Charles Manson, a fiery-eyed cult master whose lemming-like followers staged a bloody two-night murder rampage in Los Angeles in 1969 that gripped the city with fear and shocked the nation, died Nov. 19 at a hospital in Kern County, Calif. He was 83.
Spokeswoman Krissi Khokhobashvili of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation confirmed the death but did not provide a specific cause. Mr. Manson, who was serving a life sentence at California State Prison in Corcoran, had had health problems in recent years and was hospitalized in January for gastrointestinal bleeding, according to news reports.
The sheer incomprehensibility of his followers’ acts — mutilation and ritual stabbings of seven victims, among them rising Hollywood star Sharon Tate, who was eight months pregnant and married to movie director Roman Polanski — left the public aghast and police investigators stumped for months.
For many, Mr. Manson and his ragtag entourage of runaways, two-bit criminals and blindly loyal worshipers also symbolized the dark, even contradictory, excesses of the drug-driven, free-love 1960s, especially in California.
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