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Terrifying Facts About Infamous Cult Leader And Suspected Killer Charles Manson

There is perhaps no American criminal more recognizable than Charles Manson. The diminutive cult leader and madman who led his followers on a streak of bloody homicides during the late 1960s - including that of Sharon Tate - intended for the murders to give birth to a race war he called "Helter Skelter." His personal ties to celebrities and the fierce loyalty he inspired from his followers has given Manson an aura of intrigue that - when coupled with the brutality of his crimes - turned him into a household name. 

The man who has been credited with effectively ending the "Peace and Love" attitude of the 1960s, Charles Manson is still a figure of public interest. With a swastika tattooed on his forehead just above his trademark fervid stare, it seems like little time passes before another one of his interviews pops up, documenting his ever-impassioned, incoherent ramblings. 

Manson is a quintessential oddball. The man is undoubtedly a psychopath and criminal mastermind, but he's also just a strange guy who has lived an eventful, if bizarre, life. Let's take a look at some of the weird facts that you may not have known about the man known to many as simply "Charlie."

  • His Followers Tried To Kill A Key Witness With A Poisoned Hamburger

    Photo: LORD GAGA / via YouTube

    Barbara Hoyt was a one-time member of the Manson Family who was set to become a key witness in the Tate-LaBianca murder trial. In an effort to prevent her from testifying, other members of the "family" lured her to Honolulu, HI, in December of 1970. While out for hamburgers to discuss their beloved leader's looming case, someone mentioned to Hoyt, who had just taken a bite of her food, "Just imagine if there were 10 tabs of acid in that."

    A stranger came to Hoyt's aid just before she lost consciousness and called for help. She was placed in a Honolulu psych ward and treated for an overdose of LSD, but she made a full recovery. Hoyt's damning testimony would later prove instrumental to Manson's conviction.

  • He Still Has Followers Today, And Received Fan Mail Until His Death 

    Photo: Serial Killers Documentaries / via YouTube

    Though well into his 80s, Charles Manson still maintains an influence from his jail cell in California's Corcoran State Prison. The now elderly criminal mastermind boasts an impassioned collection of fans, some of whom have even moved from across the country just to be closer to him. He draws in curious new followers with everything from his ostensibly progressive environmental concerns to his, let's say, eclectic charisma.  

    Manson receives a staggering 60,000 letters per year, more than any other inmate in the California prison system.

  • Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Public domain

    The brilliantly named Alvin "Creepy" Karpis was a prominent gangster during the Great Depression - at one point even earning the FBI's illustrious distinction of "Public Enemy No. 1." A member of the famous Ma Barker Gang, Karpis killed at least 10 people and kidnapped about a half-dozen others before being sentenced to life in prison in 1936.  

    During his stay in a Washington state prison, Karpis met a young Charles Manson and taught him how to play the guitar. It's not often that one famous criminal can be credited with launching the career of another, but Manson's dreams of being a musician led him to develop an obsession with the Beatles, thus sparking his whole "Helter Skelter" fantasy. Well done, Karpis.

  • He's A Delusional, Virulent Racist

    Photo: Public Domain / via Wikimedia Commons

    Charles Manson is driven by deeply-rooted, virulent racism. The genesis for the gruesome murders in 1969 came from his belief that an apocalyptic race war was imminent - an event he called "Helter Skelter" after the Beatles's song of the same name. The murders, which he hoped to frame as having been committed by Black people, were meant to be a catalyst to outrage white America and usher in a great racial divide.

    Though he cut his teeth in California, so to speak, he was a product of Appalachia, and some have speculated that racist family members may have indoctrinated him with pro-confederate beliefs from a young age. Manson also carved a swastika into his forehead while in prison in 1971, which he gave a pretty long, rambling explanation for, and that ultimately made no sense.