Charles Manson was born the illegitimate son of Kathleen Maddox on November 12, 1934. Kathleen was a 16 year old prostitute. Charles’ last name did not come from his father but rather one of his mother’s ‘short-term’ husbands. His father was thought to be a ‘Colonel Scott’ of Ashland Kentucky who for a time paid child support to Katherine in the name of “Charles Milles Manson”. Scott died in 1954. It was never determined whether or not Charles was indeed his son.
In 1939 Charles was forced to live with an aunt when his mother was convicted of robbing a West Virginia gas station. Charles endured a fair amount of abuse during this time, once being sent off to school dressed as a girl because his aunts husband thought he was too sissy and wanted to teach him how to be a man.
When Charles’ mother was paroled in 1942 she returned home to reclaim her son. However, he fared little better with her. He was often left in the care of neighbors, or whomever seemed to be handy at the time, whilst his mother engaged in various activities with her male and female lovers. Within five years Katherine was searching for foster homes for Charles. In 1947 she sent him to Gibault School for Boys in Terre Haute, Indiana. After only a short time here Charles ran away and started living on the streets. His mother showed no interest in him.
It was during this time that Charles started his life of crime, using theft as a means of supporting himself. He was arrested in Indiana and sentenced to time in the local Juvenile Center, but was later moved to Father Flanagan’s Boy’s Town after escaping from the center. He escaped from Boy’s Town as well and decided to take a joy ride and to visit relatives in a stolen car. During this ride he committed more robberies which led to further arrests. Charles was 13 years old at the time.
Charles was sentenced to a reform school at Plainfield, Indiana. Here he says he was abused by other boys and even guards. According to Charles he was raped and tortured by older boys who were once encouraged by a guard who sat by and masterbated while the abuse was taking place.
In 1951 Charles escaped from Plainfield. He was arrested in Beaver, Utah and sentenced to federal time for driving stolen cars across the state line. A year later, whilst in a minimum security prison, Charles assualted another boy with a razor blade and sodomized him. Because of this he was moved to a higher security lock up during which time he had several major disciplinary infractions and homosexual assaults. During the same year he was moved again to Chilicothe, Ohio Reformatory. He became a model prisoner and was paroled in May 1954. Manson was 20 years old.
Manson landed himself back in prison, again for auto theft, in March 1956. This time he was sent to the federal prison at Terminal Island, California. He was released in 1958 but was again in jail 6 months later in Los Angelos for forging and cashing stolen US Treasury checks. For this he received probation which was revoked in 1960 when he was arrested for pimping. For this Manson was incarcerated at McNeil Island. During which time he proclaimed himself a scientologist and was tested as having an IQ of 121. Despite objecting to it himself he was again paroled in March 1967. After leaving McNeil Island Manson Haight-Ashbury district which was at that time overrun with teenage runaways and drifters who were, singing tunes to flower power with an infusion of drugs and seeking new enlightement and meaning in life.
In San Francisco Manson began attracting groups of young drop outs and runaways. They were both male and female and came from all social classes. Some were even college gradutes. Some were involved in cults. Most were just hopelessly confused during an age of free sex and even freer drugs. Manson took advantage of this confusion and injected himself into their lives as a father figure and a lover, amongst other things. Manson called his group the ‘Family’ and they drifted in and out of towns. In addition to his own Scientology beliefs Manson also drew his Family into the realms of the Church of Satan and the Process Church of Final Judgement which worshipped both Satan and Jehovah.
In was during this time that Manson’s famous ‘Helter Skelter’ ideology came about. Helter Skelter was his interpretation of lyrics from the Beetles which predicted a race war in America. Manson believed that once the whites would be annialated once ‘Blackie’ was driven to the point of violence and He and his Family alone would remain.
On October 13, 1968 Nancy Warren, pregnant, and Clida Delaney her 64 year old grandmother were found ritualistically murdered outside of Ukiah, California. Each victim was beaten to death and strangled and had 35 leather thongs wrapped around their throat.
The Family were in the vacinity at the time.
On January 1 1968 the body of Marina Habe, a 17 year old West Hollywood girl, was found, after having been abducted near her home two days earlier, with multiple stab wounds in the neck and chest. It soon came to light that the Habes were acquaintances of Mansons Family.
Manson’s 64 year old grandfather, Darwin Scott, was found hacked to death on May 27, 1969 in his home in Ashland Kentucky. Scott had been pinned to the floor by a butcher knife.
During this time Manson and his Family had mysteriously gone missing.
Sixteen year old Mark Walts disappeared from Chatsworth, California on July 17, 1969. The next morning his body was found. He had been beaten, shot, and run over by a car. Walts too had been a friend of Manson and his Family.
During the time of Mark Walts death the Manson Family were living on a commune ranch. The death of Walts was the first death in which Manson was publically and vehemently implicated. This was due in large part to the outcry by Walts’ brother. Despite all the accusations, however, Manson, nor any member of his Family, were charged with the murder.
An unidentified corpse was discovered just northeast of Mansons ranch around this time. Though the body was never officially identified it was presumed to be Susan Scott. A Family member. Scott had been living on the Manson ranch when she disappeared.
During the next month Musician Gary Hinman was hacked to death in his home and his blood was used to smear graffiti on the walls.
In August the Family murdered and mutilated Leno and Rosemary LeBianca in Los Angeles. Leno had been stabbed multiple times and a knife and fork were found protruding from his body. Rosemary had been stabbed forty-one times.
Sharon Tate:Associated Press
It was during this time that the infamous Polanski murders occured. On August 9, 1969, several members of the Manson Family entered the home of movie director Roman Polanski. Steven Parent, a houseguest of Polanski’s wife Sharon Tate, was found in his car outside the house. He had been shot four times and stabbed once. There were three other houseguests murdered. Abigail Folger and Voytek Frykowski were found on the back lawn of the estate. Abigail had been stabbed twenty-eight times and Voytek was shot twice, struck over the head thriteen times and stabbed fifty-one times. The fourth guest, Jay Sebring was found inside the house with Sharon Tate. The two were tied together by a rope around their necks which was hung over a rafter in the ceiling. Sharon was eight months pregnant at the time. She had been stabbed sixteen times in the chest and in the back. Jay had been stabbed seven times and shot once. He had bleed to death. Neither of the victims had actually died from the hanging.
The Polanski murders consumed public attention and caused general panic in everyone. Though it was the LaBianca murders which would play a very important role in the investigation and arrest of the Manson Family.
The Los Angeles Sheriffs Office had jurisdiction over the LaBianca muders whilst the Los Angeles Police Department were in charge of the Tate investigation. Lack of communication between the two bodies caused a fair amount of problems during the early stages of the investigations. In the beginning the official stance taken by both departments, particularly the Los Angeles Police Department which made a public announcement, were that the two cases were not related. This was in spite of the fact that the word “PIG” was written on the door at the Tate scene and the words “Death to Pigs” were written, in the victim’s own blood, at the LaBianca scene. In addition to poor communication between the two departments there were also problems with evidence collection and preservation. Later officers would say that it was the sheer horrificness and senselessness of the muders which made them lose all sense of crime scene protocol.
A week after the murders Manson and members of his family were arrested at his ranch on drug related charges. He was held for ten days and then released. That night he ordered the murder of Donald Shea, an ‘outside follower’ of the Family whom Manson believed knew too much and was talking to the police. His body was dismembered.
Despite the unorganized investigations taking place in the different camps the Los Angeles Sheriffs and Police Departments caught a lucky break in September when members of the Family burned a piece of road grading equiptment which they said was obstructing one of their dune buggy routes. Arson investigators traced the evidence to the Faimly and Manson was arrested on October 12. The next day Susan Atkins, a Family member who was spending time in an LA jail told a cellmate of the LaBiana and Tate murders. With Manson already in jail indictments followed. Despite his confinement his Family carried on without him.
Charles Manson Mugshot:Associated Press
Another Family member was shot and killed in November during a game of Russian Roulette. Less than two weeks later another body, later to be identified as Family Friend Sherry Cooper was found near the site where Marina Habe’s body had been discovered in 1968. Two Scientologists, James Sharp, 15 and Doreen Gaul, 19, were found dead in an LA alley. They had been stabbed more than fifty times each.
A further testament to Manson’s influence was the death of Joel Pugh. Family associates Pugh and Bruce Davis flew to London in 1968 to engage in ‘business’ concerning Satanic Orders in Britian. Though Davis returned home Pugh stayed on and his body was found in a London hotel room on December 1, 1969. His throat had been slit with razor blades. There were “backwards writings” and “comic book drawings” written on the mirrors with his blood.
Manson Girls:Associated Press
Along with three of his Family, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Leslie Van Houten, Manson was officially charged with the Tate-LaBianca murders. Over a year after the deaths they finally went to trial. It began in June 1970 and ended on November 19 of the same year.
In 1971 Charles ‘Tex’ Watson was convicted and sentenced to die for his part in the Tate-LaBianca murders. Six member faimlys tried to steal 140 weapons from a gunshop in August that year with a view to breaking Manson out of jail. They were captured in a confrontation with the police which involved gunfire. All were convicted. Amongst them was Mary Brunner, an original Manson Disciple. She was also sentenced for her role in the Hinman murder.
Susan Atkins and Robert Beausoleil were sentenced once again to death for the Hinman murder.
Manson, Bruce Davis and Steve Grogan were convicted in the Shea and Hinman murders.
In 1972 a number of death sentences which were handed out to the Manson family were overturned by the United States Supreme Court.
Whilst Manson was in prison the Family was headed by Lynette ‘Squeaky’ Fromme. In September 1975 she attempted to assasinate President Gerald Ford. She was sentenced to life in prison.
Attorney Ronald Hughes, who represented Leslie Van Houten, disappeared a week after the trial. He was last seen being driven away by two Family associates ‘James’ and ‘Lauren’. His corpse was found five months later. According to prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi ‘James’ and ‘Lauren’ were James and Lauren Willett. On November 8, 1972, the body of 26 year old James Willett was found in a shallow grave near Guerneville, California. He had been shot and decapitated. Three days later his station wagon was found outside a house in Stockton. Police arrested three Manson Family members in the house. Lauren Willett, James Willett’s wife, was found buried in the basement. Later four suspects pled guilty to the murder charges.
Charles Manson’s is eligible for parole. His next hearing is 2002.