This is the definitive bio of Charles Manson. Jeff Guinn explains probable motives for the Manson Family Tate-La Bianca murders, and how Manson controlled his zombies.
Manson studied Dale Carnegie and Scientology in prison and used their techniques to gather, influence, and control his followers. The Dale Carnegie trick of letting the other fellow think the idea was his was a favorite Manson ploy. This includes letting Tex Watson think the idea for slaughtering innocents was his. Scientology taught him how to manipulate, although he was careful to hide this behind a hippyish exterior. Manson also learned from pimps in prison that the best prostitutes were troubled, confused women who were damaged but not broken. Manson Family women essentially were prostitutes. They would do what ever Charlie said and have sex with anyone at any time. He used them as party favors to lure in bikers, music people, and prospective male Family members.
Crucial to understanding what happened is Manson’s delusion he was a gifted musician, that if music business people in Los Angeles would release his music, then he’d be bigger than the Beatles. But his music was mundane. He tried desperately to convince Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys, talent scout Terry Jakobson and mega-producer Terry Melcher of his musical wonderfulness. The three were close friends and thought, at least in the beginning, that Manson was an interesting curiosity. They were certainly happy to frolic with Family women but never gave him the record deal he wanted.
This increasingly enraged Manson, who grew to resent them. If money wouldn’t be forthcoming from music, then it would have to come from stealing food, cars, and dealing drugs. Money began to run out. Manson decided to burn an enormous black drug dealer named Lottsapoppa. The deal went bad. Manson shot Lottsapoppa and left him for dead. (He lived to testify.) Shortly after that, Family member Bobby Beausoleil butchered musician / dealer Gary Hinman, also over a drug deal, and wrote “Political Piggy” in blood on the walls. This was done in a deranged attempt to blame the murder on the Black Panthers and thus incite a race war which would eventually end in the Manson Family being rulers of the planet (after hiding out in a magical hole in the earth.) Whites would all be killed by blacks, who were were too stupid to run the planet on their own so they would ask the Family to rule them. Why the viciously racist Manson would want to rule over blacks remains to be explained.
Apparently Manson was so clueless he didn’t know white radicals then also called cops “pigs.” Writing about pigs on walls in blood didn’t incriminate the Panthers at all, especially since no radical then, black or white, ever used the phrase “political piggy.” (“Off the pigs” would have been a much better choice.) The only one who thought this derangement would incite a race war was Manson.
Now we get to motive. Beausoleil was arrested for the Hinman murder and was in jail. Manson was afraid Beausoleil would blab. So in two successive nights the Family murdered seven people, including Sharon Tate and the La Biancas, and wrote more bloody slogans on the walls. This was supposed to provide cover for Beausoleil, since the slaughters were similar yet he was in jail and couldn’t have done them, so therefore must be innocent of the Hinman killing too. Not exactly the sharpest tacks in the box, were they?
Family members soon began to tell others about the murders. Word got out. The repellent Susan Atkins boasted about participating in murders to another inmate in LA County jail who went to the authorities. Soon thereafter it was game over for all of them.
I’d previously thought some Manson women had been in prison so long that release might be justified, until I read about Atkins, who died in prison in 2009. Some Family members were genuinely horrified by her description of killing Hinman and left the Family. She giggled when asked about Hinman being stabbed, saying “It was really weird and he made funny noises.”
Her description of butchering Sharon Tate is even more sickening. “I don’t know how many times I stabbed (Sharon Tate), and I don’t know why I stabbed her. She kept begging and pleading, and begging and pleading, and I got sick of listening to it, so I stabbed her,” said Atkins, who then tasted Tate’s blood on her hand. Some people should never be allowed out of prison. Susan Atkins was one of them (and Manson too, of course.)
Having said that, I know more than a few men, clean and sober many years now, who led seriously violent lives and if you met them now you’d not have a clue who they used to be. Atkins apparently found Christ, was a model prisoner for decades, and seemed genuinely to understand the horrific nature what she did. Maybe she found some kind of peace.
The photo of an apparently angelic Manson on the book cover was was taken on the day he was sentenced to Boys Town. He lied to the judge, ran away four days later, and was doing armed robberies shortly thereafter at age 13. When his sister, who hadn’t seen him in years, first learned of his arrest for the murders, she said she wasn’t surprised, that anyone who knew him well knew what he was capable of.