News & Politics

Racist Cult Leader Charles Manson Dead at 83

He reportedly died of natural causes at a California hospital.

Charles Manson, the notorious leader of the racist Manson family cult serving a life sentence for ordering his followers to commit murder in 1969, died in a California hospital of natural causes Sunday night at the age of 83, NBC confirms.

Manson built a following and sought to be the catalyst for an apocalyptic race war between blacks and whites. He called this predicted war Helter Skelter.

Manson was sentenced to death in 1970, but escaped execution due to the abolition of the death penalty in California.

The cult of the Manson family captured public attention for the horrifying 1969 murders of actor Sharon Tate and four of her friends in her home. Wojtek Frykowski, Jay Sebring, Steven Parent and Abigail Folger were the names of the other victims. 

Tex Watson and three female followers of Manson's cult committed the murders on Manson's command, although the original target had moved from the home. Two days later, Manson's followers murdered Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in their home, writing "Death to Pigs" and a misspelled version of "Helter Skelter" on the walls in blood.

The trial made national headlines for Manson and his followers' behavior during the proceedings. Manson attempted to physically attack the judge, and his associates engaged in intimidation tactics against witnesses.

After Manson went to prison, he continued to give media interviews featuring his bizarre behavior and incoherent ramblings.

The fate of Manson's followers became a point of public debate, namely their dual role as perpetrators of violence and victims of a violent male cult leader. Gov. Jerry Brown of California stepped into the controversy by denying the release of Leslie Van Houten after she was granted parole.

Manson was denied parole at every hearing.

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Chris Sosa is the former Senior Editor of AlterNet. His work also appears in Mic, Salon, Care2, Huffington Post and other publications. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisSosa.