It was the most shocking crime of the 20th century. No contest. On August 9, 1969, four of Charles Manson’s family members broke into the Beverly Hills home being rented by actress Sharon Tate and director Roman Polanski, murdering an eight-month pregnant Tate and four others. It was a scene of appalling and chilling carnage, with bodies all over the place and the word “pig” scrawled in Tate’s blood on the front door. Tate had begged for the life of her unborn baby, but to no avail. The world was shocked, appalled, and more than a little frightened. Soon, pictures of the wild-eyed Manson, so-called “Crazy Charlie,” with his mop of unruly hair and his eerie hippie “flower child” followers sent chills down the spines of America and the world. The bizarre and twisted story of the Manson family cum cult reveals so many twists and turns, secrets, chance meetings, and bizarre goings-on; a tale that fascinates and chills all at the same time. What really went on inside the Manson family? Why did they kill and kill again? Here are 15 chilling facts about the Manson cult that’ll leave you more than a little uneasy.
16. My Mother Sold Me For A Pitcher Of Beer
Part of the “line” Manson took with the family was how brutal and abusive his childhood had been. He claimed to “bond” with the troubled young women who joined his cult and fell into his bed by telling them he had, like them, a sh*tty childhood. He stroked their hair and told them sad stories of how his mother, an alcoholic teenage prostitute, had once sold him for a pitcher of beer. He told tales of being s*xually abused. There’s just one small problem—he lied. The tale of woe and abuse was merely a tool he used to con and manipulate the often ugly and troubled young women who joined the family. The truth? His family has said he was, from the age of 5, a violent and sadistic “crazy-eyed” kid who literally “never did any good.” He was as close to pure evil as you are likely to get. By the time he was 32 years old, he had spent more than half of his life in jails and prisons.
15. S*x, Drugs, And Rock’n Roll
Let’s face it. It was the Swinging ‘60s, a time of LSD, pot, and hippies spouting “Free Love.” And in the late 1960’s, the Manson Family were bonking like out-of-control rabbits. Did it matter if the babes were “legal” or not? In a word, NO. Young, underage, ugly chicks were recruited by Manson, who told them they were beautiful before “initiating” them. A celebrity chum of Manson’s spent tens of thousands of dollars on medical treatments for the STDs that were running rampant through the family. Some male members of the cult were given the nod into membership because they were well-endowed. Manson believed good s*x was the key to controlling the women. Manson babes were pimped out for money, food, or drugs. And in 2015, the long defunct cult got its very own adult DVD, Mansion Family XXX. Families of the victims of their murder spree cried foul, but to no avail.
14. Hitching A Ride With A Beach Boy
The truly spooky thing about the road to the brutal murders of Sharon Tate and her friends in 1969 is how random encounters spawned contacts that led to more random encounters that ended in the brutal murders in August of 1969. In 1968, two female Manson Family members were hitchhiking and got picked up by Beach Boy Dennis Wilson. That, according to some stories, led Charles Manson to Wilson’s doorstep. Family members moved in with Wilson, who strummed guitar and sang with Manson while the female cult member waited on and “serviced” them. That led to an introduction to record producer Terry Melcher who was, at the time, renting the house later rented by Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski; the house where the murders took place. So, had Dennis Wilson never met Manson, the Tate murders probably wouldn’t have happened? Almost certainly not.
13. Killing To Free A Killer
Talk about scary. And it’s not just the guy. One of the most chilling revelations to have come out about life in the Manson family is that the Tate murder happened because a family member by the name of Bobby Beausoleil, had been arrested for the July, 1969 torture/murder of Gary Hinman. What police didn’t know is that he did it on Manson’s orders. Manson wanted to pin the murder on the Black Panthers as a means of inducing a race war and Beausoleil had used Hinman’s own blood to scrawl “political piggy” and Black Panther symbols around Hinman’s place. And when Bobby was banged up, some say that Manson planned the Tate murder as a kind of “copycat” crime, hoping to convince the cops they had the wrong guy and the real killer was still out there. Didn’t work. Bobby B is still banged up, tats and all.
12. Manson To Family: Let Me Show You How It’s Done
So, on August 9, 1969, “Tex” Watson and three female family members broke into Sharon Tate’s Beverly Hills home and killed her and four others. Tate’s blood was used to write “pig” on the front door. For all the world, it looked like the Hinman murder all over again. Manson had told Tex and the women to go to the Tate house and kill everyone. And they did. There were bodies in the house and a body or two out in the yard. And there were lots and lots of blood. Some say Manson was p*ssed off with how the murders had gone down, thinking they were too chaotic and not controlled enough. So, as the story goes, he ordered another round of murders. The day after the Tate murders, saying, “let me show you how it’s done,” Manson set out with several family members, looking for somebody to kill.
11. La Bianca Murders
We come once again to the spooky trail that led to murder. First, there was Dennis Wilson, that led to Terry Melcher, that led to the Tate house. On the night of August 10, 1969, Manson set out with Tex Watson and a few women to show them how to murder. He directed them to Leno and Rosemary La Bianca’s Los Angeles home. Why? Well, because it was next door to a house where Manson and some family members had attended a party. And? Nothing. Manson remembered the party and where the house was and that was it. Leno and Rosemary were awakened at gun point, their hands bound, and pillow cases placed over their heads. Leno was stabbed some 41 times. Then, “War” was carved onto Leno’s stomach and his blood used to write “Death to pigs” on the wall and “Healter Skelter” [sic] on a fridge door. WTF?
10. Helter Skelter
Manson was a wannabee musician. He and the family were going to put out a record that would change the world. Right. And Manson was obsessed with the Beatles in general and their song “Helter Skelter” in particular. For him, it embodied an apocalyptic race war that would end with blacks triumphant and (crazy alert) Manson in charge of the world. That’s what all the scrawling in blood was about—hanging the murders on blacks. First, Gary Hinman. Then came the Tate murders. And finally, the La Bianca slaughter. He was hoping that blacks would pick up on the trend and go with the flow and start well and truly murdering whites. And the family? They planned to retire to an underground city in the desert and come out to take over once the blacks had won. Well, we did give a crazy alert, didn’t we? “Now is the time for Helter Skelter” was the phrase of the day. Only thing is, they misspelled it at the La Bianca’s, scrawling “Healter Skelter.” Nobody said they were smart.
9. The Tip Of The Murder Iceberg?
Mary Brunner and Manson’s son, “Pooh Bear.” Over the summer of 1969, Manson’s followers killed 8 people outright and tried to dispatch a ninth, a drug dealer by the name of “Lotsapoppa” Crowe. But, remember this. After the killing spree, fewer than ten family members, including Manson and Tex Watson, ended up in prison. And the rest? Seems like they remained active. The first family member, Mary Brunner, staged a shoot-out robbery and launched a bloody plot in conjunction with other cult members to free Manson. It failed. Some say the family could have been responsible for 35 to 40 murders, including that of attorney Ronald Hughes, the first attorney to meet with Charles Manson in 1969. He dumped the cult lead and represented family member Linda Kasabian, who turned State’s Evidence and ratted on Manson. Hughes’ body was found in the woods in 1971.
8. The Manson Family: In The Beginning
TV’s Aquarius told the story of San Francisco’s Summer of Love. It was 1967 and Charlie Manson, newly released from jail, took up residence in the city. Behind him lay a string of pimping, theft, and fraud convictions. The first family member was librarian assistant Mary Brunner. Then, 18 more young girls joined the group to serve and service Charlie. They traveled around in an old gutted school bus smoking and dropping acid and bonking. The next year, they hooked up with Dennis Wilson. After they cost him $100,000 in medical bills and damage, the family got the boot and ended up at nearby Spahn Movie Ranch where they paid their way by helping out at the now derelict movie set, with Manson ordering the females to “service” the near-blind 80-something owner.
7. Cut Off From The World: Them And Us
Building a cult 101: Isolate them, make them dependent on you, and convert them to your thinking. Manson’s cult was a “family,” cut off from the world in every sense of the word. At the Spahn Ranch, clocks and newspapers were forbidden. Manson steadily fed the vulnerable females on a diet of being “the chosen ones,” the ones who would save the world. He used s*x and drugs to manipulate their senses. And, in the end, they followed his orders. “Go out and sell your bodies,” he said. They complied. “Steal food,” he commanded. They did. “Murder everyone at the house,” he said. Again and again and again. And they followed his orders to the letter, both before and after he was banged up. Some say they killed on his orders after he was behind bars.
6. Of Hitler And Winning Friends
The young Charles Manson. It’s no surprise that Manson studied the most charismatic of monsters, Adolf Hitler. He was said to have admired the Nazi monster. But, Manson gained useful skills from a surprising source, taking a course while he was banged up for car theft on “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Based on the iconic book by Dale Carnegie, the course turned Manson from “a low-level pimp” to a “frighteningly effective sociopath.” This, according to Jeff Guinn’s Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson, Carnegie’s “thing,” was using other people’s egotistical tendencies to one’s advantage. So, Manson told ugly babes they were beautiful. The keys? Charm, appreciation, and personality.
5. Stealing, Pimping, And Murdering
So, you’re riding around in your bus and servicing otogenarians at a ranch. What else did the Manson harem do to keep body and soul together? Well, the girls were sent out to “work.” They also rummaged in the garbage bins of restaurants and food stores and traded food for s*x with waiters and staff. When they were at the Spahn Ranch, they had a nice little trade in stealing and rebuilding cars for resale. They defrauded drug dealer Lotsapoppa Crowe, and when he threatened revenge, they shot him. And, before he murdered Gary Hinman, Bobby Beausoleil was trying to make him turn over an inheritance of some $20,000. So, stealing, pimping, and murdering kept the wolf from the Manson family door.
4. The Ones That Got Away
Manson was long since banged up when, in 1975, Manson family member, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, stood an arm’s length away from President Gerald Ford in Sacramento with a gun in her hand. She intended to assassinate him. Miraculously, the gun didn’t fire and Squeaky ended up behind bars for 34 years. Some sources say that the family had also planned to murder celebrities like Steve McQueen, Tom Jones, and Elizabeth Taylor. The blonde and handsome McQueen was a friend of Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski. Some stories even claim that McQueen was due to be at the Tate house the night of the murders. Reportedly, he didn’t show up.
3. You’ve Got To Realize: You’re The Devil As Much As You’re God
Back into the realm of the weird. Part of the loony teachings according to Charles Manson was that Satan and Christ would be reconciled at the end of the world. At one point, he even claimed to be a Scientologist. Before the killings began, when he was at his looniest, Charles took up the name “Charles Willis Manson,” which he would say slowly as “Charles Will Is Man’s Son.” So the guy thought he was Jesus, the Messiah? Yep. But, he also swung the other way, believing he embodied the devil as well. He told followers: “You’ve Got to realize: You’re the Devil as much as you’re God.”
2. The Murderer Who Never Killed
He was a pimp, a thief, and a fraudster. But, as far as we know, Charles Manson never actually killed anyone. Oh, he planned, ordered, and then conducted reviews of the murders that took place. How many murders? Some say as many as 30 or 40. His right hand man, Tex Watson, is said to have admitted to “a bunch” of killings over and above the 1969 spree. In 2016, a “Jane Doe” corpse was identified as a probable Manson Family victim dating back to just after Tate/La Bianca murders in 1969. And, we know that Squeaky Fromme attempted to kill President Gerald Ford. Manson has even said he was never at a crime scene when murders were taking place. Many doubt that claim. And some say he even showed up at the Tate house after the murders to “rearrange” the furniture and the bodies. Remorse? Forget it. At 82 years old, he remains cocky and self-assured.
1. Manson’s Girls
A still from Manson’s Lost Girls. Having spent over half of his first 32 years behind bars, Charles Manson developed a liking for the certainty and routine of prison life. He doesn’t consider being banged up as “punishment.” So, even now, he’s just fine. After getting out of prison in 1967, with his Dale Carnegie Diploma in hand, he set up a killing machine of compliant females and macho guys. And, by 1969, they were at full tilt. At the end of the day, Manson was and is a slippery character who plays “Crazy Charlie” for all it’s worth. His followers know it’s not real. So, who is Charles Manson really? He’s a conman and a sociopath who found his ultimate calling with his “family.” Death, as one of his family members said, was and is his thing. He got off on it. And the girls. Lots of girls.