Notorious killer and cult leader Charles Manson has died aged 83

Charles Manson, a cult leader and convicted killer, has died. He was 83.

The leader of a murderous cult which led to the deaths of actress Sharon Tate and six others in 1969 died of natural causes at a hospital in Bakersville, California on Sunday evening, as confirmed in a statement by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Manson had been housed in the Protective Housing Unit at California State Prison in Corcoran since 1989, where he spent the rest of his life. He had been imprisoned in various jails since 1971, convicted for seven counts of first-degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder.

Tate, the pregnant wife of director Roman Polanski, was killed in two-day spree in August 1969 by Manson Family members. 

Charles Manson speaks with reporters as he is escorted by a deputy sheriff and his lawyer, Irving Kanarek, from a Santa Monica courthouse following a hearing in the Gary Hinman murder case.

Charles Manson speaks with reporters as he is escorted by a deputy sheriff and his lawyer, Irving Kanarek, from a Santa Monica courthouse following a hearing in the Gary Hinman murder case.

Image: Bettmann Archive

These followers, under the instruction of Manson, also claimed the lives of Abigail Ann Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, Steven Earl Parent, Jay Sebring, Leno La Bianca and Rosemary La Bianca.

Manson was originally sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to life in prison in 1977 following a landmark case in the Supreme Court of California. The case, People v. Anderson (1972), outlawed capital punishment. 

The death penalty was later reintroduced in California’s Proposition 17

A cult figure in entertainment

Manson’s name was synonymous with evil, but became an influence in popular culture.

American metal artist Marilyn Manson, real name Brian Warner, used a blend of Marilyn Monroe and the serial killer for his act. British band Kasabian’s name is derived from Linda Kasabian, a member of Manson’s cult who became the prosecution’s key witness.

More recently, Gethin Anthony played Manson in the now cancelled NBC series Aquarius, while director Quentin Tarantino was reported in July to be working on a project that is set to be a “unique take on the Manson family murders.” 

The latest series of American Horror Story, also featured an episode with Manson’s character in it.

However it wasn’t all fiction that captured the audience’s attention, with a number of notable interviews with Manson conducted over the years by the likes of Tom Snyder and Charlie Rose.

Manson was last denied parole in 2012, after a panel “could find nothing good as far as suitability” when it came to releasing him. His next parole hearing was set 15 years later for 2027, the maximum allowed by law.   

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