CBS News — Charles Manson, who led deranged followers known as the Manson Family into a series of horrific crimes that haunted Americans for over a generation, died Sunday (Nov. 19) at a California hospital after being imprisoned for more than 45 years. He was 83 years old.
Manson was hospitalized Tuesday for an undisclosed ailment. He was serving nine life sentences, most recently incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison, near Bakersfield.
Debra Tate, the sister of the Manson Family’s most high-profile victim, actress Sharon Tate, confirmed to CBS Los Angeles that she received a call from California State Prison, Corcoran, at about 8:30 p.m. local time, informing her that Manson had died. Debra Tate told CBS Los Angeles she hadn’t yet processed his death, but that she had “said a prayer for Manson’s soul and has forgiven the family but refuses to forget what they did.”
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation released a statement confirming that Manson died in a Kern County hospital of natural causes at 8:13 p.m. local time.
The prosecutor in the Manson trial, Vincent Bugliosi, told CBS News in 2004 that people still asked him about the case 40 years later. “The Manson murder case, unlike any other mass murder case in history, continues to fascinate to this very, very day. It never stops,” Bugliosi said.
In a statement released early Monday morning, the Association of Deputy District Attorneys of California released a statement quoting Bugliosi, who once gave, “the most accurate summation: ‘Manson was an evil, sophisticated con man with twisted and warped moral values.’ Today, Manson’s victims are the ones who should be remembered and mourned on the occasion of his death.”
Manson was convicted of orchestrating the infamous August 1969 murders of seven people in a bloody two-night Southern California crime spree, and prosecutors said he used his influence over his Family to order the gruesome killings in an attempt to incite a race war. Manson and other Family members were also later convicted in two more killings linked to the cult.
The killings exposed a dark underside to the counterculture movement of the time and were seen as a stark ending to the 1960s “peace and love” era, the Associated Press reported.
“If hippie paradise was a myth, it was a myth that a lot of people believed in,” Todd Gitlin, one of the nation’s foremost historians of the 1960s, told the AP. “Manson damaged it gravely.”
Manson was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and spent the first half of his 32 years in prison, mainly for petty crimes. In 1986, Manson gave a rambling jailhouse interview to Charlie Rose on CBS’ Nightwatch. When Rose asked Manson whether he believed his life took a wrong track early on amid his first contacts with the prison system, Manson gave a bizarre answer.
“See, that’ doesn’t even compute in my world, because like, there is no wrong,” Manson said. “….According to everyone else, I’ve never done anything right. In the world I live in, I’ve never made a bad move in my whole life.”
In the interview, he denied ordering the killings.
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