Born "no name Maddox" in Cincinnati, Ohio, on November 12, 1934, Manson was the illegitimate son of Kathleen Maddox, a 16-year-old prostitute. His surname was derived from one of Kathleen's many lovers, whom she briefly married, but it signified no blood connection. During 1936, Kathleen filed a paternity suit against one "Colonel Scott," of Ashland, Kentucky, winning the grand monthly sum of five dollars for the support of "Charles Milles Manson." Scott instantly defaulted on the judgment, and he died in 1954, without acknowledging his son. In 1939, Kathleen and her brother were sentenced to five years in prison for robbing a West Virginia gas station. Charles was packed off to live with a strictly religious aunt and her sadistic husband, who constantly berated the boy as a "sissy," dressing him in girl's clothing for his first day of school in an effort to help Manson "act like a man." Paroled in 1942, Maddox reclaimed her son, but she was clearly unsuited to motherhood. An alcoholic tramp who brought home lovers of both sexes, Kathleen frequently left Charles with neighbors "for an hour," then disappeared for days or weeks on end, leaving relatives to track the boy down. On one occasion, she reportedly gave Charles to a barmaid, in payment for a pitcher of beer.
By 1947, Kathleen was seeking a foster home for her son, but none was available. Charles wound up in the Gibault School for Boys, in Terre Haute, Indiana, but fled after ten months, rejoining his mother. She still didn't want him, and so Manson took to living on the streets, making his way by theft. Arrested in Indiana, he escaped from the local juvenile center after one day's confinement. Recaptured and sent to Father Flanagan's Boy's Town, he lasted four days before his next escape, fleeing in a stolen car to visit relatives in Illinois. He pulled more robberies en route and on arrival, leading to another bust at age 13. Confined for three years in a reform school at Plainfield, Indiana, Manson recalls sadistic abuse by older boys and guards alike. If we may trust his memory, at least one guard incited other boys to rape and torture Manson, while the officer stood by and masturbated on the sidelines.
In February 1951, Manson and two other inmates escaped from the Plainfield "school," fleeing westward in a series of stolen cars. Arrested in Beaver, Utah, Manson was sentenced to federal time for driving hot cars across state lines. Starting off in a minimum-security establishment, Manson assaulted another inmate in January 1952, holding a razor blade to the boy's throat and sodomizing him. Reclassified as "dangerous," Manson was transferred to a tougher lockup, logging eight major disciplinary infractions including three homosexual assaults - by August 1952. He was moved to the Chilicothe, Ohio, reformatory a month later, and suddenly turned over a new leaf, becoming a "model" prisoner almost overnight. The cunning act was rewarded by parole in May 1954.
Arrested a second time for driving hot cars interstate, in September 1955, Manson got off easy with five years probation. He celebrated by skipping a court date in Florida, on pending charges of auto theft, and his probation was promptly revoked. Picked up in Indianapolis on March 14, 1956, he was sent to the federal prison at Terminal Island, California, winning parole on September 30, 1958. Seven months later, on May 1, 1959, he was jailed in Los Angeles, on charges of forging and cashing stolen U.S. Treasury checks. Once more, he escaped with probation, swiftly revoked with his April 1960 arrest for pimping and transporting whores interstate. Entering the lock-up at McNeil Island, Manson listed his religion as "Scientologist"; his IQ was tested at 121. Paroled on March 21, 1967, over his own objections, Manson was drawn to San Francisco and the teeming Haight-Ashbury district. It was the "Summer of Love," when thousands of young people flocked to the banner of drugs and "flower power," heeding Timothy Leary's advice to "tune in, turn on, drop out." The streets and crashpads overflowed with teenage runaways and drifters, seeking insight on the world and on themselves. Behind the scenes, a minor army of manipulators - gurus, outlaw bikers, pushers, pimps and Satanists -- stood ready to squeeze a grim profit from the Age of Aquarius.
In San Francisco, Manson displayed a surprising charisma, attracting young drop-outs of both sexes, drawn from all strata of white society. Some, like Mary Brunner, were college graduates. Others, like Susan Atkins and Robert Beausoleil, were involved with Satanic cults. Most were hopelessly confused about their lives, adopting Manson as a combination mentor, father-figure, lover, Christ incarnate, and the self-styled "God of Fuck." They drifted up and down the state in fluctuating numbers, with the "family" topping fifty members at its peak. From Mendocino and the Haight to Hollywood, Los Angeles, Death Valley, Manson's nomads followed their leader as the Summer of Love became a nightmare. Along the way, they rubbed shoulders with the Church of Satan, the Process Church of Final Judgment (worshipping Satan, Lucifer and Jehovah simultaneously), the Circe Order of Dog Blood, and -- some say -- the homicidal "Four Pi Movement." Manson grew obsessed with death and "Helter Skelter," his interpretation of a Beatles song predicting race war in America. In Manson's view, once "blackie" had been driven to the point of violence, helpless whites would be annihilated, leaving Manson and his family to rule the roost. On October 13, 1968, two women were found beaten and strangled to death near Ukiah, California. One, Nancy Warren, was the pregnant wife of a highway patrol officer. The other victim, Clida Delaney, was Warren's 64-year-old grandmother. The murders were ritualistic in nature, with 36 leather thongs wrapped around each victim's throat, and several members of the Manson "family" -- including two later convicted of unrelated murders - were visiting Ukiah at the time.
Two months later, on December 30, 17-year-old Marina Habe was abducted outside her West Hollywood home, her body recovered on New Year's Day, with multiple stab wounds in the neck and chest. Investigators learned that Habe was friendly with various "family" members, and police believe her ties with the Manson group led directly to her death. On May 27, 1969, 64-year-old Darwin Scott - the brother of Manson's alleged father - was hacked to death in his Ashland, Kentucky, apartment, pinned to the floor by a long butcher knife. Manson was out of touch with his California parole officer between May 22 and June 18, 1969, and an unidentified "LSD preacher from California" set up shop with several young women, in nearby Huntington, around the same time.
On July 17, 1969, 16-year-old Mark Walts disappeared while hitchhiking from Chatsworth, California, to the pier at Santa Monica, to do some fishing. His battered body, shot three times and possibly run over by a car, was found next morning in Topanga Canyon. Walts was a frequent visitor to Manson's commune at the Spahn movie ranch, and the dead boy's brother publicly accused Manson of the murder, though no charges were filed. Around the time of Walts' death, a "Jane Doe" corpse was discovered near Castaic, northeast of the Spahn ranch, tentatively identified from articles of clothing as Susan Scott, a "family" member once arrested with a group of Manson girls in Mendocino. Scott was living at the ranch when she dropped out of sight, and while the Castaic corpse remains technically unidentified, Susan has not been seen again. In the month between July 27 and August 26, 1969, Manson's tribe slaughtered at least nine persons in Southern California. Musician Gary Hinman was the first to die, hacked to death in retaliation for a drug deal gone sour, "political" graffiti scrawled at the scene in his blood, as Manson tried to blame the crime on "blackie." On August 9, a Manson hit team raided the home of movie director Roman Polanski, slaughtering Polanski's wife - pregnant actress Sharon Tate - and four of her guests: Abigail Folger, Jay Sebring, Voytek Frykowski, and Steven Parent. The following night, Manson's "creepy crawlers" killed and mutilated another couple, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, in their Los Angeles home.
An atmosphere of general panic gripped affluent L.A., the grisly crimes demonstrating that no one was safe. On August 16, sheriff's deputies raided the Spahn ranch, arresting Manson and company on various drug related charges, but Charles was back on the street by August 26. That night, he directed the murder and dismemberment of movie stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shea, a hanger-on who "knew too much" and was suspected of discussing family business with police.
Ironically, Manson's downfall came about through a relatively petty crime. On the night of September 18-19, 1969, members of the family burned a piece of road grading equipment that was "obstructing" one of their desert dune buggy routes. Arson investigators traced the evidence to Manson, and he was arrested again on October 12. A day later, Susan Atkins was picked up in Ontario, California, and she soon confided details of the Tate-LaBianca murders to cellmates in Los Angeles. Sweeping indictments followed, but even Manson's; removal from circulation could not halt the violence.
On November 5, 1969, family member John Haught - alias "Zero" -was shot and killed while "playing Russian roulette" in Venice, California. Eleven days later, another "Jane Doe" - tentatively identified as family associate Sherry Cooper - was found near the site where Marina Habe's body had been discovered in 1968. On November 21, Scientologists James Sharp, 15, and Doreen Gaul, 19, were found dead in a Los Angeles alley, stabbed more than 50 times each with al long-bladed knife. Investigators learned that Gaul had been a girlfriend of Bruce Davis, a family member subsequently convicted of first-degree murder in L.A. And Manson's arm was long. Joel Pugh, husband of Mansonite Sandra Good, flew to London in late 1968, accompanied by Bruce Davis. Their mission included the sale of some rare coins and the establishment off connections with Satanic orders in Britain. Davis returned to the United States in April 1969, but Pugh lingered on, and his body was found in a London hotel room on December 1, his throat slit with razor blades, his blood used to inscribe "backwards writing" and "comic book drawings" on a nearby mirror. Charged with the seven Tate-LaBianca murders, Manson and three of his female disciples - Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Leslie Van Houten went to trial in June 1970. The defense rested its case on November 19, and attorney Ronald Hughes disappeared eight days later, after he was driven to Sespe Hot Springs by two family associates called "James" and "Lauren." The lawyer's decomposing corpse was found in Sespe Creek five months later, around the time Manson's death sentence was announced, and positive identification was confirmed through dental X-rays.
Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi believes that he has traced the fate of "James" and "Lauren," suspected of guilty knowledge in Hughes's death. On November 8, 1972, hikers found the body of 26-year-old James Willett, shotgunned and decapitated, in a shallow grave near Guerneville, California. Three days later, Willett's station wagon was spotted outside a house in Stockton, and police arrested two members of the Aryan Brotherhood inside, along with three Manson women. Lauren Willett, wife of James, was buried in the basement, and an initial tale of "Russian roulette" was dropped in April 1973, when four of the suspects pled guilty to murder charges.
Meanwhile, the Manson trials continued in Los Angeles. Trigger man Charles "Tex" Watson was convicted and sentenced to die for the Tate-LaBianca murders in 1971. During August of that year, six family members - including original disciple Mary Brunner - tried to steal 140 weapons from a Hawthorne gunshop, planning to break Manson out of jail, but they were captured in a shootout with police. All were subsequently convicted, and Brunner was also sentenced for participation in the Hinman murder. Robert Beausoleil and Susan Atkins picked up additional death sentences for that slaying, while Manson, Bruce Davis, and Steve Grogan were convicted in both the Hinman and Shea murders. Various death sentences were overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1972, and all of the family hackers are now technically eligible for parole. In Manson's absence, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme held the family reins, corresponding with Charlie in prison and spreading his gospel on the streets, forging new alliances with sundry cults and racist groups. In September 1975, she tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford, but her pistol misfired, and Squeaky was sentenced to life imprisonment. Family remnants survive to the present day, and members have been linked with groups promoting child pornography and sexual abuse, as well as rumored human sacrifice.
Note: In July 2002, convicted murderer Leslie Van Houten was granted a hearing before a parole board to determine if she was suitable for release. Van Houten was unanimously denied parole.
Sharon Tate Polanski - Actress, wife of director Roman Polanski, 8 1/2 months pregnant at time of murders. Tate begged for the life of her child as Susan Atkins stabbed her. Atkins testified in court to telling Tate, "Look, bitch, I have no mercy for you": Stabbed 16 times in the chest, back, and arms. 5 of these wounds alone were sufficient to cause death. Cause of death: Stabs wounds to the heart, lungs, and liver, causing massive hemorrhage.
Jay Sebring - Professional hairstylist and owner of Sebring International, ex-fiance of Sharon Tate, friend of Tate and Polanski. It is believed Sebring and Frykowski struggled with their killers before being subdued: Stabbed 7 times, shot once. 3 of these stab wounds alone, as well as the gunshot wound, were sufficient to cause death. Cause of death: Exsanguination - Sebring literally bled to death.
Abigail Folger - Friend of Tate and Polanski, girlfriend of Voytek Frykowski, heiress to Folger coffee fortune. Folger was chased through the house and onto the lawn, where, according to her murderer, Patricia Krenwinkel, she screamed, "I'm already dead! I'm already dead!" while being stabbed: Stabbed 28 times in the arms, chest, and back, along with severe lacerations to face. Cause of death: Stab wound to aorta - main artery to heart.
Voytek Frykowski - Unemployed writer, boyfriend of Abigail Folger, childhood friend of Roman Polanski. Frykowski also managed to escape the home, but put up a vicious struggle on the lawn with his assailants: Shot 2 times, struck in face and head with pistol 13 times, stabbed 51 times over entire body. Cause of death: Multiple stab wounds to body causing massive hemorrhage.
Steven Earl Parent - High school senior, visiting houseboy William Garretson, who lived in a guest house adjacent to the Tate/Polanski home. Parent was shot while leaving the property - he did not know Sharon Tate or any of her three houseguests, and was the first victim: Shot 4 times in the arm, chest, and head. One defensive, slashing wound to palm of hand. Cause of death: Multiple gunshot wounds.
Leno LaBianca - Grocery-store owner, husband of Rosemary LaBianca. Leno and his wife Rosemary were bound with what was believed to be a leather thong by Charles Manson, who then left the scene, leaving Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Tex Watson to take over: Stabbed 12 times with a knife, stabbed 14 times with a two-tined fork. 6 of these wounds alone were sufficient to cause death. Cause of death: Multiple stab wounds to the neck and abdomen, causing massive hemorrhage.
Rosemary LaBianca - Mother, wife of Leno LaBianca, and owner of an upscale botique in Los Angeles, Rosemary fought hard with her killers when she heard the sound of her husband being murdered in the next room. In the days before her murder, Rosemary told friends that 'someone' had been inside her home while she and Leno were away, and described household objects and furniture being moved. It was later learned that Manson and his accomplices had 'creepy-crawled' several houses in the area while the residents were away: Stabbed 41 times, some of the wounds post-mortem. 6 of theses wounds alone were sufficient to cause death.Cause of death: Multiple stab wounds to the neck and trunk, causing massive hemorrhage.
Abigail Folger/Coroner's Photo Abigail Folger/Crime Scene Abigail Folger/Coroner's Photo Abigail Folger/Coroner's Photo
Abigail Folger/Coroner's Photo Abigail Folger/Crime Scene Abigail Folger/Crime Scene Abigail Folger/Death Certificate Abigail Folger
Voytek Frykowski/Crime Scene Voytek Frykowski/Coroner's Photo Voytek Frykowski/Coroner's Photo Voytek Frykowski/Crime Scene
Voytek Frykowski/Coroner's Photo Voytek Frykowski/Coroner's Photo Abigail Folger and Voytek Frykowski Voytek Frykowski/Death Certificate Voytek Frykowski
Jay Sebring/Coroner's Photo Jay Sebring/Crime Scene Jay Sebring/Coroner's Photo Jay Sebring/Crime Scene
Jay Sebring/Crime Scene Jay Sebring/Death Certificate Jay Sebring
Sharon Tate & Jay Sebring/Crime Scene Sharon Tate/Coroner's Photo Sharon Tate/Crime Scene Sharon Tate/Coroner's Photo
Sharon Tate/Coroner's Photo Sharon Tate/Coroner's Photo Sharon Tate/Coroner's Photo Sharon Tate
Sharon Tate & Jay Sebring Sharon Tate Sharon Tate/Death Certificate Sharon Tate/Autopsy Form
Sharon Tate Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski
Steven Parent/Coroner's Photo Steven Parent/Crime Scene Steven Parent/Crime Scene Steven Parent/Death Certificate Steven Parent
Rosemary LaBianca/Coroner's Photo Rosemary LaBianca/Crime Scene Rosemary LaBianca/Coroner's Photo Rosemary LaBianca/Coroner's Photo
Rosemary LaBianca/Crime Scene Photo Rosemary LaBianca/Death Certificate Rosemary LaBianca
Leno LaBianca/Coroner's Photo Leno LaBianca/Coroner's Photo Leno LaBianca/Crime Scene Leno LaBianca/Crime Scene
Leno LaBianca/Crime Scene Leno LaBianca/Coroner's Photo Leno LaBianca/Coroner's Photo Leno LaBianca/Coroner's Photo
Leno LaBianca/Coroner's Photo Leno LaBianca/Death Certificate Leno LaBianca
The Crime Scenes
Susan Atkins' footprints/Tate House Doorstep/Tate House Bodies on the lawn/Tate House A body on the lawn/Tate House
Bloody doorstep/Tate House Porch/Tate House Bedroom closet door/Tate House 'Pig'/Tate House
'Pig'/Tate House The Tate/Polanski home 'Helter Skelter'/LaBianca House 'Death To Pigs'/LaBianca House The LaBianca home
LaBianca Homicide Report
Trial Testimony of Linda Kasabian
Trial Testimony of Charles Manson
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with someone who knew Sharon Tate. Former Hollywood talent agent Chappy met Sharon when he was seven years old, and remembers her well. The following is Chappy's memories of Sharon Tate and the affect her murder had on him.
I met Sharon when I was little. I was 7 years old and recognized her with my mom at the market. She had on this tight bright yellow mini dress and that was shoulderless, but wrapped around the neck, with a big white vinyl belt she wore around it. Her hair was straight, perfectly combed straight and she had some sort of flower printed silk scarf around her head, that was wrapped around the hairline and underneath her hair. She wasn't wearing it like a bandana on the top of her head. She had big dark squarish-round sunglasses on. I had commented how pretty she was. How REALLY pretty she was, and I remember her saying to my mom, "Oh, isn't he the cutest!"
Then on occassions mom and I would bump into her again at the market. It got to be almost a random thing that she invited us to a cookout at her home.
Sharon was always friendly. You could never say a mean thing about her. She always made you feel comfortable around her.
I remember she had Christmas-type lights around the rail fence, that looked just beautiful at night. Sharon loved to decorate!
Roman was there and several of there friends on-and-off throughout the day would come to and fro there. I might have seen Wojiciech and Gibby there, but I was to young to remember! If I bumped into Roman today, I don't think he'd remember me! Too many people came in and out of that place! I remember Cass Elliot from the Mamas & the Papas was there. She smoked alot! Sharon did too! Taryton cigarettes if I remember. She wasn't pregnant at the time! This was about the time her career started off!
I remember swimming in the pool alot and there were at least 4 or 5 dogs roaming about. I remember Sharon's [dog] Prudence...was always running around or in Sharon's lap, and how she'd lick my face all the time.
Prudence that is...not Sharon! Sharon always cradled Prudence like a baby! Hence the motherly instinct. I later learned through Debra Tate in a phone conversation, when I asked her "whatever became of Prudence?" Debra was quiet at first and told me when she learned to drive, she accidentally ran over Prudence when she was sleeping under the car! She felt really sad and guilty about it for the longest time and I told her that Prudence is with Sharon, and her Mom and Patti.
They [Sharon and Roman] had the grill in the driveway and I remember that I always thought it was so damn hot to have a grill there, with the sun beating down.
We went to 2 or 3 of these outings and then my dad was offered a new job and we moved [and] settled in Barrington, Rhode Island.
I didn't learn of the murders till after we moved! People don't realize how heinous the crime was! How violent it was!! People just figure it as another killing without so much knowing the details of it! Doris Tate always wanted people to see Sharon IN the crime & autopsy photos, so they knew how severe the crime was. And if people knew, then Watson, Atkins, Krenwinkle, and Van Houten wouldn't get out!!! Though Houten wasn't in the Tate killings, only LaBianca's!
I din't really mourn about it till years later when I understood about the crime itself, when I started getting back into Sharon memorabilia. I have about 700 some-odd photographs of her that I've collected over the years. In fact, I just won an Ebay item! It was a DVD of the tour of the Tate/Polanski home and the Spahn Ranch. It was suppossibly filmed by "Nine Inch Nails", Trent Reznor who lived there in '93 and '94! So I can't wait to see it and remember it more!