Charles Manson, Murderous Cult Leader, Dead at 83, While Serving Life Sentence without Parole in California State Prison in Corcoran

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Charles Manson, a hated cult leader, that committed horribly violent murders terrorizing Los Angeles in 1969, died of natural causes at age 83 at 8:13 p.m. Sunday, November 19, 2017 at Kern County Hospital, according to the California Department of Corrections.

Manson was serving nine life terms in California prisons and was currently incarcerated in California State Prison, Corcoran — an male-only state prison in Corcoran (Kings County between Bakersfield and Fresno). Manson was denied parole 12 times. He and devoted cult followers were connected to violent killings involving ropes, gunshots, and knives with stabbings and slash lacerations. The most notorious brutal killing operation involving perpetrators Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Charles “Tex” Watson began on August 8, 1969 — a pre-wireless phone era. After cutting phone lines to the home of actress Sharon Tate and husband Roman Polanski about midnight on August 9, 1969; the Manson Family members committed five murders at the house without Charles Manson’s presence. The first set of victims were Sharon Tate, who was eight months’ pregnant; a celebrity hairstylist named Jay Sebring (a love interest who once proposed to Sharon Tate); coffee fortune heiress Abigail Folger; writer Wojciech Frykowski; and Steven Parent, a friend of the family’s caretaker.

Now famous movie director Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate married on January 20, 1968. Polanski — almost 10 years later accused of the 1977 sexual abuse and statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl — was out of the country in London at the time of the murders. Polanski remains out of the country — avoiding countries that would be likely to extradite him to the United States. He remains a fugitive of the United States criminal justice system.

On the night of August 10, 1969, the evening following the Tate murders, Supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, were killed at their home. The murders were initially known as the Tate-LaBianca murders, and were later known as the Manson murders. The same four perpetrators of the Tate murders with the addition of Charles Manson, Leslie Van Houten, and Steve “Clem” Grogan were present at the scene of the LaBianca murders.

The word pig was written in victim blood on the front door of the Tate murders and the walls of the LaBianca murders. Healter Skelter (sic) was also written in blood, misspelled from Helter Skelter.

On August 12, 1969, the LAPD told the press that the police department had ruled out any connection between the Tate and LaBianca homicides, and the police didn’t initially reveal the extent of the grisly violence at the crime scenes.

As investigations of the murders were underway, detectives were checking for similar homicides. Manson Family members, including Charles Manson, were arrested in August 1969 and again in October 1969 as suspects in a vehicle theft ring — with no awareness of a connection to the violent murders. Motorcycle members, that Manson tried to enlist as bodyguards, began to provide information to police that suggested a connection of Manson to the Tate-LaBianca murders. While incarcerated, Susan Atkins confessed to dormitory mates about her involvement in the Tate-LaBianca murders, which provided a breakthrough for detectives investigating the homicides. At least one of the dormitory mates notified LAPD of the confession.

LAPD on December 1, 1969, acting on the information from the motorcycle gang members and the dormitory mate, announced warrants for the arrest of Watson, Krenwinkel, and Kasabian in the Tate case; and noted the suspects’ involvement in the LaBianca murders. Manson and Atkins, already in custody, were not mentioned. Police were not yet aware of Van Houten’s connection to the LaBianca murders, although she was also in custody in connection with the vehicle theft cases.

The trial for Manson, only 5’2″ with a skinny build, and three of his followers — Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten — began on June 16, 1970 in Los Angeles. Manson was convicted of first-degree murder for directing the deaths of the Tate LaBianca murder victims on January 25, 1971. Manson was initially sentenced to death, but the death sentence was automatically commuted to a life sentence when the California’s Supreme Court invalidated all death sentences prior to 1972.

Manson was was born Charles Maddox in Cincinnati in 1934 to an unmarried 16-year-old mother. He later acquired 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, and for the next 20 years was in and out of reform schools and prison for various crimes. While in prison, Manson would listen to music on the radio, and became inspired by the Beatles. He wrote songs and performed in prison shows.

He married twice, and at age 32, headed to Berkeley, California in 1967. He established himself as a guru in an era of cultural revolution, free love and anti-war demonstrations. He eventually shared a home with 18 women.

Eventually Manson would believe that the Beatles were speaking to him through the lyrics of their White Album, which was released in late 1968. The Los Angeles County prosecutor would argue that Manson wanted to start a race war, hoping the Black Panthers would be accused of the killings. Helter Skelter, which means “in confused, disorderly haste” was Manson’s mission toward a race war.

Manson and his followers had lived a communal lifestyle, and Manson became increasingly convinced that race riots and the Black Panther movement were signs that Armageddon was coming. By 1968 Manson called it Helter Skelter after the famous Beatles song. The so-called Manson Family made their home near Los Angeles at a dilapidated old movie set known as Spahn’s Ranch.

At the ranch, Manson hosted LSD fueled orgies and gave sermons. His followers were fascinated by Manson, who told followers he was Jesus Christ — and the devil, rolled into one. Manson said he was the dictatorial ruler of the Manson family — the king, the Maharaja — a Sanskrit (Hinduism) title for a “great ruler”, “great king” or “high king”.

Charles Manson told his followers that several of the Beatles’ White Album songs including “Helter Skelter” were a part of the Beatles’ coded prophecy of an apocalyptic war in which racist and non-racist whites would be manipulated into exterminating each other over the treatment of blacks. Manson explained that Blacks would “rise up” and overthrow the white establishment in a race war. Manson and the Manson Family would be spared by hiding out in a “bottomless pit” near Death Valley until he could emerge to assume leadership, as he believed blacks could not lead themselves during the post-revolutionary order. Blood writings and a handprint on the wall, a door and refrigerator at the crime scenes were intended to frame the Black Panther movement.

While living in California, Manson met Gary 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 enraged when he didn’t get any credit for creating the original song.

Dennis 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 Manson. Melcher later moved out of his house at 10050 Cielo Drive in the Beverly Crest neighborhood, just northwest of Beverly Hills, and west-northwest of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains. The “revenge” at the house became the horrible crime scene after Melcher leased the home to Polanski and Tate.

Manson’s notoriety, boosted by popular books and films, made him a perverse cult figure to others that were also fascinated by his dark apocalyptic visions.

In December 1971 Manson was also convicted — along with Robert Kenneth Beausoleil (“Bobby Beausoleil”) and Bruce Davis — in connection with the killing of Gary Hinman (July 1969).

In December 1971 Manson was also convicted — along with Steve “Clem” Grogan and Bruce Davis — in connection with the killing of Spahn Ranch foreman and stuntman Donald “Shorty” Shea in on August 1969.

Bruce Davis was considered Manson’s right-hand man, and remains incarcerated. Steve Grogan — the first of Manson family killers to be set free — was released on parole on November 11, 1985.

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