Cult leader Charles Manson died of natural causes on Nov. 19, 2017, at a hospital in Bakersfield, Calif., one week after turning 83. He had been serving a life sentence for murder at California State Prison in Corcoran.
Manson’s followers, known as the Manson Family, murdered nine people in a killing spree in 1969, including pregnant actress Sharon Tate. Using the victim’s blood, they wrote words such as “pigs,” “rise,” and “death to pigs” on the walls of the crime scenes. They also famously scrawled the phrase “Helter Skelter” in blood on a refrigerator.
Manson was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in 1971. He was originally given the death sentence; however, the state of California stopped the practice in 1972, so Manson’s sentence was changed to life without parole.
Unbelievably, Manson received about 60,000 letters a year while serving time. Check out some other interesting facts you may not know about the cult leader…
He never physically killed anyone. In fact, he wasn’t even present at the murders for which he was convicted. However, because he had conspired to the killings, California law mandated that he be charged with the deaths.
He was once married and had a son who took his own life. Manson was sent to live with relatives in West Virginia when he was five years old. His mother was unable to care for him, so at the age of 13 he started getting into trouble with the law and wound up in juvenile detention and later jail. At the age of 21, he was on parole when he met a woman named Rosalie Willis, whom he soon married. But he stole a car and wound up in jail again. Rosalie, who was pregnant with his son, stood by him for a while but eventually divorced him. Their son, who changed his name from Charles Manson, Jr., to Jay White, killed himself in 1993.
He took his cues from Scientology and the book How to Win Friends and Influence People. While in jail, Manson spent a lot of time reading and became obsessed with the self-help book. He used its teachings, which were directed towards salesman and business managers, as a basis for his ideology. He also studied Scientology and its methods of mind control.
The Manson Family lived at Beach Boy Dennis Wilson’s house for a short time. A couple of Manson’s followers were hitchhiking when Wilson picked them up. He brought them home, and they invited Manson over, along with a few other girls and some drugs. The family lived at the house for a short time, but eventually Wilson grew wary of their behavior and moved to another property that he owned. Wilson’s manager eventually kicked them out.
He liked Bing Crosby and Perry Como better than the Beatles. After the Beatles’ White Album came out, Manson referred to them as the Four Men of the Apocalypse. He predicted an upcoming race war that he dubbed “Helter Skelter” after one of their songs. Manson claimed that killing the “piggies” would accelerate the war. While Manson used the Beatles as propaganda, he didn’t really like their music. He preferred singers such as Bing Crosby and Perry Como.