Who Was Charles Manson?

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Who Was Charles Manson? Charles Manson is a convicted serial killer who has become an icon of evil. In the late 1960s, Manson founded a hippie cult group known as "the Family" whom he manipulated into brutally killing others on his behalf.

Manson Gets Married In 1954, at age nineteen, he was released on parole after an unusual bout of good behavior. The next year, he married Rosalie Willis, a waitress, and they had a son together, Charles Manson Jr. (born March 1956). Even while married, Manson had continued making extra money by stealing cars. In April 1956, he was again sent to prison. After Manson had been in prison for a year, his wife found someone new and divorced Manson in June 1957.

 Manson the Con Man In 1958, Manson was released from prison. While out, Manson began pimping, stealing checks from mailboxes, and conned a young woman out of money. He also married again, to a prostitute named Candy Stevens (real name Leona), and fathered a second son, Charles Luther Manson. Manson was again arrested on June 1, 1960 and sent to the McNeil Island Penitentiary off the coast of Washington. His wife soon divorced him.

Music in Prison Manson spent the next six years in prison. It was during this time that he befriended the infamous Alvin "Crepy" Karpis, former member of Ma Barker's gang. After Karpis taught Charles Manson to play the steel guitar, Manson became obsessed with making music. He practiced all the time, wrote dozens of original songs, and started singing. He believed that when he got out of prison, he could be a famous musician.

 Manson Gets a Following On March 21, 1967, Manson was once again released from prison. This time he headed to San Francisco where, with a guitar and drugs, he began to get a following. In 1968, he and several followers drove to Southern California.

Manson was still hoping for a music career. Through an acquaintance, Manson met and hung out with Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys. The Beach Boys did record one of Manson's songs, which appeared as "Never Learn Not to Love" on the B-side of their 20/20 album.

Through Wilson, Manson met Terry Melcher, Doris Day's son. Manson believed Melcher was going to advance his music career but when nothing happened, Manson was very upset.

During this time, Charles Manson and some of his followers moved into the Spahn Ranch. Located northwest of San Fernando Valley the Spahn Ranch had been a popular location to film westerns in the 1940s and 1950s. Once Manson and his followers moved in, it became a cult compound for "the Family."

Helter Skelter Charles Manson was good at manipulating people. He took pieces from various religions to form his own philosophy. When the Beatles released their White Albumin 1968, Manson believed their song "Helter Skelter" predicted an upcoming race war. "Helter skelter," Manson believed, was going to occur in the summer of 1969 when blacks were going to rise up and slaughter all the white people. He told his followers that they would be saved because they would go underground, literally, by traveling to an underground city of gold located in Death Valley.

However, when the Armageddon that Manson had predicted did not occur, he said he and his followers must show the blacks how to do it.

Manson Orders the Murders Manson told four of his followers to go to 10050 Cielo Drive in Los Angeles and kill the people inside. This house once belonged to Terry Melcher, the man who had not helped Manson with his music career. However, Melcher no longer lived there; actress Sharon Tate and her husband, director Roman Polanski, had rented the house. On August 9, 1969, four of Manson's followers brutally murdered Tate, her unborn baby, and four others who were visiting her (Polanski was in Europe for work). The following night, Manson's followers brutally killed Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in their home.

Manson's Trial It took the police several months to determine who was responsible. In December 1969, Manson and several of his followers were arrested. The trial began on July 24, 1970. On January 25, Manson was found guilty of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. On March 29, 1971, Manson was sentenced to death.

Life in Prison Manson was reprieved from the death penalty in 1972 when the California Supreme Court outlawed the death penalty. Charles Manson now serves a lifetime sentence and periodically comes up for parole. Though he's been in prison for over three decades, Charles Manson has received more mail than any other prisoner in the U.S. Charles Manson is currently being held in California's Corcoran Prison.

Charles Manson: The infamous inmate

Manson Information/Timeline:

Here is some background information about Charles Manson, who is serving a life sentence for nine murders committed in July and August of 1969 near Hollywood, California. Manson did not actually commit any of the murders, but orchestrated the killings. He was initially sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted when California's death penalty was overturned in 1972.

Birth date: November 12, 1934

Birth place: Cincinnati, Ohio

Birth name: Charles Milles Maddox

Father: Father's name unavailable publicly

Mother: Kathleen Maddox

Marriages: Rosalie Jean (Willis) Manson (1955-divorce date unknown); also was married to a woman named Leona in the early 1960s, whose last name is not publicly known.

Children: At least two: with Rosalie Jean (Willis) Manson: Charles M. Manson, Jr. (1956-1993); with a woman whose name is not publicly known: Charles Luther Manson.
Other Facts: 
Reportedly, during his childhood, Manson's mother sold him for a pitcher of beer to a woman who wanted to have children. His uncle had to find the woman so that he could get his nephew back.

He later took his stepfather William Manson's last name.

According to the California Parole Board, Manson has a history of manipulation, controlling behavior and mental illnesses which include schizophrenia and paranoid delusional behavior.

The killings inspired the best-selling book, "Helter Skelter," written by prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi.

1947 - At age 12, Charles Manson is sent to Gibault School for Boys in Terre Haute, Indiana, for stealing. Over the next twenty years, he is in and out of reform schools and prison for various crimes.

March 21, 1967 - Manson is released from prison. He tells the prison officials that he doesn't want to be released, "Oh, no, I can't go outside there...I knew that I couldn't adjust to that world, not after all my life had been spent locked up and where my mind was free." After his release, he moves to San Francisco.

1967-1968 - Manson meets Gary Hinman, a music teacher who introduces him to Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys.

-- Manson attracts a group of followers. The group moves to the isolated Spahn Ranch, outside of Chatsworth, California.

-- Dennis Wilson introduces Manson to record producer Terry Melcher, the son of actress Doris Day. After initially showing interest in Manson's music, Melcher declines to work with him further.

-- Melcher later moves out of his home on Cielo Drive, and the house is then leased to film director Roman Polanski and his wife, actress Sharon Tate.

July 1969 - Gary Hinman is killed by Manson follower Bobby Beausoleil, accompanied by Manson Family members Mary Brunner and Susan Atkins. The murder is committed at the behest of Manson.

August 8-9, 1969 - At Manson's command, a small group of his most ardent followers brutally murder five people at the Benedict Canyon home of director Roman Polanski, near Hollywood. The victims are Polanski's pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, writer Wojciech Frykowski, coffee heiress Abigail Folger and celebrity hair stylist Jay Sebring. Also killed is Steven Parent, who was a friend of the family's gardener. The murders are committed by followers Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, and Patricia Krenwinkel. Linda Kasabian accompanies them as a lookout.

August 9-10, 1969 - Manson, displeased at the sloppiness of the previous night's murders, accompanies a group of followers on a search for victims. In the car are: Watson, Atkins, Krenwinkel, Kasabian as well as Leslie van Houten and Steve "Clem" Grogan. After several hours, the group comes upon the house of supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary. The couple are brutally murdered by Watson, Atkins, Krenwinkel and Van Houten.

October 1969 - Manson and his followers are arrested at another remote location, called Barker Ranch, on suspicion of auto theft.

November 6, 1969 - Manson Family member Susan Atkins, already charged in the murder of Gary Hinman, tells inmate Virginia Castro that she killed Sharon Tate, "Because we wanted to do a crime that would shock the world, that the world would have to stand up and take notice."

November 12, 1969 - The L.A. Sheriff's detectives interview Al Springer, motorcycle gang member who had some association with Manson. Springer tells them that Manson told him about killing people days after the Tate murders.

November 16, 1969 - The LAPD interviews inmate Ronnie Howard about her conversation with Susan Atkins concerning the Tate/LaBianca murders.

November 18, 1969 - Deputy District Attorney Vincent T. Bugliosi is assigned the case.

November 30, 1969 - Watson is apprehended in Texas. His lawyers fight extradition to California for nine months.

December 8, 1969 - Manson, Watson, Atkins, Krenwinkel and Kasabian are indicted for the murders of Sharon Tate and her friends. The grand jury also indicts the five, plus Van Houten, for the LaBianca murders.

June 16, 1970 - Trial begins for Manson, Atkins, Krenwinkel and Van Houten.

-- Manson appears in court with an "X" carved into his forehead.

-- He defends himself in court with the help from attorney Irving Kanarek.

August 1970 - Linda Kasabian is given immunity in exchange for her testimony against Manson and the others.

January 15, 1971 - After a seven month trial, jury deliberations begin. The jury finds all the defendants guilty on January 25.

March 29, 1971 - Manson, Krenwinkel, Atkins and Van Houten receive the death penalty.

1971 - Charles "Tex" Watson is found guilty of the murders of seven people and is sentenced to death.

1972 - The death penalty is abolished in California. The sentences for all Manson Family members are commuted to life in prison.

April 12, 2012 - Manson is denied parole for the 12th time. According to the California Parole Board, he has accrued 108 serious disciplinary violations in prison since 1971 and has shown no remorse for the murders.
Major Players ("Manson Family"): 
Susan "Sadie" Denise Atkins:

September 24, 2009 - Dies in prison.
Bobby Beausoleil:

1969 - Convicted of the murder of Gary Hinman. He is serving a life sentence.
Bruce Davis:

April 21, 1972 - Convicted of the murders of Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shea. He is serving a life sentence.

March 12, 2014 - Davis is granted parole in California following his 28th parole hearing, according to the state Department of Corrections.

August 8, 2014 - California Governor Jerry Brown reverses the parole board decision. It is the third time a California governor has refused to release Davis.

Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme:

1975 - Attempts to shoot President Gerald Ford.

August 14, 2009 - Is released on parole after serving 34 years.
Steven "Clem" Grogan:

1986 - Grogran is released on parole after revealing the location of the body of ranch-hand Donald "Shorty" Shea, killed in 1969.
Patricia "Katie" Krenwinkel:

January 20, 2011 - Denied parole for the 13th time.
Leslie Van Houten:

July 6, 2010 - Denied parole for the 19th time.
Charles D. "Tex" Watson:

November 16, 2011 - Denied parole for the 16th time.

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