Vincent Bugliosi, the man who prosecuted Charles Manson and the Manson Family, has died at the age of 80. Along with his impressive legal career, Bugliosi became a renowned author with his true-crime account of the Manson Family murders and trial, “Helter Skelter.” Bugliosi’s wife confirmed that he passed away from cancer.
At 35-years-old, Bugliosi earned notoriety as the deputy district attorney assigned to the 1969 Manson cult murder case. Manson Family members had entered Roman Polanski’s Los Angeles estate and brutally killed the director’s pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, along with four of their house guests and a teenage boy visiting the estate caretaker. The gruesome killings lead to what Bugliosi considered “the most bizarre murder case in the annals of crime.”
Bugliosi recounted the cultural impact of the murders in an 2009 Newsweek interview:
“There were areas of the city where folks literally did not lock their doors at night. That ended with the Tate-LaBianca murders. The killings were so terribly brutal and savage: 169 stab wounds, seven gunshot wounds. They appeared to be random, with no discernible conventional motive.”
During the course of the Manson case, Bugliosi worked 100-hour weeks and witnessed the Manson family’s outlandish and disturbing behavior. During the nine-month trial the Manson defendants caved “X’s” into their foreheads before shaving their heads. Manson threatened the judge, wielding a sharpened pencil and exclaiming, “In the name of Christian justice, someone should chop your head off.”
Bugliosi successfully argued that Manson, although not present at the Tate-Bianca murders, was the ringleader of the group. Bugliosi also established that Manson wanted to achieve supreme ruler status through racial warfare, which he called “Helter Skelter.”
In the end, Manson and all of the co-defendants were sentenced to death. A year after the sentencing, the California Supreme Court banned the death penalty and all of the defendants were given life sentences.
In 1974, Bugliosi and co-author Curt Gentry published “Helter Skelter,” a best-selling account of the trial and Manson cult. Bugliosi practiced law until the mid-1980s and authored several other books, including “Reclaiming History” and “The Betrayal of America”.
Watch Investigation Discovery’s exclusive interviews with Bulgiosi:
Bugliosi talks about his state of mind and extensive research when he started working on the Manson case.
Bugliosi describes the first time he met Charles Manson.
Bugliosi discussing the lasting impact of the Tate-Bianca murders.
Photo: AP Photo