Charles Manson Is Dead, But Our Fascination With Him Is Not

Charles Manson Is Dead, But Our Fascination With Him Is Not

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The story of Charles Manson and his followers has so many twists and turns, it’s hard to believe it’s all real. He’s been in prison since the early 70s but he still makes it into the news on a regular basis. All that may be coming to an end—because after 83 years on this earth, Charles Manson is dead.

The California Department of Corrections announced that on Sunday, Manson passed away in hospital of natural causes. He was in the middle of serving nine life terms in California for orchestrating the murders of seven people and murdering two others himself. He had been denied parole 12 times—not surprising considering the severity of his crimes and the fact that he has an actual Swastika carved on his forehead right between the eyes.

Manson was a criminal from a young age, but he also had aspirations of becoming a successful musician. After he was snubbed by a record producer, he decided to get even. On the evening of August 8, 1969 he sent four of his followers, Tex Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel, Linda Kasabian and Susan Atkins to a house he thought the producer lived in. Manson told them to go to the house and “totally destroy everyone in [it], as gruesome as you can.”

Five people were murdered that night: Sharon Tate, who was eight and a half months pregnant, Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, Abigail Folger, and Steven Parent. The next day, Manson’s followers, with Manson’s help, claimed another two victims, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.

The murders were so brutal that they made national news immediately but there was no connection made between the two murder scenes. It wasn’t until December of that year that Manson and his followers were finally apprehended and the details started to come out.

Manson was a charismatic cult leader who brainwashed his followers with a vision of the apocalypse which he called Helter Skelter. He believed he could create chaos triggered by a series of racially charged murders and although he wasn’t the one who physically killed most of his victims, he was still found guilty of first degree murder.

Learning more about the Manson case is as easy as picking from a number of documentaries and books dedicated to the man behind the crimes. Vincent Bugliosi’s best-selling book Helter Skelter provides an up-close-and-personal account of Manson’s and Tex Watson’s trials. A few notable documentaries include The Six Degrees of Helter Skelter and Manson. The You Must Remember This podcast has an incredibly thorough series on Manson that explores the part he plays in Hollywood history as well.

The Manson Family has served as inspiration for a number of based-on-a-true-story works of “fiction”. NBC aired two seasons of Aquarius starring David Duchovny as a homicide detective in the late 60s. He’s investigating the disappearance of a teenage girl when he comes across a charismatic hippie named Charles Manson. The show includes a combination of true events and fictional characters to portray the hold Manson had over his followers. Emma Cline’s The Girls re-imagines Manson’s cult from the point of view of a young girl. Quentin Tarantino is currently working on a film that will at the very least include mention of Manson and his crimes (Margot Robbie has reportedly been in talks to play Sharon Tate).

Charles Manson was so convincing in his views that he got people to commit murder for him. If you’re interested in who those people are and what they have to say about the things they did, check out Tex Watson’s auto-biography Will You Die for Me? or Susan Atkins’ Child of Satan, Child of God.

Over 40 years after his reign of terror, Charles Manson is finally dead… But, the fascination with him is sure to live on. It’s hard to forget a face like that.

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared on AmongMen.com, 29secrets.com, therichest.com, and ELLECanada.com.  When she isn’t writing about relationships, and the best TV shows and books you should really already know about, she is working on her novel. She hopes to have it published by 2025. You can follow her on Twitter @Courtooo.

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