Charles Manson is known as being one of the most notorious serial killers in our American history. The level of evil surrounding his nefarious acts, as well as the high coverage of the crimes that he and his followers committed and their subsequent trials, allowed his face to become a pop culture icon in the '60s and '70s and it has remained a recognizable image to this day in our current pop culture. Although he sits and rots behind bars, we still can’t seem to manage to stop talking about him and his twisted "family."
His family refers to the cult of people that followed his peculiar teachings and words up until they were convicted of crimes as well. The family consisted of mostly young and vulnerable women, though Manson did have a few male followers as well. The group is known for their vicious spree of murders and obsessive following of The Beatles, specifically blaming their crimes on the words of the song “Helter Skelter.” But this isn’t all the family is about. They were a complex group that had a short life but committed brutal and memorable acts nonetheless. The man who was at the center of it all was the twisted man with a long criminal history, Charles Manson.
Although there has been widespread coverage of the family and their horrible crimes, there are a few things that some people forget to discuss when talking about this brutal family. Here are 15 things you probably didn’t know about the Manson family.
15 There Were A Lot Of Street Walking Activities Involved
Before Charles Manson began forming his cult of young women, he was known for pimping out other teenage girls. He had been caught several times, but never served any jail time for his crimes. This allowed him to go on to continue to use additional women’s bodies for his own financial gain. When you have a cult of people living in a commune, it can be difficult to find a means of income for the various members. In order to live on one property, Charles Manson encouraged the women in his family to sleep with the owner of The Spahn Ranch. This property had been known as a movie film set for various westerns. The owner was an 80-year-old blind man who would sleep with the members of the family, allowing them to stay on the ranch for free. The girls would also exchange sexual favors for food items from various grocery stores.
14 They Were Way Obsessed With The Beatles
If you’re familiar with either The Beatles or Charles Manson, you probably know about the significance of the song, "Helter Skelter." The song is known for being loud and heavy, and Manson used this as an anthem for his crimes. But his interest in the British rock band went far beyond just following the words of this particular song. The entire Manson family was completely obsessed with the group and often dissected their lyrics as being Christian anthems for the love of Jesus Christ. They often tried to get in contact with The Beatles by writing them letters nonstop and calling them repeatedly as well. They wanted the musicians to come to Death Valley and live together with the family. A lot of the things they thought The Beatles were preaching were extremely far from what the actual intention of the lyrics were. But that didn’t stop the Manson Family from taking the words to heart and using them to fuel their evil.
13 They Planned To Kill Many Celebrities
The most famous victim of the Manson family murders was actress Sharon Tate, pictured above with her husband, director Roman Polanski. The couple had happened to live in the old house of a music producer that the Mansons were trying to get in touch with. Unfortunately, after visiting the house several times, the Mansons became somewhat obsessed with the current residents, resulting in the brutal murder of Sharon Tate, her unborn child, and several friends that were visiting while Roman was travelling out of the country. Luckily, the murderers were stopped before they could harm anyone else, but had they not, they would have gone through with murdering several other famous celebrities at the time. Among the people on the Manson’s hit list were Elizabeth Taylor, Steve McQueen, Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra, and Richard Burton. Steve McQueen was even supposed to visit Sharon Tate on the night of her murder, but never made it over to her house.
12 The "Family" Operated Like A Cult
Just like the way any other cult operates, there were a couple of tricky rules inside the “family” that Charles had created. For one, prostituting the girls out was a big part of Charles’ control. Though he’s an open and admitted bisexual, he himself never gave any sexual favors to better the financial status of the community. But the steady imbalance of power and control went beyond just using these women’s bodies. He made sure that they were never allowed to wear glasses or watches, or use any calendars or clocks. He also forbid them from owning or reading any books on the property. Charles Manson believed that they should see the world around them in their own eyes and live outside the constructs of space and time that are created by using clocks and calendars. It sounds more like a way to have total manipulation and control over the perception of reality of the members of this brutal family.
11 They Loved LSD
It comes as no surprise that the family enjoyed their fair share of psychedelic drugs in the form of LSD, also known as Acid. When taking a drug like this, one’s perception of reality can often be manipulated and the constructs of our normal society can easily be destroyed. This allows people to have more "open" minds that are more easily manipulated and controlled by someone who claims to preach peace and love. Charles Manson would often use the drug to trick those around him into thinking they were in a better mood. At one point, the distraught father of one of Charles’ girls held the man at gunpoint. But after they took acid together, he was able to talk down the man and reach a peace between them. They also used the drug to their advantage after they had been captured for their crimes. During a trial, some of the members took a witness out to eat and poisoned her sandwich with LSD. They were caught and committed of attempted murder.
10 Not Everyone Was Sent To Prison
Although everyone within the cult was an accessory to murder, as these nefarious acts were often discussed among the group, not everyone was sentenced or sent to prison. Many of his followers were still roaming free while those convicted of murder sat behind bars. This made many people fearful, as it was possible more murders could be committed. One journalist who was working closely with Charles Manson himself found herself a victim of a creepy encounter with the followers. She was living in a gated community when several men visited her house to ask her son for a match. It was later discovered that these men were part of the group. They never caused any harm, but it was apparent that they were capable of violence against those who opposed the group if it were necessary.
9 They Had High Hopes Of Becoming Musicians
Since they were pretty obsessed with The Beatles, it’s not that surprising to learn that they themselves had high hopes of wanting to become musicians. The family would often write songs themselves, several of which can actually be heard online. Some of their recordings have also been covered by famous bands. While in prison for crimes not related to murder, Charles Manson began learning how to make music and had hopes of becoming even bigger than The Beatles he so loved himself. They even have an album that you can listen to now called The Family Jams. This album was recorded while members of the family sat behind bars, so Charles Manson can’t actually be heard on any tracks. He does have writing credits however. Although it was recorded during their trials, the album wasn’t released until 1997.
8 They Wanted To Start A Race War
If you couldn’t already tell by the swastika engraved on Charles’ forehead, everything the Mansons stood for was disgustingly racist. They believed that "Helter Skelter" was actually a reference to an upcoming race war between white and black people. Manson had feared that the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would lead to the uprising of African- Americans and start a civil war between people of different races. He believed that The Beatles' White Album had outlined it all and predicted the impending apocalypse. He wanted to help save and preserve the members he deemed worthy from this ultimate doom, and would often preach and warn against the dangers that were expected to come. They actually intended their album to help ignite this supposed race war and get things started. He spent his time instructing his family to get cars ready for escaping and songs ready for the album up until they committed their first murders.
7 All It Took Was A Book
Charles Manson had been known as a child to be rather unruly, poorly educated, and with a low I.Q. It’s a wonder then, that this supposedly uneducated and unintelligent man was able to get a large group of people together to commit such brutal and hateful crimes. One thing that Charles owed a lot of his controlling abilities to was the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Manson stated that during his time in prison, he spent a lot of it religiously reading the book. There was one specific part of the book that focused on how to get people to take ownership of a certain idea. Manson was also known to take cues of control from Hitler, but there's no doubt that this book helped to start all of the hatred and manipulation.
6 Charles Had Children Of His Own
During the reign of the family, 12 children were born to the girls involved in the cult. It can’t be known how many of these babies were Charles', as they would often have nightly orgies among the group. Charles would also often encourage members to become pregnant in order to grow the clan. After the raid of the premises, most of these children were sent to live with adopted parents with a few given back to the original mothers. Charles does have at least three children that he knows for sure are his. His first was a son, Charles Manson Jr., who was born to Charles and his first wife before he ever became a crazed leader. Unfortunately, Charles Jr. committed suicide in 1993. His second known child is Charles Luther Manson, born to Charles’ second young wife. She divorced him while he was in prison and his son’s whereabouts are unknown. His third child is Valentine Michael Manson, the son of Manson and Mary Brunner, the first member of the clan. After they were both sent to prison, Valentine was given to his mother’s birth parents and he remains out of the limelight.
5 Charles Liked Prison
Throughout his childhood, Charles Manson spent numerous years in and out of criminal institutions. He was sent to juvenile detention centers and later in life often sent to prison or put on probation. It’s safe to say then, that Charles has spent most of his life behind bars. Most of the time before he was convicted of murder, he was sent away for financial related charges- such as fraud and theft. Once, while he was serving time for attempting to cash a fraudulent check, he actually stated that he wanted to stay in prison and had no desire to leave! He claimed he was an outcast and didn’t know where to go or what to do once he was out. It appears that our criminal justice system put in place to reform convicts unfortunately failed Charles and led him back to a life of crime and evil that put him right back behind bars.
4 Most Of His Followers Regret Everything, But He Doesn't
Several of the most notorious members of the group are still alive today sitting behind bars. During interviews, they often state how remorseful they are for the entire thing and how if they could go back in time, they would have never have done any of it. They all blame Charles for having manipulated and controlled them. When you ask Charles Manson if he regrets anything, however, he’ll always say no. He’s still known for being rather crazy during interviews or other on-screen appearances, so it’s no surprise that you’re not going to elicit any real human emotions from such an evil man. Behavior like this is typical for a cult-like situation, however. Charles still believes he is a God who has power and control, and once these women were removed from the manipulative situation, they were able to see just how vicious and evil their way of life was.
3 The Forehead Swastika Was An 'X'
Before the mark on Charles’ head was a swastika, it was originally an “X” he engraved on his own head. When looking at pictures of other members, most of them have the “X” on their foreheads as well. Charles released a statement claiming that he had done this as a way to remove himself from the establishment. He believed he was x'd out of society, and this was his way of showing it. He was no longer part of the human race and believed that he was greater than those around him. The X came after being sent to jail for the string of murders, and the girls in jail decided to carve the X in their heads as well. After being sentenced to life in prison, Charles joined the Aryan nation, and eventually turned the X into a swastika. He was also later able to tattoo the image on permanently while in prison.
2 The Insane Behavior Is Mostly An Act
If you’ve ever seen any interviews of Charles Manson, you know how crazy he acts. If you haven’t, you should check them out as plenty exist online and through other news outlets. However, he is known for stating in the past that this could possibly be an act. He told his followers that if he ever got caught for the things he’s done, he would maintain an erratic and lunatic persona for the media in order to give the illusion of insanity in hopes for lighter sentences and possible freedom. Luckily, this tactic didn’t work and he’s sitting behind bars for life. The photo above is actually him with his first wife. It’s pretty sad to see, as they look very normal and in love. But something changed in Charles that led to his life of vicious crime and brutal abuse of power and manipulation.
1 Charles Manson Never Killed Anyone
When we think of Charles Manson, we think of a brutal murderer and vicious killer. In fact, he is neither of those things. He has never actually committed any murder himself- he’s only instructed those around him to do so. His tactic was to send the family members to do the killings, or leave just before they did go through with a murder. Perhaps this was an attempt to try and maintain some level of freedom and innocence in his mind. Fortunately, the eyes of the law were still able to see that, although he didn’t hold the knife that took innocent lives, he was responsible for putting it there in the first place. Charles has had opportunities for parole, but has never shown good enough behavior to allow his release. Luckily, Charles Manson will die in prison and never be able to hurt himself, or tell someone to harm, an innocent life ever again.