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Essay/Term paper: Charles manson

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"Mr. Scott, Ms. Maddox? Here's your baby boy!" These were the first words that Kathleen Maddox heard when she gave birth to a healthy baby boy, to whom she would later give her maiden name. Charles Milles Manson, born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on November 11, 1934 (FAQ's 1), seemed to be a normal child, when, in fact, he was trouble from the start. The two had not planned to have a child, and certainly did not expect him to end up being the most notorious killer of the 20th century. In the summer of 1969, Manson made the residents of California afraid to leave their homes (Fillmer 2). Charlie Manson committed grotesque crimes, controlled his trials, and now resides in the California State Prison (FAQ's 1).

Manson had a rocky childhood and family life. Some experts say that he was a bad seed because of the fact that he did not know his father (Bugliosi 28). Kathleen Maddox was considered by some to be a teenage whore. About his mother, Manson says, "For Mom, life was filled with a never-ending list of denials…In her search for acceptance she may have fallen in love too easily and too often, but a whore at that time? No!…In later years, because of some hard knocks and tough times, she may have sold her body some…" Charlie lived with his mother until the age of 5, when she was arrested for armed robbery (FAQ's 1). She was released from prison in 1942. Manson, after living with various relatives, such as a religious aunt and a sadistic uncle who called him a sissy and made him wear girl's clothes on the first day of school ("Charles"), moved back in with his mother for five more years. At that time, she placed him at the Gibault School for Boys in Indiana. After escaping from the School, he committed several burglaries and was placed into the famous Boys Town in Nebraska (FAQ's 1). After being arrested several more times, one of which he was caught in a stolen car at a roadblock (Fillmer 2), he was married to Rosalie Willis in 1955.

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Charles' marriage was only the beginning of his "family." Charlie tended to lure in young women, by saying he could "make them feel like they were on top of the world, like they were floating (Fillmer 3)." Manson used sleep deprivation, sex, food control, and drugs to gain complete control of his followers ("Charles"). The Family tended to hang around the Spahn Ranch, where they used to make old western movies. The ranch is desolate, located 25 miles from downtown LA, with piles of huge red rocks and dark greenery (Klinghoffer 1). In this isolation, with no access to newspapers or even clocks, the Family listened to Charlie speak on theories such as Buddhism, the Beatles, Scientology, and Adolf Hitler (whom Manson refers to as "a tuned in guy") (Klinghoffer 1). Regarding himself as Jesus Christ reincarnated, he promised to lead the drug induced teens to a hold out in Death Valley through which they would "all descend to live with a secret underground civilization (Klinghoffer 1)." Manson's Family consisted mainly of Bobby Beausoleil, Mary Theresa Brunner, Patricia Krenwinkel, Leslie Van Houten, Linda Kasabian, Susan Atkins, Charles "Tex" Watson, Suzan LaBerge, and Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme (Nelson 1). There were as many as 50 people in the Family at a time, but these nine and Manson remained constant. These were also the ones who did the killing.

When Manson met with his followers, he would sometimes sit on a rock and preach to them, acting as their God. He would tell them that the reason they were at this ranch jam-packed with stolen goods was to prepare them for Helter Skelter, the nuclear and race wars Manson predicted ("Charlie" 1). He derived the title Helter Skelter from the Beatles song off their White Album (Bugliosi 28). An excerpt from the lyrics of this song are: "Helter skelter, helter skelter, here she comes, here she comes." This, in Charlie's mind, was the war against all Jews, blacks, and any race that was not white. Hoping to induce "Helter Skelter", Manson sent Tex Watson,

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Patricia Krenwinkel, Susan Atkins, and Linda Kasabian to film director Roman Polanski's home ("Charlie" 1).

It started as a quiet evening at 10050 Cielo Drive. Sharon Tate, a beautiful actress, was having some friends over at the home of her husband, Roman Polanski. It was August 9, a cool Saturday night, and Tate invited Abigail Folger, the coffee heiress, her boyfriend Voytek Frykowski, and the internationally known hair stylist Jay Sebring for a visit (Bardsley 1). The house was deliberately secluded, and there was a gate inhabited by an able- bodied caretaker named William Garretson (Sanders 42). Between 12:30-1 A.M. the neighbors thought they heard screams, and gunshots, but afterwards there was silence, so they thought nothing of it. What the neighbors were not aware of was that Tate and the guests of the magnificent house were brutally murdered.

The first officers who arrived at the crime scene found Steven Parent in his car outside the house. He had been shot four times and stabbed once (Fillmer 1). Folger and Frykowski were found on the back lawn of the Polanski estate (Fillmer 1). "Coroner's reports would later indicate that Abigail had been stabbed twenty-eight times and Voytek was shot once, struck over the head thirteen times and stabbed fifty-one times" (Fillmer 2). Upon entering the house, the word "PIG" was printed on the door (Fillmer 2). Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring were found inside the house tied together by a rope around their necks, which was hung over a rafter in the ceiling. Sharon, eight months pregnant at the time, died from sixteen stab wounds to the chest and back. Jay had been stabbed seven times and shot once. Both died from exsanguination, which is bleeding to death (Fillmer 2). One of Manson's most faithful followers would later say, "We wanted to do a crime that the world would have to stand up and take notice" (Bardsley 1).

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The very next night found the killers in Los Angeles Los Feliz district, at the home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca (Klinghoffer 2). Leno owned a chain of supermarkets and he and his wife lived happily together (Terry 74). Sadly, Mrs. LaBianca's teenage son discovered the remains of his mother and step-father early Monday morning, the walls painted in blood with Manson slogans: "Death to Pigs," "Helter Skelter," "Rise" (Klinghoffer 2). Mr. LaBianca had been stabbed multiple times, a knife and fork were found protruding from his body, and the word WAR carved into his flesh (Bardsley 4). Rosemary had been stabbed forty-one times. What is rather odd is that the LAPD did not see any connection between the "Tate" murders and the "LaBianca" murders. Inspector K.J. McCauley told reporters, "I don't see any connection between this murder (Tate) and the others. They're too widely removed. I just don't see any connection" (Bugliosi 64). It is said that Manson was not present at either murder, but he did show up after the fact to see the carnage of the LaBianca murders ("Charles").

Susan Atkins was arrested for prostitution and placed at the Sybil Brand Institute, LA's women's house of detention, while awaiting trial. She acted like a nutcase, singing and dancing at the oddest times, oblivious to the seriousness of the charges against her and bubbling over with laughter and delight without any apparent reason (Bardsley 15). She told some inmates specifics about the Tate murders. She also revealed that she and three others actually committed the crimes. In November, two LAPD detectives interviewed the inmates that Atkins had spilled her guts to (Bardsley 16).

Bits and pieces of evidence showed up, such as the .22 caliber Hi Standard Longhorn revolver with the broken gun grip that had been used at the Tate murders, and Rosemary LaBianca's wallet (Bugliosi 134). The man who owned the place that the Manson Family had

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used to clean up after the Tate murders also contacted police. He remembered the car and the license plate which was traced to the Spahn Ranch. On December 3, 1969, several members of the Manson Family were arrested and charged with the killings. The arrested included Charles "Tex" Watson, 24, Patricia Krenwinkle, 28, and Linda Kasabian, 19 ("Charlie" 2). Manson was detained at the Spahn Ranch while the others were variously tracked down in Texas, Alabama, and New Hampshire. Leslie Van Houten, 19, was arrested a few days later ("Charlie" 2). While in custody, Atkins told detectives, "Our leader is a very beautiful man. We belong to him, not to ourselves" (Bugliosi 103). It was discovered that The Family believed Manson to be an incarnation of God and the Devil. They followed his philosophy that the two were one and the same and that, therefore, there was no good or evil. Killing another human being was acceptable because it was merely liberating the soul ("Charlie" 2).

The trial officially began in mid-June of 1970. Judge Charles Older presided (Bardsley 18). He made the wise decision that the jury would be sequestered until the end of the trial- "to protect them from harassment and to prevent their being exposed to trial publicity" (Bugliosi 194). Manson first appeared to the jury with a bloody X that he had carved into his forehead, insisting that he defend himself. Two lawyers, Irving Kanarek and Ronald Hughes assisted him. Even from prison, Manson extended mind control over his Family. Susan Atkins had repudiated her testimony and the girls came up with bizarre stories that would implicate themselves but spare their beloved Charlie (Bardsley 25). As if things weren't looking bad enough for Charlie and his Family, Manson got into an argument with the judge and jumped toward him, screaming, "someone should cut your head off!" (Gilmore 132). Atkins, Krenwinkle, and Van Houten stood up and started chanting in Latin. After 22 weeks of trial, the Prosecution rested (Bardsley 26).

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Judge Older told the lawyers that were assisting Manson and defending the girls to call their first witness. Their response was: "Thank you, Your Honor. The defendants rest" (Bugliosi 203). The girls stood up and shouted that they wanted to testify (Bardsley 27). Hughes, the younger lawyer, stood up and said, "I refuse to take part in any proceeding where I am forced to push a client out the window" (Nelson 221). A few days later, Hughes disappeared. His body was found wedged between two boulders in Ventura County (Bardsley 28).

On January 15, 1971, seven months after the start of the trial, the jury began to deliberate (Nelson 230). After nine days, it came to a verdict. Security was very tight around the Hall of Justice since a Manson follower had stolen a case of hand grenades from a Marine Base and had planned a special event on what they were calling "Judgment Day" (Bardsley 30). Charles Manson, Patricia Krenwinkle, Susan Atkins, and Leslie Van Houten were found guilty of murder and conspiracy to commit murder (Bugliosi 218). On March 29, 1971, the jury completed deliberations on the penalty phase of the trial. Manson and the three female defendants had shaved their heads for the reading of their verdicts (Bardsley 37). "We, the jury in the above-entitled action, having found the defendant Charles Manson guilty of murder in the first degree…do now fix the penalty as death" (Bugliosi 218). Patricia Krenwinkle said, "You have just judged yourselves," and Susan Atkins responded, "Better lock your doors and watch your own kids" (Sanders 301). All four defendants received the death penalty. At a later date, Manson, Robert Beausoleil, "Tex" Watson, Bruce Davis, and Steve Grogan were tried and convicted for the murders of Gary Hinman and Donald Shea (Bugliosi 229). In 1972, the California Supreme Court abolished the death penalty and all of the defendants are serving life sentences.

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Manson now resides in the maximum-security Level IV section of the California State Prison at Corcoran, California (FAQ's 2). His next parole hearing is in April of 2002 (FAQ's 2). He occasionally does television spots and receives more fan mail than any other prisoner in America (Bugliosi 2). Charlie t-shirts sell briskly (Bugliosi 2). Proving that our beloved Mr. Manson is, in fact, insane, when asked what he would do if he ever got out of jail, he said, "I'm already out" (FAQ's 2).


Bardsley, Marilyn. "Charles Manson." http://www.crimelibrary.com/manson.htm (24 Jan. 2000).

Bugliosi, Vincent, and C. Gentry. Helter Skelter. 16th ed. New York: Bantam Books, 1974.

"Charles Milles Manson." <http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Corridor/5321/manson.html> (13 Feb. 2000).

"Charlie." <http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Dreamworld/1681/charles.htm> (13 Feb. 2000).

Fillmer, Deborah K. "Forensic Science and the Charles Manson Murders." < http://www.cris.com/ ~dfillmer/manson.htm > (20 Jan. 2000).

"Frequently Asked Questions about Charles Manson." < http://www.atwa.com/faq.htm > (20 Jan. 2000).

Gilmore, John, and Ron Kenner. The Garbage People. Los Angeles: Omega Press, 1971.

Klinghoffer, David. "True Crime." National Review 5 April 1999: 56-57.

Nelson, Bill. Manson Behind the Scenes. California: Pen Power Publications, 1997.

Sanders, Edwin. The Family. 1st ed. Toronto: Clarke, Irwin, and Company, 1971.

Terry, Marcus. The Ultimate Evil. 2nd ed. New York: Bantam Books, 1989.


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