Society and Culture

45 Years Later, a Reflection on the Manson Family Murders

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Hey y’all!

Just the other day I was standing in line at local grocery store, waiting patiently for the people in front of me to finish purchasing their groceries, when I glanced over to the magazine rack and was startled by the image on one of the covers. People Magazine is best known for its celebrity trash, something I’ve outgrown for the most part, but the cover was something I would never have expected. It was a full on, black-and-white picture that took up most of the space and the face looked so familiar but I couldn’t remember who it was until I saw the tagline: “Chilling New Details, Murdered By Manson.” The black-and-white photograph was of a beautiful Sharon Tate,and it turns out this is the 45-year anniversary of the slayings. Sadly, on the left side of her gorgeous picture was a hideous picture of Charles Manson and to the right the usual celebrity gossip photos. Way to bring tragedy and gossip together, People!

Most of us are too young to recall or even know about the Manson Family murders, but it was a subject that had always intrigued me since I saw an interview with Charles Manson and Barbara Walters in the early 90s.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with these iconic slayings, here is a quick run down of the events. On August 8 and 9, 1969 at the command of Charles Manson, a small group of his followers brutally murder five people at the Benedict Canyon home of director Roman Polanski. The victims were actress Sharon Tate (Polanski’s pregnant wife), coffee heiress Abigail Folger, celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring, writer Wojciech Frykowski, and Steven Parent, who was a friend of the family’s gardener. These murders were committed by Manson followers Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, and Patricia Krenwinkel, with Linda Kasabian accompanying them as lookout. Unsatisfied with the murders, Manson and his group — this time including Leslie van Houten and Steve “Clem” Grogan — went out in search of more victims. On August 9 and 10, 1969, the group murdered supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary.

Eventually all of the murderers were caught and convicted. In 1971 Manson, Krenwinkel, Atkins, and Van Houten received the death penalty, and Charles “Tex” Watson was found guilty of the murders of seven people and sentenced to death. In 1972, the state of California abolished the death penalty and all sentences were converted to life imprisonment; however, the state reestablished the death penalty five years later, only reverting 68 of the original 107 sentences back to the death penalty.
The Manson Family murderers were not among those whose sentences were reverted to the death penalty, and they have all been eligible for parole at some point. April 12, 2012 marked the twelfth time Charles Manson was up for parole, as well as the twelfth time it was denied. Just last month one of his associates, Bruce Davis, who murdered the owner of the ranch the Manson Family was living on as well as a stuntman, was denied parole by the Governor of California despite his third recommendation for release by the parole board.

It’s a scary thought that these people are still alive and going through the processes of even being considered for release on parole and it bothers me. I am a true Texan, I believe in the death penalty. Sometimes it’s a joke how much Texans love our death penalty, but I think that sometimes the world needs to be rid of evil. Manson is the epitome of evil. I have to wonder what California was thinking when it selected those 68 people to be put back on death row in 1977 and decided to exclude Manson and his followers? Wouldn’t the most heinous of people be at the top of your list?

Forty-five years ago people lived in fear because of the Manson Family, but most of us seem to have either forgotten about it or never knew about it in the first place. Every now and then some news outlet has to remind us all of a moment in time that knocked the socks off of the entire country. When I picked up the People Magazine to read the startling new details of this 45-year-old case I was curious to see what new information had been brought to light. Unsurprisingly, People lied. There was no new information, it was a puff piece in which someone interviewed Sharon Tate’s sister and she gave her recollection of that day and then promoted a new book that is all photographs of the late actress.

I may be disappointed about the article in People and will not encourage anyone to waste five dollars buying it, but it is an interesting way to remind everyone that there are horrible people out there in the world doing unthinkable things to innocent people.

Allison Dawson
Allison Dawson was born in Germany and raised in Mississippi and Texas. A graduate of Texas Tech University and Arizona State University, she’s currently dedicating her life to studying for the LSAT. Twitter junkie. Conservative. Get in touch with Allison at



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