Charles Manson, the Serial Killer
In August 1969, Hollywood was shocked by the crime later named as one of the most startling and gruesome murders of our century (Hashim, 2014). It was an act of violent crime against a famous actress Sharon Tate and her friends partying together. Sharon Tate was on the eighth month of pregnancy and was a wife of a film director, Roman Polanski. The terrible crime has attracted public attention not only in the United States but all over the world. The murderer was Charles Manson, one of the most famous and bloodthirsty criminals of the last century, with seven murders on his account.
Charles Manson was an illegitimate son of Kathleen Maddox, a bisexual sixteen years old prostitute and an alcoholic. He was born in 1935 in Cincinnati, Ohio (Hashim, 2014). Kathleen constantly spent time with her lovers in the house and did not care much about her son. Later, when Charles was six years old, she had left him with her parents who lived on a farm (Hashim, 2014). He had to stay there for a couple of days until Kathleen finished her affairs. However, everything turned out differently; Kathleen and her brother were arrested for an attempted armed robbery of a gas station in West Virginia and sentenced to five years in prison (Hashim, 2014). After some time, Charles moved to his uncle William Thomas, who lived with his devout wife in West Virginia. The uncle constantly taught Charles to be a real man and not be afraid of anything. On the first day when the boy went to school, Thomas dressed him as a girl.
Naturally, such violent fact did not affect young Charles in a good way. Kathleen Maddox was released from prison three years later, and Charles again began to live with her. They were constantly moving from place to place, and the boy saw dirty rooms of cheap hotels much more often than classrooms. Once he stole a bicycle but was caught by the police, and the court sent him to the local center for young offenders he had escaped the next day. After the second capture, he was sent to a Catholic reform school – Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home – but four days later young Charles escaped, as well. He committed several burglaries and robberies with another fugitive and managed to stay less than a month as a free person. At that time, Charles was barely thirteen years old.
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The social risk factors contributing to Charles’ becoming a violent criminal offender were his mother’s alcoholism, drug addiction and illegal actions. The presence in the family of high social risk has increased his educational and social neglect, both physical and mental poor health were exacerbating the already existing shortcomings.
His social skills were at a low level. He never had normal conditions for the development of social skills because he almost never went to school. School attendance could help him at that time through creating a healthy social environment in the educational space of a junior student, which represents a system of organization of activity of learning subjects and differentiated educational content aimed at the formation of civil position in students. Thus, Charles had no civil position, was never engaged in extracurricular activities and felt a stranger in the social environment.
According to prison psychiatrists, Charles Manson is paranoid and schizophrenic. Such a diagnosis seems logical in the context of his manipulativeness and his own admission “I’ve got a thousand faces, so that makes me five hundred schizophrenics. And in my life, I’ve played every one of those faces. Sometimes because people push me into a role, and sometimes it’s better being someone else than me.” (Manson & Emmons, 1986).
In 1966, his is transferred to Terminal Island prison (Guinn, 2014). He feels himself quite happy there: he met new friends and performed his own songs, dreaming to become a professional songwriter some time. Later in 1967 he receives news of early release (Guinn, 2014). However, he begins to beg the prison administration to leave him at prison, fearing that he could not survive outside the prison walls. It is a direct evidence of his paranoia.
There are no official records about Charles Manson’s level of intelligence. However, he had an eloquence and charisma, which helped him in many situations. Many of his statements are compound; they raise really topical issues of contemporary society, policy, religion and being. For example, his saying “I am what you made of me and the mad dog devil killer fiend leper is a reflection of your society” (Manson & Emmons, 1986), clearly implies the idea that maniacs, murderers, offenders, etc. are a mirror image of society. The more society is “sick”, the more cruel representatives of it would emerge. Charles Manson is, certainly, very cruel and inhuman man, but he is surely not a silly person.
Certainly, there was a contributing factor for Charles Manson committing the crimes, and it should be discussed in details. As it was mentioned above, he dreamed to become a professional songwriter; he planned to connect his life with this job. After he had been released from prison, he felt under the influence of hippies. Manson was a thirty-two former prisoner who had spent half of his life in prison, and they were the first people to treat him as an individual. For hippies, he was just one of the thousands of outcasts, and they gave him food, shelter and invited to the rock concerts.
Manson was delighted with his new life. His music has gradually learned the elements of a trendy rock, and he began to travel, giving concerts for students. Manson bought an old van and picked up every hitchhiker he met during his travels. He repeated to them all the same sermon: “Be your own person and love yourself, but let go of your ego. Nothing is wrong if it feels good and satisfies you. Live for now, forget yesterday and don’t think too much about tomorrow. Love is for everyone, to be shared” (Manson & Emmons, 1986). Some of the picked up hitch-hikers swallowed every word Charles said. Mostly, they were like young girls who ran away from home in a search of something new. Thus, they had found in Manson what they were looking for. For them, he was a guru with a sermon about unconditional love and freedom.
His first “student” was the red-haired Lynette Fromm, eighteen years old girl (Guinn, 2014). Then he lured several more girls including the daughter of a priest. They were all from thirteen to twenty-three years, but one thing they had in common was their love for Charles. The press will later call them the Manson Family. Initially, their life was cloudless: they took drugs, had detailed discussions and, of course, had sex.
They began to write music together and soon started to dream about how they could live on incomes from it. They changed their van to an old school bus that was altered into a mobile home with the writing on it: “America: Love it or get out of here.” They were constantly in motion and were joined by more and more young men and women (Manson & Emmons, 1986).
The same summer, Manson became friends with Dennis Wilson from The Beach Boys band. The celebrity found Manson a very interesting personality (Guinn, 2014). This fact again shows Manson’s great ability to manipulate. Manson has firmly believed in the constant improvement of his life: his communication with Wilson could open many doors in front of him, and all things looked going properly for the first time.
However, with time the situation deteriorated again. Local police made several raids against the Family and confiscated drugs. After a short time, when the police again complicated their lives, the Family members began to complain about the lack of comfort. Manson promised them the better times; he talked about the records that would have success and would give them a lot of money. However, doubts did not leave the Manson Family members. Then, in order to bring the discipline, he started to talk about black people and expressed different racist ideas of the extremist nature.
Manson has inspired the Manson Family to collect weapons and other equipment, gaining money from the sale of drugs. One of the drug dealers kidnapped the girlfriend of the one of Manson Family members. In response to this, Manson shot him in the stomach at point blank range. It was the first time he killed a man.
He returned to the ranch the next day, and the radio broadcasted a message that the leader of the Black Panthers was shot dead the previous night. The Family started to panic: all brilliant plans for the future suddenly turned into nothing; there was no more time for carefree use of drugs and free love. They had to prepare to defend against the attacks of the Black Panthers.
While they awaited the attack, anxiety within the family was growing. Manson wanted to flee into the wilderness, but he stopped due to the lack of money. He tried to contact The Beach Boys and ask for money for the record, but the band’s manager refused to pay him at all. All around Manson began to crumble, and he again started to feel his old hatred for society. Exactly this turning point of his life is a contributing factor of the future murders.
Further, the Manson Family killed another drug dealer. A few days later, the police arrested Manson’s close friend and a member of the Manson Family – Robert Beausoleil – and sent him to jail. Another factor is directly connected with this imprisonment. The Manson Family members decided that Robert’s innocence will be proved if they will start to commit exactly the same crimes. They hoped that police will think that the Black Panthers are behind all of these crimes, thus hoping to kill two birds with one stone.
The wild idea was realized in August 9, 1969 (Hashim, 2014). The Manson Family members killed Sharon Tate and her friends with extreme cruelty and cynicism. The next evening they killed a middle-aged married couple (Hashim, 2014). After a few days, the police arrested all member of the Manson Family on suspicion of murder.
The media portrayed Manson in their own way. The case of the Manson Family includes all what the press could only dream of: dead celebrities, hippies’ life, full of sexual orgies, violence and drugs, with their leader saying that he is both Christ and Satan. The last information came from Susan Atkins, one of the Family members. She sold to press “her own story” through her lawyers: it was written for her by two journalists from the Los Angeles Times – and thus creating the myth about Charles Manson. In this story, he was introduced as the “messiah” without any hint of rationality and at the same time with a complete power over his followers. Press interpreted everything in their own way: that he brainwashed innocent young people and made cold-blooded killers out of them with the help of sex, drugs and unusual music.
At present, Charles Manson is serving a life sentence. He became an active Christian, wrote an autobiography, got married and became the father of four children.
Charles Manson was and still is considered one of the cruelest murderers of 20th century. Thus, I believe that the sentence is incorrect, and death sentence would have been more appropriate. I understand that it is inhumane and cruel. One of the principles of justice is the punishment appropriate to the seriousness of the act. There are cases when people need to take responsibility for their actions. Charles’ Manson’s activity is exactly that type of case. A person should be maximally in charge for brutal murders, abuse of defenseless people and tortures. Of course, I understand that the introduction of the death penalty in every state is unlikely to reduce the amount of crime in our country. However, if someone trampled on the very essence of humanity, he or she is not eligible for any leniency.