Murder mastermind Charles Manson died of natural causes Sunday evening at a Kern County hospital. He was 83. [LA Times]
Manson persuaded his family of followers to carry out a string of murders in Los Angeles in 1969 that involved elements of Hollywood celebrity, cult behavior, group sex and drugs. The killers scrawling words with the victims’ blood on walls.
Subsequently, Manson and his four followers — Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel and Charles “Tex” Watson — were convicted of murdering actress Sharon Tate, as well as four other people.
Tate was the wife of movie director Roman Polanski, and the murder occurred in the couple’s Bel-Air home. The actress was eight months pregnant when she was stabbed 16 times and “PIG” was written in her blood on the front door.
Initially, Manson was sentenced to death for the murders. But in 1972, the California Supreme Court declared the death sentence unconstitutional, thus commuting death sentences to life imprisonment.
Since 1989, Manson was housed in Corcoran State Prison. He broke prison rules dozens of times, committing offenses that included possessing cell phones and a hacksaw blade, throwing hot coffee at a staff member, spitting in a guard’s face, fighting and trying to flood a tier in his cell block.
On 12 occasions, Manson was denied parole.
Over the years, Mason maintained his cult-like following. He received an average of four fan letters a day while in prison. And when he turned 80, Manson and a 27-year-old fan obtained a marriage license. The license expired, though, before the paperwork was completed.
“Maniacs who kill to satisfy their urges do not resonate,” lead prosecutor in the Manson case Vincent Bugliosi said before his 2015 death. “Manson was different. As misguided as the murders were, he claimed that they were political and revolutionary, that he was trying to change the social order, not merely satisfy a homicidal urge. That appeals to the crazies on the fringes of society.”