Charles Manson: Here is everything you need to know about his cult, the 'Manson family'

In the late 1960s, Charles Manson formed a group known as the Manson Family. Together, they carried out numerous murders. But who is this family?

Here is everything you need to know about Charles Manson's made-up family
© Albert Foster / Getty Images
Here is everything you need to know about Charles Manson's made-up family

In the late 1960s, the world was introduced to Charles Manson and his family. Together, they are responsible for a spate of murders. But the murder that brought the family to light was that of actress Sharon Tate, who at the time was eight months pregnant with Roman Polanski's child. However, Charles Manson did not commit any of these murders.

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Who was Charles Manson?

Charles Milles Maddox, better known as Charles Mason, was born in Cincinnati on November 12, 1934. He was the son of Kathleen Maddox, a prostitute, and Walker Scott, a colonel. However, Charles did not grow up with Walker Scott, but with William Eugene Manson, whom Kathleen Maddox married in August 1934. The marriage didn't last forever, however, with Maddox only going out and being an alcoholic. The couple divorced three years later, in 1937. Charles Manson was then placed with his uncle: his mother was denied custody of her child.

This complicated childhood had a strong influence on Charles' personality. As a teenager, he began to steal and sexually assault women on numerous occasions. These crimes and misdemeanors led to his placement in a reformatory. Psychologists and psychiatrists had already identified his aggressive behavior.

In 1955, at the age of 21, Charles Manson got married. The couple had a child while he was still in prison. The situation became too much for his wife, who asked for a divorce, which she obtained.

Charles went on to become a pimp and spent years in and out of prison. In 1967, he was released and discovered a whole new world, very different from the one he had known when he entered: the hippie era. The passion for music he had developed in prison followed him out into the world.

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The birth of the Manson family

Caught up in the hippie atmosphere, Charles Manson created his own community, of which he was the leader. In fact, he described himself as a reincarnation of Christ. Eventually, he gave his group the name 'The Manson Family'. And the family's objective was simple: to steal and deal. In fact, the members themselves used drugs, and several children were born into the family.

Towards the end of the 1960s, Charles Manson's madness began to take hold of him. Based on the Beatles' White album, he was convinced that black people would take over white people. This album, called The White Album, and in particular the song Helter Skelter, were used to justify the murders to come.

In 1969, he decided to send members of his group to commit assassinations. His goal was to pin the murders on black people.

Then, in 1969, three members of the Manson Family (Charles "Tex" Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel and Susan Atkins) committed the murder that made them famous: that of Sharon Tate, who was eight months pregnant, and her friends Wojciech Frykowski, Abigail Folger, 18-year-old Steven Parent and Jay Sebring. Their goal was to avenge Charles Manson from Terry Melcher, the music producer who refused to sign his contract. When they couldn't find him in the house, they attacked and murdered those present.

In total, the Manson Family is suspected of having killed over 30 people. Among them: Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, Gary Hinman, Donald Shea, etc.

However, the most astonishing part of the story is that Charles Manson was not present at any of the crime scenes, and therefore committed none of the murders. Nevertheless, he was the mastermind behind the murders, and was convicted on January 25, 1971. He was initially sentenced to death, but his sentence was later changed to life imprisonment. Four other members of his cult received the same sentence.

The Manson Family trial is the longest and most expensive in U.S. history.

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Who were the members of the Manson family?

The Manson family included many members in their 'cult'. Among them were:

  • Charles Manson
  • Susan Atkins
  • Patricia Krenwinkel
  • Charles "Tex" Watson
  • Linda Kasabian
  • Leslie Van Houten
  • Bobby Beausoleil
  • Clem Grogan
  • Bruce Davis
  • Lynette Fromme

Susan Atkins

She met the guru Charles Manson at the age of 18 and decided to run away from home. In 1969, she was arrested for the murder of Gary Hinman. She later confessed to involvement in the murders of Sharon Tate, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Overall, she was tried for eight murders. She married twice: the first time to Donald Lee Laisure, and the second time to James W. Whitehouse. She died in prison on September 24, 2009.

Patricia Krenwinkel

Patricia Krenwinkel met Charles Manson in Manhattan Beach in 1967. She participated in the murders of Abigail Folger and the LaBianca couple. While in prison, she remained loyal to Charles Manson for a long time, before gradually breaking away. Patricia is still in prison.

Charles 'Tex' Watson

He was responsible for the murder of Wojciech Frykowski, and participated in the murders of Sharon Tate and the LaBianca couple. On November 30, 1969, Charles 'Tex' Watson was arrested. He was found guilty of murdering seven people. Today, he remains in prison at Mule Creek.

Linda Kasabian

Linda Kasabian joined Charles Manson in July 1969. She accompanied her comrades in the murder of Sharon Tate and her friends, and of the LaBianca couple, but did not participate in the assassination. Two days later, she left the Manson family. So it's almost logical that she ended up cooperating with the police during the trial, giving her immunity.

Leslie Van Houten

Leslie Van Houten joined the guru in 1968. She took part in the LaBianca murders at the age of 19. However, she confessed to all the murders. Today, she remains in prison.

Lynette Fromme

She joined the group when she was just 18. She attempted to kill US President Gerald Ford. In all, she spent 34 years in prison.

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This article has been translated from Gentside FR.

Charles Manson: Everything you should know about his 'family members' who killed for him Charles Manson: Everything you should know about his 'family members' who killed for him