Charles Manson

Reign of terror: 1967 - 12/10/69

Motive: Manson was trying to incite a race war, which he called "Helter Skelter", by killing white people living in white districts, which was going to make white people believe it was black people who did the crimes.


Date Victim Method Murderer
6/8/69 Gary Hinman Stabbed Bobby Beausoleil
8/8/69 Steven Earl Parent Shot four times Charles "Tex" Watson
8/8/69 Voytek Frykowski Stabbed, shot twice, beat over the head with the end of a gun 13 times, & stabbed again, totalling 51 times Charles "Tex" Watson & Susan "Sadie" Atkins
8/8/69 Abigail Folger Hanged, then stabbed 28 times Patricia "Katie" Krenwinkel
8/8/69 Jay Sebring Stabbed 7 times & shot once Charles "Tex" Watson
8/8/69 Sharon Tate Stabbed 16 times Susan "Sadie" Atkins
9/8/69 Leno LaBianca Strangled with a lamp flex and stabbed repeatedly Charles "Tex" Watson
9/8/69 Rosemary LaBianca Strangled with a lamp flex and stabbed 41 times Patricia "Katie" Krenwinkel & Leslie "Lulu" van Houten
25-26/8/69 Shorty Shea Hacked to death with 4 German bayonets and a cutlass. His head and limbs were cut off. The body was never found. Steve "Clem" Grogan, Charles Manson & Bruce Davis
Sentence: They were all given death sentences,but they were later commuted to life imprisonment after the gas chamber was abolished in California.

Interesting facts: Charles Manson was the messaianic leader of a cult group who lived in a ranch north of Los Angeles. The members of the "family" believed he was God, and did anything and everything he asked for. He organised regular orgies and directed what should happen at each one. He handed out drugs to his followers, and when he told them to kill, they did so without question.

At the trial, the women copied everything that Manson did - thus proving the prosecution's case that the family was wholly under his influence, and although he did not actually kill anybody himself, he was ultimately responsible for the killings.

Helter Skelter was the name he had given to the black uprising which he was expecting to happen. When it didn't happen as fast as he wanted it to, he decided that he would speed its arrival up, by killing white people. In this way, black people would get the blame, there would be retaliation killings and a war would start. This war would signal the end of the world, and after the war, the Manson family would take over the world. Manson took the term helter skelter from the Beatles' White Album, unaware that a helter skelter is a fairground ride.

At the scenes of the murders, messages were daubed on the walls in the victims' blood: "POLITICAL PIGGY"at Hinman's house, "DEATH TO PIGS", "RISE" and "HEALTER SKELTER" [sic] at the LaBianca house, and "PIG" at the Tate killings. Carved in the flesh of Leno LaBianca was the word WAR. When his body was found, there was still a carving knife sticking out of it.

The Tate killing was very high profile, as Sharon Tate was an actress, married to director Roman Polanski. She was 8 months pregnant.

When put in prison after the ranch had been raided, Susan Atkins boasted to her fellow inmates of the murders she had done. If it hadn't been for this boasting, the police may not have realised who was responsible for the crimes. The killings had still not been connected to each other.

It has never been proved, but it is thought that the Manson family may have been responsible for 11 other murders, including:

1. John Phillip Haught, a member of the family. On 5/11/69, family members told the police that he had shot himself whilst playing Russian Roulette. A verdict of suicide was found, although the gun contained 7 bullets and the holster had been wiped clean of fingerprints.

2. Joel Pugh, an ex-family member. He was found dead on 2/12/69 in the Talgarth Hotel in London. His throat and wrists had been slashed. On the mirror was reversed writing and drawings.

3. Ronald Hughes, Leslie van Houten's lawyer. He failed to turn up to court on 20/11/70. On the day of the verdict his body was found in Ventura County - the cause of death was unknown. It was later suggested that his death was a retaliation murder - he refused to agree to Manson's strategy to let the women take all the blame.

Manson was obsessed with the Beatles, especially the White Album, which he believed contained messages directed at him that acknowledged that he was the incarnation of Christ. Blackbird was a message to blacks to rise up, and Helter Skelter was a description of the family descending into the Bottomless Pit of Revelation and Hopi Indian legend, and then taking over the world. The song Piggies produced the words written over the walls in blood. Revolution 9 referred Manson to Revelation Chapter 9, which told him how he was to take over the world.