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Charles Manson Dead at 83

Handout, Getty Images
Handout, Getty Images

Charles Manson, the former cult leader and conspiratorial mass murderer, has passed away at the age of 83. His name will live in infamy in American culture and his story, which has inspired songs like Ozzy Osbourne‘s “Bloodbath in Paradise” and half of Marilyn Manson‘s alias, will remain enigmatic as he claims to have found a prophetic message in the Beatles song “Helter Skelter.”

On Nov. 16, Manson was transferred to a hospital with low expectations of survival from an undisclosed ailment. It was now been confirmed via a host of news outlets, including Variety, that he passed away of “natural causes” at a Kern County hospital in Bakersfield, California.

Manson was born on Nov. 12, 1934 and experienced a troubled upbringing with questions about the certainty of his father. His mother, who gave birth to him when she was just 16, had run-ins with the law that ultimately landed her in jail, which then forced Manson’s aunt to be his guardian until the five-year sentence was over.

By the late 1940s, Manson was on his own, breaking the law as a means to provide for himself. This behavior led him down a darker path in a life of crime and by 1967, he had served two prison sentences with his time behind bars then accounting for roughly half of his life. It was after his second sentence where his actions would secure his place in American history.

But before this, Manson had a slightly promising career as a musician. He struck a friendship with Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys and the surf rock group wound up reworking a song of Manson’s, “Cease to Exist,” under the title of “Never Learn Not to Love.”

The Manson Family cult developed in the late ’60s and consisted of a small group of dedicated followers abiding by the words and “Helter Skelter” preaching of Charles Manson. “Helter Skelter” was the name Manson had applied to what he deemed an impending apocalyptic race war, which he felt was a message spoken to him through The Beatles’ song. In an effort to expedite this event, the Manson Family committed a series of murders as they mapped out their doomsday plan.

The murder of actress Sharon Tate, who was 8 months pregnant during the Beverly Hills home invasion and mass murder of five people in all, was the most high-profile of all the Manson Family murders. This led to a sensational trial and death sentence on April 22, 1971. Manson’s sentence would be altered to life in prison the following year after the death penalty was deemed unconstitutional.

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