The horrific Manson Family murders occurred 50 year ago this week. Hippie guru and cult leader Charles Manson sent several of his followers to slaughter seven people over two nights in August 1969, which became known as the Tate-LaBianca slayings. The grisly homicides included the butchering of pregnant Hollywood starlet Sharon Tate, celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring and coffee fortune heiress Abigail Folger. It was the official ending to the free-love era and exposed a dark side to the counter culture movement never seen previously. Manson and the senseless murders he ordered in the name of starting some imagined apocalyptic race war where he would emerge king of the world, has gone on to define that specific point in time and the loss of innocence it brought. You can’t say summer of ’69 without thinking Manson. How did Charles Manson and his “Family” come about in the first place? Below is a comprehensive timeline of the events leading up to, during and after the 1969 Tate-LaBianca massacre involving the Manson group of hippies hell-bent on anarchy. The Manson Family Timeline (1967-2018) March 21, 1967 – Charles Manson, a career criminal and con man, is released from state prison in California and heads to San Francisco, where he begins building his “Family” on a blend of mind control, free love rhetoric and drugs. At that time, Manson had served 16 of his 32 years behind bars for a variety of offenses. December 10, 1967 – Manson and his five original female followers (Susan “Sadie Mae” Atkins, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, Patricia “Katie” Krenwinkel, Mary Bruner and Ella Jo Bailey) commandeer a school bus, remodel it in psychedelic colors and leave the Bay area to travel up and down the west coast for the winter before finally relocating to Los Angeles in the spring. The Family grows from 5 to 50 members over the next year. March 18, 1969 – A John Doe known only as “The Old Hermit,” is beaten to death in Belmont, Nevada by a group of hippies matching the description of the Manson Family, confirmed to be squatting in the town at an abandoned courthouse at the time. Belmont wasn’t far from Manson Family outpost Barker Ranch. The Old Hermit was an elderly prospector who bragged of having a hidden treasure of gold bricks. His last words were “I never told them where the gold was.” May 26, 1968 – Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson picks up Manson Family members Patricia Krenwinkel and Ella Jo Bailey hitchhiking and takes them back to his mansion in the Pacific Palisades to have sex. Within 24 hours, Manson and the rest of the Family move into the log-cabin style estate once owned by Will Rogers. Wilson plugs aspiring-musician Manson into the L.A. rock-and-roll scene, even paying for him to record his songs, but by the end of the summer Manson and his girls had worn out their welcome at Wilson’s place and move out. August 8, 1968 – Manson records parts of what became a future album (post incarceration) on Dennis Wilson’s dime at the famous Gold Star Studios exactly one year to the day from the Tate slayings. August 9, 1968 – Manson and Wilson do an “overdub” session at a small studio in Van Nuys, smoothing over the rough edges of the prior afternoon’s recording, exactly one year to the day from the LaBianca slayings. August 16, 1968 – Manson and The Family set up camp at the Spahn Ranch in Chatsworth, a property once used to shoot cowboy movies and owned by 80-year old George Spahn, who takes a liking to the Manson girls and allows the Family to stay for free. October 13, 1968 – Nancy Warren & Clida Delaney were found beaten and strangled to death near Ukiah, California. Warren was affiliated with the Manson Family and eight months pregnant. Delaney was her grandmother. They were garroted and bound by three dozen leather-thong necklaces, a common clothing staple in Family circles. November 18, 1968 – The Family establishes a second home base at the more remote Barker Ranch in Death Valley (owned by the grandmother of Family member Catherine “Cappy” Gillies), in an attempt to further isolate themselves from the world and prep for Manson’s race-war apocalypse theory. Manson gives Gillies’ grandmother a Beach Boys gold record he had ripped off from Dennis Wilson as a token of appreciation for letting them stay on her property. December 2, 1968 – The Beach Boys release Manson’s song Cease To Exist as the retitled Never Learn Not To Love without crediting him, escalating tensions between him and Dennis Wilson and Wilson’s industry pals. December 27, 1968 – Marina Habe, a 17-year old freshman in college and Manson Family hang-around, is kidnapped from her parents driveway following a date (her parents were author Hans Habe and actress Eloise Hardt) and found two days later beaten and stabbed to death in a brushy embankment off Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles. March 23, 1969 – Manson goes to actress Sharon Tate’s Benedict Canyon home at 10050 Cielo Drive in Beverly Hills looking for music producer Terry Melcher, who once lived there. Tate’s photographer and the property’s landlord, talent manager Rudi Altobelli confront Manson and tell him to leave. Tate and her husband, acclaimed Polish director Roman Polanski took the property over from Melcher in the months before the encounter. Manson had previously attended a party at the house with Wilson and his right-hand man Charles (Tex) Watson when Melcher resided on the swanky estate. May 18, 1969 – Terry Melcher goes to Spahn Ranch to give Manson an audition and leaves unimpressed. July 1, 1969 – Manson gets into an argument with an African-American gangster named Bernard (Lotsapoppa) Crowe over a drug deal and shoots him in the chest inside his West Hollywood apartment. July 17, 1969 – Mark Walts, 16, was found beaten and shot to death, his body dumped on Mullholland Drive. Walts had been spending his summer with the Manson Family at Spahn Ranch. He disappeared from the Santa Monica Pier the day before his body was discovered. Walts’ older brother called Manson at the ranch accusing him of the murder and vowing revenge. July 27, 1969 – Music teacher and Manson Family associate Gary Hinman is killed inside his Topanga Canyon home by Manson and Family members Bobby Beausoleil, Susan Atkins and Mary Bruner over a drug debt owed to The Family and the belief that he had a $20,000 inheritance he wasn’t willing to share with them. Hinman had been held hostage for two days and Manson had cut off his ear with a sword prior to Beausoleil stabbing him to death on Manson’s orders. The words “political piggy” and a drawn paw print were scrawled in Hinman’s blood on the wall of the residence. July 30, 1969 – Family member Kitty Lutesinger, Bobby Beausoleil’s pregnant girlfriend, flees Spahn Ranch and goes to a police station to report what she knows about Manson and Beausoleil’s connections to the Hinmam murder. August 6, 1969 – Bobby Beausoleil is arrested asleep at the wheel of Hinman’s stolen white-coloed Fiat station wagon on the side of the road on U.S. Route 101 in Cuesta Grade. August 9, 1969 – The Tate-Polanski Murders: Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, Wojceich Frykowski & Steven Parent are killed by Manson Family members Tex Watson, Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel at the estate in Beverly Hills owned by Tate and her director husband Roman Polanski. Tate was eight months pregnant and Polanski was away in Europe so Sebring, a former boyfriend of Tate’s and renowned male hairdresser, and Folger and Frykowski, a couple Tate and Polanski were friends with, were visiting the estate the night the Manson followers invaded the premises brandishing knives. Watson, Atkins and Krenwinkel proceeded to shoot and stab them to death. The word “pig” was written on the home’s front door in Tate’s blood. Parent was shot and killed by Watson after visiting his friend who was staying in the estate’s guest house. August 10, 1969 – Grocery store owners Leno & Rosemary LaBianca were stabbed to death inside their Los Felix home by Watson, Atkins, Krenwinkel and fellow Manson Family member Leslie Van Houten after returning from a vacation. Unlike the previous night at the Tate-Polanski house, Manson drove with his followers to the murder scene and tied the LaBianca’s up with his leather thongs before the rest came inside and reignited the carnage. The words “helter skelter” and “rise” were written in the couple’s blood on their walls and refrigerator. August 11, 1969 – Linda Kasabian flees Spahn Ranch and the Family for New Mexico and then back home to New Hampshire by the fall. August 15, 1969 – Kitty Lutesinger returns to Spahn Ranch and rejoin the Family. August 16, 1969 – Police raid Spahn Ranch as part of an auto-theft investigation and arrest Manson and more than two dozen Family members. They are all released within 48 hours due to a faulty search warrant. August 24, 1969 – Manson is arrested for marijuana possession on the adjoining Kelly Ranch when the owner calls the police to have him removed from the property. August 26, 1969 – Donald (Shorty) Shea, George Spahn’s ranch hand, is killed by Tex Watson and Manson henchmen Bruce Davis and Steve (Clem) Grogan on Manson’s orders for the belief that Shea was acting as a police informant and had aided authorities in getting the warrant for the Spahn Ranch raid 10 days earlier. Grogan bludgeoned Shea inside an automobile and then Watson and Davis dragged him into a canyon on the Spahn Ranch property and stabbed him to death. September 1, 1969 – The gun (a 22-caliber Buntline revolver) used by Tex Watson in the Tate home slayings is found by a 10-year old boy named Stevie Weiss in the backyard of his Van Nuys home. September 4, 1969 – Manson and the Family leave Spahn Ranch and relocate permanently to Barker Ranch. October 1, 1969 – Inyo County drug dealer Fillippo Tennerelli is found dead of a suspicious suicide in a motel room near Barker Ranch. Tennerelli and the Family engaged in narcotics transactions. October 2, 1969 – Tex Watson flees L.A. for his home near Denton, Texas. October 9, 1969 – Kitty Lutesinger and fellow Family member Stephanie Schram flee Barker Ranch in fear for their lives and flag down a passing California Highway Patrol car for protection (Lutesinger wound up returning to the Family for a third time in 1970), implicating Manson and others in the Hinman and Tate-LaBianca homicides. October 10, 1969 – Police stage two consecutive raids of Barker Ranch on a new warrant from their auto-theft investigation, as well as the belief that Family members had set fire to an earthmoving machine as an environmental protest. Manson is arrested with 25 of his followers, including Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel, who is released the next day and flees for home in Alabama. The hippie guru never tastes freedom again. October 14, 1969 – Susan Atkins confesses to the Tate-LaBianca to her cellmates Virginia Graham and Ronnie Howard. October 16, 1969 – Ronnie Howard contacts police to tell them of Atkins’ confession to her. November 5, 1969 – Manson Family figure John (Zero) Haught was found in his house off Venice Beach with a single gunshot wound to the head. Family members reported to police that Haught died playing Russian roulette, however, he was rumored to have been cooperating with authorities after an arrest the month before and many experts think he was murdered. November 7, 1969 – Teenage Scientologists James Sharp & Doreen Gaul were found brutally stabbed to death in a Los Angeles alleyway down the street from where Leno and Rosemary LaBianca lived and were slain. Manson was connected to the sect of Scientology Sharp and Gaul belonged to called “The Process” and Sharp and Gaul had been hanging around Spahn Ranch with the Family the previous summer. November 16, 1969 – Manson Family member Reet Jurvetson was found heinously stabbed to death in a brushy embankment bordering Mulholland Drive. Authorities were not able to identify her conclusively until 2016. She had lived at the ranch with The Family from July 1968 through February 1969 and dated “Zero” Haught. Many believe she was present when Haught either killed himself or was killed earlier in the month. November 23, 1969 – Family member Danny DeCarlo of the Straight Satans biker gang cuts a deal with the L.A. District Attorney’s Office to cooperate against Manson. DeCarlo was the Straight Satans treasurer and the Family’s sergeant-at-arms. He turns over the sword Manson used to slice off Gary Hinman’s ear. November 26, 1969 – Susan Atkins begins negotiations to cut a deal with the L.A. County District Attorneys’ Office, agreeing to testify about her involvement in the Tate-LaBianca slayings in return for the promise not to seek the death penalty against her. November 29, 1969 – Danny DeCarlo takes LAPD on a guided tour of Spahn Ranch, still inhabited by loosely-affiliated stragglers from the Family. November 30, 1969 – Tex Watson is arrested in McKinney, Texas and immediately begins fighting extradition to California. He is eventually severed from the Manson Family Trial and gets a separate jury for himself. December 1, 1969 – Arrest warrants are issued for Linda Kasasbian and Krenwinkle. December 1, 1969 – Manson Family member Joel Pugh, the husband of fervent Manson loyalist Sandra Good was found dead in a London hotel room, his wrists slit and his throat cut. The words “Jack & Jill” were written in blood on the hotel room wall and Manson Family henchman Bruce Davis was in Great Britain at the time. December 2, 1969 – Kasabian is arrested without incident in New Hampshire and Krenwinkle the same in Alabama. December 5, 1969 – Susan Atkins, exhibiting a cold and detached demeanor on the witness stand, testifies in front of the grand jury in graphic detail about the Tate-LaBianca murders, earning prosecutors a first-degree murder indictment against Manson, Watson, Krenwinkel, Van Houten and Kasabian. December 8, 1969 – Family member Diane Lake testifies in front of the grand jury. December 9, 1969 – Shorty Shea’s car (1962 blue-colored Mercury) is found abandoned on a street in Chatsworth. Inside the vehicle, police find Bruce Davis’ palm print. December 21, 1969 – Leslie Van Houten starts talking to police about her participation in the LaBianca murders and a possible cooperation deal. December 28, 1969 – Leslie Van Houten records a taped confession with her attorney, but eventually decides against signing an agreement to cooperate. January 6, 1970 – Linda Kasabian is extradited to L.A. February 17, 1970 – Patricia Krenwinkel is extradited to L.A. February 26, 1970 – L.A. County prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi cuts a deal with Linda Kasabian to become a witness. March 6, 1970 – An album of Manson’s music titled Lie is released by producer Phil Kaufman’s Awareness Records. That same day, Manson’s request to represent himself at trial is denied by then Judge William Keene. The album was cobbled together from his August 1968 recording sessions with Dennis Wilson and demo reels recorded in the fall of 1967. March 11, 1970 – Susan Atkins backs out of her cooperation agreement and recants her grand jury testimony. April 13, 1970 – Judge William Keene recuses himself at Manson’s request (claiming prejudice) and Judge Charles Older is given the case. April 18, 1970 – Bobby Beausoleil is found guilty at trial for the Gary Hinman murder. May 15, 1970 – Ella Jo Bailey cuts a deal with the government and agrees to testify against Manson and The Family. Bailey was one of Manson’s original five Family members. June 15, 1970 – The Manson Family Trial kicks off to worldwide news coverage. Although shackled and facing the electric chair, Manson basks in the glow of villainous celebrity. His three co-defendants, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten, played to the cameras as well and acted cheerfully unfazed by the gravity of the proceedings at hand. July 24, 1970 – Manson marks his forehead with an X, a trademark of his replaced in later years by a swastika, as the first day of testimony begins at the trial. July 27, 1970 – Linda Kasabian takes the stand and testifies to her roles in the Tate-LaBianca murders and life in The Family for one whole week. August 4, 1970 – Manson stands on his chair at the defense table and holds up a copy of the L.A. Times newspaper with the headline “Manson Guilty, Nixon Declares,” for the jury to see in hopes of causing a mistrial. August 5, 1970 – Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten rise from their seats at the defense table as court convened that morning and the jury was being seated to chant in unison, “If the President thinks we’re guilty, why go on with the trial,” in another stunt orchestrated by Manson to get a mistrial declared. August 7, 1970 – Ella Jo Bailey takes the stand and testifies to her experiences with Manson and The Family. September 1, 1970 – Tex Watson is finally extradited to Los Angles. September 4, 1970 – Family member Charlene Cafritz dies of a suspicious drug overdose. September 9, 1970 – Family member Barbara Hoyt is taken to Hawaii and hot-dosed with LSD in a hamburger in an attempt to kill her in order to prevent her potential testimony at the trial. September 11, 1970 – Danny DeCarlo takes the stand at the trial for six days of testimony. Once released from his responsibilities with the L.A. County D.A., he flees to his native Canada to avoid facing a federal gun charge. September 19, 1970 – Tex Watson is brought into court and identified in front of the jury. October 5, 1970 – In one of the trial’s most dramatic moments, Manson leaps over the defense table wielding a pencil in his hand and tries to attack Judge Charles Older. A clearly frustrated Manson, whose attorney’s objection’s kept getting overruled, screamed “In the name of Christian justice, someone should cut your head off,” as he lunged at Older and was tackled by a team of bailiffs. November 12, 1970 – Diane Lake takes the stand and testifies that Manson often beat her throughout the summer of 1969. November 20, 1970 – Manson testifies on his own behalf in a riveting afternoon of trial drama that takes place with the jury removed from the courtroom. He spoke for two hours, proclaiming “I’ve killed no one and I’ve ordered nobody killed.” November 28, 1970 – Manson Family attorney Ron Hughes vanished in the middle in the Tate-LaBianca trial after butting heads with Manson over defense strategy. Hughes disappeared during a camping trip he took to Sespe Hot Springs in Ventura County. He represented Manson’s co-defendant Leslie Van Houten. December 2, 1970 – Following 8 months on the run as a fugitive, Bruce Davis turns himself in on a warrant charging him in the Gary Hinman and Shorty Shea murders. Davis received correspondence from Manson instructing him to come off the lamb and face the music. January 25, 1971 – Manson and his three female co-defendants are convicted for the seven Tate-LaBianca murders, found guilty by a jury of their peers at the conclusion of what was being called the Trial of the Century. March 29, 1971 – In the penalty phase of the proceedings, the jury returns a decision to sentence the defendants to death by electric chair. March 29, 1971 – Ron Hughes’ severely decomposed body is found by a pair of fishermen in Ventura County. April 19, 1971 – Judge Charles Older imposes the death penalty on Charles Manson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten in a sentencing hearing. August 13, 1971 – Members of the Manson Family rob a Covina Beer distributorship plant. August 21, 1971 – Six armed Family members (Mary Bruner, Gypsy Share, Larry Bailey, Dennis Rice and Kenny Como) storm a Western Surplus store in Hawthorne, steal 150 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition and get into shootout with police when trying to make their escape. The robbers intended on hijacking a commercial airliner as a means of freeing Manson and his three co-defendants. August 24, 1971 – Tex Watson’s trial begins. October 12, 1971 – Tex Watson is found guilty of the Tate-LaBianca murders. October 20, 1971 – Family member Kenny Como escapes from jail and is aided by Family member Sandra Good. November 8, 1971 – Clem Grogan is found guilty of the Shorty Shea murder. November 30, 1971 – Manson is found guilty in the Shorty Shea and Gary Hinman murders. December 21, 1971 – Manson is sentenced to death for the Shea and Hinman homicides. December 23, 1971 – Judge James Kolts spares Clem Grogan from the death penalty due to his young age and low IQ. March 14, 1972 – Bruce Davis is found guilty at trial for the Shorty Shea and Gary Hinman murders. April 20, 1972 – Davis is sentenced to death. October 12, 1972 – James Willett & Lauren (Remy) Willett are killed by members of The Manson Family while living in L.A. with three Manson loyalists and a group of white supremacists Manson had aligned with behind bars. James Willett was blown away with a shotgun and decapitated. His wife Remy was shot in the back of the head. The Willets are buried in a shallow grave near the Russian River in Guerneville, California. November 8, 1972 – A hiker discovers the Willets’ bodies. November 14, 1972 – Family members Priscilla Cooper and Nancy Pittman and Aryan Brotherhood gang soldiers Mike Monfort and Jimmy Craig are arrested for the Willet murders. They’d both go on to be convicted of second-degree murder and did five years in prison apiece. February 18, 1972 – The California Supreme Court outlawed the death penalty by ruling it unconstitutional in the landmark California v. Anderson case (Proposition 17 subsequently reinstated that November but the state didn’t execute anyone for another two decades and most of the Death Row inmates, including the entire Manson clan, would have their sentences altered to life in prison). January 12, 1973 – The Robert Henrickson and Laurence Merrick-helmed “Manson” documentary is released, featuring footage of The Family at Spahn and Barker Ranches at the time surrounding the trial. August 3, 1974 – Inyo County police detectives search Barker Ranch for dead bodies possibly left by the Manson Family five years earlier. November 19, 1974 – Vincent Bugliosi and author Curt Gentry release the true-crime classic Helter Skelter book, chronicling the Manson Family murders and trial. September 5, 1975 – Manson’s top emissary on the “outside,” Squeaky Fromme, tries to assassinate President Gerald Ford in Sacramento, California’s Capitol Park on his way to meet with Governor Jerry Brown at the state capital building. Fromme pointed a 45-caliber pistol at Ford and pulled the trigger at point-blank range, but she had loaded the weapon incorrectly and it didn’t go off. November 26, 1975 – Squeaky Fromme is found guilty at trial for the attempted assassination of Gerald Ford. December 18, 1975 – Squeaky Fromme is sentenced to life in prison. April 1, 1976 – The made-for-TV movie Helter Skelter starring Steve Railsback as a crazy-eyed Manson premieres to smash ratings. December 10, 1976 – Leslie Van Houten has her conviction in the Tate-LaBianca slayings reversed on the grounds that her lawyer was killed during the trial. January 26, 1977 – Documentarian Laurence Merrick, one of the co-directors of 1973’s “Manson” documentary, is shot to death outside his Hollywood office by a deranged ex-employee. August 6, 1977 – In her second trial, Leslie Van Houten gets a mistrial due to a hung jury and is let out of prison on an appeal bond. Van Houten works as a secretary in her six months of freedom awaiting trial No. 3. February 2, 1977 – Charles Manson, Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten have their death sentences officially modified to life in prison. November 3, 1977 – Clem Grogan begins cooperating with authorities in return for sentence relief. He tells them where Shorty Shea is buried. December 15, 1977 – Shorty Shea’s remains are unearthed near Spahn Ranch in Chatsworth, California. March 19, 1978 – Leslie Van Houten is convicted of the LaBianca murders at a third trial and is returned to prison. November 17, 1985 – Clem Grogan is paroled, to this day still the only Manson follower convicted of murder released from prison. December 23, 1987 – Squeaky Fromme escapes from a West Virginia federal penitentiary when she hears Manson might have cancer. She is caught on Christmas Day after less than 48 hours on the run. March 15, 2008 – search of Barker Ranch for bodies May 20-21 – dig at barker August 24, 2009 – Squeaky Fromme is paroled. September 24, 2009 – Susan Atkins dies of brain cancer in prison at 61, the first one of the Tate-LaBianca killers to pass away. November 19, 2017 – Charles Manson dies of natural causes (colon cancer, heart attack) at 83.
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