Charles Manson Remembered as 'Evil Con Man'

It's not clear what will happen to his remains
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2017 6:11 AM CST
Manson Remembered as 'Evil Con Man'
This Oct. 8, 2014, file photo, provided by the California Department of Corrections shows Charles Manson.   (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via AP)

Ceased to exist: Charles Manson died in a California hospital Sunday night, almost 50 years into the cult leader's nine consecutive life sentences for orchestrating a series of murders that some said brought an end to the spirit of the '60s. Manson, long an inmate at Corcoran State Prison, was 83. He was turned down for parole a dozen times over the years and his next hearing would have been in 2027. A roundup of coverage:

  • Secrecy about his condition. Authorities disclosed Wednesday that Manson had been hospitalized in Bakersfield, but declined to say why, the Los Angeles Times reports. Officials said federal and state privacy laws prevented them from commenting on his condition. He died at 8:13pm Sunday of "natural causes," authorities say.

  • His remains. Prison officials say what will happen to Manson's remains is "undetermined," the AP reports. Under state law, the California Department of Corrections will decide what to do with the body if no relative or legal representative comes forward in 10 days. It's not clear whether Manson requested any kind of funeral. It's also unclear what will happen to his property, which includes at least two guitars.
  • "An evil, sophisticated con man." Michele Hanisee, president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, said Sunday that prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi accurately summed up Manson when he described him as "an evil, sophisticated con man with twisted and warped moral values." "Today, Manson's victims are the ones who should be remembered and mourned on the occasion of his death," she said, per NBC News.
  • Decades of infamy. The Guardian looks at how Manson became one of the 20th century's most infamous figures despite having a following of "only a dozen pseudo-hippies"—and at the link between the killings and his failed music career.
  • "Totally bizarre, totally evil." The BBC looks at how Manson managed to use his "terrible charisma" to exploit the hippie subculture after his release from prison in San Francisco in 1967, just in time for the "Summer of Love." Manson took elements of the subculture—"LSD, music, free love, communal lifestyles—and reframed them as tools for apocalyptic mass murder," says Sussex University culture expert Daniel Kane. "Totally bizarre, totally evil, and very, very seductive."

  • No Name Maddox. The New York Times looks back at Manson's early life, more than half of which was spent in prisons and juvenile detention centers. He was born on Nov. 12, 1934, to a 16-year-old in Cincinnati, and was initially listed as "No Name Maddox." Manson never knew his father and got his last name from William Manson, the man his heavy-drinking young mother, Kathleen Maddox, wed for a short time. From ages 5 to 8, Manson lived with relatives while she served time for robbing a gas station.
  • "This is crazy." Former AP reporter Linda Deutsch recalls saying that at the start of Manson's trial in 1969—and things only got crazier. "These children that come at you with knives, they are your children," he declared at one point. "You taught them. I didn't teach them. I just tried to help them stand up. ... I am just a reflection of every one of you." Manson tried to attack the judge at one point and was eventually exiled, along with his three female co-defendants, to an adjoining room. Deutsch says what surprised her most was that Manson was only 5 foot 3.
  • "I said a prayer for his soul." Debra Tate, sister of Manson victim Sharon Tate, tells People that she cried and said a prayer for Manson's soul when prison authorities told her he had died. Tate, whose sister was 8-and-a-half months pregnant when she was killed by Manson's followers, says she does not wish harm on them, but she will continue to fight to make sure they are never released from prison. "These are sociopaths," she says. "They're no less violent today then they were then."
  • Surviving followers. Susan Atkins, one of three women sentenced to death along with Manson for the 1969 murders, died in 2009. Two others, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten, are still behind bars, as is Tex Watson, known as Manson's right-hand man, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. A panel granted Van Houten parole in September, though Gov. Jerry Brown might veto the decision for the second time in two years.
(More Charles Manson stories.)

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