Charles Manson's cult left 7 dead and killed a dream, too
Jan 04, 2017
By JOHN ROGERS and SCOTT SMITH
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The seven grisly murders carried out by Charles Manson's disciples during the summer of 1969 did more than turn the hippie cult leader into the leering face of evil on front pages across America.
To many, the bloodbath exposed the scary underside of the counterculture movement and seemed to mark the end of the peace-and-love era that burst upon the country just two years earlier during San Francisco's Summer of Love.
"The 'Summer of Love' was more a media event than anything else," Todd Gitlin, one of the nation's foremost historians of the 1960s, told The Associated Press in an email Wednesday. "But if hippie paradise was a myth, it was a myth that a lot of people believed in. Manson damaged it gravely."....
A petty criminal who had been in and out of jail since childhood, Manson reinvented himself during the Summer of Love as a long-haired, Christ-like guru spouting Bible verses and Beatles lyrics.
After attracting a few dozen followers from San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district, many of them young women, runaways or other lost souls, he took them to an old movie ranch on the edge of Los Angeles that he transformed into a commune of sex, drugs and music.
On Aug. 9 and 10, 1969, he sent some of his devotees out on a murderous mission to two of Los Angeles' wealthiest neighborhoods, where they killed pregnant actress Sharon Tate, several of her society friends and others. Most of the victims, including coffee heiress Abigail Folger, were stabbed.
Tate's husband, Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski, was out of the country at the time.
Authorities would learn that Manson had hoped the killings would touch off a race war. He had apparently gotten the idea from a twisted reading of the hard-rocking Beatles song "Helter Skelter."
The slayings shocked the country with their savagery. Messages like "Pigs" and a misspelled "Healter Skelter" were scrawled in the victims' blood on their walls and doors, and the city was paralyzed in fear. Residents of Los Angeles' nearby Laurel Canyon neighborhood, then a haven for musicians, began locking their doors.
The youngest member of the original Manson Family, Leslie Van Houten, a teenage runaway and former homecoming princess from a Los Angeles suburb, said he had brainwashed her and others with sex, LSD, constant readings from the Bible, repeated playings of the Beatles' "White Album" and rambling lectures about triggering a revolution....
Killer Charles Manson's failing health renews focus on cult murder saga
By Richard Winton, Matt Hamilton and Hailey Branson-Potts
January 4, 2017
The long saga of Charles Manson, the cult leader whose murder spree more than four decades ago made him a subject of hate, fear, revulsion and fascination, moved to a hospital in downtown Bakersfield this week.
Inside Mercy Hospital, Manson was being treated for gastrointestinal bleeding related to his colon, and according to one source with knowledge of his condition, was seriously ill. Manson was rushed there Sunday from Corcoran State Prison, and it remains unclear when his medical treatment will end....
Manson and other members of his so-called family were convicted of killing actress Sharon Tate and six other people during a bloody rampage in the Los Angeles area during two August nights in 1969. Prosecutors said that Manson and his followers were trying to incite a race war that he believed was in the Beatles' song "Helter Skelter."
Tate, the wife of director Roman Polanski, was 8½ months pregnant when she was killed at her hilltop home in Benedict Canyon on Aug. 9, 1969. Besides Tate, four others were stabbed and shot to death: Jay Sebring, 35; Voytek Frykowski, 32; Abigail Folger, 25, a coffee heiress; and Steven Parent, 18, a friend of Tate's caretaker. The word "Pig" was written on the front door in blood. The next night, Manson rode along with his followers to the Los Feliz home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, then left three members to kill the couple.
Manson has incurred more than 100 rules violations since 1971. Over the years, he has been cited for assault, repeated possession of a weapon, threatening staff and possessing a cellphone, Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said in an email Wednesday.
“Suffice it to say that he cannot be described as a model prisoner,” she said....