August 7th, 2009
04:01 PM ET

Charles Manson spends most of his time alone

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/03/20/charles.manson.prison/art.manson.corcoran.jpg caption="A new photo of Charles Manson shows his gray beard and the swastika tattooed into his forehead."]

Ted Rowlands

In his latest mug shot, Charles Manson's wild-eyed stare is gone, as is most of his hair. Except for the swastika he carved into his brow during his murder trial, he could be any gray-bearded senior citizen.

If the photo authorities released early this week is any indication, the leader of a murderous band called "The Family," has mellowed some after almost 40 years in a California state prison.

He has had a lot of alone time.

Manson, 74, is locked away in protective custody, according to Sabrina Johnson, a spokeswoman at Corcoran State Prison in Corcoran, about 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

Manson has his own cell. His exposure to prison neighbors that include mass killer Juan Corona and Robert F. Kennedy's assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, is very limited, Johnson said.

Manson and four others - Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, Charles "Tex" Watson and Leslie Van Houten - were convicted of murder and other charges in connection with a two-night rampage that left pregnant actress Sharon Tate and seven others dead.

Manson and the four "family" members' death sentences were overturned during the 1970s, when the death penalty laws were ruled unconsitutional. He is quietly serving out his life sentence. Although he once frequently gave bombastic rants on national television, he hasn't granted a media interview in years.

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Filed under: Crime & Punishment
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Walter from italy

    I think it's time to set him free from jail...............

    August 7, 2009 at 10:52 pm |
  2. Aurelius

    Charlie Manson did not kill anybody–at least in the Tate-LaBianca murders. The prosecutor's case was based on a contradiction: that Manson's followers, who did the murders, were zombies for Manson, who gave the instructions to kill, AND that Manson's followers were responsible for their actions while in their zombie state. Result: Prosecutor Bugliosi got convictions of both Manson (who never laid a hand on any of the victims) and his followers (who were allegedly brainwashed automata and therefore incapable of being responsible for their actions).

    Only in our insane legal system can you get a result like this.

    And BTW, Roman Polanski's role in these killings has never been fully explored. It was well known in Hollywood at the time that Sharon was preggers with Jay Sebring's child. So who had a motive for having her killed? And whose macabre cinematic style was reflected in the killing of the "demon spawn"? The director of Rosemary's Baby, Roman Polanski. And who had prior contact with Charlie Manson about a record deal that never materialized? Roman Polanski. And who was conveniently in Europe when the killings took place? RP.

    If Charlie gave the order to kill Sharon and the others, then who gave the order to Charlie? Someone who could pay him. And who had lots of money? RP.

    Charlie didn't kill anybody–anyway not in the Tate-LaBianca murders.
    He may have urged his followers to commit the crimes, but this is conspiracy, not murder–not unless he paid them, which is doubtful. And who paid Charlie, who only does things for money?: I have suggested one possible candidate. Just saying. Just my opinion.

    August 7, 2009 at 10:51 pm |
  3. SandraWI

    Why does someone like this get to grow old even if he's in jail. It's not fair. He helped kill seven people including cutting a baby out of a mothers womb. This is a monster who should have been executed, and not allowed to live to be a mellow elderly man.

    August 7, 2009 at 9:30 pm |
  4. Annie Kate

    I can't see any sane reason why someone would want to visit Manson. The only reason I can think of is that they want to be able to say they met him. Who cares? To list as one of your life's interesting moments meeting Charles Manson – your life mus be really dull.

    August 7, 2009 at 7:42 pm |
  5. JC- Los Angeles

    As our country reaches new lows each day, I guess it's only fitting to chronicle this individual.

    August 7, 2009 at 6:51 pm |
  6. GF, Los Angeles

    I'm completely perplexed as to why anyone would want to write Manson much less visit him. He is a horrible human being who instigated mass killings and should not be treated like some psuedo-celebrity hero.

    August 7, 2009 at 4:59 pm |