Manson Murders: 40 Years Later
It has been 40 years since the horrendous killing spree by Charles Manson's "family" shocked the world. The rampage took place on August 9 and 10, 1969 in Los Angeles, terrorizing the whole city, making headlines across the globe, and still remaining as one of the most morbid real-life horror stories today.
Manson promoted himself to the Hollywood community as an artist and philosopher. But to his inner group, he preached a dogma of race war, which would see his self-proclaimed "family" emerge as the rulers of a society rent asunder after blacks had risen up against their oppression. He called these race wars Helter Skelter, after the song on The Beatles' White Album, which he believed predicted the coming apocalypse.
At 74, Charles Manson remains on Death Row at the California State Prison at Corcoran. Nevertheless, he is still holding a morbid fascination to the young generation nowadays as the Manson Family group leader. Not only does he along with several other Manson Family members have their own fan pages on the web, the book Five to Die by British journalist Ivor Davis is being reissued to coincide with the anniversary, and a Hollywood tour dedicated to the crimes is generating great business.
Scott Michaels, whose "Dearly Departed" sight-seeing tour bus company offers a "Helter Skelter" trip dealing solely with the Manson crimes, says the killings acquired an almost iconic status.
Manson and his hippie followers were responsible for at least nine murders, and were originally given death sentences. However, when a California Supreme Court briefly abolished death penalty in 1972, the death sentences were commuted to life sentences.
Manson himself never carried out any of the killings but was convicted of murder and sentenced to death for commanding the Aug. 9, 1969, murders of Tate, who was more than eight months pregnant at the time, and houseguests Jay Sebring, a hairstylist, heiress Abigail Folger, writer Wojciech Frykowski and teenager Steven Parent. The convictions include the LaBianca killings Aug. 10, 1969.
On August 16, 2009, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, one of Manson's former followers who once attempted to assassinate U.S. President Gerald Ford in 1975, is scheduled to be released after more than three decades.
Explaining herself after the attempt, according to the book "Real Life at the White House," Fromme said, "Well, you know, when people treat you like a child and pay no attention to the things you say, you have to do something."
According to the Bureau of Prisons, Fromme had first become eligible for parole in 1985 but for years waived her right to a parole hearing.
"The parole board does not hold my life in its hands. And I don't want to be too critical, but men tend to think they do. Charlie never thought he did. He never expressed all this desire for power, this desire for acceptance."
While Manson himself has never expressed remorse for the killings, many of his former followers, who are now gray-haired and have been serving lengthy prison terms, have shown regret and have apologized.
"I'm appalled (at what I did)," a terminally ill Atkins said just prior to an unsuccessful parole attempt last year. Krenwinkle voiced similar regret: "I feel terrible about it, but I cannot change it."