- Category : Criminal - Murderer
- Type : PE
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Split - Large
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Explanation 4
Charles Milles Manson (born November 12, 1934; first proper name Charles Milles Maddox) was leader of what came to be known as the Manson Family, a cult-like commune that began to form around him in San Francisco in 1967.
He was convicted of conspiracy to commit the Tate-LaBianca murders, which members of the commune carried out at his instruction. Though there was no evidence Manson personally killed any of the victims, he was also found guilty of the murders themselves, through the joint-responsibility rule of conspiracy.
Born to the unwed Kathleen Maddox in Cincinnati General Hospital, Cincinnati, Ohio, Charles Manson was first known as "no name Maddox." No more than three weeks after his birth, he was Charles Milles Maddox. Although the record that includes that name indicates his mother was then eighteen, she was more likely sixteen.
William Manson, named in the aforementioned record as Manson's father, was merely one in a line of men with whom his mother lived, though she went on to marry him at least long enough for her son to acquire his last name. Charles Manson's biological father appears to have been a "Colonel Scott," against whom Kathleen Maddox won an "agreed judgment" in a Kentucky bastardy suit; Manson seems never to have known him.
According to a story supposedly transmitted by Manson himself, his mother, a heavy drinker and promiscuous, if not a prostitute, once sold him for a pitcher of beer to a childless waitress, from whom his uncle retrieved him a few days later. When she and her brother were sentenced to five years imprisonment for robbing a service station in 1939, Manson was placed in the West Virginia home of an aunt and uncle who were very religious. Upon his mother's 1942 parole, Manson was returned to his mother and lived with her in run-down hotel rooms.
A 1947 effort by Maddox to have her son placed in a foster home met without success when the court found no such home available; Manson was placed instead in Gibault School for Boys, Terre Haute, Indiana. After ten months, he fled from the place to his mother, who rejected him. This left him faced, not for the last time in his life, with the problem of securing a place to reside even though he had no money. He solved this by burglarizing a grocery store for cash that enabled him to rent a room.
A string of burglaries of other stores, from one of which he stole a bicycle, ended when he was at last caught in the act and sent to an Indianapolis juvenile center. His escape after one day led to his recapture and his placement in Boys Town, from which he escaped with another boy four days after his arrival. The pair committed two armed robberies on their way to the home of the other boy's uncle.
Caught during the second of two subsequent break-ins of grocery stores, Manson was sent to the Indiana School for Boys at age 13. After many failed tries, he escaped with two other boys in 1951. In Utah, having burglarized gas stations all along the way, the trio were caught driving to California in cars they had stolen. For the federal crime of taking a stolen car across a state line, Manson was sent to the Washington, D.C., National Training School for Boys. Here, testing showed that although his IQ was a respectable 109 (later tested at 121) and he had had four years of schooling, he was illiterate; a caseworker concluded he was aggressively antisocial.
Encounter with Tate
On March 23, 1969, Manson entered uninvited upon 10050 Cielo Drive, which he had known as the residence of Terry Melcher. By that date, Melcher was no longer residing there; since that February, the lessees had been actress Sharon Tate and her husband, director Roman Polanski.
Manson was addressed by Shahrokh Hatami, a professional photographer who was a friend of Tate and was there to photograph her in advance of her departure for Rome the next day. Having seen Manson through a window as Manson approached the main house, Hatami had gone onto the front porch to ask him what he wanted.
When Manson told Hatami he was looking for someone whose name Hatami didn't recognize -- maybe Melcher -- Hatami informed him the place was the Polanski residence; he advised him to try "the back alley," by which he meant the path to the guest house, beyond the main house.
By this time, Hatami, concerned that a stranger had entered upon the property, was down on the front walk, to confront Manson. When Tate appeared behind Hatami, in the house's front door, and asked "Who is it?", he told her a man was looking for someone. Hatami and Tate maintained their positions while Manson, without a word, went back to the guest house, returned a minute or two later, and left.
That evening, Manson reentered the property and again went back to the guest house, where, presuming to enter the enclosed porch, he spoke with Rudi Altobelli, who was just coming out of the shower. Altobelli, owner of the property, was the lessor to Melcher and then to the Polanskis.
Possibly, Manson was aware of Melcher's departure from the place and had actually come in search of Altobelli; but he asked Altobelli for Melcher. Altobelli said Melcher had moved to Malibu; he said, falsely, that he did not know the address. In response to a question from Manson, Altobelli said he himself was in the entertainment business, although he was sure Manson already knew that. Altobelli had met Manson the previous year at Dennis Wilson's home, where Wilson had been playing some Manson musical recordings on which Altobelli had then complimented Manson lukewarmly.
When Altobelli informed Manson he was going out of the country the next day, Manson said he'd like to speak with him upon his return; Altobelli lied that he would be gone for more than a year. In response to a direct question from Altobelli, Manson explained that he had been directed to the guest house by the persons in the main house.
Manson left. As Altobelli and Tate flew to Rome together the next day, Tate asked him whether "that creepy-looking guy" had gone back to the guest house the day before.
At Spahn Ranch, in June, Manson told a male Family member Helter Skelter was "ready to happen." Remarking that "blackie never did anything without whitey showin' him how," he said, "t looks like we're gonna have to show blackie how to do it."
On July 27, the murders that would be notorious were heralded, so to say, when Family member Bobby Beausoleil stabbed to death Family acquaintance Gary Hinman in a dispute over money. Before Beausoleil killed him on Manson's instruction, Hinman had been held by Beausoleil, Mary Brunner, and Susan Atkins at his Topanga Canyon residence for two days, during which Manson showed up with a sword, to slash his ear. Before leaving the house, Beausoleil wrote "Political piggy" on the wall, in Hinman's blood.
On August 6, Beausoleil was arrested after he was caught driving Hinman's car, whose tire well held the murder weapon. On August 8, Manson told Family members at Spahn Ranch, "Now is the time for Helter Skelter."
On the night of August 8, 1969, Manson directed Tex Watson to take Family members Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Linda Kasabian to "that house where Melcher used to live" and "totally destroy everyone in , as gruesome as you can." He told the girls to do as Tex would instruct them.
When the four arrived at the entrance to the Cielo Drive property, Watson, who'd been to the house, on Family business, climbed a telephone pole near the gate and cut the phone line. It was now around midnight and into August 9.
Backing their car down to the bottom of the hill that led up to the place, they parked it there and walked back up. Thinking the gate might be electrified or rigged with an alarm, they climbed a brushy embankment at its right and dropped onto the grounds. Just then, headlights came their way, from farther within the angled property. Telling the girls to lie in the bushes, Watson stepped out, shouted "Halt!," and shot to death Steven Parent, eighteen-year-old driver of the approaching car. After Watson had prepared their entry to the main house by cutting the screen of an open window through which he could slip to let the others in through the door, he told Kasabian to wait down by the gate. He proceeded to get himself and the other two girls into the house.
"I’m the devil, and I’m here to do the devil’s business," Watson told Polanski friend Wojciech Frykowski, who was awakened from his sleep on the living-room couch as Watson whispered to Atkins. This was after he kicked him in the head. On Watson’s direction, Atkins found and, with Krenwinkel's help, brought to the living room the house’s three other occupants – Tate, seven to eight months' pregnant; her once-lover Jay Sebring, a noted hairstylist; and Frykowski’s lover Abigail Folger, heiress to the Folger coffee fortune. As Watson began to tie the necks of Tate and Sebring together with rope he'd brought and slung up over a beam, Sebring’s act of chivalry, his second, in protesting rough treatment of Tate won him a bullet from Watson. After Folger was taken momentarily back to her bedroom for her purse, which proved to hold about seventy dollars, Watson stabbed the groaning Sebring seven times.
Frykowski, whose hands had been bound with a towel, got free and began struggling with Atkins, who had been guarding him. As he fought his way toward and out the front door, onto the porch, Watson, who joined in against him, struck him over the head with the gun multiple times, stabbed him repeatedly, and shot him twice. Around this time, Kasabian, drawn up from the driveway by the victims’ screams, arrived outside the door and, in a vain effort to halt the goings-on, lied to Atkins that someone was coming.
Inside the house, Folger had got away from Krenwinkel and fled out a bedroom door to the pool area. Pursued to the front lawn by Krenwinkel, who stabbed and, finally, tackled her, she was finished off by Watson’s knife, her stab wounds totaling twenty-eight. As Frykowski struggled across the lawn, he, too, received Watson’s stabs, which, added to ones he’d received earlier from Watson and Atkins, brought his stab wounds to fifty-one. Back in the house, Tate, who pleaded for her own life and that of the child she was carrying, was stabbed to death by Atkins, Watson, or both, her wounds totaling sixteen.
As the four Family members had been heading out from Spahn Ranch, Manson had told the girls to “leave a sign… something witchy.” Using the towel that had bound Frykowski’s hands, Atkins wrote “pig” on the house’s front door, in Tate’s blood.
As they rode home, the killers changed out of bloody clothes, which, along with their weapons, they ditched in the hills.
The next night, six Family members, including the four from night one, rode out at Manson’s instruction. Displeased by the panic of the victims at Cielo Drive, Manson accompanied them, “to show how to do it.”
After a few hours’ ride, in which he considered a number of murders and even attempted one of them, Manson gave Kasabian directions that brought the group to 3301 Waverly Drive, home of supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, dress shop co-owner. Located in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles, this was next door to a house at which Manson and Family members had attended a party the previous year.
After going up the driveway and looking in a window, Manson took Watson with him through the unlocked back door. Rousing the sleeping Leno LaBianca from the couch at gunpoint, Manson had Watson bind his hands with a leather thong. After Rosemary was brought briefly into the living room from the bedroom, Watson followed Manson’s instructions to cover the couple’s heads with pillowcases, which he bound in place with lamp cord. Manson left, sending Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten into the house with instruction that the couple be killed.
Before leaving Spahn, Watson had complained to Manson of the inadequacy of the previous night's weapons; now, sending the girls from the kitchen to the bedroom, to which Rosemary had been returned, he went to the living room and began stabbing Leno with a chrome-plated bayonet, the first thrust going into the man's throat. Sound of a scuffle in the bedroom drew him there to discover Rosemary was keeping the girls at bay by swinging the lamp tied to her head. Striking her down with several stabs of the bayonet, he returned to the living room and gave Leno the balance of a dozen stabs, after administering the last of which he carved “War” in the man’s exposed stomach. Returning to the bedroom, where Krenwinkel was stabbing Rosemary with a knife from the LaBianca kitchen, Watson, following Manson’s instruction to make sure each of the girls played a part, told Van Houten to stab her, too. She did, mostly on the exposed buttocks, possibly post-mortem, to bring the total number of stab wounds to forty-one.
While Watson cleaned off the bayonet and showered, Krenwinkel wrote “Rise” and “Death to pigs” on the walls; she wrote “Healter Skelter” on the refrigerator door. All the script was in blood. Krenwinkel stabbed Leno’s corpse fourteen times with an ivory-handled, two-tined carving fork, which she left jutting out of his stomach; she planted a steak knife in his neck.
Hoping for a double crime, Manson had gone on to direct Kasabian to drive to the Venice home of an actor acquaintance of hers, another "piggy." Depositing the second trio of Family members at the man's apartment building, he drove back to Spahn, leaving them and the LaBianca killers to hitchhike home. Kasabian thwarted this murder by deliberately knocking on the wrong apartment door and waking a stranger. Though the murder plan was abandoned, Susan Atkins preserved the effort from total loss by defecating in the stairwell.
Investigation and arrest
On August 10 – while the Tate autopsies were under way and the LaBianca bodies were yet to be discovered – detectives of the sheriff's office, which had jurisdiction in the Hinman case, informed LAPD detectives assigned to the Tate case of the bloody writing at the Hinman house; they even mentioned that the Hinman suspect, Beausoleil, was associated with a group of hippies led by “a guy named Charlie.” The Tate team, thinking the Tate murders a consequence of a drug transaction, ignored the information.
Parent, the shooting victim in the Tate driveway, was determined to have been an acquaintance of William Garretson, a youngster hired by Rudi Altobelli to take care of the property while Altobelli himself was away; at the time of the killers' arrival, he had been leaving Cielo Drive, after a visit to Garretson. Held briefly as a Tate suspect, Garretson, who lived in the guest house and told police he had heard nothing on the murder night, was released on August 11.
On August 12, LAPD told the press it had ruled out any connection between the Tate and LaBianca homicides. On August 16, the sheriff’s office raided Spahn Ranch and arrested Manson and twenty-five others, “suspects in a major auto theft ring” that had been stealing Volkswagens and converting them into dune buggies. Weapons were seized; but because the warrant had been misdated, the group was released a few days later.
By the end of August, when virtually all leads had gone nowhere, a report by the LaBianca detectives, generally younger than the Tate team, noted a possible connection between the bloody writings at the LaBianca house and “the singing group the Beatles’ most recent album.”
In mid-October, the LaBianca team, still working separately from the Tate team, checked with the sheriff’s office about possible similar crimes and learned, at last, of the Hinman case. They also learned that the Hinman detectives had now spoken with Beausoleil’s girlfriend, who had been arrested a few days earlier, with members of “the Manson Family.”
The arrests had taken place at the desert ranches, to which the Family had moved and where, unknown to authorities, its members had been in the midst of a search for a hole in the ground, access to the Bottomless Pit. Known to authorities was that someone had set fire to a piece of earthmoving equipment in the area. Raiding the Myers and Barker ranches, authorities had found stolen dune buggies and other vehicles and had arrested two dozen persons, including Manson. Manson was found hiding beneath a bathroom sink at Barker.
A month after speaking with Beausoleil’s girlfriend themselves, the LaBianca detectives made contact with members of a motorcycle gang she told them Manson had tried to enlist as his bodyguard while the Family was at Spahn. While the gang members were providing information that was suggesting a link between Manson and the murders, a dormitory mate of Susan Atkins succeeded in informing LAPD of the Family’s involvement in the crimes. One of those arrested at Barker, Atkins had been booked for the Hinman murder after she’d confirmed to the sheriff’s detectives that she’d been involved in it, as Beausoleil’s girlfriend had told them. Transferred to a detention center in Los Angeles, she had begun talking to two women with whom she bunked.
On December 1, 1969, having acted on the information from these sources, LAPD announced warrants for the arrest of Watson, Krenwinkel, and Kasabian in the Tate case; the suspects' involvement in the LaBianca murders was noted. Manson and Atkins, already in custody, were not mentioned; the connection between the LaBianca case and Van Houten, who was also among those arrested near Death Valley, had not yet been recognized.
Watson and Krenwinkel, too, were already under arrest, authorities in Texas and Alabama having picked them up on notice from LAPD. On December 2, in New Hampshire, Kasabian turned herself in.
Conviction and sentencing
At the trial, which began June 15, 1970, the prosecution's main witness was Kasabian, who, along with Manson, Atkins, and Krenwinkel, had been charged with seven counts of murder and one of conspiracy. Not having participated in the killings, she was granted immunity in exchange for testimony that detailed the nights of crime.
The prosecution placed the triggering of Helter Skelter as the main motive. The crime scenes' bloody White Album references -- pig, rise, helter skelter -- were correlated with testimony about Manson predictions that the murders blacks would commit at the outset of Helter Skelter would involve the writing of “pigs” on walls in victims’ blood. Testimony as to Manson's having declared "now" the time for Helter Skelter was supplemented with Kasabian’s testimony that, on the night of the LaBianca murders, Manson considered discarding on the street a wallet (Rosemary's) he obtained in the LaBianca house; he "wanted a black person to pick it up and use the credit cards so that the people, the establishment would think it was some sort of an organized group that killed these people." “I want to show blackie how to do it,” Manson had said as the Family members had driven along after the departure from the LaBianca house.
On January 25, 1971, guilty verdicts were returned against the defendants on all counts. This included the three counts against Van Houten, who had been charged with the two LaBianca murders and conspiracy to commit them.
In the body of the trial, the defendants had shocked the courtroom by resting without calling a single witness; the lawyers for the women had been unwilling to let Manson engineer a defense in which their clients would testify, to take all guilt upon themselves. In the penalty phase, the jurors got a glimpse of the defense Manson had had in mind. Atkins, Krenwinkel, and Van Houten testified that the murders had been conceived as “copycat” versions of the Hinman murder, for which Atkins now took credit. The murders, they explained, had been intended to draw police suspicion away from the imprisoned Bobby Beausoleil, by resembling the crime with which he had been charged. This masterly plan had been conceived by, and carried out under the guidance of, not Manson but someone in love with Beausoleil – none other than Linda Kasabian (i.e. the person who had testified against Manson and them).
The narrative had weak points, not the least conspicuous of which was its lack of an explanation for the writing of “political piggy” at the Hinman house in the first place. At any rate, it captured the imagination of the jurors less effectively than Helter Skelter had affected the members of the Family; on March 29, 1971, all four defendants received verdicts of death.
In between the body of the trial and the closing arguments, Ronald Hughes, who had been representing Leslie van Houten, had disappeared, unreturned from a weekend trip. He had been one of the attorneys who had stood up to Manson and refused to let his client testify; on the day the verdicts of death were returned, his badly-decomposed body was found wedged between two boulders in Ventura County.
Protracted extradition of Tex Watson from his native Texas, where he resettled a month before his arrest, resulted in his being tried separately. The trial commenced in August 1971; by October, he, too, had been found guilty on seven counts of murder and one of conspiracy. He, too, was sentenced to death.
In February 1972, the five convicts' death sentences were automatically reduced to life in prison by California v. Anderson 64 Cal.2d 633, 414 P.2d 366, (Cal. 1972), in which the Supreme Court of California abolished the death penalty in that state.
On September 5, 1975, Squeaky Fromme attempted to assassinate US President Gerald Ford in Sacramento, to which she and Manson follower Sandra Good had moved to be near Manson while he was incarcerated at Folsom State Prison. A subsequent search of the apartment shared by Fromme, Good, and a Family recruit turned up evidence that, coupled with later actions on the part of Good, resulted in Good's conviction for conspiring to send threatening communications through the United States mail and transmitting death threats by way of interstate commerce. (The threats that were involved were against corporate executives and US government officals and had to do with supposed environmental dereliction on their part.)
In his 1978 autobiography (as told to Ray Hoekstra), Charles Watson stated that he stabbed Sharon Tate and that Susan Atkins did not.
In the 1980s, Manson gave two notable interviews. The first, recorded at California Medical Facility and aired June 13, 1981, was by Tom Snyder for NBC's The Tomorrow Show; the second, recorded at San Quentin Prison and aired March 7, 1986, was by Charlie Rose for CBS News Nightwatch. Rose's interview won the national news Emmy Award for "Best Interview" in 1987.
In December 1987, Fromme, serving a life sentence for the assassination attempt, escaped briefly from Alderson Federal Prison Camp. She was trying to reach Manson, whom she had heard had cancer; she was apprehended within days.
In a 1994 conversation with Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, once-Manson-follower Catherine Share stated that her testimony in the penalty phase of Manson’s trial was a fabrication intended to save Manson from the gas chamber and was given on Manson’s explicit direction. Share’s testimony had introduced the copycat-motive story, which the testimony of the three female defendants echoed and according to which the Tate-LaBianca murders had been the idea of Linda Kasabian. In a 1997 segment of the tabloid television program Hard Copy, Share indicated her testimony had been given under a Manson threat of physical harm.
In a 1998-9 interview in Seconds magazine, Bobby Beausoleil rejected the view that Manson ordered him to kill Gary Hinman. He stated Manson did come to Hinman's house and slash Hinman with a sword; in a 1981 interview with Oui magazine, he denied this. Beausoleil stated that when he read about the Tate murders in the newspaper, "I wasn't even sure at that point -- really, I had no idea who had done it until Manson's group were actually arrested for it. It had only crossed my mind and I had a premonition, perhaps. There was some little tickle in my mind that the killings might be connected with them...." In the Oui magazine interview, he had stated, "When happened, I knew who had done it. I was fairly certain."
In January 1996, a Manson web site whose status is difficult to determine was established by latter-day Manson follower George Stimson, who was helped by Sandra Good. The latter had been released from prison in 1985, after she had served two-thirds of her fifteen-year sentence for the death threats.
Recordings by Charles Manson
On March 6, 1970, to help finance his defense, Manson released an album entitled Lie: The Love & Terror Cult. Put out by ESP Records, it included "Cease to Exist", which, as "Never Learn Not to Love", had been recorded by the Beach Boys. Several recordings by Manson have been released since.
Charles Manson in popular culture
As early as June 1970, when he appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, Manson was connected to pop culture, in which his presence is enduring. The Rolling Stone story framed the vexed and similarly-enduring question of the Family's relationship to the 1960s counterculture in which it emerged: "Is Manson a hippie or isn't he?"