Mondays are Murder: Charles Manson #cult #serialkiller

Ciao, amici. As promised, I’m continuing with the changes to my posting schedule. I’ve chosen “Mondays are Murder” to discuss mystery/suspense/thriller topics. Could be real life stories, possibly a movie or show I watched, maybe a book or series I’ve read.

Why this topic, you ask? My publisher’s schedule is fixed through the end of 2020, and while early in the year I’ll have a bunch of sci-fi titles, I’ll also be rolling out my thriller pen name and new work in that genre. (More on that in the future.)

So, I thought I’d start talking about these topics now. If these are the kinds of stories that interest you, I’ll have some releases next year you might be interested in. Until then, let’s devote a day a week to it. (Or less; this is an ambitious schedule.)


August 9 (just a few days ago) was the 50th anniversary of the murder of Sharon Tate, her unborn baby, and her houseguests.

The prosecution posited the argument that Charles Manson was angry with Terry Melcher, a music producer who rejected him, and so he sent his acolytes (called the Family) to kill Terry and anyone who was with him.

Terry’s mother was Doris Day. She’d had a premonition that something horrible was going to happen at the house and begged him to leave, so he indulged her. The house, unbeknownst to Manson and the Family, had been rented by Roman Polanski for his pregnant wife. While the famous director was finishing a picture in Europe, his eight-and-a-half months pregnant wife was entertaining guests.

None would live to see the morning.

Two more people (wealthy grocers the LaBiancas) were killed the following day. The prosecuting attorney said they were killed because they had previously called the police on Manson for excessive noise.

The “Helter Skelter” theory suggests Manson heard the track on The Beatle’s White Album and thought it spoke of a pending race war. After the Family committed these unspeakable acts, they were told to leave messages in the victims’ blood to incite the revolution. Among other things, “Pig” and “Healter [sic] Skelter” were smeared on a door and a wall, and one victim had the word “war” carved into his torso.

Manson maintained his innocence until his death in November 2017. Even during his incarceration, he managed to gain followers and convince people of his innocence. To this day, he has followers who maintain the government manufactured the Helter Skelter theory to frame Manson, and he was not guilty of the crimes.


This is the briefest of overviews. More details can be found online, on television, and in books. (I highly recommend Charles Manson: The Final Words on the Reelz network for a concise overview.)

This story leaves me with so many questions. The two most prevalent:

  1. How can a man be so manipulative?
  2. And so sadistic?

And finally, what might have happened if Manson had landed that recording contract? It might make an interesting alternative history fiction piece.

Were you alive in the summer of 1969? Do you remember this? Do you, like me, continue to watch the specials and read the articles searching to make sense of things? Let’s talk about it below.

61 thoughts on “Mondays are Murder: Charles Manson #cult #serialkiller

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  1. I wasn’t around yet in 1969, and I never felt the need to read “Helter Skelter”. There was a TV series (short-lived, thank god) about LA cops and an up-and-coming Manson. Aquarius, I think. With David Ducuvny (the only reason I remember it, because I watched almost all the X-Files eps). Scary stuff. I stopped watching because I couldn’t believe how so many people could fall under his spell like that (then again, the 60s and drugs) And you beat me to the Denny Wilson answer. I read a biography of the Beach Boys years ago because I was a fan (saw them twice in concert before Carl died). 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wasn’t around for this, either, but the story fascinates me. If I had a fraction of his charisma, I could do such good in the world. I wonder what makes people use their gifts for evil. (I wonder that about hackers all the time.)

      I saw the Beach Boys in concert once. John Stamos played with them. It was one of the best concerts I ever saw. They put on a great show, and the atmosphere was amazing. (People were bouncing beach balls around the arena, and the roof was retracted so we could see the stars. Magical night.)

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it does, too, Jan. Odd that some people have twisted it to suit their own twisted views, though.

      I wasn’t quite around then (though not soon after). I can’t imagine living through that time and not being impacted by it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was around, but just a kid. Few things freaked moms and grandmothers out as much as this, and we weren’t even in the same state. There was a violent run by the Black Panthers, and the Zodiac even drifted into Nevada, but Manson took the cake. One of his disciples tried to assassinate the President a decade later.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There were two attacks on Ford. When Manson was in jail, no less. I can’t imagine that kind of control over someone.

      Manson used fear of Black Power to push a white agenda. It was a volatile time.

      I’ve watched specials on the Zodiac killer but either missed or forgot he made it to Nevada. That had to be frightening for everyone.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Okay, I admit I’m a wienie. That murder bothered me so much, I avoid watching anything about it. It almost seemed that how evil he was had a hypnotic effect on his followers, released them from any consciences they had. It was creepy. But then, I don’t under how Hitler inspired so many people either. It’s frightening.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was hypnotic. Some people even postulated that he actually hypnotized his acolytes. (Can you even imagine?)

      When I was in college, I had to read a book called The Nazi Seizure of Power. Hitler’s process was fascinating and diabolically genius. If only he could have used his abilities for good rather than selfish reasons.

      Hitler and Manson were similar in many ways. Not that that’s a compliment to either of them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The holocaust is one of the most horrific things I’ve ever studied. When I was in college, one of the museums (in Pittsburgh) had an installation devoted to it. It’s something I typically would have avoided, but we had an assignment to go and then write a report on it. I cried the whole way through. You think you’ve seen the horrors looking at a couple of pictures in a textbook or on a news article. Imagine rooms of it. Awful. It stains your soul.

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  4. Mae, it’s hard for me to listen to that song. However, I learned last year the title came from carnival ride called a Helter Skelter. So much of the Beatles music was said to mean things other than what they intended.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. When a musician or band is dropping acid and writing music, it’s not hard to imagine the lyrics would be “far out” and people could interpret them to mean any number of things.

      That said, I do love The Beatles. When my sister moved out and I got my own stereo for my bedroom, one of the CDs in the first batch I got was Yellow Submarine. I wish I knew where that CD was now…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I was alive in 1969 but I don’t remember anything about Manson. Thankfully, I was sheltered from that. I do, however, remember reading the book Helter Skelter in 1975. I think I decided to read it because I was obsessed with the Beatles at the time and had heard so much about The White Album influencing Manson. Of course, after all those acid trips, probably anything would have influenced him!

    Did you know one of the Beach Boys (I think it was Brian Wilson) stayed at the Manson compound for a while. Thankfully, he realized Manson was pure evil and got the heck out of there.

    These days, I’m still obsessed with the Beatles, but I’m with Marcia about wanting to purge the book from my mind, especially the horrific manner in which Sharon Tate and her baby were killed. I never watch true crime stories, because like Priscilla, I can’t stop thinking about the victims.

    I am however, looking forward to your new thriller books when they release. You are a busy, busy writer!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It was the middle Wilson brother (Dennis). He totally drank the Kool-Aid and even stole (and rewrote) one of Manson’s songs. He’s the one who introduced Manson to Melcher.

      It’s still hard for me to believe one man could be so charismatic when he was also so evil.

      I’m excited about the move to thrillers. I’ve been on the verge of writing them for a while now. Even have a couple in the bank. I don’t think I’m going to give up on the sci-fi, though. I’m really enjoying writing this series.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. And now that you mention Dennis, that’s coming back to me.

        And you can do both–sci-fi and thrillers! You’re kicking butt with sci-fi. I can’t wait to see what you do with thrillers! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I was not alive in 1969, just a twinkle in my father’s eye, but I have read the book Helter Skelter and have a copy of the renamed version Child of Satan, Child of God written by Susan Atkins. I read this when I was 11 and it had a profound impact on me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know. I don’t understand how people could adore and emulate him. I watched a special on his funeral. His grandson opened the service to a few of his “friends” (for lack of a better term). They started to sway the grandson to their way of thinking. His wife was beside herself. It’s like he’s still influencing people from beyond the grave. It’s terrifying.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This makes me think of the book we recently read- Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine. Even though her serial killer husband was locked away, she lived with not only the crazies hunting her down, but the very real fear her children (especially the son) would turn out like their father.
        Even though, rationally, you know evilness isn’t hereditary, I think I’d always be looking for that look in the eye or a mannerism that’s slightly… off.
        How would it feel to be known as the grandson of an infamous murderer? I imagine Manson’s family will carry that scar for generations to come.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s an excellent analogy. I always wanted to write a story about the child of the girl who was the focus in The Exorcist. (A TV show beat me to it, though.) I bet getting into the mind of a descendant of a serial killer would be equally fascinating. As a mother of such a child, I know I’d always be looking for that “sign” that said something wasn’t quite right.

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  7. Yes, Hilter was the same and I agree it’s a scary scenario that people fall for that manipulation and do things when they should know better. Yes, that type of evil is never gone unfortunately.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh, I was alive, all right. I was 25. And I very clearly remember the shock and horror of what was often referred to then as the Sharon Tate murders. Here’s what comes to my mind every time I’m reminded of them. Charles Manson’s maniacal eyes. The man’s actions were deranged, and just looking into those eyes was a chilling experience. His hold over his women was mystifying to me even then, and I still feel that way. If I ever wanted to describe a person possessed by evil, that’s the face I’d use as my inspiration.

    Looks aside, the entire story makes me shudder. (And btw, I read Helter-Skelter when it first came out, then immediately tried to purge the whole thing from my brain. Nightmares? Absolutely.)

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You can definitely see the devil in his eyes. I consider myself mentally strong, but I shudder to think what I’d feel experiencing that stare in person. I don’t understand how so many women came to love him, but I know if I met him, I’d fear him.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Admitting my age, but I was a child in the summer of ’69 and remember the Manson murders. Lots of things happened that summer – some good, others bad. I think he picked people who were vulnerable and easily manipulated. Combine that with the drug scene which was prevalent in the ’60s and you have the ingredients for masterminding something like this. It amazes me so many people believe he was innocent.

    Years ago, I read the book Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi (the prosecuting attorney). Scary to say the least.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Bugliosi’s theory, I think, really formed a compelling narrative that helped convict Manson. He might have gone free (since he wasn’t the one who committed the murders) without it.

      The summer of love likely was helpful to Manson. So many drugs, so many people looking for a place to commune. It was the perfect environment for him to prey on people.

      Liked by 3 people

  10. I avoid television shows about real life psychotic killers because it makes me feel so bad for the victims. Strangely, I can watch gory forensic science shows because they’re like, “This is how we caught the bad guy,” and that’s a “happy ending” for me.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’ve always thought about that since I first heard the story. Music would have given him the fame he sought, but it also would have given him a much larger platform. Would it have soothed the beast or unleashed him on a bigger audience?

      Did you know alternative history was a popular genre? I only learned that recently. Talk about my head being in the sand!

      Liked by 2 people

  11. I’ve read rhe book and watched a few shows on it. It’s chilling. How he got so many people to do for him…I’ll never understand. Seeing when he came up for parole was crazy to see on the news.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hitler was the same way. All research about both of them say the men were very charismatic. I guess they read people, assessed their fears and weaknesses, then played on them. It’s scary to think one man could so easily manipulate so many.

      His parole hearings were crazy. So was his trial. I suspect his specter will linger for quite a while. He’s gone, but his presence is still felt.

      Liked by 2 people

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