Nearly Five Decades Ago, the Manson Family's Killing Spree Began

Charles Manson was the ringleader of a killing cult dedicated to creating "Helter Skelter," an effort aimed at igniting an apocalyptic race war

15 photos
Susan Atkins, left, Patricia Krenwinkel, center, and Leslie Van Houten leave for their trial on Aug. 20, 1970. The three were convicted of participating in the 1969 cult killings of seven people, including pregnant actress Sharon Tate, in Los Angeles, California.
Polish film director Roman Polanski married American actress Sharon Tate in London in 1968.
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Polish film director Roman Polanski is pictured with his wife, Sharon Tate, at the Screen Directors Guild Theater in California in March 1969. Tate was murdered six months later.
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American actress Sharon Tate, second wife of film director Roman Polanski, is seen in this 1965 photo taken in London. Tate, murdered by young followers of serial killer and mastermind Charles Manson, was pregnant at the time of her death.
LA Times via Getty Images
Charles Manson is escorted to court for preliminary hearing on Dec. 3, 1969, in Los Angeles, California.
Cult leader Charles Manson, who is linked to the Sharon Tate murders, is seen being led by police in this 1969 file photo.
Charles Manson followers shown walking to court to appear for their roles in the 1969 cult killings of seven people in Los Angeles, California, Aug. 20, 1970.
Wally Fong/ AP File
Charles "Tex" Watson was granted a continuance on his plea to seven counts of murder and a charge of conspiracy to murder in the Tate-LaBianca killings on April 13, 1971.
LA Times via Getty Images
This photograph was taken during the 1980s at Vacaville State Prison. Vasquez has produced a Charles Manson album and he sells it in his store which he co owns, "Beauty is Pain Boutique." The music on the album reflects Manson's own description of his guitar playing that was recorded in the 1980s on a room above the prison chapel at the Vacaville Prison medical center.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via Getty Images
In this handout photo from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Charles Manson, 74, poses for a photo on March 18, 2009, at Corcoran State Prison, California. Manson is serving a life sentence for conspiring to murder seven people during the "Manson family" killings in 1969.
Reed Saxon, AP (File)
Former Manson family member and convicted murderer Patricia Krenwinkel listens to the ruling denying her parole at a hearing at the California Institution for Women in Corona, California, Jan. 20, 2011.
This photo provided Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, by the California Department of Corrections shows Bruce Davis. Once considered Manson's "right hand man," he is 74 and imprisoned at the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo.
AP, File
The youngest of Charles Manson’s followers to take part in one of the nation’s most notorious killings, Leslie Van Houten was granted parole after her 21st hearing before a parole board panel Thursday, April 14, 2016, at a women’s prison in Corona, California.
Jurvetson Family
A woman thought to be a Charles Manson Family victim has been identified as Reet Jurvetson, authorities said Wednesday, April 27, 2016.
This undated photo provided by Anne Jurvetson shows her sister, Reet Jurvetson, of Montreal. Los Angeles police said Wednesday, April 27, 2016, they're investigating whether Reet Jurvetson, newly identified as the 19-year-old young woman found stabbed more than 100 times in 1969, is connected to the Manson family killings. Investigators have interviewed Charles Manson about the woman and are now trying to track down a man known as either "John," or the name's French pronunciation, "Jean," said Detective Luis Rivera.
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