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Charles Manson's Former Lover Says She Thought The Cult Leader Was ‘The Closest Thing To Jesus’

Catherine Share, a one-time Manson follower, also believes the "Family" members who committed infamous murders on the cult leader's behalf should be released from jail.

By Jill Sederstrom
A Short History of Charles Manson

Charles Manson was known as a homicidal, if charismatic, cult leader who orchestrated a series of brutal murders in the 1970s that left the Los Angeles community terrified, but to one former lover he was “the closest thing to Jesus.”

Catherine Share, known as Gypsy during her time with the infamous Manson Family, revealed new details about life living at Spahn Ranch in the months leading up to the brutal murders of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others at director Roman Polanski’s home in August 1969 in an interview with the Australian version of the news show “60 Minutes.”

Although Share herself never committed any of the murders linked to the cult, she said the bond between Manson’s followers was so strong they would have died for each other.

“It just had to be done,” she said of the murders. “Charlie is always right.”

The crimes sent shockwaves throughout the community, but in the months before the brutal murders Share described an idyllic life centered on free love and LSD where Manson worked hard to make his followers feel good about themselves.

Catherine Share

“He gave women what they needed and wanted in a lot of different ways,” she said in a clip from the show.

Although she never thought he was Jesus Christ, she said she believed he was the closest thing to the religious icon and said his word was considered “gospel” among his followers.

“He just seemed like he knew everything,” Share said. “And he seemed at peace and happy all the time.”

Share, now 76, was 26 at the time she moved to the ranch and said although she was never asked to participate in the murders, she believes she would have probably "died first" before she would have carried out the acts. 

“It’s just that I was older and more of a human and less susceptible,” she said.

Many of Manson's followers would end up spending most of their lives behind bars. Susan Atkins who was convicted of the Tate killings died in prison in 2009. Manson himself died in 2017 while serving his life sentence.

Other followers, including Leslie Van Houten, Charles “Tex” Watson and Patricia Krenwinkel are still in prison, despite repeated appearances before the parole board. Van Houten was recommended for parole, for the third time, back in January.

Share believes they should be released from prison.

“They’ve just done the work on themselves for years and years and years,” she said. “They’re just not the same people they were when they were 20 and 18 at all.”

It isn’t the first time Share has spoken out about her time at the ranch. In 2017 she testified in front of the Los Angeles Superior court on behalf of Van Houten, who was up for parole, telling the judge that the cult leader had once beat her and threatened to send another member to hunt her down if she ever tried to leave cult.

“Some people could not leave. I was one of them that could not leave,” she said at the time according to the Associated Press. “I don’t think [Van Houten] felt like she was free to leave.”