Charles Milles Manson (born November 12, 1934) is an American criminal who led what became known as the Manson family, a quasi-commune that arose in California in the late 1960's. He was convicted of conspiracy to commit the Tate/LaBianca murders, carried out by members of the group at his instruction. He was found guilty of the murders themselves through the joint-responsibility rule, which makes each member of a conspiracy gulty of crimes his fellow conspiritors commit.At the time the Family began to form, Manson was an unemployed ex-convict, who had spent half his life in correctional institutions for a variety of offences.Manson's death sentence was automatically reduced to life imprisonment when a 1972 decision by the Supreme Court of California temporarily eliminated the state's death penalty.
By burgling a grocery store, Manson obtained cash that enabled him to rent a room. A string of burglaries followed, ending when he was caught in the act and sent to an Indianapolis juvenile centre. He escaped after one day and was moved to Boys Town, four days later he escaped again with another boy. At the age of 13 Manson was sent to the Indiana School for Boys. He escaped again with two other boys in 1951. Manson was eventually caught, driving a stolen car from Utah to California, and was sent to the Washington, D.C. National Training School for Boys. In 1952 Manson was sent to the Federal Reformatory, Petersburg, Virginia, after threatening a fellow-inmate with a razor blade. By this time Manson had been diagnosed as aggressively antisocial.
Through good work habits and a rise in his educational level, Manson won parole in 1954. In January 1955 he married a hospital waitress by the name of Rosalie Jean Willis. Around October, and with Rosalie Jean pregnant, Manson stole a car and was sentenced to three years imprisonment at Terminal Island, San Pedro, California. Meanwhile, Rosalie gave birth to a son Charles Manson Jr.
In 1958 Manson received five years parole, that same year he and Rosalie divorced. By November Manson was pimping a 16-year-old-girl. In 1959 he received a 10-year suspended sentence for cashing a forged US Treasury check after a prostitute made tearful plea that her and Manson were deeply in love and wanted to marry. The woman, whose name was Leona but used the name Candy Stevens, did, in fact marry Manson. The couple, together with another woman moved to New Mexico for the purpose of prostitution. Manson then disappeared in violation of his probation. In 1960 a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was arrested and ordered to serve his original 10 year sentence. In 1961 Manson was sent to the United States Penitentiary at McNeil Island. In June 1966, for the second time in his life Manson was sent to Terminal Island, in preparation for early release. By March 21, 1967, his release day he had spent more than half his 32 years in prisons and other institutions.
On release Manson was granted permission to move to San Francisco. Manson established himself as a guru in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury, which during 1967's 'Summer of Love', was emerging as the signature hippie locale. Expounding a philosophy that included Scientology he had studied in prison, he soon has his first group of young followers, most of the female. The Manson 'family' was born.
(The concluding part of the Charles Manson story will continue in tomorrows Journal).