Meet the Reigning King of America's Homicidal Maniacs and his harem of acolytes. Between July and August of 1969, Charlie and his "Family" of society drop-outs carved themselves a niche of infamy in the American psyche after a blood-soaked series of murders that hammered shut the hopes of the flower generation.
Born "No Name Maddox," Charlie was the son of a teenage, bisexual, alcoholic prostitute. As an infant his uncaring mom once traded him for a pitcher of beer. As a young boy he watched his mother bring home lovers of both sexes and was constantly shuffled between the home's of relatives and orphanages. One particularly sadistic uncle forced Charlie to wear a dress to school so he would "learn to fight and be a man." Not surprisingly Charlie started his career in crime at a young age. As a young man he was the poster-boy of institutional life, constantly in and out of reform schools and prisons. Before he was thirty-five, he had spent more than half of his life incarcerated.
When he was paroled in 1967, this ex-con and aspiring musician drifted to San Francisco just in time to catch the Summer of Love. There he became the "God of Fuck". Charlie's charisma made him the Messiah of every lost flower child and, strangely, after years of incarceration, he turned out to be full of love. Describing himself as a "little runt" he managed to surround himself with a bevy of beautiful young girls who considered him God. While in San Francisco he traded the rights to one of his songs for a bus, which his girls painted black and he drove all across the West collecting what he called "Garbage People."
When the bus broke down north of Los Angeles, they settled in the Spahn Ranch, a derelict ranch that was used for Western movies. There the Family grew to have more than 30 girls with more joining each day. At first their life in the ranch was pure hippie Nirvana. Charlie would sleep with a different girl each night as they all fried on acid and sang songs around a campfire when the sun went down. They would raid garbage dumpsters in the back of supermarkets for food and would shoplift for other necessities. Back at the ranch, as they fucked and sucked with abandon, the Family envisioned themselves as representatives of the "Infinite Soul." On the side they formed alliances with various satanist and biker groups and with who they occasionally committed ritual murder.
All along Charlie planned to launch his stellar career as a folk singer with the help of Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys. Sadly, for Sharon Tate and her friends, things didn't turn out the way he thought. Shunned by the music industry Charlie grew bitter and vengeful. His odd interpretation of the Beatles' song "Helter Skelter" warned of a coming race war in which "blackie" would win. Then he and his minions, who had been breeding at a furious rate in the Spahn ranch, would take over and rule the world. Ultimately, the reign of terror perpetrated by this midget genius had nothing to do with his visions of Armageddon. Instead, it was simply an act of revenge against the music industry that had ignored him.
Terry Melcher, a music producer who had rejected Manson (and also the son of Doris Day), moved out of his house in Cielo Drive and subleased it to Roman Polanski and his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate. In a desperate attempt to get his music produced Manson had gone to talk to Terry to find out that he had moved. He thought the new tenants of Cielo Drive treated him like "a piece of scum to be sucked into the toilet." So when he felt that a series of random murders were in order to feed the "Infinite Soul" he knew exactly where to go
The first hit was Gary Hinman, a rich Buddhist musician partly associated with the Family. Members Susan Atkins, Marie O'Brien and Bobby Beausoleil went to pay him a visit. After torturing Gary for five or six hours he proved unwilling to give the Family money. Manson and Family member Bruce Davis were called to the scene to see if they could convince Hinman to cooperate. He refused again and Manson told Bobby: "You know what to do. Kill him-- he's no good to us." Bobbie stabbed him and later wrote on the wall "POLITICAL PIGGY" in blood to divert attention to the Family and make it look like a hit by the Black Panthers.
The next stop in their war against "the Establishment" was Cielo Drive. On August 8, 1969, Manson sent Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian to "do the Devil's business." What ensued was a blood bath of apocalyptic proportions. Armed with knives and a gun, the Family members butchered Steve Parent, Abigail Folger, Voityck Frykowski, Jay Sebring and a very pregnant Sharon Tate. After the killing Tex ordered Susan to return inside and, "write something that will shock the world." Using a towel soaked in Tate's blood she wrote "PIG" on the door. She also thought of carving out Tate's unborn child and bringing it to Charlie wrapped in the towel. "How proud Charlie would be if I presented him with the baby cut from the womb of the woman." She later considered cutting out the heart and eating it or skewering the baby and roasting it in a bonfire. Fortunately these were just fleeting thoughts.
Feeling that the massacre in Cielo Drive was too messy, the next night Charlie joined his hippie death squad to demonstrate how the killings should be done. After meandering through the streets of Los Angeles they ended next to a monastery in the Los Feliz area. There he entered the home of supermarket magnate Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary. After tying up the couple and reassuring them that everything was going to be fine, Charlie sent Tex, Leslie and Patricia to do the job. They killed the hapless couple and scribbled in blood "ARISE" on the wall, "DEATH TO ALL PIGS" on the front door, and "HELTER-SKELTER" on the refrigerator. Then they took showers, ate watermelon and hitchhiked a ride home. Before leaving, Patricia, in a stroke of evil brilliance, carved the word "WAR" on the stomach of LaBianca using a fork. When police discovered his body the next day he still had the fork protruding from his gut. To make the rampage look like part of the impending race war Charlie drove to a black neighborhood and left the wallet of Rosemary LaBianca in the bathroom of a gas station.
The last killing perpetrated by the family before their arrest was a ranch hand called Shorty Shea who knew too much about the "five dead piggies." The Family then relocated to the Barker ranch in Goler Wash on the outskirts of Death Valley. There Charlie and the Family "tried to get as close as we could to all the animals, try to learn from them how to live." They also had fun with dune buggies playing some type of desert war games. Eventually, because of their nightly desert escapades, U.S. Marshalls came to arrest the Family on charges of arson and auto theft after they torched some park ranger equipment. Once in custody Susan blabbed to one of her cellmates about the murders and their house of cards came tumbling down.
During their trial Charlie tried unsuccessfully to defend himself and staged several media pranks in his ongoing attack on "the Establishment." He wanted to form a corporation with the other six jailed Family members called "The Family of Infinite Soul, Inc." to pay for their defence. Eight days after the defense rested their case, Manson's court-appointed attorney Ronald Hughes dissapeared. His decomposed body was found five months later. At one point Charlie and the girls carved Xs on their foreheads as a symbol of X'ing oneself out of society. All the histrionics never amounted to anything other than Vincent Bugliosi penning a best-seller out of prosecuting the Family.
By 1971 seven members of the Family were handed death penalties which were revoked in 1972 when the California Supreme Court abolished it. Charlie, although convicted of multiple murders, was never proven to have killed anyone. It is believed that the Family was probably responsible for dozens of other deaths before and after the arrest and incarceration of their leader. Years later, on September 4, 1975 Family member Squeaky Fromme managed to capture headlines when she lunged at President Gerald Ford with a gun. Fortunately a Secret Service agent managed to wedge his thumb between the hammer and the firing pin preventing one more death to be tallied for the Infinite Soul. A week later fellow Family member Sandra Good leaked to the press a hit list of corporate and political big wigs targeted for assassination by the Family for their destructive actions against the environment.
Not one to be sitting on past laurels cyber-Charlie has now his own website. At his latest parole hearing on April, 1997, he pointed out that he was hard at work on the website and had no time for parole. Showing that he was keeping up with current events he also remarked: "These monks (Heaven's Gate) that just took their heads in San Diego they're way behind the times."
Even in jail America's favorite psychopath remains at odds with the law. In the summer of 1997 he was caught dealing drugs inside the Corcoran state Prison. As punishment he was transferred to the tougher Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City and was placed in a segregated Security Housing Unit where he has virtually no contact with other inmates. He can only leave his cell for treatment sessions, showers and his daily solitary exercise routine. After more than a year of punishment Manson was returned to Corcoran. In jail he recieves four fan letters a day, more mail than any prisoner in the United States.
The latest two reports about Charlie have him cowarding away from a group of prisoners attacking fellow serial killer Juan Corcoran in maximum security. In the altercation Manson's beloved guitar was smashed. Charlie is also said to be assisting a criminology professor with a course on the American legaL system.