Charles Manson died in prison in 2017 at 86. His crimes, his so-called family, will continue to haunt and horrify people since you cannot say Manson's name without thinking about the brutal slashings of five people in one night. That includes the death of Sharon Tate, who was about to have her first child.
Manson was a cult leader, a manipulator of astronomical proportions. Not only was he toying with young, troubled, unstable people, but his deeds represent the end of an era - the end of the peaceful hippie movement as we knew it.
The fact that there are over 25 documentaries and scripted movies about his "family" and their vicious murders speaks volumes. Not even the most notorious serial killers brought so much interest from the public.
To make matters worse, the worshiping of Charles Manson is still alive. It did not just disappear when he was finally put to jail 46 years before his death. So, what made Manson so unique? Was he born evil? What was it like growing up Charles Manson?
Ultimately, how did Charles Manson die, and who did he leave behind?
Charles Manson before Helter Skelter
Before the Cielo Drive crimes, Charles Manson was trying to make it as a musician.
Conning people in Hollywood was not easy, even for a master manipulator. Because that is what Manson was. Magnetic, irresistible source of continuous manipulation.
His background was humble; some might say tragic. His mother was only 15 when she had him, and the father was not in the picture. Young Charles was six when his mother ended up in prison.
There was no love lost. He later stated that she taught him one thing: everything she said was a lie. Manson elaborated that everything he has ever heard from anyone was a lie.
Even when he was a child, he knew how to make girls do what he wanted. As the story goes, he fought with another young boy. The girls from Manson's class attacked that boy because Charles told them to do so.
He defended himself by saying that no one could force another person to do anything.
Many years later, Charles Manson will use some other girls for far more vicious, almost unimaginable attacks. His defense will remain the same.
As a teenager, he was already a thief, a con artist. He spent most of his young adulthood in jail. And that is when he heard the Beatles, and Charles Manson found what he wanted: fame, adoration, power, money, and so he picked up a guitar.
Manson was an intelligent guy. He learned from other prisoners, enjoyed reading, and exploring various topics. His future was sealed: Manson knew he would not fit into life outside prison because he would not only repeat his crimes. He will do much, much more.
The Rise Of The Manson Family
Controlling, manipulative, and on the hunt for endless admiration, Manson was responsible for many heinous crimes.
While his mother was in prison, young Charles lived with his aunt and uncle, both profoundly religious people. Perhaps, if he stayed with his aunt and uncle, there would be no Charles Manson as we know it now.
But, as soon as his mother took him back, he was back to a life of promiscuity, desertion, and cruelty. Combining these two very different types of upbringing made Manson a killing machine.
His time in prison was, naturally, full of violence, and he was gang-raped countless times. Manson learned to hold his anger until it was time to unleash it, as many fellow prisons later learned.
Charles Manson was released from prison in 1967. He was broke, but he quickly seduced a 23-year-old Mary Brunner and moved into her flat in San Francisco.
She was under his spell, and he introduced her to drugs while she brought him her friends. On the outside, the "Manson family" at this stage was nothing but another hippie commune.
Manson would play his guitar, claiming he will be bigger than The Beatles. The young women would look at him as their spiritual guru, prophet, and they would do what he wanted.
These girls came from a troubled background, and Manson knew how to make them feel special. With LSD and his manipulative characteristics, Charles Manson knew that he was building his legacy.
Soon, Manson got tired of San Francisco. His family stole a yellow bus, painted it black, and they were off. They spent 18 months partying and cruising around California's borders, only to end up in Topanga Canion, near Los Angeles.
It was time for Manson's family to bring in more men.
Manson And Dennis Wilson Of The Beach Boys
Once Manson and his "family" were in the Los Angeles area, they all had one task: finding music producers and convincing them that Charles Manson is the next big thing.
Thanks to his well-known charming ways and the help of former inmates, the family was gathering attention from the IT crowd. Dennis Wilson, the Beach Boys drummer, met the "family" in the early summer of 1968.
Manson introduced himself and offered Willson 12 young, naked teenage girls. That's how a famous drummer ended up in the papers with the title: "I live With 17 Girls."
For Wilson, Manson was the wizard. He was so infatuated with the way Manson was handling young women and girls that Wilson introduced him to his friends and even allowed him to use his cars.
Finally, the Beach Boys manager had to come in and stop the party. He has had it, and Manson and his family were out.
The family was back to stealing, but they did manage to find a ranch near LA to call their home.
At that time, Manson was quoting the Bible to his growing family and explaining the Beatles' lyrics. He convinced his family that the band was talking to him, to them.
Manson was obsessing over one song, Helter Skelter from The White Album. In his interpretation, the song was a warning about the upcoming war between black and white people.
Manson told how the black people would win, but they will have to turn to Manson to lead the way. He convinced his "family" that they are a superior race.
By combining religions, Scientology, and mind-controlling techniques, Manson, perhaps like Adolf Hitler, or any other tyrant, soon unleashed the fury with the army of seduced and deranged followers.
The First Known Victim Of The Manson Family
Before the Cielo drive murders, Charles Manson finally showed his true colors in May 1969. While on Spahn Ranch, Terry Melcher, a producer, made promises to Manson, but he never delivered.
On July 25, 1969, Manson sent three people to the home of Gary Hindman. He was Bobby Beausoleil's teacher, and they even lived together at some point.
Manson heard that Hindman inherited a large sum of money, and Charles wanted it. When Hindman refused to give it to him, Manson took out a sword and cut off Hindman's ear.
Three days later, Bobby Beausoleil killed Hindman, per Manson's request. He left the bloody words on the wall "Political Piggy." Alongside was a paw print as a way to place the blame on the Black Panther movement.
Bobby was arrested several days after the murder.
Now it was time for revenge on Melcher.
The Tate- Labianca Murders
Manson's instructions were chilling: destroying everything and anyone. And so, Charles "Tex" Watson. Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Linda Kasabian went to 10050 Cielo Drive. What Manson didn't know is that the producer no longer lived there.
At the time, this was a summer home for Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate, his eight months pregnant bride.
As Polanski was in Europe working on a film, Sharon was with a hairdresser Jay Sebring, screenwriter Voytek Frykowski, and heiress Abigail Folger.
The murder squad's first victim was an 18-year-old driver, Stevan Parent. Waston slashed and shot him four times.
Once the Manson family members were in the house, they gathered their victims in one room. Fraykovski asked Watson who were they, and he replied:
"I am the devil, and I am here to do the devil's work."
After the slaughtering, Atkins wrote the word "Pigs" with Tate's blood per Manson's instructions.
The next night, on August 10, the Manson family struck again.
They were not happy with the messy killings from Cielo Drive, and Manson went with the family to show them how it's done.
The Manson family murdered Leno and Rosemary Labianca. They left words "War," "Death to Pigs," "Helter Skelter," and "Rise." Once again, they used the victims' blood.
The Family, including Charles, were arrested in October for arson and grand theft.
Susan Atkins was taken into custody with over 20 other members of Manson's killing cult. She bragged to her cellmates about killing Sharon Tate and gave chilling details not many knew about.
Manson and four other killers were sentenced to death in 1971. But they got lucky. In 1972, The State of California declared the death penalty unconstitutional.
How Did Charles Manson Die?
Afton Elaine Burton was over five decades Manson's junior. At 26, in 2004, she was engaged to Manson. However, her motives were not pure. She merely wanted to claim his body after his death and turn the infamous name into a fortune. That did not happen.
So, despite spending most of his time on Earth in jail, Manson had a colorful life.
A year before his death, Manson was diagnosed with colon cancer. However, he died from a heart attack on November 19, 2017. He was cremated four months later.
Manson's grandson Jason Freeman took to the court to get to Manson's remains, and around 20 people gathered to say their final goodbye to one of the most vicious criminals in California's history.
Among them was Sandra Good, a member of the original "Manson Family."
Two other men fought Freeman to get the rights to Manson's remains. One was the alleged son, and the other was a friend and an admirer.
It was kind of ironic to watch young Freeman fight over his grandfather's body. And you will soon learn why.
Charles Manson's Sons
Manson was formally married and divorced twice.
Freeman's father, Charles Manson's first son, killed himself in 1993. He was unable to live with the burden of having Charles Manson as a father.
His mother was Manson's first wife, Rosalie Jean Willis.
Manson's second child, Charles Luther Manson, died in 2007. He stayed away from the limelight, and we only learned that he had an alias - Jay Charles Warner.
His mother was a former prostitute, Candy Stevens.
Valentine Michael Manson was named after the main character in Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. His mother was Mary Brunner. Her parents managed to get custody of a child and renamed him, Michael Brunner.
After Mary Brunner gave birth, Manson supposedly bit through the umbilical cord with his teeth. He nicknamed his third son Pooh Bear.
Many others still claim that their father was Charles Manson. Considering how many lovers he had, it comes as no surprise.
Manson's Net Worth, And Permanent Place In Crime History
Despite his death and 46 years in prison prior, Manson did not disappear from the public eye.
He gave exclusive interviews, wrote and made music. Charles Manson's net worth is around 400,000 dollars. He managed to make money even though he was sentenced to life without parole.
At 5ft 2, with eyes that many described as "evil," Manson remains an enigma. Was he a product of his upbringing? Or was he simply born to destroy lives?
But not everything Manson said was a lie, toying with others. He knew he couldn't handle life outside prison. And he knew that he was capable of unimaginable evil. By calling himself Jesus and the Devil, he was partly right.
Even when he was already in his 80s and in a jail cell, he had fans, followers, lovers. With the swastika on his forehead, Manson's biggest desire came to life: he indeed became famous, larger than life, and death.
Will we ever escape the horror Charles Manson created? Will "the Manson family" ever indeed cease to exist? And how come so many people share his dreams, despite knowing that they are what nightmares are made of?