Charles Manson: Serial Murderer?
Does the definition of a serial murderer only encompass one who commits the act or is the definition able to be enlarged to include one who leads others to commit murder? A jury in 1971 decided that, yes a person can lead others to commit heinous murders and be labeled a serial killer. Such person is Charles Manson. A serial murderer according to Steve Egger is a murderer that commits two or more murders for reasons that differ from traditional motives. A serial murder is usually a compulsive act, primarily for fulfillment of a fantasy. The most important component is that the murders are dissimilar in the events that surround them. Victims however can share a common thread including individuals that belong to prestigeless, powerless, or lower socioeconomic groups (Hickey, p 19). The case has become nearly become urban legend in the almost forty years since the story began. It is still often wondered how a young convict can lead seemingly peace loving people to commit such violence on victims apparently innocent with no tangible threads to the killers themselves. How did Charles Manson create the cult that would later become the Manson Family? Charles Manson was born on November 12, 1934, though he liked to say that his birthday was November 11th (Armistice Day). Born to Kathleen Maddox the hospital he was born in dubbed him ‘no-name Maddox” because his mother was unmarried and his father was not present. Since his mother had been married to William Manson he was given that surname. Though in 1936 a paternity judgment was called on a “Colonel Scott” (who was ordered to pay Maddox $30 per month in child support and did not comply), Manson later claimed his father was the “jailhouse” (Bravin, p 49). In 1939 his mother was convicted of armed robbery and sent to prison at which time Manson was sent to live with his aunt and uncle in West Virginia. His uncle thought that young Charles was a sissy and forced him to wear girls clothing on the first day of school. When Manson was eight his mother was released from prison and he was sent to live with her and her various boyfriends and sometime girlfriends. At age twelve he was sent to the Gibault Scholl for Boys in Terre Haute, IN presumably because his mother’s newest lover considered him a burden. After only ten months at the school Manson ran away and stole a bicycle and some cash to rent a room. After a second burglary he was sentenced to Juvenile Hall in Indianapolis. During his incarceration at Juvenile Hall he escaped and was recaptured and then sent to Father Flannagans’s School for Boys after being mistaken for a Catholic. Four days into his stay there he and another ward stole a car and drove to Illinois. He was thirteen years old. After several more robberies he was apprehended and sentenced to Plainfield Indiana’s School for Boys. Here he was first raped and it is believed that he would burn himself with cigarettes and push needles into his body to help build up his pain tolerance. He succeeded in escaping eighteen different times from the Plainfield school and finally in February of 1951 broke out again with two other wards and stole another vehicle and ended up in Utah where he was apprehended yet again and sent to the National Training School for Boys in Washington DC because driving a car across state lines is a felony. At the Training School officials rated Manson ““average” intelligence, manual dexterity, and mechanical aptitude. According to records, his favorite subject was music. He was illiterate.” (Bravin, p 49) A psychiatrist decided that Manson relied on facile techniques in how he interacted with others. The psychiatrist also decided that underneath the lying thief was a sensitive young man who basically just wanted to be loved. Because of this analysis Manson was moved to the less strict Natural Bridge Honor Camp but was transferred three months later to the...
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