Charles Manson, a convicted killer and cult leader who fascinated the American public ever since he persuaded his young followers to commit a string of savage murders in 1969, died at the age of 83 on Sunday in California.
Manson was serving a life sentence at Corcoran State Prison in central California and died of natural causes, according to prison officials.
In the late 1960s, Manson, a small-time crook with musical aspirations, attracted a following of mostly young women that came to be known as the Manson Family.
Manson and his followers were convicted in the killing of pregnant Hollywood actress Sharon Tate and six others in a murder spree in August 1969 in Southern California. Ms. Tate was married to film director Roman Polanski, who was away at the time of the murders.
Manson hoped that the killings would incite an apocalyptic race war, which he called “Helter Skelter,” according to prosecutors. The killers scrawled “death to pigs” on the walls at the crime scenes.
Over the decades, Manson, with a swastika etched into his forehead, became a symbol of evil and attracted numerous biographers, filmmakers, journalists and demented fans.
Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor who convicted Manson and his followers in 1971, tried to explain in a 2013 Rolling Stone interview why Manson captivated the country.
“There are thousands of evil, polished con men out there, and we’ve had more brutal murders than the Manson murders, so why are we still talking about…