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."

Photo: LORD GAGA / via YouTube

  • His Followers May Have Killed As Many As 35 People

    His Followers May Have Killed As Many As 35 People
    Photo: Public Domain / via Wikimedia Commons

    While Charles Manson was never confirmed to have killed anyone himself, his devoted followers were more than capable of carrying out his murderous bidding. The Tate-LaBianca slayings, in which seven people were killed, are perhaps the most well-known crimes perpetrated by the Manson Family, but they also killed a man named Gary Hinman, putting their official body count at eight.

    Experts have long suspected that the cult was responsible for additional murders, but with most of the suspects now behind bars they have only been lightly pursued. Manson, for what it's worth, once bragged to a fellow inmate that his "family" killed 35 people.

  • He Never Actually Killed Anyone Himself

    He Never Actually Killed Anyone Himself
    Photo: Serial Killers Documentaries / via YouTube

    As horrifying as his treatment of others was (including that of his own followers), it's worth noting that Manson himself never actually killed anyone. (At least, it's never been proven that he did.) It's a pretty interesting distinction to make for a man who has been convicted of first-degree murder, but Manson's crimes actually served as a landmark case for what's known as "murder by proxy," an act wherein a third party carries out an individual's premeditated homicide (think: hiring a hit man). 

    While Charlie was nowhere near the scenes of the famous Tate and LaBianca murders, he did mastermind both operations down to their finest details. The very fact that he was able to charm others into committing such gruesome acts puts Manson into a different echelon of psychopaths.

  • He Kept A Celebrity Hit List

    He Kept A Celebrity Hit List
    Photo: Public Domain / via Wikimedia Commons

    After the brutal murder of actress Sharon Tate in August of 1969, the authorities started closing in on the Manson Family. Less than two months later, police arrested 24 members of the burgeoning cult, including Manson himself. While in a Los Angeles County jail cell, Mansonite Susan Atkins bragged to another inmate about the Tate murder as well as claimed that the group kept a celebrity "hit list" of who they'd kill next. That list included names like Steve McQueen, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Richard Burton, and Tom Jones.

  • His Mother Called Him "No Name" And Sold Him For Beer

    His Mother Called Him "No Name" And Sold Him For Beer
    Photo: Serial Killers Documentaries / via YouTube

    Charles Manson, criminal monster that he would become, wasn't exactly born with a good example of how to operate on the straight and narrow. Charles was born to a 16-year-old girl named Kathleen Maddox who thought so little of him that she didn't bother to give him a name. When the time came for something to be put on his birth documents, Maddox simply opted for the words "No Name," and to this day his birth certificate reads "No Name Maddox."  

    Quickly tiring of the demands of parenting, Kathleen Maddox offered a bar room waitress one hell of a bargain. After being told how cute her baby was, Maddox suggested to her server, "A pitcher of beer and he's yours." Assuming it to be a joke, the waitress brought the beer out as a good humored gesture. She was taken aback, however, when Maddox left the establishment and little Charles was still at the table. A concerned uncle eventually tracked down the waitress and returned baby Charles to his less than thrilled mother. 

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

    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 

    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.