The True Story Behind Charles Manson, Helter Skelter & the Manson Family Murders

Collider | 8/18/2019 | Kristen Lopez
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With the release of both Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood and the second season David Fincher‘s true-crime Netflix drama Mindhunter, the name Charles Manson is, once again, on everyone’s lips. Manson never really went away, cementing his infamy on August 9, 1969, but it’s through these recent pop culture reexaminations that it’s worth looking at who Manson was, what he did, and why he’s (unfortunately) endured in our collective consciousness for the last 50 years.

The man known as Charles Manson was initially brought into this world as “no name Maddox,” the result of his 16-year-old mother Kathleen Maddox’s inability (or unwillingness) to name him. She eventually gave him the name Charles Milles Maddox. Kathleen Maddox was an alcoholic and a prostitute, and it’s unclear whether Manson ever knew his birth father. Maddox’s inability to control her drinking and her penchant for crime caused the marriage to dissolve when Manson was three. When the child was five, Maddox was arrested for a burglary gone wrong and was sentenced to five years in prison. Charles Manson was left to an aunt and uncle until his mother was paroled in 1942.

Mother - Son - Time - Home - Businesses

When his mother was released, she couldn’t control her wayward son, who by this time was known for playing truant and stealing from both his home and local businesses. Maddox sent her son to the Gibault School for Boys in Terre Haute, Indiana, possibly hoping that the Catholic priests would straighten him out. Manson eventually fled to the streets, committing petty burglaries to support himself.

In 1952, Manson’s crimes took a turn for the violent. He was charged with raping a boy at knifepoint and eventually sent to a maximum-security reform school in Ohio. After he was let out for good behavior, he met a small-time hospital waitress named Rosalie Willis. The...
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