LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Charles Manson, the hippie cult leader after orchestrating the gruesome murders of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six others in Los Angeles during the summer of 1969, has died aged 83, California prison officials said late Sunday. Manson “died of natural causes at 8:13 pm on Sunday” at a hospital in Kern County, the California Department of Corrections statement.
A petty criminal Charles Manson who had been in and out of jail since childhood, the charismatic, guru-like Manson surrounded himself in the 1960s with runaways and other lost souls and then sent his disciples to butcher some of LOS ANGELES rich and famous in what prosecutors said was a bid to trigger a race war.
What murders did the Manson Family commit?
- In July of that year, Gary Hinman, an acquaintance of Manson’s, was held captive at his house by three Manson followers demanding money before one, Bobby Beausoleil, stabbed him to death and smeared blood over the walls.
- On the groups most murderous night, August 9, 1969, Manson told followers Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian, Patricia Krenwinkel and Charles Watson to murder pregnant actress Sharon Tate, after which she tasted the actress’s blood and wrote “PIG” with it on the home’s front door.
- Sharon’s friends Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, and Stephen Parent, a friend of the caretaker, were slaughtered.
- Elsewhere, family member Steve Grogan killed Donald “Shorty” Shea
- The following night, Manson ordered members of the Family to the home of supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary.
- They were tied up and brutally stabbed to death before their bodies were desecrated.
- In 1971, Manson, Atkins, and Krenwinkel were found guilty and sentenced to death.
- In a separate trial in 1971, Watson was also found guilty and sentenced to death.
- All the death penalties were commuted to life in prison in 1972 when the death penalty was abolished in California.
- Leslie Van Houten was found guilty of the LaBianca murders and sentenced to death in March 1971, later commuted to life in prison.
- Beausoleil was sentenced to death, commuted to life in prison.
- Grogan was sentenced to life.
- Charles Manson was originally sentenced to death in 1971 but was spared execution and his sentence was converted to life in prison after the California Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional in that state.
- Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme pulled a gun out on then President Gerald Ford in 1975. She was sentenced to life in prison.
Note: The killers scrawled such phrases as “Pigs” and “Healter Skelter” (sic) in blood at the crime scenes.
Three months later, a Manson follower was jailed on an unrelated charge and told a cellmate about the bloodbath, leading to the cult leader’s arrest.
In the annals of American crime, Manson became the embodiment of evil, a short, shaggy-haired, bearded figure with a demonic stare and an “X” — later turned into a swastika — carved into his forehead.