Charles Manson ‘family’ timeline: 1967 to the present

Charles Manson escorted to arraignment
Charles Manson is escorted into a Los Angeles court for arraignment on charges of murder and conspiracy in connection with the deaths of actress Sharon Tate and others in 1969.
(Associated Press)
1

Charles Manson was born Nov. 12, 1934, to an impoverished 16-year-old single mother named Kathleen Maddox, who, when she wasn’t in prison, lived a peripatetic life, traveling through the Midwest with her son in tow. He spent years in foster and group homes, reform schools and, eventually, prison, which hastened his transformation from prey into predator.

During his stays in prison, Manson honed his quasi-spiritual philosophy and his music. He also took courses based on Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” which “seemed to formally codify all the instinctive ways Charlie had manipulated people since childhood,” according to “Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson” by Jeff Guinn.

When he was released from prison on Terminal Island in March 1967, Manson was 32 and looking at an empty future. That’s when he made his way to the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco and started to assemble his notorious “family.” Mary Brunner, whom he met in the spring, was his first recruit. In the next couple of years, the family expanded with the addition of several women, including Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, Patricia Krenwinkel, Linda Kasabian, Leslie Van Houten and Susan Atkins.

Charles Manson
Charles Manson was sentenced to death in 1971 but was resentenced to life in prison after the California Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional.
(Los Angeles Times; California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation)

2
November/December 1967

The family travels to Los Angeles, living for a time in Topanga Canyon while Manson tries to make connections in the music world. His first studio session is a failure.

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3
Spring/summer 1968

Manson continues to pursue a music career and continues to fail. The family lives at the home of Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson for a while and later finds a home at the Spahn Movie Ranch near Chatsworth.

4
November 1968

The Beatles release “The White Album,” with a track titled “Helter Skelter.” Manson becomes obsessed with the album and co-opts the title of the song for his own purposes. “Something called Helter Skelter would set off a battle,” Guinn wrote, and Manson told his followers that he would save them from worldwide chaos.

Robert Beausoleil
Bobby Beausoleil, then 21, leaves a courtroom in Los Angeles on Jan. 21, 1970.
(George Brich / Associated Press)

5
July 1969

Accompanied by family members, Manson follower Bobby Beausoleil kills acquaintance Gary Hinman and writes “POLITICAL PIGGY” on a wall with Hinman’s blood. About two weeks later, Beausoleil is booked on murder charges.

6
Aug. 8-9, 1969

Atkins, Krenwinkel, Kasabian and Charles “Tex” Watson go to the Benedict Canyon home of Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski and kill the pregnant 26-year-old actress. Also killed are Abigail Folger, Voytek Frykowski, Jay Sebring and Steven Parent. Atkins writes the word “PIG” on the front door, using a towel dipped in Tate’s blood.

Charles Manson
Above, the five people killed at the Benedict Canyon estate of Roman Polanski in August 1969: from left, Voytek Frykowski, Sharon Tate, Steven Parent, Jay Sebring and Abigail Folger. Below, Tate’s body is removed from the house.
(Associated Press )

Charles Manson
On Aug. 10, 1969, the Los Angeles Times reported on the crime with this lead: “Film star Sharon Tate, another woman and three men were found slain Saturday, their bodies scattered around a Benedict Canyon estate in what police said resembled a ritualistic mass murder.”
(Los Angeles Times)

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7
Aug. 10, 1969

Van Houten, Watson and Krenwinkel are dispatched to kill Leno and Rosemary LaBianca at their Los Feliz home. They write “RISE” and “DEATH TO PIGS” and a misspelling of the Beatles song, “HEALTER SKELTER,” in blood on the walls of the house.

8
Fall 1969

Manson relocates to Death Valley, where he and some of his followers are arrested in October — on suspicion of auto theft.

9
December 1969

Manson, Watson, Atkins, Kasabian and Krenwinkel are indicted on murder and conspiracy charges in the Tate killings; they are also indicted, along with Van Houten, in the LaBianca murders. Kasabian eventually becomes a star witness for the prosecution.

Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten
Susan Atkins, left, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten were all convicted of murder.
(Associated Press)

10
June 1970

The trial starts for Manson, Atkins, Krenwinkel and Van Houten.

11
January 1971

A jury finds all of the defendants guilty. A few weeks later, Manson, Krenwinkel and Atkins are sentenced to death. Van Houten is sentenced to death in connection with the LaBianca murders. Watson is tried separately in 1971 and is also found guilty and sentenced to death. All of the death sentences are commuted to life in prison after California abolishes the death penalty in 1972.

Charles Manson
Left, Charles Manson is escorted by police during his murder trial. Right, a Los Angeles Times cover reports on the guilty verdicts.

12
August 1976

Van Houten’s conviction is overturned. She is later retried — twice. At the third trial, she is convicted of two counts of murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder.

Leslie Van Houten
Leslie Van Houten has gone before the state parole board regularly since her conviction.
(Los Angeles Times)

13
September 2009

Atkins dies in prison at 61.

Charles Manson
Charles Manson waits in the high-security area of Corcoran State Prison in 1998.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

14
November 2017

Manson dies at 83 after decades in prison.

15
Present

Since 1991, Beausoleil, Krenwinkel, Watson and Van Houten have repeatedly been denied parole.