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Charles Manson Passes Away at Eighty-Three

November 20, 2017 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Charles Manson

One of most notorious murderers in American history is dead. Charles Manson, who masterminded the infamous Tate-LaBianca murders of 1969, died Sunday night according to TMZ. The outlet says that Debra Tate, the sister of slain actress Sharon Tate, told them she received a call that Manson died at 8:13 PM PT on Sunday. He was eighty-three.

Manson is perhaps the name most synonymous with murder sprees in America. He was serving multiple life sentences for the killing of Tate and six others on August 9th and 10th, 1969. For those interested in learning more about the murders and the many factors that came to play in the whole thing, Karina Longworth’s You Must Remember This podcast, specifically episodes #44 to 55 titled “Charles Manson’s Hollywood,” is an excellent resource. It covers the events leading up to and after the murders, and the many fascinating connections Manson had to Hollywood and the music industry, in great and well-researched detail.

Before the murders, Manson had traveled to Los Angeles in the 1950s after a childhood full of petty crimes and prison stays. He had sought to become a recording artist and cultivated contacts with his charisma and ability to charm and manipulate people, but didn’t make it particularly far. He became friends witrh Terry Melcher, the son of actress Doris Day and producer of The Byrds’ albums, along with the Beach Boys’ Dennis Wilson. At Wilson’s request, the surf pop group even covered one of his songs, although the title was changed from “Cease to Exist” to “Never Learn Not to Love” and a lyric was changed which infuriated Manson.

For this and other reasons, Manson took his “Family” — a cult of followers who he had built around him — and pushed the theories he had been proposing to them for some time, that a race war was coming. He sent the group to a house at 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon, which used to be Melcher’s home. At that time, Tate was renting the place along with her husband Roman Polanski. Polanski was out of the country shooting a film.

Manson told his followers who went there — Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Charles “Tex” Watson — to kill everyone and make it look like the Black Panthers had done it in order to spark the race war he had promised. The group showed up at the place and murdered Tate, her friend and celebrity hair stylist Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, Abigail Folger and Steven Parent. Tate was eight and a half months pregnant. Unsatisfied with their work, Manson took the group along with Manson Family member Leslie Van Houten to a different home the next night, the home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, and murdered them as well.

Manson’s “family” were arrested on December 1st, 1969 for the crimes. Manson and Atkins were already in custody at that time. The trial began in June of 1970 and became a national story; the Manson murders are viewed by many as “the end of the sixties.” Van Houten, Krenwinkel, Manson and Atkins were convicted in the main trial, while Watson was convicted in a separate trial.
(Kasabian had not actively participated in the killings and served as a witness for the prosecution). They all received death sentences. After California abolished the death penalty in 1972, Manson’s sentence was changed to nine consecutive life sentences.

Atkins died in 2009 in prison. Krenwinkel and Watson remain incarcerated on life sentences for the murders. Van Houten was granted parole in September, but her release must still be approved by Governor Jerry Brown.

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Charles Manson, Jeremy Thomas