“We’re not in Wonderland anymore, Alice.” So goes the Manson quote. Indeed, Manson himself is not in Wonderland anymore. At eighty-three years old, the infamous cult leader passed away on Sunday night in a hospital in Bakersfield, California after spending decades behind bars for ordering the cold and calculated murders of the members of the Tate and LaBianca households that propelled him to grisly fame in 1969. We know what happened at the tragic scene of the Tate and LaBianca murders but what happened to Manson behind bars? Sometimes when people go to prison for heinous crimes, they turn their lives around and become model prisoners. Not so in this case.
5. Manson’s Messy Antics
It seems pretty clear from his track record that Manson went into prison with the mindset that he was going to cause as much trouble as possible. By assaulting guards on multiple occasions (once he even threw hot coffee on a guard), verbally abusing the female guards and sneaking contraband into his cell, he made good on his mission. There are reports of Manson spitting on guards and sneaking not just one, but three cell phones in to make calls and send texts. The prison guards, no doubt, saw this trouble coming as Manson was preceded by his ghastly reputation and his bizarre and violent behavior at his trial which included lunging at the judge with a pencil and punching his own lawyer in open court, not to mention famously carving an “X” into his forehead.
4. He Set His Mattress On Fire And Tried To Start A Flood
Not only did Manson assault guards in prison and smuggle in contraband such as weapons (hacksaw blades) and drugs (LSD and marijuana) and plan escapes but he also planned to burn or flood the prison at every possible turn.
“Suffice it to say that he cannot be described as a model prisoner,” Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, told the Los Angeles Times.
That’s putting it mildly. Manson was the ultimate problem child during his decades in prison. During one occasion, he tried to start a flood using his toilet system and another time, he succeeded in setting his mattress on fire.
3. Manson The Musician
When Manson wasn’t creating chaos however and whenever he could, he was learning to play the guitar. Apparently, he hoped to make it as a singer/songwriter. Many people confirmed that he had a nice voice but his dreams of being a singer never happened, either pre or post-prison. However, his songwriter dreams may have come true, at least a little bit. Certain songs that Manson wrote were recorded by Marilyn Manson, Guns N’ Roses, the Lemonheads, Crispin Glover, the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Beach Boys, whom Manson had associated with before the murders, recorded a song “Never Learn Not to Love” which was based on a song that Manson wrote called “Cease to Exist.”
2. He Was Engaged To A Twenty-Five-Year-Old!
In 2013, a twenty-five-year-old woman named Afton Elaine Burton but who calls herself “Star” approached Rolling Stone magazine with the information that she was engaged to Manson. According to Burton, in 2007, she moved Corcoran, California to be closer to the prison Manson was being housed in. Reportedly, she believed strongly in his innocence and ran several websites and forums that worked to cast Manson in a good light.
“I don’t care what those kind of people think,” she said in an interview with CNN. “It doesn’t make any difference. The man that I know is not what they have in the movies or in documentaries and the books. He’s nothing like that. He doesn’t tell people what to do. He’s not manipulative at all.”
While it seems like Burton would be a kind of a shining light in an otherwise dark world behind prison bars to Manson, who was seventy-nine at the time, he reportedly didn’t return Burton’s sentiments or he just felt like telling it like it was when he talked to Rolling Stone in 2013 when he said that the marriage rumor was, “a bunch of garbage. You know that, man. That’s trash. We’re just playing that for public consumption.”
Regardless, the two applied for and received a marriage license through the prison wedding of Burton’s dreams never came to fruition.
1. He Tried To Break Out Prison With A Hot Air Balloon
Leave it to notorious criminal and cult leader Charles Manson to attempt to break out of prison by way of a hot air balloon. Imagine this on an episode of Prison Break. We can’t even begin to think of how Manson’s detailed plan worked out in his head but his escape attempt was foiled in 1982. At that time, Manson was incarcerated at the prison medical facility in Vacaville, California which is located near Sacramento. Reportedly, prison guards looked through Manson’s cell during a routine search and found a catalog for ordering hot air balloons and nylon rope. How he got the catalog in the first place is not known but we can imagine Manson seeing himself happily floating out of his cell and up, up away to undeserved freedom as he waved goodbye to the prison guards who undoubtedly would have just shot the balloon down in a hot minute had he ever gotten that far.
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