In Cincinnati, Ohio, on November 12, 1934, Charles Milles Manson first came into our world by way of a young teenage mother who also ran afoul of the law — and he’s been wailing and flailing, shrieking and freaking ever since.
It’s a condition that the mastermind of America’s most infamous mass murder continues to keep up today, even as he turns 83 while incarcerated for life inside California’s Corcoran State Prison.
In the decades since then, Manson has continuously reigned as popular culture’s definitive true-crime boogeyman. Few extended periods have passed without Manson somehow making the news.
Occasionally, it’s dramatic, such as when his disciple Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1976.
Sometimes, it’s entirely stupefying, like in 2013, when, at 80, he announced his engagement to 26-year-old Afton Elaine “Star” Burton (it didn’t happen).
More regularly, Manson grabs headlines when he comes up for parole every so often and shows off the status of his swastika forehead tattoo.
Still, these particular past 12 months have proven to be unusually eventful for Charlie, beginning with his hospitalization and near death, parole news for some former Manson Family acolytes, and various Manson-related media happenings.
January 3, 2017 — Charles Manson Hospitalized, Believed to Be Dying
2017 kicked off as the year in which it looked likely we’d see Charles Manson kick the bucket. After being rushed from Corcoran Prison to a hospital in Bakersfield, press reports seemed to indicate he’d be undergoing some drastic procedure regarding gastrointestinal bleeding that might have been a last-ditch effort to keep Charlie alive. [CrimeFeed]
January 4 — Charles Manson’s “Son” Rushes to See “Dad”
Matthew Roberts, a 48-year-old Illinois radio host who purports to be Charles Manson’s son, beat a quick path to the hospital where Charlie was being treated. He didn’t make it inside. [CrimeFeed]
January 8 — Manson Deemed “Too Frail” for Surgery, Moved Back to Prison
After doctors ruled that Charles Manson was too weak to survive any kind of serious operation, authorities moved the acid-blasted madman back to prison. An unnamed source reported, “He’s not good. His health is failing.” In short order, surgeons changed their minds and said they might go ahead, then quickly decided against it — again.
January 9 — Manson’s “Grandson” Gripes Not About Being Allowed to See “Grandad”
Jason Freeman, the son of a man reportedly born “Charles Manson, Jr.” who committed suicide in 1993, said that his attempts to visit his alleged grandfather were thwarted by none other than Charlie himself. Freeman said Manson feels he “has taken the weight of the world on his shoulders” and, as such, he doesn’t want to burden his so-called grandson. [CrimeFeed]
January 9 — Manson Denied Request to Save Sperm So He Can Father More Kids
Amid all the Charlie health drama, Star Burton, 29, Manson’s on-and-off “fiancée” reportedly asked her sometimes paramour to harvest his sperm so that she could carry his children even after his seemingly imminent demise.
According to an anonymous source:
“Many people will think this is a sick joke, but Manson has expressed his desire to add to his family of four children.”… [but] none of his family are getting access to his DNA at this stage. The officers and authorities will not let them get access to tissues or any fluids at all. Just because he may pass away does not affect that position.”
The Manson-Burton nuptials had been called off back in 2015, after it reportedly came to light that Star’s chief interest in marrying Charlie was to someday be able to charge money for gawks at his corpse. Right now — who knows? [CrimeFeed]
January 21 — Manson Seems to Beat the Bug, Comes Off “Scarier Than Ever”
With his health scare subsiding, The New York Post obtained photos of Manson inside Corcoran State Prison with an entirely bald head, a thick white beard, and wraparound sunglasses. Reportedly, they were taken while he conferred with “Black Wolf,” an admirer who has looked up to Charlie for the past 10 years. [CrimeFeed]
February 3 — Parole Board Recommends Release of Ex-Mansonite Bruce Davis
The 31st time was the charm for Bruce Davis, a 74-year-old former Manson Family member serving life for the Charlie-associated murders of drug dealer Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald “Shorty” Shea. That’s how many hearings it took for the California Parole Board to decide Davis no longer posed a public threat and recommend that he be cut loose. Governor Jerry Brown, however, has stated repeatedly that he’s not inclined to release any of the locked-up Manson followers. [CrimeFeed]
April 4 — Charles Manson’s Grandson Announces Reality Show, Sins of the Father
Gil Formats, an Israeli-based production company reportedly screened a teaser video for Sins of the Father, a reality-TV show about the offspring of famous criminals set to showcase Charlie’s “grandson,” Jason Freeman. So far, the show has not surfaced anywhere.
July 24 — 1989 Video of Manson Goes Viral, Charlie Says: “Ted Bundy Is a Poop Butt!”
In 1989, shortly after sexually sadistic serial slayer Ted Bundy died in Florida’s electric chair, a TV interviewer asked Charles Manson what he thought of the executed killer. Charlie responded in not uncertain terms:
“Bundy? Bundy’s a rumpkin. Bundy’s a poop butt. Bundy’s his momma’s boy. Bundy’s out there trying to prove something to his own manhood. That’s got nothing to do with me. I don’t roll around with poop people like that. I stand with people that can stand with themselves.”
After years of laying dormant, the video swarmed social media this past July. [CrimeFeed]
California releases a fresh official prison photo of Charles Manson and, not surprisingly, he’s at least as frightening as ever. In contrast to his previous 2014 mug shot, Manson is buzz-cutted to near baldness, his beard is more silver than ever, and his bushy brows further add to the perpetual heaviness of his always disturbing eyes. [CrimeFeed]
September 7 — Leslie Van Houten Granted Parole
Leslie Van Houten, one of the most familiar “Manson Girls,” who participated in the Tate-LaBianca bloodbaths, was granted parole after serving 47 years at the California Institute for Women in Chino. In 2015, a two-person panel had recommended Van Houten for release, but Governor Jerry Brown shot it down with a veto. Her latest fate is yet to be decided. [CrimeFeed]
September 20 — WFMU Radio Posts Billboard Touting “Rihanna, Bieber, Manson”
New Jersey’s puckish indie station WFMU put up a billboard on Route 280 that resembled countless other roadside ads for pop radio outlets. The sign featured pictures of Rihanna, Justin Bieber — and Charles Manson — under their last names.
Touted as WFMU’s “first and last billboard,” station manager Ken Friedman declared to listeners, “This confusing and tasteless billboard was made possible by the pledges and support of Kickstarter pledgers like you! You are responsible for this monstrosity!” [CrimeFeed]
October 26 — Dianne Lake, Manson’s Youngest Follower, Publishes Memoir
Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties by Dianne Lake hit bookstores and offered a previously unknown perspective on the saga. Lake was just 14 when she joined the Manson Family, and her best-seller proved to be both shocking and insightful. [CrimeFeed]
November 7 — American Horror Story: Cult Airs “Charles (Manson) In Charge”
For its politically charged, clown-riddled seventh season subtitled Cult, the FX anthology series American Horror Story has tapped numerous real-life diabolical sect leaders. For the episode tellingly called “Charles (Manson) In Charge),” star Even Peters plays both modern cultist Kai and Charlie himself, leading the Family into apocalyptic serial slaughter. [Hollywood Reporter]
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Main photo: Charles Manson in 2017 [Corcoran State Prison]