Charles Manson, who ordered cult murders in bid for race war, dies
The psychopathic guru who masterminded a savage killing spree in the United States in the late 1960s that shocked the world, has died at the age of 83.
Charles Manson died of natural causes on Sunday at a hospital, said prison officials in California.
Debra Tate — the sister of Manson’s most famous victim, Sharon Tate — said she received a call from prison officials notifying her of his death.
Manson was earlier moved from the Corcoran State Prison to a hospital in the city of Bakersfield, in Kern County, to be treated for an unspecified illness, US media reported.
In the late 1960s, Manson led the Manson Family, an apocalyptic cult that committed random murders in the upmarket and mostly white neighborhoods of Los Angeles. They unleashed a wave of panic in the city and beyond.
The cult’s aim was for African Americans to be blamed, in the hope of sparking what Manson believed to be an impending and apocalyptic race war.
His disciples committed at least nine murders, but it was the killing of seven people on August 9 and 10 in 1969 that sealed Manson’s notoriety and earned him life in prison.
Sharon Tate, who was then a 26-year-old movie actress and the heavily pregnant wife of director Roman Polanski, pleaded for the life of her unborn child before she was stabbed to death.
Manson was not present, but ordered the killings.
One of his followers, Susan Atkins, carried out Tate’s murder, after which she tasted the actress’s blood and wrote “PIG” with it on the front door of Tate’s home.
Along with four of his disciples, Manson, who had never shown remorse, was sentenced to death in 1971 for having led the killings of seven people.
The sentences were later commuted to life in prison when California abolished the death penalty.
During his marathon trial, Manson was portrayed as a drug-crazed loner with mesmerizing powers of persuasion.
He had been in prison in California since 1971, during which he applied for parole 12 times. On the last occasion in 2012, he told the court that he was “a very dangerous man.”
In each case, he was denied release and was not eligible to apply again until 2027.
Manson was born on November 12, 1934 in Cincinnati in the Midwestern US state of Ohio to a 16-year-old mother, and grew up without knowing his father.
After he was repeatedly caught stealing, Manson was placed in a juvenile correctional facility when he was 13, and he remained in detention.
He was moved between various facilities until he was freed on parole in 1954.
In 1963, after two failed marriages, Manson was back in prison for violating his parole, and would remain there until 1967 when he was released.
After moving to San Francisco during the so-called “Summer of Love,” Manson took up street busking with his guitar, but soon established himself at the center of a drug-fuelled commune, surrounded by mostly female followers who he called his “Family.”
Initially a nomadic community, it later set up base in a ranch in California’s Death Valley.
Manson became obsessed with the Beatles, and embraced a twisted philosophy inspired by the group’s lyrics.
Describing himself as a reincarnation of Jesus Christ, Manson arranged a series of murders.
More than 40 years later, the killing spree by the Manson Family continues to haunt the public psyche and stir morbid fascination.