Charles Manson (born November 12, 1934) is an American criminal who led what became known as the Manson Family, a quasi-commune that arose in California in the late 1960s. He was born to a 16 year old alcoholic mother, and had a troubled childhood, never knowing who his father was. His youth was spent stealing and committing other petty crime, and he spent time in juvenile centers and prisons. By March 21, 1967, his release day from prison (he was arrested for forging checks), he had spent more than half of his 32 years in prisons and other institutions.
Manson moved to San Francisco and established himself as a guru in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, which, during 1967’s “Summer of Love”, was emerging as the signature hippie locale. Expounding a philosophy that included some of the Scientology he had studied in prison, he soon had his first group of young followers, most of them female. Soon enough, the numbers of the Manson “family” started doubling and they relocated to a ranch in California. Manson treated the women as his servants.
In 1968, Manson discovered the Beatles and became obsessed with their music. For some time, Manson had been saying that racial tension between blacks and whites was growing and that blacks would soon rise up in rebellion in America’s cities, and he thought that the Beatles’ songs spoke of this. He maintained that the Beatles’ White Album was directed at the Family, an elect group that was being instructed to preserve the worthy from the impending disaster. They looked at themselves as the ‘chosen ones.” Manson called the apocalyptic war “Helter Skelter.”
Their crimes started in 1939. They killed a few more people and were responsible for the famous murder of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and three other occupants of the house. Tate pleaded to be allowed to live long enough to have her baby; she cried, “Mother… mother…” until she was dead. Manson picked the house because it was the previous residence of Terry Melcher, who was supposed to help Manson with his music career, and didn’t. After the Tate murders, the Manson family killed supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife.
Manson and his followers were arrested in December 1969, after the police collected enough evidence from different sources to link them to the murders. During the trial, Manson said that he wanted to make it seem like the murders were committed by black people. He, along with the others who participated in the murders, was given life in prison. Manson has three children by three different mothers. He is currently 75 and an inmate at a California prison.