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Cult leader Charles Manson dead at 83In the summer of 1969, a scruffy ex-convict with a magnetic hold on young women sent some of his disciples into the night to carry out a series of gruesome killings in Los Angeles. In so doing, Charles Manson became the leering face of evil on front pages across America and rewrote the history of an era. Manson, the hippie cult leader who died of natural causes Sunday at age 83 after nearly half a century behind bars, orchestrated the slayings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six other people, butchered at two homes on successive August nights by intruders who scrawled "Pigs" and "Healter Skelter" (sic) in the victims' blood. The slaughter horrified the world. Manson was every parent's worst nightmare.Manson's chaotic trial in 1970 transformed a courtroom into a theater of the absurd.He and three female followers, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten, sang and chanted, and Manson at one point launched himself across the counsel table at the judge. Manson also was convicted in the killings of stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shea and musician Gary Hinman.The killings inspired movies and TV shows, and Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi wrote a best-selling book about the murders, "Helter Skelter". Manson's face has appeared on T-shirts.
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