I’m sure that the majority of true crime aficionados have heard and/or read about Charles Manson. BUT have you ever really given thought to the crimes he and his followers committed? One thing I always wondered was, why did they do it? Was it really the reasons that the prosecution introduced during trial or was there really something else behind it? This post may be long, but hopefully it’s worth reading all the way through.
Charles Manson was born in Cincinnati, OH, in 1934 and was originally named “No-Name Maddox” as his mother, Kathleen Maddox didn’t have a name for him. A few weeks later he was named Charles. Kathleen was 16 and it was later learned that Charles’ father was Colonel Walker Henderson Scott Sr. Colonel was his given name and not a rank earn in military service. Charles may not have ever really known his biological father.
Kathleen had married a man by the name of William Eugene Manson, who gave Charles his first sense of identity. Charles’ childhood was not in anyway conducive to a growing boy, and his mother was absent more than she was around. Eventually she was in prison, and Charles went to live with other family members.
Throughout his youth Charles was a troublemaker. He was truant, a petty thief, and when he was nine years old he set his school on fire. He was sentenced to a strict boys school, which he ran away from several times. It was a pattern that would continue. He would be sentenced to a boy’s reform school, after a short time, he would run away and cause another crime and be remanded to the same or another school. All of them were strict and punishments were harsh.
In 1955, Charles met and married a waitress named Rosalie Jean Willis. The moved to Los Angeles, in a car that was stolen in Indiana. Rosalie was pregnant at the time. Due to a violation of his probation, Charles was sentenced to three years at Terminal Island, San Pedro, CA. His wife gave birth to their son, Charles Manson Jr, and visited him for a short time in prison. She divorced him in 1958. Their son would eventually commit suicide in 1993 in Burlington, CO, he had changed his name to Jay White.
In 1959, he married the second time to a career prostitute named Leona. They traveled with another young girl to New Mexico and Charles continued to commit petty theft, pimping, forgery and other crimes. He found himself in prison again in McNeil Island, WA, in 1961. While in prison he learned to play the guitar from Alvin “Creepy” Karpis, of the Barker-Karpis gang. In 1963, Leona was granted a divorce, and she claimed they had a son together, Charles Luther Manson. If he actually existed, he has remained out of the media and his whereabouts are unknown.
By 1967, Charles had spent almost half of his 32 years in prisons. He was released from McNeil Island, he made his way to San Francisco and was all about freedom and music, and not following society. This is when he began to for his “Family” cult.
The Family, consisted of many young women, Mary Brunner being one of his first followers. She would even have a child with Charles named Valentine Michael Manson. Her parents would get full custody of the child when he was 18 months old, and they changed his name to Michael Brunner. He was raised in Eau Claire, WI. The family made their way to Southern California, in hopes of Charles making a career in music.
During their time in Southern California, Charles and his family met Dennis Wilson, of the Beach Boys, who was a fan of his music. Charles and Dennis would write music together and Dennis had made assurances that Charles would have a music career. The other members of the Beach Boys disagreed, they didn’t like Charles and eventually they convinced Dennis to offload the family from his home.
One of the people that Charles had met through Dennis Wilson was a man named Terry Melcher. He was living with his girlfriend, Candice Bergen, on Cielo Drive, and Charles had met with him there. At first Terry had planned to record his music and also film a documentary about the family, but when Terry witnessed a fight between Charles and another person, he pulled the plug on any recordings or films. Charles was angry.
The Family found themselves at Spahn Ranch. In exchange for chores and sexual relations with the 80 year old owner, the family stayed on the ranch for free. The family often enjoyed hallucinogenic drugs, that they purchased from various sources. One source was Bernard “Lotsapoppa” Crowe.
Tex Watson, a member of the family, stole from Bernard Crowe, and Bernard had promised to wipe out all those who lived at Spahn Ranch. Fearing that he would actually follow through, and that Bernard was a member of the Black Panthers, Charles Manson arrived at Bernard’s apartment and shot him. Luckily he survived. Charles didn’t know this. He believed that the Black Panthers were going to come looking for them.
A couple of weeks later Gary Hinman, who had befriended the Family, sold them some drugs. These drugs were then sold to a biker gang, The Straight Satan’s, that was hired to protect the ranch and the family. When they claimed the drugs were bad, the bikers wanted their money back, but it was already spent. The family went back to Gary Hinman for the money they paid him. When he too had spent the money, the family kept him hostage for three days before he was killed. Susan Adkins wrote “Political Piggy” on the wall in his blood. This murder was supposed to lead investigators to Bernard’s “murder” and point to the Black Panthers. Unfortunately Family member, Bobby Beausoleil, was arrested when he was driving Gary’s car. The murder weapon was found in the car. Charles began to panic.
He needed to throw suspicion off of the Family. So he planned to attack again, to make it look like someone else had murdered Gary Hinman, to get Bobby out of trouble. At the ranch, Tex and Charles had to come up with a target. They needed to decide who to go after. The name Terry Melcher came up.
Charles had been to Terry’s home before. But the home was being rented by actress Sharon Tate and her husband Roman Polanski. On August 8, 1969, Roman was out of the country filming, Sharon, who was eight months pregnant was home with some friends; Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, Wojtek Frykowski. Another person, Steven Parent, was visiting the caretaker, and was at the house that night. Charles directed Tex to the home, and advised to kill everyone there. He instructed the girls to listen to what Tex told them to do. The home was awash in blood, and all inside were dead. The murder gained national attention. They didn’t realize that the murders would gain that much attention.
When the goal of tying the murder back to Gary and Bernard’s murders didn’t occur. Charles decided they had to go out again. So the very next night, they went out again. After driving around they arrived at the home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Originally it seemed like the murders of Leno and Rosemary were random, however, it was not. They were purposely chosen, Charles held a grudge, and never forgot when you did him wrong. The LaBianca’s were neighbors to a man named Harold who was friends with Charles and the Family. As the Family was rather loud, the neighbors called in a disturbance to the police. Charles never forgot the LaBianca’s.
As with the murders the night before, the LaBianca home was covered in blood, and words were written on the walls and refrigerator in the blood of the victims. After the murders, the Family drove out to Venice Beach and it’s believed they paid back the Straight Satan’s the money owed so they again would protect Spahn Ranch.
Eventually the police raid the Ranch, and arrest the family members, not for murder but for theft. While in a women’s prison, one of Charles’ followers began to brag about her part in the murders. That woman was Susan Adkins.
The roommates in prison with her relayed this information to investigators and it provided them the break they needed. However the evidence didn’t lead to Charles Manson, and the prosecution desperately needed to tie him to the case. Enter Helter Skelter.
Lead Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, claimed that Charles had established a cult filled with people who didn’t want to be a part of society. Because Charles wanted to be a rock star, he was infuriated when Terry Melcher stole his songs, and Terry represented the establishment that Charles didn’t want to be a part of. Charles believed that the Beatles were predicting a race war in their songs on the White Album, and that Charles was preparing for the race war. He brainwashed his followers to kill Gary, and then other white people and frame the murders on the black community.
Once the murders were framed on black people a race war would begin, and Charles and his followers would hide out in the desert until it was over, and Charles would come out of hiding and lead the new world.
This theory set Charles up for first degree murder, and conspiracy under the law of California. Without this theory, the evidence would not have convicted Charles Manson of these crimes. So the prosecution had to embellish what happened. His plan to start a race war would make him responsible for the crimes committed.
Prosecutors didn’t bring up the car thefts, the drugs, or even the Bernard Crowe attempted murder, as if they did, their Helter Skelter theory would have been blown out of the water. They didn’t even bring up a connection to Gary Hinman murder, as it would lead to reasonable doubt and jurors may not convict for that reason.
Prosecutors were successful in their theory of Helter Skelter and Charles Manson, Susan Adkins, Patricia Krenwinkle and Leslie Van Houten were all sentenced to death. Their sentences were commuted to life in prison.
So we all know that Susan Adkins and Charles Manson both died in prison, Leslie and Patricia are still incarcerated and other followers were convicted of other crimes. But what exactly do you think? Was Charles Manson starting a race war or was he handling a drug deal gone wrong?
You are your own best investment