Charles Manson 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. Mansons 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. Mansons 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. Mansons 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 mothers 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 mothers 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 Mansons 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 Mansons first real family, but he didnt 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, theyre 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. Mansons 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 wasnt a very difficult process. He was dealing with lonely insecure people in need of a father figure, people who didnt 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 Mansons murder trial replied, “Were 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 wont 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 doesnt 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 Mansons 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, theres nothing left of them anymore, theyre 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 …