40 Facts About Charles Manson, the Notrious Cult-leader
40 Facts About Charles Manson, the Notrious Cult-leader

40 Facts About Charles Manson, the Notrious Cult-leader

Tim Flight - September 1, 2019

40 Facts About Charles Manson, the Notrious Cult-leader
Gary Hinman, around the time of his death, probably California. All That’s Interesting

16. Tired of waiting, Manson had members of the Manson Family kill Gary Hinman, in order to frame the Black Power movement and start Helter Skelter, in July 1969

Manson’s album never got made, allegedly because Terry Melcher pulled out, and he grew sick of waiting for Helter Skelter to begin unassisted. In July 1969, Manson changed tactics, and ordered three Family members to the home of Gary Hinman, a student and political activist, initially to get money off him. They held Hinman hostage for 2 days without success, before Manson himself turned up and ordered Bobby Beausoleil to kill him. The words ‘Political piggy’ and a panther paw were daubed on the walls in Hinman’s blood to frame the Black Panther movement and help Helter Skelter along.

40 Facts About Charles Manson, the Notrious Cult-leader
Police outside 10050 Cielo Drive, Beverly Hills, the day after the Tate murders took place in August 1969. Vox

15. On August 8, 1969, the Manson Family were ordered to Roman Polanski’s home to murder everyone ‘as gruesome as you can’

On August 8, 1969, Bobby Beausoleil was arrested for Hinman’s murder, and Manson announced Helter Skelter must begin. He ordered Charles Watson, Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian, and Patricia Krenwinkel to kill white celebrities ‘as gruesome as you can’ and make it look like the Black Power movement was responsible. He sent them to 10050 Cielo Drive, where Manson auditioned for Terry Melcher. Melcher no longer lived there, and instead, in August 1969 it was home to Roman Polanski and his young wife, Sharon Tate. This was no accident: Manson personally called at the house beforehand and spoke to Tate.

40 Facts About Charles Manson, the Notrious Cult-leader
Steven Parent, the first victim of the Manson Family on the night of the Tate Murders, not long before his death, California. charlesmanson.com

14. First they murdered an 18-year-old boy leaving the property in his car

The four Manson Family members arrived at 10050 Cielo Drive on the night of August, 8. Watson first cut the home’s telephone line, then they snuck in through a hedge. As they approached the house, a car drove towards them, which Watson halted. The unfortunate driver was Steven Parent, a teenager visiting the home’s caretaker. As he aimed the .22 at the boy’s head, Parent begged for mercy, but Watson simply stabbed and then fatally shot him four times in the chest and abdomen. Watson entered the property through a cut-out window, leaving Kasabian to keep watch outside.

40 Facts About Charles Manson, the Notrious Cult-leader
Charles ‘Tex’ Watson in a prison mugshot of 1971, California. All That’s Interesting

13. Confronted by Wojciech Frykowski, Family member Charles Watson replied ‘I’m the devil, and I’m here to do the devil’s work’

The four occupants of 10050 Cielo Drive were in bed at around midnight when Watson broke in. They’d spent the evening at a Mexican restaurant on Beverly Boulevard, and everything seemed perfectly ordinary upon their return. While they slept, something was afoot: after letting in Atkins and Krenwinkel, Watson accidentally woke Wojciech Frykowski, a 33-year-old screenwriter spending the night on the couch. When Frykowski asked the Family who they were in his fatigued confusion, Watson brutally kicked him in the head, and uttered the chilling words: ‘I’m the devil, and I’m here to do the devil’s work’.

40 Facts About Charles Manson, the Notrious Cult-leader
The bloody aftermath of the murders at 10050 Cielo Drive, August 1969. Horror History

12. The Family next rounded up the house’s occupants and began to execute them

Acting on Manson’s orders to ‘totally destroy everyone in [the house]’, Watson, Atkins, and Krenwinkel patrolled the house, rounding everyone up at gun and knife-point and frogmarching them to the lounge. The four occupants were tied up and rough-housed, but Frykowski managed to wriggle free. Atkins stabbed him in the legs, but he made it to the front porch before Watson managed to stab him 51 times, shoot, and pistol-whip him to death. Frykowski’s lover, Abigail Folger, also managed to make a run for it, but was tackled by Krenwinkel by the swimming pool, where Watson fatally stabbed her 28 times.

40 Facts About Charles Manson, the Notrious Cult-leader
Sharon Tate, photographed in LA 3 days before her murder. Pinterest

11. Sharon Tate, 8 and a half months pregnant, was tied to her former lover, who was then executed while still attached

The final two victims were Sharon Tate, the young wife of Roman Polanski who was 8 and a half months pregnant at the time, and the hairstylist Jay Sebring. Polanski himself was in Europe, but Sebring, Tate’s former lover, was there to keep her company. The pair were tied together by their necks with a rope suspended over a beam, and Sebring twice protested about the treatment of the heavily pregnant Tate. In response, Watson shot him while he was still attached to Tate, then fatally stabbed him 7 times in front of the hysterical actress.

40 Facts About Charles Manson, the Notrious Cult-leader
Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski, London, 1968. Mercury News

10. Tate begged for her unborn baby’s life in vain, as she was stabbed 16 times

After dealing with Frykowski and Folger outside, Watson returned to find Tate sobbing and begging for her life. She asked that they spare her unborn baby’s life, and take her with them as a hostage. ‘It was the first time I’d realized she was pregnant, and for a moment it almost seemed like a good idea’, recalled Watson, ‘but then… Charlie’s [Manson’s] tape whirred, “Kill her!” inside my head’. Atkins simply replied, ‘Look bitch, I don’t care about you’. As Tate called out ‘mother’ over and over again, Watson stabbed her 16 times until she lay lifeless and mutilated.

40 Facts About Charles Manson, the Notrious Cult-leader
The word ‘PIG’ written in blood on the front door of 10050 Cielo Drive. Twitter

9. As they left, the Manson Family wrote ‘PIG’ in blood on the front door, again to frame the Black Power movement

The Family had carried out Manson’s orders perfectly. They’d killed everyone at 10050 Cielo Drive ‘as gruesome as possible’ and simultaneously stolen all the money they could find, but one important task remained: to ignite Helter Skelter. So as they were leaving the house, Atkins grabbed the blood-soaked towel she’d used to bind Frykowski’s hands and smeared the word ‘PIG’ in the unfortunate screenwriter’s blood. The ‘logic’ here was that the Black Panther movement had frequent run-ins with the police and establishment, ‘piggies’ in Manson’s warped interpretation of the eponymous Beatles song which predicted this stage of Helter Skelter.

40 Facts About Charles Manson, the Notrious Cult-leader
Manson’s mugshot from autumn 1969, when he was arrested on suspicion of grand theft auto, not long after the notorious murders. BBC

8. The very next day (August 9) Manson took his Family out to murder more people

The following night, Manson summoned the Tate murderers and Leslie Van Houten to commit more atrocities. Manson felt the previous night’s work had been sloppy, and wanted to show the Family how to murder properly. They drove around for three hours reviewing potential victims before settling on Leno and Rosemary LaBianca of Los Feliz. Entering through the unlocked backdoor, they roused the sleeping couple, and, at Manson’s command, brutally stabbed them to death. Watson carved ‘WAR’ into Leno’s stomach, and the words ‘Helter Skelter’, ‘Rise’, and ‘Death to Pigs’ were written in the victims’ blood on the walls and refrigerator.

40 Facts About Charles Manson, the Notrious Cult-leader
Manson is escorted to court in 1969 to be charged with the August murders. LA Times

7. After a bungled, 4-month investigation, the Manson Family were finally charged with the murders

On August 12, the LAPD told the press that there was no connection between the bloody murders of August 8 and 9, overlooking some fairly obvious and intentional similarities. Manson Family members were arrested a few days later, but ironically for vandalizing part of Death Valley National Park weeks before, and Manson himself was arrested a few weeks after the murders for stealing cars. But one of the Family implicated Atkins in the Hinman murder, and whilst in prison Atkins bragged about the Tate and LaBianca massacres. She was indicted, and confessed all: Manson and the Family were charged.

40 Facts About Charles Manson, the Notrious Cult-leader
Manson in handcuffs, December, 3, 1969, Los Angeles.. The Atlantic

6. The trial lasted 7 months, and all defendants were sentenced to death

After their arrest in December 1969, Manson, Atkins, and Krenwinkel were charged with both the August 7th murders, and Van Houten with murdering the LaBiancas. Linda Kasabian was controversially given immunity in exchange for her witness testimony against the Manson Family, for she had only been an accomplice at 10050 Cielo Drive. The Family’s behavior was bizarre during the 7-month trial: they showed no remorse whatsoever, chanted in Latin, and Manson was prone to strange outbursts. All 4 received the death penalty. Watson was tried separately in 1971 after fighting extradition from Texas, and received the same sentence.

40 Facts About Charles Manson, the Notrious Cult-leader
Manson is escorted to his preliminary hearing on December, 3, 1969, Los Angeles. Time

5. Manson was originally sentenced to death, but when California rules changed, he was able to apply for parole

After the trial, more murders came to light for which the guilty parties were convicted, and other Manson Family members were sentenced for crimes committed after their leader’s imprisonment. But in 1972, the People vs Anderson case saw the death penalty outlawed in the state of California, and the Family’s sentences were automatically changed to life imprisonment. This meant that they were able to apply for parole, and Manson made a bid at the earliest possible opportunity in November 1978. His application was thankfully rejected, and he was unsuccessful on a further 11 occasions.

40 Facts About Charles Manson, the Notrious Cult-leader
Manson’s dramatically changed image during his trial, 1970. NBC

4. Manson had a swastika tattooed between his eyebrows

Throughout their trial, all Family members, including Manson, had the letter ‘X’ carved between their eyebrows to show solidarity. But when Manson suddenly changed his appearance from innocuous-looking, long-haired hippy to thuggish skinhead, he altered the mark into a crude swastika. He later turned this into a tattoo during his incarceration, when he had more time on his hands. ‘The mark on my head simulates the dead head black stamp of rejection, anti-church, falling cross, devil sign, death, terror, fear’, he explained in a 1971 interview. His white supremacist beliefs presumably also contributed to his adoption of the Nazi symbol.

40 Facts About Charles Manson, the Notrious Cult-leader
3 Manson at a 1986 parole hearing. Variety

3. In 1984, a fellow inmate set Manson on fire, leaving him with burns covering 20% of his body

At the time of his final, unsuccessful appeal for parole in 2012, Manson had committed 108 serious discipline violations during his incarceration, 35 of which were violent. His predilection for violence, swastika tattoo, and the heinous crimes he committed made him a target for many other prisoners. In 1984, he was involved in a particularly nasty incident at the California Medical Facility. After threatening fellow inmate, Jan Holmstrom, for his religious beliefs, second-degree murderer Holmstrom doused Manson in paint thinner at the facility’s hobby shop and set him on fire. Manson suffered burns on 20% of his body.

40 Facts About Charles Manson, the Notrious Cult-leader
Charles Manson, Corocan State Prison, a few months before his death in November 2017. HDNux

2. He died in 2017, having never expressed any remorse for his crimes

In total, Manson was convicted of 9 murders, some of which only came to light during his imprisonment. For decades, he denied all charges against him, but in 2011 he had the following to say to a prison psychologist: ‘I am special. I am not like the average inmate. I have put five people in the grave.’ But although he seems to have admitted to some of the murders for which he was convicted (assuming these weren’t others that hadn’t been discovered), Manson never once showed remorse for what he’d done. He died alone after a heart attack in 2017.

40 Facts About Charles Manson, the Notrious Cult-leader
Manson’s debut LP, cynically released in 1970 while he was on remand for the 1969 murders. Discogs

1. Manson has released several albums, and there is still something of a cult surrounding him to this day…

Manson’s trial gave him the level of fame he had long-coveted, and the platform from which to spread his beliefs. Unable to secure a record deal before his arrest in 1969, a recording of 13 of his songs, Lie: The Love and Terror Cult, was released shortly before the trial got underway, and he recorded many other albums during his imprisonment. Manson gave many interviews while in prison, some of which were filmed for documentaries. References to Manson’s thoughts are numerous in popular music but, most disturbingly, he is still idolized by Neo-Nazi groups across the world today.


Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

Listverse – 10 Tragic Stories From The Childhood Of Charles Manson

Oxygen – Charles Manson’s Family Friends, Experts Describe Difficult Childhood

The Conversation – How Cult Leader Charles Manson Was Able To Manipulate His ‘Family’ To Commit Murder

All That’s Interesting – Charles Manson Facts That Reveal The Man Behind The Monster

Biography – Charles Manson’s Family Reveals They Were ‘Not Surprised’ After Learning He Was the Mastermind Behind the 1969 Murders

Biography – Who Are the Members of the Manson Family?

Medium – Charles Manson was a Rapist

The Atlanta Journal Constitution – Manson Family Murders: Victims, Their Killers, Where They Are Now

Meaww – Charles Manson: A Notorious Cult Leader’s Obsession With Music, Rock Track ‘Helter Skelter’ And The Beatles

Boston 25 News – Manson Family Murders: Victims, Their Killers, Where They Are Now

History Channel – How Charles Manson Took Sick Inspiration from the Beatles’ ‘Helter Skelter’

Oprah Daily – Who Would Marry Charles Manson? Meet His Wives

Ranker – Inside Charles Manson’s Messed Up Childhood

Groove History – Becoming Charles Manson: His Life Before The Tate-LaBianca Murders

Mirror UK – Sharon Tate’s Final Words As She Was Stabbed To Death By Charles Manson’s Family

VOX – The Manson Family Murders, And Their Complicated Legacy, Explained

Mirror UK – How Many People Did Charles Manson Actually Kill Himself?

Mirror – How The Beach Boys And The Beatles Drove Charles Manson And His Family To Murder

Bugliosi, Vincent, and Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders. London: Arrow, 1994.

Charles Manson: The Chilling True Story of Charles Manson and the 1969 Manson Murders. HEATHER FINN, Aug 15, 2019

Emmons, Nuel. Without Conscience: Charles Manson in his Own Words. London: Grafton, 1987.

Guinn, Jeff. Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson. London: Simon and Schuster, 2013.

Martinez, Michael. “Charles Manson Denied Parole, With Next Parole Hearing Set for 2027”. CNN, April 12, 2012.

Serratore, Angela. “What You Need to Know About the Manson Family Murders”. Smithsonian, July 25, 2019.

Watson, Tex, and Ray Hoekstra. Will You Die for Me? The Man Who Killed for Charles Manson Tells his Own Story. Massachusetts: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1977.

Wells, Simon. Charles Manson Coming Down Fast: A Chilling Biography. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2009.

Whitehead, John W. “Charles Manson’s Race War: The Beatles and Helter Skelter”. The Huffington Post, September 9, 2009.