Sat | Dec 16, 2017

For many, Charles Manson cult killings ended era of love

Published:Tuesday | November 21, 2017 | 12:00 AM
In this 1969 file photo, Charles Manson is escorted to his arraignment on conspiracy-murder charges in connection with the Sharon Tate murder case. Authorities say Manson, cult leader and mastermind behind 1969 deaths of actress Sharon Tate and several others, died on Sunday, November 19, 2017. He was 83.
This August 14, 2017 photo provided by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation shows Charles Manson.
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LOS ANGELES (AP):

In summer of 1969, a scruffy ex-convict with a magnetic hold on young women sent some of his disciples into the night to carry out a series of gruesome killings in Los Angeles. In so doing, Charles Manson became the leering face of evil on front pages across America and rewrote the history of an era.

Manson, the hippie cult leader who died of natural causes on Sunday at age 83 after nearly half a century behind bars, orchestrated the slayings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six other people, butchered at two homes on successive August nights by intruders who scrawled "Pigs" and "Healter Skelter" (sic) in the victims' blood.

The slaughter horrified the world. To many, the collateral damage included the era of peace, love and flower power.

The Manson Family killings, along with the bloodshed later that year during a Rolling Stones concert at California's Altamont Speedway, seemed to expose the violent and drug-riddled underside of the counterculture and sent a shiver of fear through America.

 

WORST NIGHTMARE

 

"Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the '60s ended abruptly on August 9, 1969,", author Joan Didion wrote in her 1979 book The White Album.

Manson was every parent's worst nightmare. The short, shaggy-haired man with hypnotic eyes was a charismatic figure with a talent for turning middle-class youngsters into mass murderers.

At a former movie ranch outside Los Angeles, he and his devotees many of them young runaways who likened him to Jesus Christ lived commune-style, using drugs and taking part in orgies. Children from privileged backgrounds ate garbage from supermarket trash.

"These children that come at you with knives, they are your children. You taught them; I didn't teach them. I just tried to help them stand up," he said in a courtroom soliloquy.

It was the summer of the first moon landing. War raged in Vietnam. Hippies flooded the streets of San Francisco and gathered in upstate New York for the Woodstock music festival. But many remember the time for Los Angeles' most shocking celebrity murders.