Charles Manson, whose “Manson family” followers killed nine people in 1969 and whose death sentence became nine life sentences after the state of California outlawed the death sentence, died on Sunday in a hospital in Bakersfield of natural causes, according to the California Department of Corrections.
Manson inspired, but did not participate in, what became known as the Tate-LaBianca murders. On August 9, 1969, at the home of actress Sharon Tate and her husband, director Roman Polanski, followers of Manson stabbed five people to death: Tate, who was more than eight months pregnant; Abigail Folger, heiress to the Folgers coffee fortune; celebrity hairdresser Jay Sebring; director Voityck Frykowski; and Steven Parent who knew the caretaker of the estate. On August 10 they further killed wealthy Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. The seventh and eighth victims were Hollywood stuntman Donald Shea, and musician Gary Hinman. In 1971, after a year-long trial, Manson was convicted of ordering the first seven murders and sentenced to death. Eventually he was convicted of the other two murders as well.
“Helter Skelter”, the name of an album by The Beatles, and “pig” were scrawled in blood at the murder sites. According to prosecutors, Manson meant the killings to be blamed on blacks, setting off a race war in the US, to be followed by a new social order led by Manson.
Manson’s sentence was commuted to nine life terms after a 1972 Supreme Court of California decision outlawed the death penalty. He was in prison for more than four decades, and was an inmate at the California State Prison, Corcoran when he died. He made twelve unsuccessful applications for parole, the last in 2012. Sources told TMZ that he was hospitalized in Bakersfield several days before his death. If his family do not claim his body within ten days, it will be disposed of at state expense, probably by cremation.