Perhaps one of the most famous cults of all time, Charles Manson began forming the Manson Family in late 1967 upon his release from prison for a series of small crimes. He recruited 100 or so followers, many of them young women, and went on a murder spree through Los Angeles in the summer of 1969.
Manson was the mastermind behind the murders, he had members of the “family” actually carry them out. While pregnant actress Sharon Tate was the most well-known of Manson’s victims, she was hardly the only one.
Here’s a look back at the many lives the Manson Family claimed:
Eighteen-year-old Steven Parent was the first of Manson’s victims. He was leaving Tate and Polanski’s house when he was met by Charles “Tex” Watson, who shot him to death.
The Manson family murdered musician Gary Hinman in his Topanga Canyon home in late July 1969. Hinman was a friend of the Mansons, but he was tortured for two days before being stabbed to death while the family was trying to get him to officially join them and turn over his assets. The phrase “political piggy” was scrawled on his wall at the murder scene.
Perhaps the most famous of Manson’s victims, 26-year-old actress Sharon Tate was found brutally murdered on August 9, 1969, in the home she shared with her husband, director Roman Polanski, 10050 Cielo Drive. Tate was nine months pregnant, and the crime scene was a brutal one: A rope was around her neck, one of her breasts was cut off and there was an X slashed on her stomach.
Also a victim of the August 9 murders, Folgers Coffee heiress Abigail Folger was visiting Tate and Polanski’s home with her boyfriend, Voytek Frykowski, who was a friend of Polanski’s. She was reportedly stabbed 28 times.
A childhood friend of Polanski’s, 32-year-old Voytek Frykowski, a wealthy polish man, was murdered through a combination of beating, stabbing and gunshots. When he asked attacker Watson who he was, Watson reportedly said, “I am the devil. I’m here to do the devil’s business. Give me all your money.”
Celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring was an ex-boyfriend of Tate’s who happened to be staying at the Tate-Polanski house on the night of August 9. According to reports, Sebring was murdered while trying to protect Tate.
Leno and Rosemary LaBianca
The day after the murders at the Tate-Polanski home, Manson moved on to another home in Los Feliz, claiming the lives of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, the owners of a chain of grocery stores in Los Angeles. Manson tied the couple up, and his “family” took care of the rest, stabbing them to death and writing “DEATH TO PIGS” in blood on the refrigerator.
Donald “Shorty” Shea
While not much is known about the murder of aspiring actor Donald “Shorty” Shea, it is thought that the Manson family went after him because they suspected he was a police informant. His body was found eight years later.