Charles Milles Manson (November 12, 1934 – November 19, 2017) was an American criminal and musician who, in the late 1960s, initiated and led the group called “The Manson Family”, a cult based in California. Some of the cult members committed nine murders, in different locations, between July and August 1969.

The followers of Manson’s community were mainly young women who had been in trouble with the law. Manson presented himself as the reincarnation of Jesus and plotted all the crimes committed by members of the Manson Family in order to provoke a race war between whites and blacks, imagining and hoping that black people would be the ones accused of murder.

His vision, in which he hoped to be the leader of a new social order, was dubbed “Helter Skelter,” after a Beatles song Manson had an obsession with. Manson and his followers lived together in a desert area and were drug users. Through drugs and the way he preached his beliefs, Manson managed to control and manipulate his “worshippers”.

One of the best selling crime books in history

The murders of the Manson Family inspired the book “Helter Skelter”, written by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry, and first published in the United States in 1974. The book recounts the cases of Manson and his followers, detailing the investigation, arrest and prosecution of Charles Manson and those who followed him in his sick and murderous idylls. It is one of the best-selling crime books in history.

One of the famous and horrifying murders of the Manson Family, which shocked and horrified the whole of America, occurred in 1969, among the victims of the killers was Sharon Tate, the young and pregnant wife of the film director Roman Polanski.

Wife of Roman Polanksi, killed by Family Manson

The title of the book, “Helter Skelter”, was in turn inspired by the title of the Beatles song of the same name, the name given by Manson to his theory of an impending race war between blacks and whites. The book was a bestseller. In 1975 it won the Edgar Award for “Best Crime Book” and was the basis of several film productions. In 2015, the year Bugliosi died, “Helter Skelter” had already sold more than 7 million copies in the United States alone, thus becoming the best-selling crime book in history.

Vincent Bugliosi was a prosecutor in the Manson trial, which took place in 1970. He did a meticulous and professionally done job on the Manson case, of Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and other members of the so-called Manson Family . US prosecutors said at the time that Charles Manson’s plan was to start a race war in the United States.

The night of the murder in which the actress Sharon Tate died

On August 9, 1969, members of the “Manson Family” cult, whose leader was the American criminal Charles Manson, kill five people in the home of director Roman Polanski, in Beverly Hills, California. Among the victims who did not stand a chance against the murderous monsters was the young wife of the film director Roman Poanski. Actress Sharon Tate was only 26 years old and eight and a half months pregnant. She was killed with 16 stab wounds, and her last words before she was killed were said to be “mama….mama”.

Tate, along with her and Roman Polanski’s friends (the director was away in Europe) were having dinner together when the Family Manson followers, at the behest of Charles Manson, entered Polanski’s rented house and shot them, beaten, stabbed and hanged everyone present. Less than two days after the terrible murder, Manson’s men committed another murder, this time the victims were the owner of a supermarket, Leno LaBianca, and his wife. The killers had written the word “war” on LaBianca’s stomach with a knife, and traces of blood were later found on the refrigerator in the house, on the front door and on the walls of their Los Angeles home.

Why was Polanski’s house attacked?

Roman Polanski was not, in fact, the cult leader’s intended target. Charles Manson, who was an aspiring musician, chose the director’s house because at one point he had tried unsuccessfully to sign an album deal with a producer who had previously lived there. Even though he did not directly participate in these murders, Manson was later charged with murder on the grounds that he influenced his followers and led to those gruesome acts.

How were the criminals caught?

Initially, investigators did not make any connection between the two murders, but in December 1969, members of the Manson Family were arrested for a series of car thefts, and while one of the criminals was in custody, he told his cellmates about the other crimes he had been involved with with the Manson Family.

Charles Manson, criminal child, criminal adult

Manson was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1934 to a single mother who brought him into the world when he was just 16 years old. He spent most of his childhood in correctional facilities, landed there by several crimes that he constantly committed, later, as an adult, having to spend most of his life in prison.

Although he was originally sentenced to death in 1971, his sentence was commuted to life in prison with the possibility of parole after the California Supreme Court overturned the death penalty in 1972. He served his life sentence at California State Prison, Corcoran, and died at the age of 83 in late 2017.

Charles Manson spent 45 years in prison, an environment in which he continued to preach his ideas, even establishing a religious cult consisting of escapees and heretics.


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