Charles Manson’s Life

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Although he never actually killed anyone himself, Charles Manson is known as one of the most infamous serial killers in American history. Born into a difficult life, Manson’s unhappy childhood helped to lead him down his path of crime. He spent most of the first half of his life behind bars, stopping him from escaping deviant and antisocial behavior. His charismatic and controlling personality led him to become the successful leader of a cult better known as the Manson “Family”.

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This cult is best known for the Tate and LaBianca murders that occurred during the summer of 1969 as a part of Manson’s plan for a devastating race war. A broken family life and an unstable psyche combined to create the man best known for his immoral criminality and unconventional ideas.

Early Life

Charles Manson was born to Kathleen Maddox, a 16 year old alcoholic and prostitute, on November 12, 1934 in Cincinnati, Ohio (Charles Manson Biography, 2018). From the very beginning, Manson was neglected by his mother who, at the time of his birth, didn’t even bother to name him (Barcella, 2017). Manson’s name was finally changed from “No Name Maddox” to the name he is known by today when his mother married William Manson while Charles was still a baby (Barcella, 2017). A few years after William had left Kathleen and Charles, Kathleen was arrested for armed robbery and Charles was sent away to a boys school (Barcella, 2017). Unwanted by his mother, Manson escaped from the schools he was sent to and spent a large portion of his childhood living on the streets, committing petty crimes in order to survive (Charles Manson Biography, 2018). Although most of the crimes Manson committed as a boy weren’t violent, one of his first violent crimes occurred when he raped a boy while holding a razor blade to the boy’s throat (Barcella, 2017). Manson continued to commit crimes until he was arrested and sent to prison in 1951 (Charles Manson Biography, 2018). By the time he was 32 years old, Manson had spent half of his life behind bars (Charles Manson Biography, 2018). When his sentence was up, Manson had become so comfortable in prison that he begged not to be released, claiming he wouldn’t be able to handle the outside world (Barcella, 2017). His pleas, however, did not stop Manson from being released from prison in 1967 (Barcella, 2017).

The “Family”

Shortly after Manson was released, he began to form a cult he referred to as his “family”. The family consisted of a group of loyal followers with a small, core group of young girls (Charles Manson Biography, 2018). Most of these girls came from broken homes and were highly impressionable, making it easy for Manson to control them (Charles Manson Biography, 2018). Influenced by the anti-establishment counterculture of the 1960s, the cult participated in activities such as dumpster diving and the use of hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD and magic mushrooms (Charles Manson Biography). The “family” lived on the relatively isolated Spahn Ranch, an abandoned studio ranch in Los Angeles County, making it easier for the family to stay out of mainstream society (Philbin & Philbin, 2007). Manson’s influence on his “family” was extensive and very controlling; he told his followers what to do and when to do it. This was in part possible because many of his followers, especially the young girls, believed he was Jesus (Charles Manson Biography, 2018). His charming manner allowed him to convince the devoted members of his cult to murder at least eight people in the summer of 1969 and possibly more at different times (Philbin & Philbin, 2007).

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Charles Manson's life. (2019, Oct 23). Retrieved from