- A Charismatic man with a talent for turning middle-class youngsters into mass murderers.
- Directed his followers to commit the “Tete-La Bianca” murders in 1969
- Spent over 50 years in jail
Charles Manson, mass murderer and cult leader in the 1960s known as the Manson family has died of natural causes on Sunday night, according to a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections.
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The cult leader Manson was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 1971 for directing his followers to commit the murder of seven people called the “Tate-La Bianca” murders in the summer of 1969 but was spared when California abolished the death penalty following a supreme court ruling in 1972.
The killings occurred on successive August nights and terrorized the city of Los Angeles.
Fear swept the city after a maid reporting for work ran screaming from the home where Tate lived with her husband, “Rosemary’s Baby” director Roman Polanski. Scattered around the estate were blood-soaked bodies. The beautiful 26-year-old actress, who was 8½ months pregnant, was stabbed and hung from a rafter in her living room.
Also killed were Abigail Folger, heiress to a coffee fortune; Polish film director Voityck Frykowksi; Steven Parent, a friend of the estate’s caretaker; and celebrity hairdresser Jay Sebring, killed by Manson follower Charles “Tex” Watson,
Tex was said to have announced his arrival by saying: “I am the devil, and I’m here to do the devil’s work.” The next night, wealthy grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, were stabbed to death in their home in another neighborhood. Manson was arrested three months later.
Even with the number of evidence against him, he refused to accept that he was guilty during his trial. His chaotic trial in 1970, according to zerohedge, transformed a courtroom into a theater of the absurd. He and three female followers, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten, sang and chanted, and Manson at one point launched himself across the counsel table at the judge. Many of his followers camped outside the courthouse, threatening to immolate themselves if he was convicted. When Manson carved a “X″ in his forehead, his co-defendants did the same, saying they were “Xed out of society.” He later changed his “X″ to a swastika. Despite the overwhelming evidence, he maintained his innocence. “I have killed no one, and I have ordered no one to be killed,” Manson said.
According to John Peck, a member of the parole panel, Manson was quoted as saying to one of his prison psychologists that “I’m special. I’m not like the average inmate. I have spent my life in prison. I have put five people in the grave. I am a very dangerous man.”
The hippie cult leader who died after nearly half a century behind bars orchestrated the slayings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six other people, butchered at two homes on successive August nights by intruders who scrawled “Pigs” and “Helter Skelter” in the victims’ blood.
Media reports say that Manson was a charismatic man with a talent for turning middle-class youngsters into mass murderers. He was quoted as soliloquizing in the courtroom that, “These children that come at you with knives, they are your children. You taught them; I didn’t teach them. I just tried to help them stand up.”
The rationale for Manson’ murder spree has been discussed in the past 48 years with the belief that most explanation is that he believed that the lyrics in the Beatles’ White Album, notably the song “Helter Skelter”, were directing him to start a race war in America.
Helter Skelter is also the name of the best-selling book about the Manson family murders written by his prosecutor, Vincent Bugliosi. An alternative explanation is that he was angry with society when, unlike the Beatles, he was denied a recording contract. Manson’s background was undoubtedly a contributing factor.
The Associated Press wrote of his background. Manson’s childhood was a blueprint for a life of crime. He was born in Cincinnati on Nov. 12, 1934, to a teenager, possibly a prostitute. When he was 5, his mother went to prison for armed robbery. By the time he was 8, he was in reform school. He spent years in and out of penal institutions. “My father is the jailhouse. My father is your system,” he said in a monologue on the witness stand. “I am only what you made me. I am only a reflection of you.”
The New York Times summed Manson up in 1970 as; “Throughout the decades since, Mr. Manson has remained an enigma. Was he a paranoid schizophrenic, as some observers have suggested? Was he a sociopath, devoid of human feeling? Was he a charismatic guru, as his followers once believed and his fans seemingly still do? Or was he simply flotsam or a man whose life stands as a monument to parental neglect and the failure of the public correctional system.”
It is believed that even though he is dead, the fascination with Charles Manson and the “Tate-La Bianca” killings is not going to diminish anytime soon because people still want an answer to the question “why?”.