Cult Leader & Serial Killer Charles Manson Dead At 83

Charles Manson, the cult leader who was one of the United States’ most notorious killers, died Sunday night from natural causes.

A statement released by the California State Prison in Corcoran said the 83-year-old Manson was pronounced dead at 8:13 p.m. PST at a Kern County hospital.

Manson had been serving nine life sentences for nine murders, including the Tate-LaBianca murders in 1969.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Manson was hospitalized last week. His condition was unclear at the time, and a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation representative declined to comment.

Manson was also taken to a hospital in January and was described as “seriously ill” at the time.

Manson had been imprisoned for more than 45 years

Manson’s booking photo for San Quentin State Prison in California on January 25, 1971. WikiMedia Commons

Starting in the late 1960s, Manson began reinventing himself as a spiritual guru after his third prison stint. He attracted followers and began a cult in California that was later dubbed the “Manson Family.”

The group gained national notoriety in 1969 when Manson directed his mostly young, female followers to murder seven people.

One of the victims, the actress Sharon Tate, was the pregnant wife of the filmmaker Roman Polanski and was stabbed in her home 16 times by cult members. Four others were killed in that house, and another couple, the LaBiancas, were killed the next evening.

Prosecutors said the Tate-LaBianca murders were part of a plan to incite a race war. Manson’s trial lasted seven months.

Though the courts found that Manson never personally killed someone, the prosecution succeeded in securing murder convictions for Manson because of his role in directing the killings.

On December 13, 1971, Manson was convicted of first-degree murder for the deaths of the Buddhist musician Gary Hinman and the Hollywood stuntman Donald Shea, both in 1969.

Manson was originally sentenced to death, but in 1972, a case in the Superior Court of California in the County of Los Angeles set aside the death penalty. The decision caused all capital sentences in California, including Manson’s, to be commuted to life in prison.

Manson was denied parole 12 times from 1978 to 2012.

He had been held in the Protective Housing Unit at the Corcoran prison since 1989. Manson would have next been eligible for parole in 2027.