Much like Ted Bundy before him (ugh), Charles Manson is having a pop-culture moment thanks to the release of Quentin Tarantino’s new movie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (and the upcoming season of HBO’s Mindhunter!). Manson is best known for leading a cult of murderous hippies and orchestrating the murder of Hollywood actress Sharon Tate in the late ’60s. In short: He was not a good guy—and that’s obviously an understatement. Like so many creepy men before him, Manson relied on his “good looks” and charisma to manipulate people—especially women—into obeying his every command.
Chances are, you have some, er, questions about what happened to this awful dude after he was arrested, so let’s get ’em answered. And keep in mind: Everything about Charles Manson is extremely disturbing, so watch out!
Is, um, Charles Manson still alive?
Short answer: Nope. Manson was sentenced to death in 1971, but in 1972, California abolished the death penalty, thereby commuting Manson’s sentence to life in prison. Years later, on November 19, 2017, he died in a hospital at the age of 83...and the circumstances were kinda strange.
His illness and death were shrouded in mystery.
Before his death, the California prison where Manson was held was being super cagey about his health. As the Los Angeles Times reported at the time, state prison officials declined to comment on his condition, simply saying he had a “serious” illness.
In early January 2016, TMZ revealed that Manson had been hospitalized for intestinal bleeding but was “too risky” for surgery:
Then nearly a year later, in November, the public learned that Manson was back in the hospital. He died of “natural causes” a few days later, and TMZ reported that Sharon’s sister Debra Tate received a personal call from the prison telling her about his passing.
Apparently, Manson’s health was shrouded in secrecy because of super-intense security measures. He had to be under 24-hour security while at the hospital, and his exact location was kept super-super-suuuuuper secret. Manson had a history of acting out, which may have required increased security measures. The Los Angeles Times reported that he was cited for repeated possessions of a weapon as well as assault and threatening staff. Like, this guy “spat in guards’ faces, threw hot coffee at a prison staffer, started fights, tried to cause a flood, and set his mattress ablaze.”
Wow @ all of this but especially “tried to cause a flood.”
There was a bunch of drama about his will.
When Manson died, a full-blown battle erupted about his estate and remains. Which is...weird! Basically, two unverified wills showed up, one that left Manson’s remains to his self-proclaimed “son” Matthew Roberts and another that left his remains to his pen pal. On top of that, Manson’s grandson Jason Freeman came out of the woodwork and said he wanted Manson’s remains. Freeman ended up, um, “winning” control of Manson’s body and had him cremated.
Who is Manson survived by?
Kinda-sorta-maybe three sons. Freeman is the child of Manson’s alleged son Charles Manson Jr., who changed his name to Jay White in order to avoid association with the murderer. White died by suicide in 1993, and Freeman formed a bond with his alleged grandfather over the phone, calling him a “kind, giving person.” According to Freeman, Manson “specifically said he did not kill Sharon Tate or anybody in that house. He would never hurt a human with a baby inside of them.”
Manson allegedly had two more sons, Charles Luther Manson and Valentine Michael Manson, both of whom aren’t in the public eye—for obvious reasons. And finally, there’s Roberts (that intense-looking dude in the picture above), who has claimed to be Manson’s son despite iffy DNA test results!
Welp, that concludes your Manson internet spiral—here’s a cute puppy to cleanse your brain:
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