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Charles Manson: Leader of the Manson family

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The crimes attributed to Charles Manson have come down into history as some of the most macabre crimes ever recorded. It is believed that Manson never actually killed anybody, but his family has been declared responsible for the death of several people. As the leader and alleged mastermind behind the murders, he was sentenced to death on April 19, 1971, although he spent the rest of his life in California’s state prison. He died on November 19, 2017, at 83.

Get to know more about Charles Manson’s life and how, little by little, he went on to become the leader of a cult that ended up costing the life of at least ten people: Gary Allen Hinman, actress Sharon Tate (8 and a half months pregnant), Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, Abigail Folger, Steven Earl Parent, Leno LaBianca, Rosemary LaBianca and Donald Jerome «Shorty» Shea. The crimes occurred between July and August 1969, when he was 35 years old.


A criminal in the form of a silhouette

Even before coming into the world, Charles Manson’s life had already been marked by crime: An absent father whose identity was never known, and a criminal mother who was condemned to five years in prison in 1939 for assault and battery. His childhood was spent in the company of his aunt and uncle, who lived in McMichen, West Virginia.

Charles Manson was born on November 12, 1934 in Cincinnati, Ohio, but spent many years of his life traveling from state to state with his mother, Kathleen, who was an alcoholic and was arrested numerous times for theft, battery and scamming, crimes Charles Manson started to commit when he was as young as 9 years old.

Charles Manson’s first offenses

A criminal in an alley

When he was barely 9, Charles Manson set fire to the school he attended, but that wasn’t his only childhood crime, since he was also reprehended for skipping school and stealing. At 13, Manson was sent to a catholic school for male delinquents, which he escaped due to the physical abuse students were subjected to.

At the beginning, it is believed that his crimes were due to a lack of food; However, after his first big robbery at a convenience store in Indianapolis, Charles Manson realized that he could also have access to big amounts of money, which made him become more violent. Besides, his whole family was into stealing and scamming, so he perfected these two abilities over the years.

Starting a cult


It was when he was 15 years old that Charles Manson committed his first armed robbery, alongside Blackie Nelson, one of his prison mates from the juvenile detention center in Omaha, and Nelson’s uncle, who did armed robbery for a living. For these crimes, he was sentenced to spending several years in a juvenile detention center, where he was accused of sexually assaulting at least three other inmates.

During his youth, Charles Manson started discovering and making use of his oratory skills to gather around him people who were considered antisocial and emotionally unstable. They found in Manson a supremacist leader who made them believe in an incoming race war. The cult Manson founded used a Beatles song, Helter Skelter, to attract followers.

His most famous crimes


Charles Manson’s crimes became quite notorious, but according to record, this criminal only actively participated in one of them. In 1969, some members of the Manson cult started perpetrating a series of murders in Los Angeles, among them that of actress Sharon Tate, who was 8 and a half months pregnant. The day after murdering Tate, the Manson took the lives of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.

These murders, according to investigations, weren’t following a direct order from Charles Manson, but he was formally accused of conspiracy and first-degree murder because of his beliefs. Criminology experts believe that Manson’s only “real” crime was shooting Bernard Crowe, a drug dealer who survived the attack.

Charles Manson sentence

Court room to judge a criminal

Charles Manson and his acolytes’ trial was considered “the trial of the century”, as it lasted for nine and a half months. Besides, it was one of the most notorious mediatic events of the time and, decades later, we’re still talking about it due to the severity of the case, as well as Manson’s criminal behavior, who was even suspected of planning the murder of one of the trial’s lawyers.

On March 29, 1971, Charles Manson, along with Leslie Van Houten, Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel, was sentenced to death; When they received their sentence, the three women faced the jury with shaved heads, the same style Manson had adopted years earlier. None of them was served their original sentence, because California’s Supreme Court abolished the death penalty in that state. Manson died at 83 due to colon cancer complications, thus putting an end to one of the most fearsome cases of criminal history in the United States.

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