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Cult leader Charles Manson Dead at 83
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Charles Manson. Photo courtesy of CBS.

Summary: Charles Manson died on Sunday at the age of 83.

Cult leader Charles Manson died on Sunday evening. The 83-year-old was serving a prison sentence for one of the most gruesome murder sprees in American history, according to TMZ.

  
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Families of Manson’s victims were notified of his death yesterday.

Prison officials said Manson died of natural causes. He was wheeled into Bakersfield hospital accompanied by five uniformed police officers.

Manson had been serving prison time since 1971. He was convicted of conspiracy in murdering actress Sharon Tate. Although he was not present at the killing, members of his cult, The Manson Family, broke into her mansion and slaughtered her with the intent of starting a race war.

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“He was the dictatorial ruler of the (Manson) family, the king, the Maharaja. And the members of the family were slavishly obedient to him,” Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi told CNN.

Manson’s followers terrorized Los Angeles in 1969, killing nine people over two days.



“The first set of victims were Tate, who was eight months’ pregnant; a celebrity hairstylist named Jay Sebring; coffee fortune heiress Abigail Folger; writer Wojciech Frykowski; and Steven Parent, a friend of the family’s caretaker,” CNN stated. “The next evening, another set of murders took place. Supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, were killed at their home.”

Prosecutors argued that Manson wanted the killings to be pinned on the Black Panthers in order to start a race war. His followers wrote “pig” in victims’ blood along with “helter skelter” at the crime scenes in order to make it appear that the political organization was involved.

Manson’s trial shocked the nation because of his charismatic cult leader personality and the heinousness of his crimes. During trial, he and his followers created a circus-like atmosphere by singing, giggling, and carving Xs on their foreheads.

“For the band of journalists who covered the Manson trial, those 10 months felt like a plunge into horror beyond comparison,” former AP journalist Linda Deutsch wrote in Yahoo. “If the story had been put forward as a Hollywood script, no one would have bought it. It was just too unbelievable.”

Manson was sentenced to death but California later abolished capital punishment. He was given life in prison, and during his decades there, his attempts at parole were repeatedly denied.

“The trial of Manson and three female followers lasted from late 1969 into 1971, a surreal spectacle punctuated with grotesque images of death, bloody scrawlings and tales of a “family” of disaffected youths living in a backwater commune,” Deutsch wrote. “The aura of celebrity permeated the case. Tate’s husband was the movie director Roman Polanski, and Manson had hung out on the fringes of the music business. The focus was squarely on “Charlie” and the extraordinary power he exerted over his followers, leading them into a world of sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll and, ultimately, murder.”



 

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