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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: