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What ever happened to the Manson Family?

A look at what happened to his most ardent fans

Image Credit: AP
Three co-defendants in the Tate murder case (from left) Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten, laugh as they walk to court for sentencing in 1971.
Gulf News

Over two nights in August 1969, Charles Manson’s followers savagely murdered seven people through a frenzied combination of shooting, stabbing, beating and hanging. Their most famous victim was the actress Sharon Tate, the wife of the film director Roman Polanski. She was killed at her house along with four of her guests. The following night, the gang murdered a wealthy grocer named Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary. At their trial, members of the so-called Manson Family shamelessly admitted their crimes and flaunted their allegiance to a leader, whom they said they loved and who was portrayed as controlling their minds. Here’s a look at what happened to some of his most ardent followers.

Charles “Tex” Watson, 71: Described himself as Manson’s “right hand man.” On Aug. 9, 1969, he and three female accomplices murdered actress Sharon Tate and four visitors at her Beverly Hills home. The following night, they killed a couple, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, at their Los Angeles home. Watson remains in prison in California after repeatedly being denied parole. He became a minister in 1981, taking a path similar to some other ex-Manson Family members who also turned to Christianity.

Susan Atkins: Who took part in several of the slayings including those at the Tate residence and who wrote “Pig” in blood on a house wall, died of brain cancer in a California prison in 2009 at age 61. Atkins had been denied a request to be freed on parole as the fatal illness took hold.

Patricia Krenwinkel, 69, who took part in the murders of the LaBiancas and at the Tate residence, has become California’s longest-serving woman prisoner. In June, commissioners again denied parole for Krenwinkel, after a six-month inquiry to look into allegations that she had been abused by Manson or someone else, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Leslie Van Houten, 68, is serving a life sentence for taking part in the murders of the LaBiancas. Last year, California Governor Jerry Brown overturned a parole board recommendation that she should be released, saying that Van Houten still posed an “unreasonable danger to society.” In September, the parole board again granted her parole, which started a 150-day review process that will likely culminate in a final decision by Brown.

Bruce Davis, 75, was sentenced to life in prison for the 1969 murders of music teacher Gary Hinman and stunt man Donald “Shorty” Shea. Brown has repeatedly overturned recommendations by the California parole board that Davis should be freed.

Robert (Bobby) Beusoleil, 70, is serving a life sentence for the 1969 murder of Hinman. A California parole board last denied his bid on Oct. 14, 2016. He will be eligible for a hearing again in 2019.

Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, 69, was a member of the Manson Family and attended Manson’s trial. In 1975, she was tackled by a Secret Service agent after she aimed a pistol at then President Gerald Ford. Convicted of attempted assassination, she was sentenced to life in prison. She was paroled in 2009 and moved to Marcy in New York state.

FACTBOX: Six facts about Charles Manson

Six facts about Charles Manson, the hippie-era cult leader and serial murderer who died on Sunday at the age of 83:

1. While in prison in Washington state in the early 1960s, Manson befriended Alvin “Creepy” Karpis, who had been allied with the deadly Barker bank robbery gang in the 1930s. Karpis taught Manson to play guitar and in a 1980 memoir he described “Little Charlie” as lazy but having “a pleasant voice and pleasing personality, although he’s unusually meek and mild for a convict.”

2. The powers of manipulation that Manson used on his followers were honed in prison when he took a class based on “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” the 1936 book by self-help guru Dale Carnegie, according to the biography “Manson.”

3. Hoping to boost his music career, Manson became friends with Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson and producer Terry Melcher. He later became upset with Melcher, who was the son of actress Doris Day, because he did not make a record with him. The first round of murders by Manson’s followers occurred in the house where Melcher had previously lived.

4. Before the killings, the Beach Boys recorded a song Manson wrote titled “Never Learn Not to Love.” Later, Guns N’ Roses recorded his “Look at Your Game Girl” and Marilyn Manson, whose stage name was partly inspired by the killer, used lyrics from Manson’s “Mechanical Man” in his song “My Monkey.” Trent Reznor, frontman for the band Nine Inch Nails, lived in the house where the Tate murders occurred.

5. Manson was anything but a model prisoner after his conviction in the Tate-LaBianca murders. He was involved in frequent fights, set his mattress on fire, was disciplined for possessing weapons and selling drugs to inmates and often refused to participate in rehabilitation programs or psychiatric evaluation. He suffered serious burns in 1984 when an inmate set him on fire.

6. According to movie lore, Anthony Hopkins studied videotapes of Manson in preparation for his role Hannibal Lecter in “Silence of the Lambs,” but Hopkins denied it.

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