If you do not live in a box and if you own a smartphone, television, computer or tablet, have access to any one of those things, or know of someone else who does, you have likely already heard that Charles Manson is dead.
If you are somewhat cultured, you likely know that this
is not Charles Manson. That is Marilyn Manson, a renowned American rock singer whom I sure does not want to be confused with the murderous psychopath (or does he?).
THIS is Charles Manson:
And, if you are like most other people, you are enthralled by the story of the Manson family and always want to know just a little bit more. Hopefully this post won’t disappoint.
Charles Manson is one of the most notorious murderers of the 20th century, and he gained notoriety when, in the 1960s, he and his band of misfits slayed nine innocent individuals. This past Sunday, November 19, he died in a hospital in Kern County, California, at the ripe old age of 83. He spent most of his life behind bars.
Manson was born on November 12, 1934, to a 16-year-old unwed mother in Cincinatti. At the time, being a single mother was equivalent to having leprosy–you just didn’t do it. His mother, Kathleen Maddox, was believed to have been a prostitute and a heavy drinker who resided with a number of men. She named her new bundle of joy “No Name Maddox.” Manson never knew his biological father.
Kathleen went on to marry William Manson, and changed No Name’s name to Charles Milles Manson. However, just because she finally named her young son and settled down with one man doesn’t mean she became Mom of the Year. She was wont to disappear for long periods of time, and when Charles was just 5-years-old, she was sent to prison for robbing a gas station. Young Charles was bounced from relative to relative, living in several different states, including Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky. When Kathleen was paroled three years later, she took Manson back–but only temporarily.
When Charles was 12 years old, he was sent to reform school for the first time. However, he never lasted too long at any one school, as his behavior was condemnable, to say the least. For instance, he was kicked out of one school for holding a fellow student at knifepoint and raping him. When he wasn’t terrorizing other students, he was breaking out of the institutions and stealing, often at gun or knifepoint. He was sent to juvenile detention centers a number of times, and was paroled from the last one at the age of 19, in May 1954.
After that, Manson moved to California, where he took on a number of positions, including parking lot attendant, busboy, car thief, check forgerer and pimp. As he did most of his preteen and teenaged years, Manson spent the better part of his 20s in prison.
Mr. Manson Gets Married
In 1955, at 21 years old, Manson married his first wife, Rosalie Jean Willis. At the time, she was still a teenager who waited tables at a local restaurant. His first marriage didn’t last, and a few years later, he married a young prostitute named Leona. That marriage didn’t last either.
However, just because his marriages were both failures doesn’t mean that he didn’t father any children. He was believed to have fathered two kids over the years: one with one of his wives and another with one of his followers. However, the precise number of children he has, as well as their names and whereabouts, is unknown.
Manson Has Illusions of Grandeur
In March of 1967, when Manson was 32 years old, he was paroled from his latest prison stay. While in prison, he picked up the guitar and hoped to make it big as a singer-songwriter. According to some, his voice was like that of Frankie Laine’s, a crooner from the 1940s. Manson’s lyrics were all about sex and death, which, in the 1960s, was not anything unusual. He didn’t make it as a rock-star, but that didn’t stop him from gaining followers.
After being paroled from prison, Manson moved to San Francisco, where he espoused a philosophy that was a mix of Scientology, hippie anti-authoritarianism, Beatles lyrics, the Book of Revelation and the writings of Hitler. He attracted a number of rootless followers, many of whom would remain loyal to him for the rest of their lives and who would make up what would become known as the Manson Family.
The Manson Family left San Francisco for Los Angeles, where they stayed for a while with the drummer of the Beach Boys. Manson was hoping his connection with Dennis Wilson would help him land a recording contract, but he had no such luck–though it is believed that the Beach Boys’ song “Never Learn Not to Love” was stolen from Manson, who wrote one that was eerily similar titled “Cease to Exist.”
Once Manson realized that a singing career was not in the cards for him, he picked up and moved his band of followers first to an abandoned town that was once used as a film set called Spahn Movie Ranch, and finally to Death Valley, where they made Barker Ranch their official home. Apparently, Mr. Manson believed that the desert-dwelling would protect him and his family from the clash of the races that he believed was inevitable. He called the impending war “Helter Skelter,” after the Beatle’s song.
Helter Skelter Begins
Apparently, Mr. Manson didn’t want to wait for Helter Skelter to begin, so he decided to help it along. On the night of August 8, 1969, Manson ordered four of his most loyal subjects–Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkle, Charles Watson and Linda Kasabia–to the home of Sharon Tate, an actress who was married to the film director Roman Polanski. Sharon was eight and a half months pregnant at the time. Shortly after midnight on August 9, the crew of miscreants entered Tate’s home and slaughtered Ms. Tate and four others in the house–“slaughtered,” in this case, meaning shooting, stabbing, beating and hanging their victims. Before leaving, Atkins wrote the word “Pig” in blood on the front door, which supposedly was Manson’s way of making the killings look like the work of black militants.
The next night, August 10, Manson and six of his family members picked an L.A. home at random and broke in. The residents were a wealthy grocer named Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary. Manson tied the two innocent people up and then left, leaving them to be stabbed to death by his subjects. Again, someone scrawled the phrases “Death to Pigs” and “Helter Skelter” in blood on the property.
The murders remained unsolved for several months, until Atkins, in prison on an unrelated murder charge, began to brag about the killings. Manson and a few others were arrested, and on June 15, 1970, he and four of his family members, including Atkins, went on trial for the murder of seven individuals, including Tate and the LaBiancas.
Manson Goes to Prison
Despite the evidence against them–which included testimony from one family member–and despiteManson’s antics during the trial, which consisted of him lunging at the judge with a pencil, punching his lawyer in court and carving an “X” on his forehead (which he later carved into a swastika)–the jury deliberated for NINE DAYS as to the fate of the Manson Family.
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Finally though, on Jan. 25, 1971, the jury found Mr. Manson, Ms. Atkins and one other family member guilty of seven counts of murder each. One member was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder. All four defendants got the death sentence. However, because the death penalty was outlawed for a brief period in California in the 70s, each defendants’ charge was reduced to life in prison.
When Manson was in prison, it was discovered that he and his family played a role in the death of two other innocent people: Gary Hinman and Donald Shae, bringing their murder convictions up to nine apiece. Though Manson would attempt parole 12 different times, he remained in prison until his death.
Mr. Manson denied having ordered the Tate-LaBianca murders until the end of his life. However, despite his denial, he never felt any remorse for the murders. He let the world know as much in a 1986 interview with the television journalist Charlie Rose.
“So you didn’t care?” Mr. Rose asked, invoking Ms. Tate and her unborn child.
“Care?” Mr. Manson replied. “What the hell does that mean, ‘care’?”
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