By Kristine Guerra
The Washington Post
Convicted mass murderer and cult leader Charles Manson is seriously ill and has been taken to a California hospital, according to media reports.
Two people familiar with the situation, who declined to be named, confirmed Manson’s hospitalization to the Los Angeles Times. TMZ reported on Tuesday afternoon that Manson, 82, was taken to Bakersfield hospital where he was rushed to the emergency room for gastrointestinal issues.
Citing a person who requested anonymity, the Bakersfield Californian reported that Manson, who is being held at Corcoran State Prison, about 60 miles outside Bakersfield, was signed in as “Joe Doe” when he arrived at Mercy Hospital’s location in downtown Bakersfield. Three prison vans were parked outside the hospital late Tuesday night, the Associated Press reported.
Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said in an email to The Washington Post that federal and state medical privacy laws prevent her from commenting on an inmate’s health. She, however, confirmed that Manson is alive.
Manson is serving life in prison for orchestrating the 1969 massacres of seven people, including actress Sharon Tate. His devout four followers, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, Leslie Van Houten and Charles “Tex” Watson also were convicted. All were sentenced to death, but were later spared execution when the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily banned the death penalty in 1972.
Tate, who was 8 1/2 months pregnant, was murdered along with four other people on Aug. 9, 1969 at her hilltop home in Beverly Hills, Calif. Supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, were killed the following night at their home in the Los Feliz neighborhood in Los Angeles.
Manson had gathered a group of runaways at a Los Angeles ranch, where he proclaimed himself a Messiah leading them to a life fueled by drugs. Prosecutors said that he and his followers were trying to start a race war and believed it was foretold in the Beatles song “Helter Skelter.”
Manson has sought freedom and been denied 12 times. His next parole hearing isn’t until 2027.
In late December, Krenwinkel sought parole after already being denied 13 times, the AP reported. State parole officials postponed a decision to give themselves time to research if Krenwinkel meets the criteria for having battered women’s syndrome. The Los Angeles Times reported that Krenwinkel’s attorney made new claims that she had been abused by Mason.
In an op-ed published Wednesday in the Los Angeles Times, Debra Tate, Sharon Tate’s sister, said Krenwinkel — “and all members of the Manson family” — should not be set free. Postponing a decision on Krenwinkel’s petition to conduct further investigation “is a colossal waste of tax dollars” and “a travesty of justice,” she said.
“Look up the word ‘sociopath.’ You will see there is no cure for this affliction. There is no medication, no programming that can relieve it,” Debra Tate wrote.
Van Houten was approved for parole early last year after being denied 19 times. Her attorney, Richard Pfeiffer, told the Los Angeles Times that 18 psychiatrists who have evaluated her for three decades found her suitable for parole. Gov. Jerry Brown rejected the parole board’s recommendation, and Van Houten remains in prison.
Atkins, who said on the witness stand that she was “stoned on acid” when she stabbed Tate to death, died in 2009. The 61-year-old had brain cancer.
Watson, Manson’s self-described right-hand man, was denied parole for the 17th time in October, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Around the mid-2000s, the elderly Manson and a 17-year-old began communicating. In 2014, Manson and then 26-year-old Afton Elaine Burton, who’d moved from Illinois to California to be closer to Manson, applied for a marriage license. But the license expired, and the two never wed.
“I love him,” Burton told the AP in 2014. “I’m with him. There’s all kinds of things.”