During a 1969 Los Angeles heatwave, the face of evil in America was forever changed as Charles Manson redefined the meaning of the word murderer.
Already an ex-convict, Manson recruited and discipled young, often privileged followers to run away from society, live in his commune, and carry out unspeakable killings.
Among those who were gruesomely murdered by Manson’s followers was 26-year-old actress Sharon Tate, who was 8 1/2 months pregnant.
The actress, married to “Rosemary’s Baby” director Roman Polanski, was found stabbed to death and hung from a rafter in the couple’s home. A housekeeper discovered Tate and other slain victims’ bodies scattered on the property.
Three months later, Manson was arrested for orchestrating the murders of Sharon Tate and six other individuals.
Manson’s childhood read like a handbook for designing a maniacal criminal. Born in Cincinnati on November 12, 1934, his mother, in her teens, is thought to have been a prostitute.
His father went to prison for armed robbery when Manson was five.
At the age of 8, Manson was placed in reform school. He made a career of spending his life in and out of correctional institutions.
His infamous statement during the murder trail: “My father is the jailhouse. My father is your system. I am only what you made me. I am only a reflection of you.”
The trial captivated the nation with bizarre antics, chantings, and many Manson followers camping outside of the courthouse. At one point, the shaggy-haired cult-leader propelled his body across the counsel table toward the judge.
Manson, who maintained his innocence despite the overwhelming amount of evidence against him, was sentenced to life in prison. Three women were convicted along with him for the outrageous killings.
The man who carved a symbolic “X” into his own forehead (his followers would do the same) spent nearly half a century incarcerated.
Manson later altered his forehead carving to become a swastika.
According to authorities, Charles Manson, the man who became an image of evil, died of natural causes on Sunday at age 83.