Charles Milles Manson

Charles Milles Manson

Charles Milles Manson (born November 12th, 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 found guilty of conspiracy to commit the Tate/LaBianca murders, carried out by members of the group at his instruction.

He was convicted of the murders through the joint-responsibility rule, which makes each member of a conspiracy guilty of crimes his fellow conspirators commit in furtherance of the conspiracy's object.

Manson is associated with "Helter Skelter", the term he took from the Beatles song of that name and construed as an apocalyptic race war the murders were putatively intended to precipitate.

This connection with rock music linked him, from the beginning of his notoriety, with pop culture, in which he became an emblem of insanity, violence, and the macabre.

Ultimately, the term was used as the title of the book prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi wrote about the Manson murders.

At the time the Family began to form, Manson was an unemployed ex-convict who had spent half his life in correctional institutions for a variety of offenses.

In the period before the murders, he was a singer-songwriter on the distant fringe of the Los Angeles music industry, chiefly through a chance association with a member of The Beach Boys, Dennis Wilson.

After Manson was charged with the crimes, recordings of songs written and performed by him were released commercially. 

'People look at you today twenty years later and they still have no idea what you're about.'


Charles Manson interview in San Quentin Prison

Artists including Guns N' Roses and Marilyn Manson
have covered his songs in the decades since.

Manson's death sentence was automatically commuted to life imprisonment when a 1972 decision by the Supreme Court of California temporarily eliminated the state's death penalty.

California's eventual reestablishment of capital punishment did not affect Manson, who is an inmate at Corcoran State Prison.

Within months of the Tate-LaBianca arrests, Manson was embraced by underground newspapers of the 1960s counterculture from which the Family had emerged.

When a Rolling Stone writer visited the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office for a June 1970 cover story, he was shocked by a photograph of the bloody "Healter Skelter" that would bind Manson to popular culture. Manson has been a presence in fashion, graphics, music, and movies, as well as on television and the stage.

In an afterword composed for the 1994 edition of the non-fiction Helter Skelter, prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi quoted a BBC employee's assertion that a "neo-Manson cult" existing then in Europe was represented by, among other things, approximately 70 rock bands playing songs by Manson and "songs in support of him."

Just one specimen of popular music with Manson references is Alkaline Trio’s "Sadie," whose lyrics include the phrases "Sadie G," "Ms. Susan A," and "Charlie’s broken .22." "Sadie Mae Glutz" was the name by which Susan Atkins was known within the Family; and as noted earlier, the revolver grip that shattered when Tex Watson used it to bludgeon Wojciech Frykowski was a twenty-two caliber.

"Sadie’s" lyrics are followed by a spoken passage derived from Atkins’s testimony in the penalty phase of the trial of Manson and the women. Manson has even influenced the names of musical performers such as Spahn Ranch, Kasabian, and Marilyn Manson, the last a stage name assembled from "Charles Manson" and "Marilyn Monroe".

The story of the Family's activities inspired John Moran’s opera The Manson Family and Stephen Sondheim’s musical Assassins, the latter of which has Lynette Fromme as a character.

The tale has been the subject of several movies, including two television dramatizations of Helter Skelter. In the South Park episode Merry Christmas Charlie Manson, Manson is a comic character whose inmate number is 06660, an apparent reference to 666, the Biblical "number of the beast."

MOST EVIL: Charles Manson Murders

Most Evil is an American forensics television program
on Investigation Discovery presented by forensic psychiatrist Michael Stone of Columbia University.

On the show, Stone rates murderers on a scale of evil that he has developed. The show features profiles on various murderers, serial killers, and psychopaths.

Stone researched hundreds of killers and their methods and motives to develop his hierarchy of "evil."

The scale ranges from Category 1, those who kill in self defense, to Category 9, psychopathic jealous lovers, to the "most evil" Category 22, serial torturers and killers.

Neurologists, psychologists, and other forensic psychiatrists are interviewed on the show in an attempt to examine and profile the minds of notorious killers. Partial re-enactments are shown along with news footage, evidence, and reports from locals.

Neurological, environmental, and genetic factors are examined to help determine what drives a person to kill. Background history and pre-meditation are considered when placing an individual on the scale of evil. The show indirectly deals with the concepts of morality and ethics.

Stone appears once per month on the "Crime Night" segment of the Phil Hendrie radio show. Dr. Stone is also a regular guest and contributor on the legal news talk radio program, Real Law Radio with Bob DiCello. Dr. Stone's scale of evil is similar to Michael Welner's The Depravity Scale.