Charles Manson

Charles Manson
MansonB33920 8-14-17 (cropped).jpg
Manson at Corcoran State Prison, August 2017
Born
Charles Milles Maddox

(1934-11-12)November 12, 1934
DiedNovember 19, 2017(2017-11-19) (aged 83)
OccupationSinger-songwriter
Known forManson Family murders, Tate murders
Height5 ft 2 in (157 cm)[1] or 5 ft 6 in (168 cm)[2] depending on source
Spouse(s)
  • Rosalie Willis
    (m. 1955; div. 1958)
  • Leona Stevens
    (m. 1959; div. 1963)
Children2 (1 alleged)
Parent(s)
  • Colonel W. H. Scott Sr. (father)
  • Kathleen Maddox (mother)
  • William Manson (stepfather)
Criminal chargeMurder, conspiracy
PenaltyDeath (commuted to life with the possibility of parole after the death penalty was abolished in California)
Partner(s)Members of the Manson Family, including Susan Atkins, Mary Brunner, and Tex Watson
Signature
Charles Manson signature2.svg

Charles Milles Manson ( Maddox, November 12, 1934 – November 19, 2017) was an American criminal and cult leader. In mid-1967, he formed what became known as the "Manson Family", a quasi-commune based in California. Manson's followers committed a series of nine murders at four locations in July and August 1969. According to the Los Angeles County district attorney, Manson plotted to start a race war, though he and others involved long disputed this motive.[3] In 1971, he was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the deaths of seven people. Although the prosecution conceded that Manson never literally ordered the murders, they contended that his ideology constituted an overt act of conspiracy.[4] Manson was also convicted of first-degree murder for the deaths of Gary Hinman and Donald Shea.

At the time the Manson Family began to form, Manson was an unemployed ex-convict who had spent more than half of his life in correctional institutions for a variety of offenses. Before the murders, he was a singer-songwriter on the fringe of the Los Angeles music industry, chiefly through a chance association with Dennis Wilson, drummer and founding member of the Beach Boys. In 1968, the group recorded one of Manson's songs, "Cease to Exist", retitled "Never Learn Not to Love", as a single B-side, but without a credit to Manson.

The Los Angeles district attorney said that Manson was obsessed with the Beatles, particularly their 1968 self-titled album (also known as the "White Album"). Allegedly guided by his interpretation of the band's lyrics, Manson adopted the term "Helter Skelter" to describe an impending apocalyptic race war. At trial, the prosecution claimed that Manson and his followers, who were mostly young women, believed that the murders would help precipitate that war. Other contemporary interviews and those who testified during the penalty phase of Manson's original trial insisted that the Tate–LaBianca murders were copycat crimes designed to exonerate Manson's friend Bobby Beausoleil.[5][6]

From the beginning of Manson's notoriety, a pop culture arose around him and he became an emblem of insanity, violence, and the macabre. After he was charged with the crimes of which he was later convicted, recordings of songs written and performed by Manson were released commercially, starting with Lie: The Love and Terror Cult (1970). Various musicians have covered some of his songs. Manson was originally sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to life with the possibility of parole after the California Supreme Court invalidated the state's death penalty statute in 1972. He served his life sentence at California State Prison in Corcoran and died at age 83 in late 2017.

1934–1967: Early life

Childhood

Charles Manson was born on November 12, 1934, to 16-year-old Kathleen Manson-Bower-Cavender,[7] née Maddox (1918–1973),[8] in the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was first named "no name Maddox".[9][10][11] Within weeks, he was called Charles Milles Maddox.[9][12]

Manson's biological father appears to have been Colonel Walker Henderson Scott Sr. (1910–1954)[13] of Catlettsburg, Kentucky, against whom Kathleen Maddox filed a paternity suit that resulted in an agreed judgment in 1937. Manson may never have known his biological father.[9][11] Scott worked intermittently in local mills, and also had a local reputation as a con artist. He allowed Maddox to believe he was an army colonel, although "Colonel" was merely his given name. When Maddox told Scott she was pregnant, he told her he had been called away on army business; after several months she realized he had no intention of returning.[14]

In August 1934, before Manson's birth, Maddox married William Eugene Manson (1909–1961), whose occupation was listed on Charles's birth certificate as a "laborer" at a dry cleaning business.[15] Maddox went on drinking sprees for days at a time with her brother Luther, leaving Charles with a variety of babysitters. They were divorced on April 30, 1937, when a court accepted Manson's charge of "gross neglect of duty".[15]

On August 1, 1939, Maddox and Luther's girlfriend Julia Vickers spent the evening drinking with Frank Martin, a new acquaintance who appeared to be wealthy. Maddox and Vickers decided to rob him, and Maddox phoned her brother to help. They were incompetent thieves, and were found and arrested within hours. At the trial seven weeks later, Luther was sentenced to ten years in prison, and Kathleen was sentenced to five years.[16] Manson was placed in the home of an aunt and uncle in McMechen, West Virginia.[17] His mother was paroled in 1942. Manson later characterized the first weeks after she returned from prison as the happiest time in his life.[18]

Manson's family moved to Charleston, West Virginia, where Manson continually played truant and his mother spent her evenings drinking. She was arrested for grand larceny, but not convicted. After moving to Indianapolis, Maddox started attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings where she met an alcoholic named Lewis (no first name), whom she married in August 1943. As well as constantly playing truant, Manson began stealing from stores and his home. In 1947, Maddox looked for a temporary foster home for Manson, but she was unable to find a suitable one. She decided to send him to the Gibault School for Boys in Terre Haute, Indiana, a school for male delinquents run by Catholic priests. Manson soon fled home to his mother, but she took him back to the school. He spent Christmas 1947 in McMechen, at his aunt and uncle's house, where he was caught stealing a gun.[19]

First offenses

Manson returned to Gibault but ran away to Indianapolis ten months later. Instead of returning to his mother, he rented a room and supported himself by burgling stores at night. He was eventually caught, and a sympathetic judge sent him to Boys Town, a juvenile facility in Omaha, Nebraska. After four days, he and a student named Blackie Nielson stole a car and somehow obtained a gun. They used it to rob a grocery store and a casino, as they made their way to the home of Nielson's uncle in Peoria, Illinois.[20][21]

Nielson's uncle was a professional thief, and when the boys arrived he apparently took them on as apprentices.[22] Manson was arrested two weeks later during a nighttime raid on a Peoria store. In the investigation that followed, he was linked to his two earlier armed robberies. He was sent to the Indiana Boys School, a strict reform school. He later claimed that other students raped him with the encouragement of a staff member. Manson developed a self-defense technique he later called the "insane game". When he was physically unable to defend himself he would screech, grimace and wave his arms to convince aggressors that he was insane. After a number of failed attempts, he escaped with two other boys in February 1951.[23][24]

The three escapees were attempting to drive to California in stolen cars when they were arrested in Utah. They had robbed several filling stations along the way. Driving a stolen car across state lines is a federal crime that violates the Dyer Act. Manson was sent to Washington, D.C.'s National Training School for Boys.[24] On arrival he was given aptitude tests. He was illiterate, and his IQ was 109 (the national average was 100). His case worker deemed him aggressively antisocial.[23][24]

First imprisonment

On a psychiatrist's recommendation, Manson was transferred in October 1951 to Natural Bridge Honor Camp, a minimum security institution.[24] His aunt visited him and told administrators she would let him stay at her house and would help him find work. Manson had a parole hearing scheduled for February 1952. However, in January, he was caught raping a boy at knifepoint. Manson was transferred to the Federal Reformatory in Petersburg, Virginia. There he committed a further "eight serious disciplinary offenses, three involving homosexual acts". He was then moved to a maximum security reformatory at Chillicothe, Ohio, where he was expected to remain until his release on his 21st birthday in November 1955. Good behavior led to an early release in May 1954, to live with his aunt and uncle in McMechen.[25]

Booking photo, Federal Correctional Institute Terminal Island, May 2, 1956

In January 1955, Manson married a hospital waitress named Rosalie Jean Willis.[26] Around October, about three months after he and his pregnant wife arrived in Los Angeles in a car he had stolen in Ohio, Manson was again charged with a federal crime for taking the vehicle across state lines. After a psychiatric evaluation, he was given five years' probation. Manson's failure to appear at a Los Angeles hearing on an identical charge filed in Florida resulted in his March 1956 arrest in Indianapolis. His probation was revoked; he was sentenced to three years' imprisonment at Terminal Island, San Pedro, California.[24]

While Manson was in prison, Rosalie gave birth to their son Charles Manson Jr. During his first year at Terminal Island, Manson received visits from Rosalie and his mother, who were now living together in Los Angeles. In March 1957, when the visits from his wife ceased, his mother informed him Rosalie was living with another man. Less than two weeks before a scheduled parole hearing, Manson tried to escape by stealing a car. He was given five years' probation and his parole was denied.[24]

Second imprisonment

Manson received five years' parole in September 1958, the same year in which Rosalie received a decree of divorce. By November, he was pimping a 16-year-old girl and was receiving additional support from a girl with wealthy parents. In September 1959, he pleaded guilty to a charge of attempting to cash a forged U.S. Treasury check, which he claimed to have stolen from a mailbox; the latter charge was later dropped. He received a 10-year suspended sentence and probation after a young woman named Leona, who had an arrest record for prostitution, made a "tearful plea" before the court that she and Manson were "deeply in love ... and would marry if Charlie were freed".[24] Before the year's end, the woman did marry Manson, possibly so she would not be required to testify against him.[24]

Manson took Leona and another woman to New Mexico for purposes of prostitution, resulting in him being held and questioned for violating the Mann Act. Though he was released, Manson correctly suspected that the investigation had not ended. When he disappeared in violation of his probation, a bench warrant was issued. An indictment for violation of the Mann Act followed in April 1960.[24] When one of the women was arrested for prostitution, Manson was arrested in June in Laredo, Texas, and was returned to Los Angeles. For violating his probation on the check-cashing charge, he was ordered to serve his ten year sentence.[24]

Manson spent a year trying unsuccessfully to appeal the revocation of his probation. In July 1961, he was transferred from the Los Angeles County Jail to the United States Penitentiary at McNeil Island, Washington. There, he took guitar lessons from Barker–Karpis gang leader Alvin "Creepy" Karpis, and obtained from another inmate a contact name of someone at Universal Studios in Hollywood, Phil Kaufman.[27] According to Jeff Guinn's 2013 biography of Manson, his mother moved to Washington State to be closer to him during his McNeil Island incarceration, working nearby as a waitress.[28]

Although the Mann Act charge had been dropped, the attempt to cash the Treasury check was still a federal offense. Manson's September 1961 annual review noted he had a "tremendous drive to call attention to himself", an observation echoed in September 1964.[24] In 1963, Leona was granted a divorce. During the process she alleged that she and Manson had a son, Charles Luther.[24] According to a popular urban legend, Manson auditioned unsuccessfully for the Monkees in late 1965; this is refuted by the fact that Manson was still incarcerated at McNeil Island at that time.[29]

In June 1966, Manson was sent for the second time to Terminal Island in preparation for early release. By the time of his release day on March 21, 1967, he had spent more than half of his 32 years in prisons and other institutions. This was mainly because he had broken federal laws. Federal sentences were, and remain, much more severe than state sentences for many of the same offenses.[24] Telling the authorities that prison had become his home, he requested permission to stay.[24]

Other Languages
العربية: تشارلز مانسن
aragonés: Charles Manson
asturianu: Charles Manson
azərbaycanca: Çarlz Menson
Bân-lâm-gú: Charles Manson
Basa Banyumasan: Charles Manson
Bikol Central: Charles Manson
български: Чарлс Менсън
brezhoneg: Charles Manson
čeština: Charles Manson
Ελληνικά: Τσαρλς Μάνσον
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Charles Manson
español: Charles Manson
Esperanto: Charles Manson
føroyskt: Charles Manson
français: Charles Manson
한국어: 찰스 맨슨
հայերեն: Չարլզ Մենսոն
Bahasa Indonesia: Charles Manson
íslenska: Charles Manson
italiano: Charles Manson
latviešu: Čārlzs Mensons
Lëtzebuergesch: Charles Manson
lietuvių: Charles Manson
Bahasa Melayu: Charles Manson
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ချားလ်စ်မန်ဆန်
Nederlands: Charles Manson
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Charles Manson
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਚਾਰਲਸ ਮੰਸਨ
português: Charles Manson
Simple English: Charles Manson
slovenčina: Charles Manson
slovenščina: Charles Manson
српски / srpski: Чарлс Менсон
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Charles Manson
Türkçe: Charles Manson
українська: Чарлз Менсон
Tiếng Việt: Charles Manson
Yorùbá: Charles Manson
žemaitėška: Čarlzos Mensuons