Born in 1934, Charles Manson was a cult leader, musician, and criminal who scared everyone he interacted with. He went down as one of the serial killers who probably did not commit any murders themselves but manipulated and radicalized others into doing it for him. Here, we learn about some infamous Charles Manson facts.

1. He Set His School on Fire

According to an interview with Diane Sawyer, Charles Manson narrated how he set his school on fire when he was nine. This was the first of many heinous acts that he committed.

2. It Is Alleged His Mother Once Gave Him Away for a “Pitcher of Beer”

When Kathleen Maddox bore Charles Manson, she was only 16. She was an alcoholic and engaged in petty crimes, which saw her in and out of prison. Maddox realized parenting wasn’t for her soon enough.

In one instance, while she was at a bar drinking, a waitress complimented Manson’s looks. Sensing the opportunity, Maddox told the waitress she could have the kid in exchange for a pitcher of beer. Thinking it was a joke, the waitress was surprised when the mother left without her kid having served her the requested drink. It took Manson’s uncle to track and bring him back home.

3. Charles Manson Was Sent And Escaped from Correctional Facilities

Charles Manson’s early life was filled with adventures from one correctional facility to another. When he was 13, he was taken to Gibault School for Boys in Terre Haute, Indiana. The school was headed by Catholic priests and was very strict. It didn’t take long before Manson fled the facility. Other notable reform schools he was sent to include Indiana Boys School and Boys Town in Omaha, Nebraska.

4. He Experienced a Challenging Childhood

Whenever Charles Manson escaped from a correctional facility, he would end up under bridges, in the woods, or anywhere else where he could find shelter. While at Indiana Boys School, Manson was allegedly raped by other students under the instructions of one of the school’s staff members.

5. Charles Mansion Had a Weird Self-Defense Technique

Given the frequency of how Charles Manson was assaulted, he needed to develop a self-defense tactic. Of the many options, he chose a rather weird but effective one called the “insane game.” With this, Manson would grimace, screech, and wave his arms in a manner to suggest that he was insane.

6. He Derived Inspiration from Different Sources

As a cult leader, Charles Manson relied on different sources, including books and songs (such as the ones sung by The Beetles), to create and base his teachings. He was also involved with the Church of Scientology; he completed 150 hours of auditing.

7. His First Crime Was Robbing a Grocery Store

Even though he torched his school when he was nine, Charles Manson’s first real major crime was robbing a grocery store. After escaping from one of the correctional facilities, Manson was looking for something to eat when he stumbled across a cigar box with about $100 at the store, which he took.

8. Charles Manson Tried Regular Legal Jobs but Failed

At one point, still in his childhood, Charles Manson tried to live a crime-free life by taking a job delivering messages for Western Union. This proved futile as, in no time, he looked to supplement his wages via petty theft. As fate would have it, he was eventually apprehended and charged. The judge sent him back to Boys Town juvenile facility out of sympathy.

9. Charles Manson Isn’t His Formal Name

When Charles Manson was born, his mother, Kathleen Maddox, named him “No Name Maddox.” to date, this is the name indicated on Charles Manson’s birth certificate.

10. He Was Charged with Sexual Assault Charges

Charles Manson’s first imprisonment came in 1951 when he was taken to Natural Bridge Honor Camp, a minimum security facility. In 1952, Charles Manson was found raping a kid and was transferred to the Federal Reformatory in Petersburg, Virginia. Here, he committed more offenses, including ones involving “homosexual acts.”

11. Charles Manson Is Famous for Creating the Manson Family

The Manson Family was a cult, gang, and commune created by Charles Manson. With about 100 members, the group operated in the late 1960s and early 70s. They maintained an unconventional lifestyle involving heavy drug use and prostitution. Most of its members were women, some as young as 14.

12. Charles Manson Manifested Himself as the Biblical Jesus Christ

Charles Manson gathered most of his followers through radicalization. He manifested himself as the Biblical Jesus Christ, a position he used to gain respect and unwavering support from the Manson Family members.

13. Charles Mansion Had a Failed Music Career

Even though he aspired to make it big in Hollywood, Manson had a generally failed music career. His only hint of success came when Beach Boys, an American rock band, did a cover of one of his songs. He was also a guitarist and vocalist but didn’t excel on those fronts, either.

14. He Championed for a Race War

One of Charles Manson’s biggest motivations was the idea of a race war. Even in the murders that his cult members committed, he tried to make them appear as if they were committed by black people. He hoped the whites would revolt, resulting in the apocalyptic race war. In his mind, he thought the blacks would eventually win.

15. Charles Manson and Family Are Famous for the Killing of Sharon Tate

Even though Charles Manson and his gang members committed other murders, the killing of Sharon Tate, a famous Hollywood actress and model, is mostly remembered. His other notable serious crime involvement includes the Crowe shooting and Hinman, Leno, Rosemary LaBianca, and Shea murders.

16. The Sharon Tate Murders Are Believed to Be Unintentional

According to the book “Helter Skelter- The True Story of the Manson Murders” by Vincent Bugliosi, the Sharon Tate murders were unintended, at least not in the way they happened. Initially, Charles Manson, the mastermind, targeted Terry Melcher, a record producer who had rejected his music. The house Manson directed his followers to invade and kill everyone was supposed to be Melcher’s, but, as it turns out, Sharon Tate was the one residing there at the time.

17. Charles Manson Once Charged at a Judge with a Pencil

During his trial, Charles Manson once charged at the judge with a sharp pencil, shouting, “In the name of Christian justice, I want to chop off your head.” From then on, the judge carried a revolver under his rob for self-defense.

18. There Are No Records of Charles Manson Killing Anyone Himself

Even though he was put away for first-degree murder, there are no records of Charles Manson ever committing any of the murders himself. Instead, he manipulated and radicalized his Manson Family members into doing the dirty work for him.

19. He Had a Short-Lived Relationship in 2013

In 2013, Charles Manson was 79 and a convict serving time. So, when the news that he was getting engaged to a 27-year-old Afton Elaine Burton reached the press, people were surprised. As it turned out, his “fiancé” wanted to claim his body when he died so she could put it in a glass as an exhibition for money. The relationship unceremoniously ended.

20. Charles Manson Died in Prison in 2017

On November 19, 2017, Charles Manson was declared dead while being held at Corcoran Prison. Official reports state he died of cardiac arrest resulting from respiratory failure and colon cancer. Three people claimed his body, but it was Manson’s grandson, Jason Freeman, who took and cremated it in March 2018.

21. Charles Manson Has Inspired Many Documentaries and Films

Over time, Charles Manson’s story has inspired many serial-killer themed Documentaries and Films. The most common ones include Manson (1973), Helter Skelter: An American Myth (2020), Wolves at the Door (2016), and The Manson Family (2003), among others.

22. He Discouraged His Cult Followers from Wearing Glasses

Among the many things that Charles Manson controlled, he discouraged his cult members from wearing glasses as it would help them see the world more naturally. Eventually, the refusal of vision correction led to some of his members suffering permanent squints. Besides the restriction on glasses, Manson banned watches, clocks, and calendars.

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Last Update: November 13, 2023