Essay, Research Paper: Charles Manson

Famous People

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Charles Manson is known as one of the most sinister and evil criminals of all
time. He organized the murders that shocked the world and his name still strikes
fear into American hearts. Manson’s childhood, personality, and uncanny
ability to control people led to the creation of a family-like cult and
ultimately to the bloody murders of numerous innocent people. Charles M. Manson
was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on November 11, 1934. His mother, Kathleen Maddox,
was a teenage prostitute. Manson’s father walked out on the still pregnant
Maddox, never to be seen again. In order to give her bastard son a name, Ms.
Maddox married William Manson. He soon abandoned the both of them. Manson’s
mother often neglected Charles after her husband left her. She tried to put him
into a foster home, but the arrangements fell through. As a last resort she sent
Charles to school in Terre Haute, Indiana. Mrs. Manson failed to make the
payments for the school and once again Charles was sent back to his mother’s
abuse. At only fourteen, Manson left his mother and rented a room for himself.
He supported himself with odd jobs and petty theft. His mother turned him into
the juvenile authorities, who had him sent to “Boys Town,” a juvenile
detention center, near Omaha, Nebraska. Charles spent a total of three days in
“Boys Town” before running away. He was arrested in Peoria, Illinois for
robbing a grocery store and was then sent to the Indiana Boys School in
Plainfield, Indiana, where he ran away another eighteen times before he was
caught and sent to the National Training School for Boys in Washington D.C.
Manson never had a place to call “home” or a real family. He spent his
childhood being sent from one place to another, and trouble always seemed to
follow him. His mother’s negligence left Manson without a home and without
much of a future. Manson turned to crime to support himself, and he soon became
very good at it. When just a child, he became a criminal and spent his last
years of childhood in a correctional facility. After his release from the
training school in 1954, a new period of Manson’s life began. He went to West
Virginia and soon married a girl named Rosalie Jean Willis. She became pregnant
and Manson had a child. This was Manson’s first real family, but he didn’t
stray from the criminal lifestyle. He started stealing cars to make the money
necessary to support his new family. By the time the baby was born, Manson was
in prison on Grand Theft Auto charges. In 1958 Charles was released from prison.
His wife and child had left him, leaving Charles alone once again. Several
arrests for car theft and pimping followed; in 1960 Charles was given ten years
imprisonment for forging government checks. While he was serving his ten year
sentence at McNeil Penitentiary, he studied philosophy, took up guitar, and
taught himself sing and compose songs. His newfound musical skills would later
attract followers. His study of philosophy helped create some of his outlandish
ideas that later appealed to his would-be followers. Manson was released in
March, 1967 after serving seven years. By the time Manson was thirty-two years
old, he had spent seventeen years, more than half of his life, in prison. This
long stretch of incarceration had left its mark. “If Charlie has any roots,
they’re in the penal system,” 1 said one acquaintance. “Inside, you have
to be aware of everything, and when he came out, Charlie was like a cat. Nothing
got by Charlie if something happened within a hundred miles of him, he made sure
he knew about it. Everytime he came into a room, he cased it, like an animal.
Where were the windows? What was the quickest way out? He never sat with his
back to the door.” Soon after his release, Manson traveled to Haight Ashbury,
where the “hippie” movement was in full force. At this time, hippies were
gentle people, believing in peace, love, and sharing with others. This was a
perfect environment for Manson to gain followers. Manson’s probation officer
remembers he was “shaken” by the friendliness of the hippies, but before
long, Manson learned how to exploit it. He started to collect a retinue of
impressionable girls searching for a community of love. With a guitar, a
pleasant voice, sinuous mannerisms, and sweet talk with empty promises, Manson
convinced many young-adults to leave their lives and families to be with him.
The beginnings of his “Family” took shape. Whenever Manson succeeded in
gaining one of these followers, the first thing he did was to deprogram both
their ego and their “hang ups,” about conventional society. By “hang
ups,” he meant anything he did not like. Richard DeMargeno, a criminologist,
believed Manson was able to control these people by replacing their father
figures. “It wasn’t a very difficult process. He was dealing with lonely
insecure people in need of a father figure, people who didn’t have much ego to
begin with. What he did, in effect, was to tear down that ego and substitute
himself, thus gaining enormous control over his followers.” 2 To his girls,
Charles Manson was a “beautiful man who loved us all totally.” Later, a
group of young women outside of Manson’s murder trial replied, “We’re
waiting for our father to be set free,” when asked why they sat on the
street-side corner. Manson had obviously replaced these girls’ father figure,
placing himself at the center of their lives. Manson soon recruited dozens of
girls into his “Family.” Yet, many outsiders found him to be a relentless
recruiter who came on strong with every girl he met, a cynic who treated his
followers like possessions and seldom showed any real affection to them. Alan
Springer, a man Manson once tried to recruit, said, “In away he was very frank
and truthful, but in away he was very treacherous with words.”3 Dr. David
Smith, founder and director of the free clinic in Haight Ashbury, thought that
these two sides of Charles Manson were not contradictory: “To take an example,
if you get to know any paranoid schizophrenics it won’t puzzle you at all. The
schizophrenic usually believes in a mystical system in which he is right, and he
can plan in the most calculating and cunning way possible. He himself does not
really know he is a con man, or whether he really does love the girls. He
vacillates between one emotion and the other, one of the characteristics of a
schizoid personality is the inability to sustain one emotion. It doesn’t
confuse me that he would be able to convey sincere emotion and carry on in a
very plotting way. Of course, he would hide the cunning side as much as possible
from those he wanted to involve in his system.” 4 When a new girl came into
Manson’s group, their biggest conflict was the idea of sex on demand. Charles
could be very brutal when necessary and any girl that stayed with him accepted
the idea of having sex with him or anyone else he wanted. He preached that women
should be submissive to men. Surprisingly, these girls came to believe as he
did. Obviously, Charles had an unbelievable talent of manipulating people.
According to Paul Watkins, a one-time follower of Manson, he soon had almost
complete control over his followers. “I lived with Charlie for about one year
straight and on and off for two years. I know Charlie. I know him inside and
out. I became Charlie. Everything I once was, was Charlie. There was nothing
left of me anymore. And all of the people in the Family, there’s nothing left
of them anymore, they’re all Charlie too.” 5 Charles packed his crew of
fourteen, consisting of nine girls and five boys, into an old school bus and
headed south in the spring of 1968. The “Family” settled at Spahn Ranch in
the Santa Susana Mountains, just north of San Fernando Valley. The owner of the
Ranch, eighty-five year old George Spahn, was blind and feeble and allowed the
family to stay with him. Manson ordered one of his girls to care for the man so
that the “Family” could might stay there as long as they wished. Mr. Spahn
soon grew desperately afraid of Manson and only allowed him to stay because he
enjoyed the attention he got from the girls who cooked and cleaned for him. It
was at this ranch that Manson seriously started developing his cult. Manson’s
following grew and many more people were recruited in the “Family.” He
started preaching to his followers in bizarre ways. He would have the group take
acid trips then listen to him as he spun twisted stories that put ideas into
their heads. Charles would reenact the Crucifixion of Christ, trying to instill
upon his follower’s minds that he was Jesus Christ, that he was a higher power
that they all needed to follow unquestionably. Manson convinced his followers
that a war of the races was coming, which he named Helter Skelter. He got the
name from a Beatles song, and had his followers prepare for the upcoming war by
collecting guns and other weapons. Manson turned the ranch into a fortress. He
started to change his following from being a group of freedom searching people
into an organized army-like force. A prosecution witness in the later murder
trial said, “..., he [Manson] wants to build up a thing where he can be leader
of the world. He’s crazy.” 6 The men would target practice and guards were
posted. Escape routes to the desert were planned. Caches of gasoline and other
necessities were buried all over the Death Valley area. Then Manson had his
followers start the crimes, then he had them start the killings. On August 9th,
1969, Manson ordered a party of his followers to burglarize a residence in the
Los Angeles. All of the people going knew they were supposed to kill everyone
there, yet they didn’t think twice about doing it for Manson. Before they
left, Manson told the party, “If you’re going to do something, leave
something witchy.” 7 This order was later followed to a hideous extent. The
residence targeted by Manson for the robbery and murders belonged to Roman
Polanski, a movie director, and his pregnant wife Sharon Tate, an up-and-coming
movie star. Mr. Polanski was in Europe. His wife had Abigail Folger and Voytek
Frykowski staying with her until his return. That night, Jay Sebring and Steven
Parent were visiting Mrs. Tate. Manson’s followers broke into the residence,
and viciously murdered everyone there. They were very brutal in the slayings,
acting without remorse or guilt. Manson had them believing there was nothing
wrong with murdering these people. One of Manson’s girls, Sandra Good, said,
“Whatever is necessary, you do it. When somebody needs to be killed, there’s
no wrong. You do it, then you move on.” 8 Manson’s followers mutilated the
bodies, Ms. Folger’s corpse was so bloody that her once white night gown
appeared to be red. Sharon Tate’s body was no different. She was covered in
stab wounds and had a rope tied around her neck that ran over a rafter in the
ceiling and was bound to Mr. Frykowski’s neck. The word ‘PIG’ was scrolled
with blood on the front door of the home, thus Manson’s orders of leaving
something “witchy” were followed. Susan Atkins, one of Manson’s followers,
claimed to have almost enjoyed these murders, saying it gave her a sort of trip.
She had wanted to cut out the baby, Susan said, but there hadn’t been time.
They wanted to take out the eyes of the people, and squash them against the
walls, and cut off their fingers. “We were going to mutilate them, but we
didn’t have a chance to.” 9 The next night following the Tate murders,
Manson and his followers struck again. The target was the home of Mr. and Mrs.
LaBianca. This time, Manson himself accompanied his family members to the
residence. After the group broke into the home and detained the LaBianca’s,
Manson issued orders to kill the couple and then left. Manson’s followers
stabbed Mrs. LaBianca fourty-one times, stabbed her husband to death, left a
fork and a knife in his chest, and carved the word “WAR” into his stomach.
The words “RISE”, “HELTER SKELTER”, and “DEATH TO PIGS” were
scribbled on the walls and the refrigerator in the victims’ blood. These
brutal slayings demonstrate the evil in Manson’s warped mind. He was able to
convince normal human beings to commit unspeakable acts of violence the likes of
which the world had never seen. In a sense, Manson molded his followers’
beliefs and values to represent his own. He had once again ordered his
“Family” members to slay innocent people in his name and they gladly did so.
It wasn’t long before Manson and his followers were arrested for the savage
murders. Manson carved an “X” into his head, that he later turned into a
swastica, claiming that he “X’d” himself from our world. Many of his women
quickly followed suit. Even when faced with the death penalty for the murders,
Manson’s followers still believed in and loved their leader. The murder trial
attested to Manson’s twisted mind even more. He often burst out with strange
comments or demands, and freely spoke of his strange ideas in front of the jury.
It soon became obvious that Manson had some sort of psychological problam. Yet,
through the whole trial, Manson contested that he was innocent, that he didn’t
force any of his followers to do anything. This showed he had no love for his
followers, he didn’t care what happened to them. Manson said to the
prosecuting attorney, “You know, I only made love to her [a women follower]
two or three times. After she had her baby and lost her shape, I couldn’t have
cared less about her.”10 The prosecution attorney did an excellent job of
proving the murderers’ guilt, and all persons charged, including Manson, were
found guilty. The jury sentenced all of the murderers to be put to death, but
because the state of California soon after abolished the death penalty, the
sentences were commuted to life imprisonment. To this day, Manson and his
followers are still in prison. Manson is eligible for parole, and has had
several hearings. He still claims that he wasn’t responsible for the murders
and acts as if the bloody slayings were of no importance. Manson was a criminal
to the core. In his life he had committed almost every crime imaginable. His
life of crime developed a warped mind that he used to sinister ends. His never
having a loving family deadened him to having any morals or guilty feelings. He
felt no remorse for the killings and acted as if the people he had killed did
not deserve to live. His uncanny ability to control people allowed him to gather
the followers he needed to accomplish his devilish tasks. He was able to
convince these followers into sharing his beliefs and used these people as
killing machines. The murders of numerous innocent people were a direct result
of Manson’s ability to control people and his corrupted childhood that created
created his criminal mind.

Endnotes
1Steven Roberts, “Charles Manson: One Man’s Family,” New York Times,
January 4, 1970. 2Ibid. 3Eve Babitz, The Manson Murders, W.W. Norton &
Company Inc., 1974, p. 113. 4Ibid. p. 87 5Vincent Bugliosi, Helter Skelter,
Bantam Books, October 1975, p. 623. 6Ibid. p. 122. 7”The Manson Women: Inside
the Muders,” Turning Point, ABC, New York, November 1994. 8Bugliosi, p. 624.
9Bugliosi, p. 114. 10Bugliosi, p. 415
Bibliography
Babitz, Eve, The Manson Murders, New York, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.,
1974. Bugliosi, Vincent, Helter Skelter, Bantam Books, October, 1975. Roberts,
Steven, “Charles Manson: One Man’s Family,” New York Times, 45:1-3,
January 4, 1970. Sanders, Ed, The Family, New York, E.P. Dutton & Co., 1971.
“The Manson Women: Inside the Murders,” Turning Point, New York, ABC,
November 9, 1994. The Internet (Universal Relay Languange Addresses Available.)
Unknown, “The Power of a Cult,” Glamour, 11:160-183, January, 1995.
Encyclopedia of Occultims and Parasychology, Gale Research, Inc., 1991.


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