Charles Manson

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Charles Manson
Full Name: Charles Milles Manson
Alias: Charles Maddox
Mac Charlie
Chuck Summers
Origin: Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Occupation: Musician (formerly)

Criminal mastermind
Leader of the Manson Family

Skills: High Intelligence


Hobby: Playing music
Goals: Incite a race war (failed)
Never be caught (failed)
Crimes: Mass murder
Cruelty to animals
Armed robbery
Psychological abuse
Domestic abuse
Grand Theft Auto
Hate speech
Type of Villain: Charismatic Cult Leader

I'm nobody. I'm a tramp, a bum, a hobo. I'm a boxcar and a jug of wine, and a straight razor if you get too close to me.
~ Charles Manson

Charles Milles Manson (November 12th, 1934 - November 19th, 2017) is perhaps one of history's most infamous cult-leaders and prolific criminals, and a man who led the twisted society known as The Manson Family to commit a terrible massacre in which the wife of Roman Polanski was murdered along with four others - this crime was especially abhorrent due to the fact at Sharon Tate was eight-months pregnant when she was killed.

Although Manson was a manipulator and most likely did not kill anyone personally, he nevertheless found himself convicted of the murders and spent the rest of his life in jail - originally Charles Manson was to face the death penalty but this was changed to life imprisonment at the last moment. He also cut the ear of one of the Manson Family victims.

Due to his influence over his followers, his apparent lack of remorse and his radical views (which involved a belief in sparking a race-war via terrorism), Manson became an icon of sorts and his very name has become a symbol of evil in the eyes of many. He even had the nerve to insult Ted Bundy by calling him a "mama's boy", and even questioned his manhood.

Manson's radical views on the world became famous in his use of "Helter Skelter" - a phrase he and his followers used to refer to a sinister prophecy he felt was inevitable: that racial tensions would ultimately lead to a war of apocalyptic proportions - this belief would ultimately warp the society into the murderous doomsday cult that they are remembered for today.

He had a very powerful sway over his followers, to the point he was seen as an almost messiah-like figure to them: this trait only served to further Manson's infamy as his enigma and charisma served to repulse and enthrall both the public, his followers and the authorities - even to this day, Manson is often used as a reference when dealing with manipulators, especially cult-leaders: He is said to have preyed on vulnerable minds and was loved by his followers to the point they would kill for him.


Manson was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1934. His mother was Kentucky-born runaway Kathleen Maddox, who was 16 years old at the time of his birth and didn't name him immediately (during his first weeks, he went by "no name Maddox"), is said to have been promiscuous and a drinker. According to family members, she once even sold Charles to a waitress for a pitcher of beer, though he was retrieved by an uncle shortly afterward.

In 1936, she filed for child support from a Colonel Scott from Kentucky and was awarded it, but never received any. She was briefly married to one William Manson, who was listed as Charles' birth father on the birth certificate and gave him his name. She would be gone for days or weeks at a time, during which he was left with his aunt or grandmother. In 1939, Maddox and her brother went to prison for robbery and her son moved in with an aunt and uncle in West Virginia. Three years later, she was paroled and took him back.

Growing up, Charles was a quiet loner who often moved to and from different temporary residences with his mother. At the age of nine, he was caught stealing and was sent to a reform school. The same thing happened again when he was 12. In 1947, Maddox tried to have him put in a foster home, but none could take him. Instead, he was placed in the Gibault School for Boys in Indiana by the court, but ran away the next year and tried to return to his mother. After being rejected, he started living on his own, making money through burglaries and spent time in several juvenile detention centers and childcare facilities in multiple states. During one of his last stays, he raped a fellow detainee while holding a razor blade to his throat. In 1952, Manson was placed in the Chillicothe Correctional Facility in Chillicothe, Ohio, where he became more cooperative to the keepers than he had been at his previous institutions and even became literate while there. An aptitude test estimated his IQ at 109 and said that he had an average aptitude for everything but music.

Mugshot of Charles Manson at the Federal Correctional Institute Terminal Island, California, on the 2nd May 1956.

In 1954, he was paroled and spent some time living with various family members. In 1955, he married a waitress who carried his son, Charles Jr., and made a living of low-wage jobs and car thefts. When the child was born, Manson was incarcerated in Los Angeles for auto theft (his wife had driven to the city in a car he had stolen to join him). Three years into his prison term, he and his wife divorced. In 1958, he was paroled, only to start pimping a 16-year-old prostitute in Pasadena. The following years he spent doing legal negotiations on charges of white slavery and of forging a U.S. Treasury check.

On March 21, 1967, he was released from the Federal Correction Institution on Terminal Island after less than a year there and moved to Berkeley, where he moved into an apartment with help from a friend from prison. He actually protested when he was due for release, saying he was happy with staying in jail and playing his guitar (a cellmate had taught him how to). He married a woman named Mary Brunner and moved in with her.

Soon there were 18 additional women living in the same apartment. He began gathering more followers, male and female, to what became his "family" (see below) and moved in with them to the Spahn Ranch in the Santa Susana Mountains, a former set used for shooting the Western shows Bonanza and Gunsmoke. The owner, 80-year-old George Spahn, allowed the Family to stay if they helped work the grounds. Manson also made some female members have sex with Spahn. They later moved to the Barker Ranch in Death Valley. Manson told the owner that they were aspiring musicians. She allowed them to stay if they helped clean up, and he sealed the deal by giving her a copy of a Beach Boys gold record, which band member Dennis Wilson had given him during a brief stay at his house. During that stay, Manson had written a song for the band's album, but producer Terry Melcher, a music producer who did a lot of work with the band, didn't offer him a contract and it wasn't produced.

The Manson Family, Killings, and Capture

Manson often preached about a racial holocaust that would start when the blacks began a rebellion against the whites. He named the event "Helter Skelter" after a song on the Beatles' White Album (the inspiration came from the lyrics "Look out Helter skelter Helter skelter Helter skelter/She's coming down fast/Yes she is/Yes she is").

In addition to the lyrics of other songs from the White Album, which he interpreted as a prophetic warning of Helter Skelter, he also cited chapters from the Book of Revelations, even drawing parallels between both and his own life and calling himself "Jesus Christ". He intended for the group to make another album filled with "hidden messages" about the impending racial Armageddon. Before long, they began a plan to start a racial war between blacks and whites by committing murders on members of either race and pinning it on the other, sparking retaliation from the former side, and repeating the process until a war broke out. While racist and non-racist whites fought among each other and brought themselves down, the Family would wait out the conflict in a "bottomless pit" (an alcove in Death Valley near the Barker Ranch) before bringing the blacks down and rising to power themselves. In addition to working on their album, the Family also planned an escape in the "pit" with maps and prepared vehicles.

One day in 1969, the Family members were told Terry Melcher would visit the compound, but he didn't come. On March 23, Manson went alone to the last address he'd known Melcher to live at, 10050 Cielo Drive. By that time, Melcher had moved and the house had two new tenants, director Roman Polanski and his wife, actress Sharon Tate, who was eight months pregnant with his child. He met Shahrokh Hatami, an Iranian photographer, and friend of Tate, and asked him for Rudi Altobelli, the landlord. Hatami said he didn't recognize the name and sent him to the guest house. When Manson came back later, Altobelli was there and told him that Melcher had moved to Malibu.

On May 18, the Family's ranch was visited by Melcher, who came to hear the members sing. In July, the Family took its first murderous steps towards Helter Skelter. A member, Charles "Tex" Watson, had scammed a black drug dealer named Bernard "Lotsapoppa" Crowe for a sum of money the Family intended to use for the Helter Skelter scheme.

On July 1, after Crowe had threatened to strike back at the Family, Manson shot him in his apartment and fled. The next day, Manson heard a news report about a Black Panther member being killed in the area and assumed it was Crowe. In actuality, however, Crowe, who was not really a Black Panther, survived the shooting but didn't report it. On July 25, Manson and a pack of Family members went to the home of Gary Hinman, an acquaintance, and tried to rob him of a sum of money Manson thought he had inherited. After being held hostage for a few days, Hinman was killed. On August 6, one of the involved Family members, Bobby Beausoleil, was caught driving Hinman's car with the murder weapon, a sword, in his possession and was arrested.

Two days later, Manson told the rest of the Family that it was time to begin the Helter Skelter officially and sent some followers to 10050 Cielo Drive with the instructions to kill everyone there. Just after midnight, they arrived at the house. The four people in the house were Sharon Tate (Polanski was in London at the time), hairstylist Jay Sebring, aspiring screenwriter Wojciech Frykowski, and Abigail Folger, heiress to Folger's Coffee and Frykowski's girlfriend. During the night, all four were murdered, after which the Family members drew in the victims' blood the phrases "DEATH TO PIGS" and "RISE" on two walls in the living room and "HEALTHER SKELTER" [sic] on the refrigerator door. Earlier in the night, they also stopped Steven Parent, an 18-year-old student who was giving William Garretson, the house's caretaker, a ride. Garretson lived in the guest house and didn't hear anything because his stereo was being played at a loud volume. Parent, on the other hand, was killed. The bodies were found in the morning when the maid came to work. The next evening, Manson sent the same pack, along with two more members, to 3301 Waverly Drive, the home of supermarket executive Leno LaBiance and his wife Rosemary, both of whom were stabbed to death in the night.

On August 12, 1969, the Manson Family was arrested as a "major auto theft ring", having stolen several cars and converted them into dune buggies, but they were released a few dates after due to a mistake with the warrant. On August 26, the Family killed Donald "Shorty" Shea, a farm hand at the Spahn Ranch, because Manson thought he was a "snitch". A dorm mate of Family member Susan Atkins told the police about her when she talked about the Hinman murder. In custody, she talked to her cellmates about the Family's other murders, in which she had been involved. More arrests followed and the Family members were connected to the murders with physical evidence, including fingerprints and the murder weapons. Linda Kasabian, who had been present during the murders but not committed any herself, was granted immunity in exchange for her testimony. In the end, all Family members involved in the killings were found guilty on multiple counts of first-degree murder.

Initially, everyone in the group was sentenced to death, but in 1972, the state of California revoked capital punishment.

Manson himself was found guilty through the joint-responsibility rule, having directly ordered the murders, and served his sentence at the Corcoran State Prison. Since 1978, he has been denied parole eleven times. He was notoriously a bad prisoner who was reviled, having started fights, spitting in guards' faces, threw hot coffee at a staffer, hid cellphones, possessed weapons, and set his mattress on fire.

Manson's 2017 mugshot.

On April 11, 2012, he was denied parole for the twelfth time and won't be eligible again for another fifteen years, meaning that he would never leave prison.

On January 1, 2017, Manson was taken out of prison and transported to Mercy Hospital in Bakersfield, suffering from gastrointestinal bleeding. Some sources report Manson was too weak for doctors to perform surgery and any treatment he had received was never disclosed. By January 6, he returned to prison. On November 15, days after his eighty-third birthday, Manson was again reported to have been transported to a hospital in Bakersfield, although the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation did not initially confirm this.

On November 19, 2017, Manson died from natural causes while in hospital, aged 83. He was later cremated and his ashes were given to his grandson Jason Freeman

Known Victims

Personal Victims

  • Unspecified dates:
    • 1948: A victimless burglary
    • 1948-1952: A victimless armed robbery
    • 1952: Unnamed male victim (sodomized only)
    • 1997: A victimless arson
  • 1969:
    • Unspecified date: Unnamed victim (raped only)
    • July 1: Bernard "Lotsapoppa" Crowe (attempted; shot, but survived)
    • October: A victimless arson

Victims by Proxy

  • 1969:
    • July 25: Gary Alan Hinman, 34 (held captive for days, cut his ear off, and stabbed in the chest with a sword)
    • August 9: Five killed in the 10050 Cielo Drive massacre. The victims are:
      • Sharon Marie Tate, 26 (stabbed 16 times; was eight months pregnant)
      • Jay Sebring, 35 (shot with a .22 revolver and stabbed seven times)
      • Wojciech Frykowski, 32 (struck with a gun, then shot twice; was also stabbed 51 times)
      • Abigail Anne Folger, 25 (stabbed 28 times)
      • Steven Earl Parent, 18 (incidental; slashed in the wrist with a buck knife, then shot four times in the chest, abdomen, and face with a .22 revolver)
    • August 10: Leno and Rosemary LaBianca (both killed in the 3301 Waverly Drive attack)
      • Leno LaBianca, 44 (stabbed 26 times in the neck and abdomen and carved "WAR" into his abdomen)
      • Rosemary LaBianca, 38 (stabbed 16 times in the back and buttocks, then stabbed 25 times post-mortem)
    • August 26: Donald "Shorty" Shea, 35 (struck with a pipe wrench, stabbed, and brutally tortured)