charlie, even if it is in hell, most likely.

  • Get it straight

    Fact: Charles Manson was trying to start a race war.
    Fact: BLM and Antifa are trying to start a race war.

    Question: Why is Charlie always the only one getting called out as a race war provoker?

Comments are closed.