Charles Manson, the cult leader who orchestrated the infamous murders of seven people during the summer of 1969, died on Sunday at the age of 83. According to a California Department of Corrections statement, Manson died of natural causes at a hospital.
He was the leader of the "Manson Family," a group of followers — mostly runaways and other outliers — that killed for him.
"He was the dictatorial ruler of the (Manson) family, the king, the Maharaja. And the members of the family were slavishly obedient to him," former prosecutor and author of the best-selling true crime novel about the Manson murders “Helter Skelter,” Victor Bugliosi told CNN in 2015.
On August 9, 1969, “Manson Family” murdered actress Sharon Tate, who was eight months’ pregnant, celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring, coffee fortune heiress Abigail Folger, writer Wojciech Frykowski and Steven Parent, a friend of the family's caretaker, according to CNN. The next night, the group killed supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary. Manson himself didn’t physically participate in the killings but he did order them, hoping to inspire a race war. It was an idea he claimed he received from the Beatles’ song “Helter Skelter.”
During a courtroom soliloquy during his highly publicized trial in 1970, Manson said, “These children that come at you with knives, they are your children. You taught them; I didn’t teach them. I just tried to help them stand up.”
He maintained that he was innocent and that society was the one that was guilty, the Associated Press reports. During that trial, Manson showed up in court with an “X” carved in his forehead. His followers soon followed suit. Later, Manson transformed the “X” into a swastika. Manson was found guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the deaths of seven people served nine life terms. He was denied parole 12 times.
Three “Manson Family” followers— Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten — were also found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. Another member, Charles “Tex” Watson, was convicted later. Later, all were spared death and were given life sentences after California threw out the death penalty in 1972.
Michele Hanisee, president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, reacted to the cult leader’s death by quoting Bugliosi, “ Manson was an evil, sophisticated con man with twisted and warped moral values. [...] Today, Manson’s victims are the ones who should be remembered and mourned on the occasion of his death.”
The Associated Press reports that as of now it is unclear what will happen with Manson’s body and to his property.
[Photo: Getty Images]