Charles Manson and the Manson Family

Charles Manson also known as Charlie Manson was a killer who led a cult of followers, often referred to The Manson Family. The family committed a series of killings branded the Charles Manson murders in July and August 1969 under Manson’s orders.

Charles Manson believed in “Helter Skelter” and the country was on the brink of a race war. It is believed the Charles Manson cult may have committed up to 35 killings.

Manson Family Victims

Bernard Crowe was a drug dealer who had been conned by Watson and the first of the Manson murders. After the threatened to kill the Manson Family, it is believed that Charles shot him and left him for dead. He is the only Manson family victim believed to have been harmed at the hands of Charles himself.

No charges were bought against Charles Manson for this shooting but Crowe did testify against Manson in court. Up until his court appearance Manson believed that he was dead.

Gary Hinman was targeted because he was alleged to have gained inheritance and Manson wanted to recruit him. Manson owed money and had tried to kill his lender. He failed and feared retaliation unless he got money.

Gary Hinman was held hostage by Beausoleil,  Brunner and Atkins before Beausoleil killed him by stabbing him twice.

Sharon Tate is the most famous Charles Manson victim and was the first of the Hollywood murders known as the Sharon Tate murders. She was a famous actress who was in a relationship with Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate’s death sent waves of fear through Hollywood.

Sharon Tate was heavily pregnant when she was murdered and both Sharon Tate and her baby were killed along with friends Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski and Jay Sebring on August 9th 1969. Steven Parent was visiting the homes caretaker and was killed as he tried to leave 10050 Cielo Drive.

The Housekeeper arrived at Sharon Tate’s house on Cielo Drive in Los Angeles the next morning and found their bodies. Gunshots and screams were heard in the area coming from the Sharon Tate murder scene and reported to the police. All victims had been stabbed multiple times by Watson, Atkins and Krenwinkel.

10050 Cielo Drive now doesn’t exist as the house was demolished in 1994.

The following evening, the Leno and Rosemary LaBianca murders took place on August 10th 1969. They chose a random property close to one they had been to a party at.

Manson and Watson entered first and bound the victims. They told the pair it was a robbery but Manson ordered Van Houten and Krenwinkel to kill the couple. Their bodies were found the next morning and the crime became known as the LaBianca Murders.

Later that evening, Manson had left with Grogan, Atkins and Kasabian to murder actor Saladin Nader but Kasabian led them to the wrong house.

Donald “Shorty” Shea was killed in August 1989 due to the belief he had reported the family to the police. He was stabbed and mutilated by Watson, Davis and Grogan and was the last of the Manson Family murders.

Manson Family Members

Charles Tex Watson led the Tate LaBianca murders and fled to Texas. Charles Manson considered Tex Watson to be his right hand man. He was tried separately and give a death sentence but this was commuted to life in prison.

Tex Watson got married to Kristin Joan Svege and fathered four children with his now ex-wife. Charles has also been denied parole a number of times. Tex Watson now is imprisoned in RJ Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego County and is an ordained minister.

Bobby Beausoleil killed Gary Hinman. He claims that he went to collect money but did not plan to kill him. Bobby denies he was ever controlled or was part of a cult.

Susan Atkins aka Sadie Atkins took part in the Tate and LaBianca murders. She was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of murder in a trial led by Vincent Bugliosi. She admitted to being a part of the Sharon Tate murders, stabbing Sharon Tate multiple times but could not state why.

Susan later showed remorse for her crimes. In 2009 she was denied parole as she was terminally ill. Susan Atkins died of brain cancer two weeks later. Susan Atkin’s son Zezozose Zadfrack Glutz had been removed from her care whist on the Spahn Ranch and was adopted.

Linda Kasabian was standing on the driveway on look out whilst the Tate murders took place. She was granted immunity in exchange for testifying for the prosecution against the Manson family. Linda Kasabian today is a mother of four and is believed to live on the east coast.

Patricia Krenwinkel violently stabbed Abigail Folger 28 times and Rosemary LaBianca multiple times. She has been refused parole 14 times and most recently in June 2017. It is unlikely Patricia Krenwinkel will be released from prison. Patricia Krenwinkel now remains in California Institution for Women in Chino.

Leslie Van Houten took part in the LaBianca murders murdering Rosemary. She has been denied parole multiple times but most recently in January 2018. Leslie van Houten now remains in California Institution for Women in Corona.

Mary Brunner was the first member of the Manson family and had a child with Charles. Shewas at the Hinman murder and held up a surplus store with Catherine Share.

Steve Clem Grogan was convicted of the murder of Donald “Shorty” Shea.  His sentence reduced to life imprisonment and he was paroled in 1985. He was granted parole after assisting authorities to find Steve’s body.

Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme was not present for the murders but pulled a gun on President Gerald Ford in 1975. She was released from prison in 2009 after more than 40 years inside.

Bruce Davis was convicted of the murders of Gary Hinman and Donald Shea. For many years he claimed minor involvement before later admitting to pointing a gun at Hinman and mutilating Shea. He has been denied parole a number of times.

Paul Watkins testified against Mason at his trial. Later, he died in 1990 of leukaemia.

Sandra Good was imprisoned for conspiracy to send threatening letters and making threatening phone calls to over 150 company executives. Subsequently Susan Murphy was also found guilty of the same crimes.

Ruth Ann Moorhouse attempted to kill another Manson Family member Barbara Hoyt after she gave evidence against other members of the Manson family.

Ruth laced her burger with acid in an attempt to cause an overdose. It made her very sick but it did not kill her and Moorhouse was charged with conspiracy to commit murder. She fled the state and never served her sentence.

Dianne Lake was the youngest member of the Manson family and was just 14 years old when she joined them. Although she did not take part in the crimes other Manson family members confessed the crimes to her.

After her arrest she testified for the prosecution against Manson members. She was adopted by Manson Detective Jack Gardiner and his wife.

There were many Manson girls in the family considered to be Charles Mansons girls as the family were often sleeping with each other. The Manson family lived at Spahn Ranch, an abandoned movie set that was in a state of disrepair.


The murders at the Tate home were instigated by Manson in response to the music industries rejection of Charles Manson’s music. Charles Manson had connections to the Beach Boys as memebers of the family lived with Dennis Wilson during the summer of 1968 where they are said to have had wild parties.

The Tate home formerly housed Terry Melcher, a famous music producer and Manson did not know that he no longer lived there.

Helter Skelter

Manson believed that Helter Skelter, a race war between blacks and whites was close at hand and his actions would start it.

Inspired by a misinterpretation of the song by the Beatles and scripture, he planned to release an album of music aimed at white women to draw them away from black neighbourhoods and invoke a violent reaction.

Therefore by using the paw symbol from the Black Panther movement he believed that authorities and the media would conclude the murders were committed by the black community. 


Beausoleil was arrested after being found asleep and covered in blood in Hinman’s car. The murder weapon was also in the vehicle.

Detectives failed to link the murders and incorrectly declared them as separate events. Caretaker William Garretson was briefly considered a suspect in the Tate murders however he was given a polygraph test which ruled him out

Fingerprints left at the Tate house led to the arrest of Krenwinkel and Watson. Susan Atkins confessed her role in the murders of Tate to fellow inmate Virginia Castro. She was in custody due to her role in the murder of Hinman later.

Police interviewed Al Springer, head of a biker gang who associated with Manson. He told them that Manson had told him about killing five people days after the Tate murders.

In November 1969 Vincent Bugliosi was appointed as chief prosecutor. A grand jury was selected to decide on whether to indict the suspects with the statements and evidence that the police had collected.

Susan Atkins agreed to co-operate for a lesser sentence and admitted her part in the murders to the grand jury. As a result they returned murder indictments against Manson, Watson, Krenwinkel, Kasabian, Van Houten and Atkins.

Charles Manson Trials

Four Manson family members were put on trial in 1970. Susan Atkins recanted her earlier statement and the sentencing deal was revoked.

Charles Manson was declared unfit to provide his own legal counsel and in response carved a X into his forehead. Kasabian was the lead witness for the prosecution and was on the stand for 18 days!

The prosecution spent over 5 months giving testimony to the guilt of the defendants. The defense was expected to begin calling witnesses to the stand but shocked everyone by resting without calling a single witness. The females protested their exclusion and their attorneys protested their inclusion.

Susan Atkins was sworn in and her own attorney refused to question her. The next day, Charles insisted he testify first and took the stand without the jury present. He was given an audience where he preached for an hour, decided not to testify before a jury and told the others they didn’t have to testify now he had said his piece.

The defense for Charles argued that Manson had himself never killed anyone and the Charles Manson followers had misinterpreted his preaching. The women were willing to take the full blame for the crimes so there was little their defense could do.

The next day Leslie Van Houten’s attorney Ronald Hughes failed to appear in court. He had disappeared during a camping weekend and his body was discovered 4 months later. His cause of death was not able to be established and many believe he was murdered by the Manson family.

Tex Watson was extradited from Texas and stood trial. He was also found guilty and sentenced to death, later commuted to life in prison.


The trial was heavily publicised due to the  antics in court. The rest of the family and followers were disruptive throughout the trails. As a result many had to be legally removed from the court room. There were number of sidewalk vigils and members had shaved their heads and carved the signature X into their foreheads. 

President Nixon declared in the press that he believed Manson was guilty. As a result this nearly caused a mistrial as they believed it would be difficult to find jurors.

The Charles Manson movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was released in 2019.

Charles Manson was featured in Mindhunter and the likeness between this and Manson’s original interviews is uncanny.


The jury deliberated for 7 days and found all defendants guilty on each count of first degree murder. All were given death sentences on March 21st 1971 however the California Supreme Court ruled in 1972 that the death penalty law was unconstitutional. Therefore the sentences were commuted to life in prison.

Charles Manson Death

Charles Manson died aged 83 on November 19th 2017 after being denied parole numerous times. He died from cardiac arrest due to respiratory failure and colon cancer. His body was granted to his grandson Jason and he was cremated. Charles Manson height was was 5 ft 2 or 157 cm at his death.

Charles Manson Early Crimes

Charles Manson was young when he committed a number of crimes before his murder spree and spent 16 years in prison. He committed a number of burglaries, robberies and car thefts therefore he was sent to Juvenile prison. He escaped and was later sent to a minimum security facility.

Manson offended many times on release including sexual offences against boys and men and was sent to a maximum security facility.  He was released 3 years later on parole and given probation for 5 years. Another theft charge landed him with another 3 years in prison. As a result of crossing state lines a longer sentence was given. 

Upon release he began pimping out his wife and prostitutes. He would take the women on as his girlfriends but eventually one was caught. He was arrested and given a 10 year sentence. Manson was released in March 1967. 

Charles Manson Family

Charles Manson had three children. Charles Manson Jr was the son of Charles Manson from his first marriage to Rosalie Jean Willis. He struggled after his fathers arrest and changed his name to James White. He was heavily affected by the crimes of his father and Charles Manson Jr committed suicide by a self afflicted gunshot in 1993.

Charles Luther Manson, Charles second son changed his name to avoid association with his father.

Valentine Michael Manson, Charles youngest son with Mary Brunner had his name changed to Michael Brunner to avoid the stigma of being associated with his father. After both of his parents arrest he went to live with his grandparents, Mary’s parents.

Charles Manson was married twice. Charles Manson’s first wife was Rosalie Jean Willis from 1955–1958 and his second wife was Candy Stevens from 1959–1963.

Afton Elaine Burton also known as Star and Charles Manson met in prison after she began writing letters when she was just 17 years old and she became Charles Manson’s girlfriend. After 9 years the couple got engaged but were unable to get married before the marriage licence expired.

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