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Mass killer, cult leader Charles Manson dies at 83

From Reuters - November 19, 2017

(Reuters) - Charles Manson, the wild-eyed cult leader who orchestrated a string of gruesome killings in Southern California by his family of young followers, shattering the peace-and-love ethos of the late 1960s, died on Sunday, prison officials said. He was 83.

Manson died of natural causes Sunday evening at a Kern County hospital, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a statement. It gave no further details of the circumstances surrounding his death.

He had been serving a life sentence at the nearby Corcoran State Prison for ordering the murders of nine people, including actress Sharon Tate.

Long after Manson had largely faded from headlines, he loomed large as a symbol of the terror he unleashed in the summer of 1969.

The very name Manson has become a metaphor for evil, the late Vincent Bugliosi, who prosecuted Manson, told the Los Angeles Times in 1994.

A recent photograph showed the gray-bearded killers face still bearing the scar of a swastika he carved into his forehead decades earlier.

Manson became one of the 20th centurys most notorious criminals when he directed his mostly young, female followers to murder seven people in what prosecutors said was part of a plan to incite a race war.

GRAFFITI WITH VICTIMS BLOOD

Tate, aged 26 and eight months pregnant, was stabbed 16 times in the early morning hours of Aug. 9, 1969, by members of Mansons cult at the rented hillside house she shared with her husband, filmmaker Roman Polanski, in the Benedict Canyon area of Los Angeles.

Four friends of the celebrity couple, including coffee heiress Abigail Folger and hairstylist Jay Sebring, were also stabbed or shot to death that night by Manson followers, who scrawled the word Pig in blood on the homes front door before leaving. Polanski was away in Europe at the time.

The following night, members of Mansons group stabbed grocery owner Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary to death, using their blood to write, Death to Pigs and Healter Skelter - a misspelled reference to the Beatles song Helter Skelter - on the walls and refrigerator door.

Although Manson did not personally kill any of the seven victims, he was found guilty of ordering their murders.

He was later convicted of ordering the murders of music teacher Gary Hinman, stabbed to death in July 1969, and stuntman Donald Shorty Shea, stabbed and bludgeoned that August.

Manson was sentenced to death for the Tate-LaBianca murders, but his sentence was commuted to life in prison after the California Supreme Court abolished capital punishment in the state in 1972.

Born Charles Milles Maddox on Nov. 12, 1934, in Cincinnati to a 16-year-old girl, Manson spent much of his youth shuttled between relatives and juvenile detention halls. By age 13, he had been convicted of armed robbery.

Newly paroled from prison in 1967, he began attracting members of his family in San Franciscos Haight-Ashbury district, which had become a haven for the hippie youth culture.

SENSATIONAL TRIAL

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