Manson and his family became notorious for the murder of Sharon Tate and six others during the summer of 1969
Charles Manson, the pseudo-satanic sociopath behind a string of killings that shocked California out of its late 1960s cultural reverie, died on Sunday after almost a half century in prison.
The 83-year-old, who died of natural causes, had been serving multiple life sentences in state prison in Corcoran, California, for orchestrating the violence in 1969 that claimed the lives of Sharon Tate, the heavily pregnant wife of film director Roman Polanski, and six others.
While his death prompted the inevitable and renewed questioning around why his grim notoriety had been so enduring, Michele Hanisee, president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys for Los Angeles County, said: Today, Mansons victims are the ones who should be remembered and mourned on the occasion of his death.
She went on to quote the late Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor who put Manson behind bars, who had said: Manson was an evil, sophisticated conman with twisted and warped moral values.
As the leader of a cult known as the Manson Family, Manson had instructed his followers, made up mostly of disaffected young women, to carry out the killings. The brutality of the murders set Los Angeles on edge, and ended the sunny optimism of the 60s counterculture and its aspirations to a new society built on peace and love. Manson presented himself as a demonic force: at trial, he carved a Nazi swastika into his forehead.
The five received the death penalty but were spared when capital punishment was temporarily abolished following a ruling by the supreme court in 1972.
Manson and three female followers, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten, were convicted of murder and conspiracy to murder. Another defendant, Charles Tex Watson, was convicted later.
Tate, the wife of Polanski, who was out of the country the night of her murder, was eight and a half months pregnant when Mansons followers broke into her home in Los Angeles. They stabbed and shot Tate and her visitors, Jay Sebring, Voytek Frykowski, coffee heiress Abigail Folger and Steven Parent.The word Pig was written in blood on the front door. Tate, who had starred in The Valley of the Dolls, was stabbed 16 times, and an X was carved into her stomach.
The next night, his followers murdered couple Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.
Although the followers committed the murders, Manson had ordered them. At the LaBianca home, he tied up the couple before leaving others to carry out the killings.
After his death on Sunday night, Tates sister Debra told NBC: One could say Ive forgiven them, which is quite different than forgetting what they are capable of. It is for this reason I fight so hard to make sure that each of these individuals stays in prison until the end of their natural days.
In the 2004 book Sharon Tate Recollection, Polanski wrote: Even after so many years, I find myself unable to watch a spectacular sunset or visit a lovely old house or experience visual pleasure of any kind without instinctively telling myself how much she would have loved it all.
Prosecutors at the time said Manson and his cult were trying to spark a race war that he believed was foretold in the Beatles song Helter Skelter, and hoped the Black Panthers would be blamed for the killings.
Before the murders, Manson spent most of his teens and 20s in and out of prison, and he later became a singer-songwriter. He got a break in the music industry when he met the Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson. The group later recorded Never Learn Not to Love, which Manson had written.
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