2 weeks ago
Charles Manson, the mastermind behind a string of murders in Los Angeles in the summer of 1969, has died. He was 83-years-old, reports The Los Angeles Times, and died of natural causes at the Kern County Hospital.
Manson was sentenced to death, but escaped execution because the Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional. During his decades behind bars, he has been cited for behavioral issues more than 100 times.
Manson never committed the murders himself, writes the L.A. Times, but instead would convince his group of followers to carry out the killings. The media covered the crimes obsessively, as they included a myriad of elements: Hollywood celebrity, cult behavior, group sex, drugs, and murder, according to the L.A. Times. Los Angeles residents were terrified, and gun sales and guard dog purchases supposedly skyrocketed before Manson and his followers were caught.
Mason, along with four of his followers, Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel and Charles “Tex” Watson, were convicted of murdering actress Sharon Tate, along with four others. The murders were brutal and seemed like Manson had chosen them at random. The trial spanned nine-and-a-half months, which is the longest in U.S. history at the time, according to the L. A. Times, and was also bizarre.
Manson’s followers held a vigil outside the courtroom. When Manson showed up with an ‘x’ carved into his forehead, his followers did the same. At one point, Manson jumped over his attorney’s table and ran for the bench. Van Houten’s attorney went missing and was later found dead, reports the L.A. Times.
“Manson became a metaphor for evil, and evil has its allure,” said lead prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, who wrote a book, Helter Skelter, with Curt Gentry about the case, according to the L.A. Times. “People found him so fascinating because unlike other mass murderers who did the killings themselves or participated with others, Manson got people to kill for him.”