Inside the twisted world of the Manson Family cult including sex and murder

Charles Manson, who died in prison while serving a life sentence for seven counts of first-degree murder, wasn’t actually present at the scene of the crime he’s most remembered for.

Instead, it was his “Family” of followers, most of them young women, that was directly responsible. They were so hypnotised by Manson's claims of being a reincarnation of Jesus and the prophet of a race war that would destroy America, that they committed the savage killings known as the Manson murders on his orders.

Record producer Gary Stromberg, who worked with would-be rock star Manson in the late Sixties, said: “It was amazing the respect these girls had for Charlie. They just lived and breathed by him."

“Once …" recalled Stromberg, "he demonstrated the submission thing. He turned to Lynne [Fromme] and said, “Lynne, come here and kiss my feet”; and she got down on her knees and kissed his feet and sat down.”

Manson used his power over women to attract men to his gang, promising them sex with his harem as well as using the women to score drugs for the commune.

“The girls were young, homeless, fanciful, at war with their parents, “ wrote Manson expert Vincent Bugliosi, “the boys were kept in line by being given the girls.”

Bugliosi prosecuted Manson and his followers after the killing spree.

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“He used to admit it,” a source at the District Attorney’s office told Rolling Stone magazine. “He’d say, this is the greatest thing next to mother’s milk. They’d bring you food, make love to you any time you could.”

Danny DeCarlo, a leader of the Straight Satans biker gang, was lured into Manson’s orbit with promise of sex from the cult leader’s largely young, female following.

Manson hoped DeCarlo would bring the rest of the bag with him, lending the predominantly female Family some much-needed muscle.

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Manson wanted the heavily-armed bikers as “a security force to scare off ranch visitors who got overly friendly with his girls, or obnoxious with Family members," explained authors Dylan Howard and Andy Tillett.

But it was the connection with the bikers that may have led to the Family’s bloody murder spree after a drug deal went sour.

An attempt to sell some of the gang’s supply of mescaline failed when the buyer, a man named Gary Hinman said that drugs had turned out to be fake, or in some accounts contaminated with rat poison.

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“The Straight Satans were understandably not pleased and wanted their money back,” Howard and Tillett wrote in The Last Charles Manson Tapes: Evil Lives Beyond the Grave.

Manson sent followers Bobby Beausoleil, Susan Atkins, and Mary Brunner to torture and kill Hinman, marking the beginning of the Manson Family’s murder spree.

But the bikers still didn’t have their money and they roared into the Spahn Ranch, where the Family were living at the time demanding compensation.

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“Manson greeted them with open arms,” write Howard and Tillett, “Some of the girls opened other limbs for them, simultaneously taking the edge off the bikers’ fury and also splitting – and exhausting – the group.”

But though Beausoleil had been arrested for the Hinman killing and, according to Family member Susan Atkins, Manson had a perfect plan to spring his right hand man from jail.

He ordered Atkins, along with fellow followers Linda Kasabian, Patricia Krenwinkel and Tex Watson to go to the house occupied by film director Roman Polanski and his glamorous movie star wife Sharon Tate and "totally destroy" everyone inside.

Make it "as gruesome as you can,’ he commanded.

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Polanski was out of the country at the time but the four Family members killed five people, including Tate who was nearly nine months pregnant at the time.

In a further escalation of Manson’s crazed “Helter Skelter” philosophy – in which he hoped to spark a war between black and white Americans – the following night a larger gang of Family followers murdered supermarket manager Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary.

Ironically it was evidence from Danny DeCarlo that led to the arrests of Manson and his gang of killers.

Even at his trial, though, a group of mainly followers stood outside the courthouse every day, waiting for their “father” to be freed. Manson’s strange charismatic power over the young women that idolised him never weakened.

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