The Manson Family Cult

Charles Manson and Clan


  • The Manson Family is a cult of young hippies lead by Charles Manson. The cult pulled off the murder of Sharon Tate and other Hollywood residents and consisted of around 100 people. Charles Manson was born November 12, 1934 to 16-year-old Kathleen Maddox, who was an alcoholic and prostitute. He was sent to an all boys school, but he left and started living on the streets and surviving on petty crimes. He ended up spending half of his first 32 years in jail.
  • He married 17 year-old and she got pregnant, Manson still continued his life of crime and when he was in jail his wife left with her new child and new lover. He later got another girl pregnant while on probation.
  • When Manson was released on March 21, 1967 he started his Murder Campaign Helter Skelter. Manson’s personality traits and obsessions were related with many other cults forming in that time. He saw himself as the harbinger of doom regarding the planet's future. He was influenced by drugs, such as LSD, and the song by the Beatles “Helter Skelter”. After 1967, Manson gathered a group of followers who shared his beliefs and use of hallucinogenic drugs. They became known as “The Family” and moved to a deserted ranch in the San Fernando Valley. The group contained a small group of impressionable young girls who thought Manson was Jesus and believed in his prophecies of a race war.
  • Manson and small group of loyal followers began a murder massacre on Hollywood stars and then blamed it on African Americans. In hope to start a war between the blacks and whites and to also end the 1960s free love and peace legacy. Charles Manson is a horrifying murder, because he never even murder anyone, he was just a very good manipulator.

People Involved

Sociology Terms

  • Looking-glass Self: Charles Manson had a very proud looking glass for himself. He thought others saw him as Jesus and someone with all the answers. He believed that causing a racial war was right and that everyone saw it as a good thing to happen.
  • Total Institutions: A total institution was formed in San Francisco by Charles Manson for the Family to live. The group was under the rule of Manson and taken away from Society.
  • Desocialization: Desocialization occurred when The Family moved to the deserted ranch away from society. They followed Manson’s rules and left behind everything in their past lives to follow him.
  • Reference Group: The family became a reference group for everyone in the cult. The follow Manson’s beliefs which eventually became their own. They consulted each other and their values guided their behavior to complete the murders. The people in the group identified themselves with The Family.
  • Resocialization: After the cult was sentenced for murder the had to resocialize in prison. They had to drop the beliefs of the cult and restart with their lives. They had to adjust to life in prison and their whole reference group changed from the Family to other prisoners.
  • Role Taking: Role Taking occurred for Manson when he started to become a leader. He developed ways to persuade people into following him. He used used information he gathered from other cult leaders like their beliefs and values. He followed how they lead their groups and used it to lead his own group.
  • Peer Group: The peer group was everyone in the Manson Family. They look to each other for guidance and did things to fit in with their group, like murder people to feel accepted.
  • Mass Media: Mass Media played a huge role in the trial and murders. Everyone in the family was watched by the media and everything they did was captured. They had no privacy after their murders were discovered.


The cult pulled of multiple murders. One of them was Gary Hinman, who had his ear sliced off with a sword and stabbed in the chest twice. He died over a money problem with the cult. The murder of Sharon Tate, her lover Roman Polanski, and some of their friends was done a by a couple of the Manson Family members. They were all gruesomely murdered and were discovered by their housekeeper the next morning. The Labianca Murder Manson joined in because he felt their was not enough panic in his victims. The ties the victims up and told them they were just being robbed and wouldn’t get hurt. With their blood words were written on the walls making the scene even more gruesome.

A investigation and trial took place for seven accounts of murder and one for conspiracy. On June 15, 1970, the Tate-LaBianca trial against Manson, Watson, Atkins, and Krewinkel began for seven counts of murder and one count of conspiracy. Van Houten was charged with two counts of murder and one count of conspiracy. Manson’s influence on the prosecution’s witnesses was becoming evident during the trial. Prosecution witness Barbara Hoyt was lured by a Manson family member to Hawai’i and was given lethal doses of LSD. Hoyt was able to reach the hospital before any fatal effects of the LSD could happen. Another witness that was threatened was Paul Watkins. Watkins was severely burned in a suspicious fire in his van. The jury took a whole week to deliberate and the verdict guilty for all charges of murder. The penalty was the death penalty. Pursuant to California Supreme Court ruling in 1972, the death penalties for all defendants were commuted to life in prison. Currently all defendants are in prison. Manson is imprisoned at California's Corcoran State prison and is waiting to apply for parole but has been denied 11 times. Leslie Van Houten is in the California Institution for Women, Frontera. Charles Watson is serving a life sentence in Mule Creek State Prison. Susan Atkins was also serving her life sentence at the California Institution for Women, Frontera until her death in 2009. Linda Krenwinkel is serving a life sentence in the California Institution for Women, Frontera. Linda Kasabian was granted immunity and left California after the trial.