One of America’s most famous serial killers died on Sunday. Cult leader Charles Manson was responsible for numerous high-profile murders in the Summer of 1969 and has remained a symbol of unrepentant malice in the public consciousness. After nearly fifty years in prison he died on Sunday night at Kern County Hospital. He was 83.
His death was of natural causes according to a statement by the California Department of Corrections. Earlier this month Manson had been rushed from Corcoran State Prison to a hospital in Bakersfield, California for an undisclosed medical problem. It was the second time this year that he had been hospitalised.
Though a career criminal throughout most of his life, his rise to notoriety can began when he established his small commune of a cult, known as the Manson Family. He incited his devoted followers to carry out a series of violent murders, beating, shooting and stabbing their victims to death, and leaving behind obscure messages inscribed in blood.
The intent behind these killings was to instigate a race war, something Manson felt was prophetically alluded to in several songs from the Beatles’ White Album. The idea was that, after the race war, the cult would rise up to lead what was left. Instead, he and most of his followers were caught, resulting in one of the longest court cases in American history, lasting for over nine months.
The case was incredibly publicised, with Manson becoming the household name he is today. He and his followers were eventually convicted of first-degree murder in 1971 and sentenced to death, which was later reduced to life imprisonment in 72.
In the following decades, Manson seemingly embraced his pseudo-celebrity status, granting interviews with biographers and journalists. He appeared to enjoyed the fame, and many journalists noted how relatively “normal” he seemed for a killer.
His grim legacy was never forgotten, making its way into books, documentaries, biopic films and even music. His unbelievable crimes and ability to seemingly band people to his will ensured that his was a memorable, almost fantastical story the world wouldn’t forget.