Rebecca Schaeffer

13 Crimes That Shocked the World and Changed Our Culture Forever

The Manson Family Murders

The 1960s didn’t end on Dec. 31, 1969. They ended between Aug. 8 and Aug. 10 of that year. When Charles Manson sent five members of his “Family” to two homes—one in L.A.’s Benedict Canyon and the other in Los Feliz—to kill whichever “piggies” they found there in order to incite “Helter Skelter.” Manson, a struggling musician, got the term from The Beatles’ White Album, having interpreted the Fab Four’s tunes as a signal to incite a race war.

Not only did the murder of an 8 1/2-months pregnant Sharon Tate and four other people at the Benedict Canyon home she had been renting with husband Roman Polanski (who was out of town). Followed by the murders of Rosemary and Leno LaBianca at their Los Feliz home a night later, terrify every star (and pretty much everyone else) in Hollywood beyond belief, but Manson too became the most twisted kind of celebrity. He landed the cover of Rolling Stone. As “The Most Dangerous Man in Alive”—and he basked in the attention at his trial. To this day, the now 81-year-old loon remains a subject of endless fascination—largely because it’s still impossible for us to get our heads around how he secured and maintained such a hold over his followers. Including three young women who took part in slaughtering seven people.

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