Charles Manson

Charles Manson was born on November 12, 1934 in Cincinnati, Ohio. His birth name was Charles Milles Maddox, and he was the son of fifteen-year-old Kathleen Manson-Bower-Cavender.

Colonel Walker Henderson Scott Sr. is believed to be the biological father of Manson. In 1937, Kathleen Maddox filed a paternity suit against Scott which was settled by agreement. Scott had a reputation as a con artist and had falsely claimed to Maddox that he was an army colonel. When Maddox informed him that she was pregnant, he said he had been called away on military business, but never returned.

Kathleen and her brother, Luther, often went on drinking sprees, leaving Charles to be looked after by babysitters. On August 1, 1939, Luther and Kathleen Maddox were both arrested for assault and robbery, with Kathleen being sentenced to five years in prison and Luther getting ten years.

Manson was placed in the home of an aunt and uncle in McMechen, West Virginia. He described this period of his life as the happiest time and his mother’s return from prison as an exciting event. The family moved to Charleston, West Virginia where Manson often skipped school and his mother frequently drank. She was arrested for grand larceny but not convicted. Eventually, they moved to Indianapolis, where his mother met an alcoholic in Alcoholics Anonymous and they got married in August 1943.

For a while, Charles Manson tried to live a law-abiding life by working as a messenger for Western Union. However, he soon started to supplement his income by stealing. He was eventually caught and in 1949 a lenient judge sent him to Boys Town, a juvenile facility in Omaha, Nebraska. After only four days, Manson and a fellow student, Blackie Nielson, took a gun and a car and used it to rob two places on their way to Nielson’s uncle’s house in Peoria, Illinois.

When they arrived, Manson’s companion’s uncle, who was a professional thief, allegedly took them on as apprentices. Two weeks later, Manson was arrested during a raid on a store in Peoria and was linked to his two previous robberies. He was later sent to the Indiana Boys School, a stringent reformatory.

Manson made numerous attempts to escape from the school, culminating in an escape with two other boys in February 1951. The trio stole cars and robbed gas stations as they made their way to California, until they were finally apprehended in Utah. As Manson had broken federal law by taking a stolen vehicle across state lines, he was sent to the National Training School for Boys in Washington, D.C. There, tests showed he had an IQ of 109, though he was illiterate. His case worker observed he had aggressive antisocial tendencies.

Manson was sent to the Natural Bridge Honor Camp in October 1951, a minimum security facility. His aunt visited him and promised to care for him and help him find a job. His parole hearing was scheduled for February 1952. In January, Manson was caught raping a boy. Due to committing numerous disciplinary offenses, including “three homosexual acts”, he was then transferred to the Federal Reformatory in Petersburg, Virginia.

Afterward, he was moved to the maximum security reformatory at Chillicothe, Ohio, where it was anticipated he would stay until his 21st birthday in November 1955. His good behavior enabled him to be released early in May 1954 and live with his aunt and uncle in McMechen.

In January 1955, Manson wed Rosalie Jean Willis, a hospital waitress. Three months later, the couple drove to Los Angeles in a car he had stolen in Ohio, leading to a federal charge. After a psychiatric evaluation, Manson was given five years’ probation. However, when he failed to show up to a hearing regarding an identical charge in Florida, he was arrested in Indianapolis and had his probation revoked. As a result, he was sentenced to three years of imprisonment at Terminal Island in Los Angeles.

During his time in prison, Rosalie gave birth to their son, Charles Manson Jr. During his first year at Terminal Island, Rosalie and Manson’s mother visited him regularly. However, in March 1957, his mother informed him that Rosalie was living with another man and the visits from his wife stopped. Right before his parole hearing, Manson tried to escape by stealing a car and was subsequently given five years’ probation and had his parole denied.

In 1958, Rosalie obtained a divorce from Manson. By November, Manson had become a pimp to a 16-year-old girl, and was receiving financial assistance from a young lady with wealthy parents. In September of the following year, Manson pleaded guilty to attempting to cash a forged U.S. Treasury check, which he had allegedly stolen from a mailbox. The charge was later dropped, and Manson received a suspended sentence of ten years, as well as probation.

In 1960, Charles Manson was held and questioned for violating the Mann Act, which prohibits the transportation of individuals across state lines for immoral purposes such as prostitution. He was released but then violated his probation, prompting a bench warrant to be issued. As a result of breaking his probation on the check-cashing charge, he was sentenced to serve a ten-year sentence.

By the time of his release day on March 21, 1967, Manson had spent more than half of his life in prisons and other institutions. Grown accustomed to prison life, Manson requested permission to stay at the prison, rather than leave.

Less than a month after his 1967 release from prison, Manson moved to Berkeley, where he met his first ‘follower’, librarian Mary Brunner. It wouldn’t be long before “The Family” was born.