Charles Manson, the most notorious and intriguing criminal in American history, died on Sunday, November 19, at the age of 83. Manson had been incarcerated at the California State Prison in Corcoran, California, until January of this year, when his declining health required him to be moved to a hospital in Kern County. His death came as a relief to many, particularly family members of his victims, and citizens of California who won't soon forget the grisly summer of 1969.
Manson was the leader of a cult that went by the name of the Manson Family. The group was comprised of Los Angeles area teenagers who lived an off-the-beaten-path, hippie lifestyle. Manson established a base for their cult at the Spahn Ranch, where the entire group lived communally as of 1968. Manson preached his erratic beliefs about an upcoming race war, and used the term Helter Skelter, from a popular Beatles' song, to summarize his vision of events.
In 1969, he masterminded the killing of actress Sharon Tate, along with four other people. This would not be the first, or last, Manson Family crime, but it was one that would go down in history as the most notorious and senseless crime ever committed.
Charles Manson had a very distorted view of reality, and potentially suffered from mental illness. His actions will forever be remembered, and reviled. As horrible as he was, we can't help but be intrigued about the details that surround his life and crimes. Read on for the 15 Facts You Definitely Didn't Know About Charles Manson
16 He Had A Rocky Childhood
Charles Manson was born to a 16 year-old mother, Kathleen Maddox, and his biological father was never in the picture. It was speculated that his father was Colonel Walter Scott, but a paternity test was never issued. Charles' mother was an alcoholic petty criminal, and tried on several occasions to get rid of her son. In 1939, his mother was incarcerated for robbing a service station, and Charles as placed in the custody of an aunt and uncle. This lasted for five years, until Kathleen was released from prison. He would live with her in various hotel rooms, until she again tried to get him put in foster care. He was placed in the Gibault School for Boys in Terre Haute, Indiana. After 10 months, he ran away and found his mother, who rejected him. Charles was officially on his own and had to find his own path.
15 He Was A Master Manipulator From A Young Age
When Charles was just a young boy, he was already showing signs of being a master manipulator. Fellow schoolmates reported that he would get girls in his class to beat up the boys he didn't like. When the schoolmaster would question him about his actions, he would say "they're the one's who did it, not me.". This exact formula would follow him into the future, and he would use this defense when on trial for the murders associated with the Manson Family. Charles Manson was clearly intelligent in the sense that he knew exactly how to brainwash people into doing things that he wanted them to do, and believing the things that he preached. According to sources, this unhealthy form of leadership remained a habit while he was in prison; he continued to have supporters and followers until the day he died.
14 He Was Married and Divorced Twice
In 1951, Charles Manson had already created a reputation for himself that included petty crime and mischief. He was briefly incarcerated and deemed "dangerous" by a resident psychologist. When he was released, in 1955, he married Rosalie Jean Willis, a waitress. Less than a year later, he would find himself behind bars again, this time, for failing to appear in court while on probation. He left his pregnant wife behind, and spent three years behind bars. Rosalie visited for a year or so, and then found another man to raise her son with. She divorced Charles while he was still in prison. He would marry Leona Stevens, a prostitute, in 1959, while still very much in trouble with the law, and in and out of prison. They allegedly also had a son together, but Leona would divorce him in 1963, before he had a chance to meet the child.
13 He Studied Scientology In Prison
It's hard to understand exactly what was going through Charles Manson's mind at any given point in his life. His beliefs seemed to be a mishmash of various extremist views, some religious and some not. Before he was released from prison in 1967, and shortly before establishing the Manson Family cult, he was actually interested in Scientology. On a prison questionnaire, he wrote "Scientologist" in the field relating to religious preference. This knowledge, mixed with teachings from the Process Church, which had some Satanist principles. In his discussions with his followers, he often claimed that he was Christ, and alleged that he had memories of being crucified. His cockiness and arrogance was a perfect match for the weaker minded and insecure followers, who were quick to support his theories and claims.
12 Bernard Crowe Was The First Victim
Although the mass murder of Sharon Tate and four other innocent people (not to mention, her unborn child) are the most famous Manson Family crime, this was not the first time that the group killed. In the summer of 1969, Charles Manson got into an altercation with a man by the name of Bernard Crowe. Manson tried to rip him off, and Crowe allegedly threatened to kill everyone at Spahn Ranch. Manson took matters into his own hands, and visited Crowe's Hollywood apartment, where he shot him dead, on July, 1, 1969. Manson used this murder as proof that a race war was upon them, and that the black man was trying to come down on the white man. His followers believed this theory, and he was fully supported in his convictions. Starting to get paranoid, Manson turned Spahn Ranch into a defensive zone, with people guarding the site at all hours of the day and night.
11 Gary Hinman Was Next
The next attack would happen on July 25, 1969, only three weeks after the senseless murder of Bernard Crowe. This time, Manson sent three of his followers, Bobby Beausoleil, Mary Brunner and Susan Atkins to the home of Gary Hinman. He was held hostage for two days, at which point Charles Manson arrived and attacked him with a sword. Bobby Beausoleil then stabbed him to death. The accounts varied about their original intentions, but most of the Family members claimed that they went to his home to recover money. Bobby Beausoleil said that he wanted a refund on drugs he had purchased that were bad. Brunner claimed that Manson told her to go and recover an "inheritance" that was owed to him of $21,000. Beausoleil was arrested on August 6, and this would be the beginning of the end of the Manson Family brutality.
10 Sharon Tate's Case Became An International Story
The famous Tate Murders are the most renowned of all of the Manson Family's crimes. On August 8th and 9th, 1969, the horrific murder of five people, including an 8 months pregnant Sharon Tate, rocked the Los Angeles community. The murders took place at the Tate residence, a home that was shared with her husband, director Roman Polanski. He was working on a film in Europe, and heard of the brutal murders when the police confirmed the identities of the victims. Four members of the Manson Family were present and took part in the slayings, Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian and Patricia Krenwinkel. The home once belonged to Terry Melcher, a known enemy to Manson. It has been proven that he was the original target, but this did not protect Sharon Tate and her friends from their horrific fate.
9 They Used A Lot of Symbols In Their Crimes
One recurring theme in the Manson Family murders was their use of symbolism, namely, using their victims' blood to leave cryptic messages on the walls. "PIG" was left on the wall of the Tate home after the brutal killings. The very next night, two other innocent victims were killed in their home. Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were killed based on orders given by Manson, who this time accompanied his followers to make sure they executed the crime to his likings. This time, the messages "DEATH TO PIGS", "RISE", and "HELTER SKELTER" were left on walls of their home, after they were brutally murdered. Further, one of the victims, Leno LaBianca, was found with "WAR" carved into his abdomen. Manson specifically ordered each woman to have some sort of part in the slayings, and oversaw as they stabbed the victims.
8 He Spent 45 Consecutive Years In Prison
Manson was originally sentenced to death on January 25, 1971. His sentence was issued due to his involvement and masterminding of the murders that transpired in 1968 and 1969. Before the state could put him to death, however, capital punishment was abolished in the State of California, thus reducing his sentence to life imprisonment. His life behind bars ended when he died in 2017. During his time in lock-up, he requested parole a total of twelve times. All of his requests were denied, and his final request was made in 2012, 5 years before he died. The greatest reason for the parole board's refusal was linked to his lack of remorse for the crimes committed. Throughout his incarceration, he vehemently denied that he was responsible for any of the deaths, and never apologized to the family members of the victims for his involvement in the brutal crimes.
7 He Had Many Relationships While In Prison
Despite being one of the most reviled human beings on the planet, Charles Manson maintained a cult like fan following throughout his life. This popularity extended to women, as well. Over the years, many women sent him letters and visited him, hoping to enter into a romantic relationship with the famed lunatic. Most recently, a young fanatic claimed that she and Charles were going to marry. "Star" was only 19 years old when she began visiting Charles in prison, and quickly formed an obsessive relationship with him. Many people speculated that she was under his spell, and that he had brainwashed her and was using her, much like he had done to people all of his life. When asked about the marriage plans, Charles denied that they were true. Though, he didn't deny that the relationship was legitimate.
6 He Was A Compulsive Liar
Charles Manson was a bizarre and psychologically unfit person. Throughout his life, he displayed questionable behaviour, and had a dangerous level of control over people. On top of the brainwashing and leadership tactics, Manson was a compulsive liar, whose entire life was a series of made up anecdotes and facts. He lied about everything, from his background to the details surrounding the Tate murders. Some were convinced that he was a genius mastermind, elaborately spinning a web of lies that he was keeping track of. Others believe that he literally did not know the difference between reality and fiction, and that his life was a confused mess of the two. Whatever the truth is, we do know that he had a very skewed concept of reality, and if he was trying to outsmart everyone, he failed miserably.
5 He Held A Grudge Against The Beach Boys
While Charles Manson was trying to establish a music career in California, he wormed his way into Beach Boy Dennis Wilson's entourage. After much wheeling and dealing, Manson convinced Wilson to allow him to record a song, at his brother Brian's home studio. Sadly, no one was all that impressed with Manson's recording, and any previous talk of a record deal were dismissed. Later on, a song that Manson wrote was rewritten and re-arranged. The song, which was released by the Beach Boys, was never credited to Manson. Some say, the song never belonged to him, and the new song was completely different, with only some similarities. Nonetheless, Manson took this betrayal extremely personally and held a long-standing grudge against the Beach Boys.
4 He Wanted To Have A Career In Music
Charles Manson was very involved in music, and enjoyed playing the guitar and singing throughout his life. In the late 60's, a Manson song was actually recorded by the Beach Boys, although they altered the lyrics and composition slightly. His career never took off, which caused him to become very frustrated with certain people that were meant to be helping him gain exposure in the industry. In 1970, while Manson was already in police custody, a collection of his songs, called LIE, came out. Later on, many popular musicians would record their own versions of his songs. Among these artists were Guns N Roses, Marilyn Manson, and shock rocker GG Allin. He released several other records while he was in jail, some of them gaining underground popularity, but nothing ever went mainstream, due to his reputation.
3 He Was Obsessed With The Idea Of A Race War
The completely far-out idea of a race war was somewhat of an obsession for Charles Manson. His followers have spoken out about how all of the murders associated with him were carried out because he hoped they would "spark" the race war. He truly believed that once the war began, he would rise up and become the Messiah. This obsessive and crazy concept was so ingrained in his mind, that he wanted to control the way that the crime scenes looked. He believed that with the right imagery, the race war would begin. When his followers arrived back from the Tate residence and reported on what they had left behind, he wasn't satisfied. He didn't believe that the scene would be gruesome and effective enough, so he went back and personally rearranged bodies and "styled" the scene to his likings.
2 Was He Crazy, Or Not?
One of the ongoing debates, while Manson was locked up, was whether or not he was considered to be mentally unstable. Some psychiatrists believed he was sane, and faking his crazed demeanor for his own entertainment. This theory was supported by some of the members of the Manson Family, who claim that he had told them his plan to "act crazy" in prison. Others agree that he was definitely a psychopathic, mentally unstable man suffering from personality disorder. One thing that most can agree on, he was certainly sociopathic, and lacked empathy for other human beings. There is no way he could've been involved in such brutal slayings if he actually had a sense of moral responsibility or shame. The rest is up for debate, but with him out of the picture, for good, people can finally start to forget this monster ever existed.
1 He Stole Techniques From A Popular Book
When Manson was incarcerated in the early 60's, he read a book that was gaining popularity in the self-help and personal development sphere. Dale Carnegie's How To Win Friends And Influence People is meant to inspire people to take on leadership roles, whether in the workplace, or in their day to day lives. I don't think that the author had intentions of reaching a psychopath and helping him learn brainwashing techniques to have people carry out violent murders. Sadly, Manson took his teachings, mixed them with some of the religious extremist readings he was interested in, and created his own version of leadership. This version would result in the tragic and horrific murder of a total of 8 people. and one unborn baby.
SOURCES: kcur.org, nydailynews.com
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