tv Will You Kill for Me Charles Manson and His Followers MSNBC February 7, 2016 12:00am-1:01am PST
so i was pretty -- an easy catch for that whole thing. >> catherine share spent over a year living with charles manson and family. she claims his control over the group was gradual. what started out as a peaceful commune evolved into a dangerous cult. >> every single night he would talk about what he called truth and he would just -- we'd listen. it was almost like taking psychology and philosophy classes. i mean, we were learning, and he was teaching constantly. >> i think the main technique that manson used to gain control was preaching to his family on a day-to-day basis in an isolated setting. every one of you has been programmed by society, schools, churches, parents. it's my job to unprogram you. he didn't tell them in the
process of unprogramming them he was reprogramming them to be his slaves and followers. >> there was an underlying program that we knew what to say and how to say it. charles watson wrote it exactly how it happened in his book. he didn't lie. >> all through that strange summer at spahn ranch cramped among the crumbling sets of a former dream, we were children at play, living the fantasies we made, and charlie was our guide. each night the family would eat together, smoke a little hash or grass, often drop acid. then after the meal we'd all sit in a circle to listen to charlie sing his songs and preach to us. he told us in that moment we were in the process of becoming kings.
as for the girls, what they needed most was to serve, be kind and love. sex was an important tool in charlie's deprogramming. that is, stripping away all the untruth and ego and confusion that our parents and society had laid on us from the moment we were born. there was a room in the back of the ranch house totally lined with mattresses. i eventually got used to making love to one more or women. charlie did occasionally stage an orgy for the benefit of select men he hoped to lure into the family. charlie never allowed calendars or clocks at spahn. time meant nothing when you lived in eternal now. as bizarre as charlie's teachings might sound to an outsider, it was compelling to us. there was no talk of killing. not yet.
>> when you live for the moment, when you live for now, when you don't think of the future, you also don't have to think of consequences. that means if you commit murder, you don't have to think of the aftermath. and it was that kind of thinking that made it possible for these young people who had never committed murder before to do it with moral impunity. >> people don't understand. they don't understand how much charlie just stole everyone's soul and made them just helpless to make any decisions on their own, helpless to think. ♪ we are singing together >> if anybody tells you to stop
thinking for yourself and believe everything they tell you without questioning, that's the beginning of a cult. he took everyone's family away and past away, burned pictures. don't think of the past. don't call them. burn your bridges. you know, they were -- they gave you all your hang-ups. you don't need them. walk away from them. later on as he developed this stature in the group, you felt honored being with him. ♪ around, around all around >> so what is a cult if that's not a cult? i mean, really? what is a cult if the manson family was not a cult? ♪ >> cult leaders are -- particularly back then, were a dime a dozen. yeah.
president nixon stopped in denver to talk to a meeting of law enforcement officials, and then he called a news conference where he charged the news media tend to glorify and make heroes out of criminals. >> i noted, for example, the coverage of the charles manson case when i was in los angeles. here is a man who, as far as the coverage was concerned, appeared to be rather a glamorous figure. >> charles manson once referred to himself in our conversation
as the most famous person who ever lived. now, that is a slight exaggeration, but probably only a slight one. so many people know charles manson. he's kind of the heisman trophy winner of mass murderers when it comes to fame. >> in 1970, it was prosecutor vincent bugliosi's job to prove that charles manson was responsible for the at a time and labianca slayings. >> the main defendant at the trial was obviously charles manson. why? i was alleging that he masterminded these murders. the problem is manson did not physically participate in the murders. he thought he would immunize himself from criminal responsibility by getting other people to do his bidding for him. now how did i connect him with the murders themselves?
i proved to the jury through witnesses that manson was the only one who had a motive for these murders and that motive was helter-skelter. >> the jury was told there was this beatles song "helter-skelter" that manson became obsessed with. he thought it was telling him to start a race riot, turn the blacks against the whites. >> catherine share spent over a year living with the family. she recalls manson talking about a race war, but says he never called it helter-skelter. >> what he said was there was going to be a race war so the blacks that had been down are going to be up. and they hate the whites because they should hate the whites because the whites have been so cruel to them. there was riots. police were killing people at colleges.
and then there was the black upheavals all over the country. and what he said was they were going to one time finally just riot and get out of control. it was a pretty wild time. >> there were so many young people who resented the war in vietnam. not only did they think it was immoral, but they also were concerned about being drafted. at the same time there were lots of young people, those who were politically motivated, who were part of the civil rights movement and the women's movement. and they blamed the politicians. they called them pigs. they blamed the establishment. it was conventional society that was to blame for all of this, and it had to be overthrown. >> manson's followers were convinced a bloody race war was imminent. the only way to survive the apocalypse would be to stay with
their leader. >> in order to be saved from this chaos you had to know the way and you had to know what the destination was. and the destination was the desert. we'd make babies out there and start a whole new civilization. >> in manson's mind the black man was going to win this war, their karma, their turn to take over, but manson viewed blacks as subhuman, less evolved than the white man. he said they are never going to handle the reigns of pow ir. so they'll have to turn over the reigns to the white people who survived helter-skelter, i.e., charles manson and his family, who were going to take over the world. >> most cults are like that. they usually have an end of the world theory where they're the only ones who are going to survive what is going to happen. >> to the members of the family,
manson's race war prediction is confirmed again in the winter of 1968. this time by the beatles on their then new "white" album. the album that contained the song "helter-skelter." he was excited. helter-skelter is coming down. helter-skelter in england is a playground ride. but to manson it was going be the last final destructive war among men. >> they were talking about what he had been talking about for a long time. it is coming down fast. don't let it break you. because he was saying all the time, it's coming down. it's coming down. be ready. it's coming down. what he was talking about coming down was insanity, armageddon all over the world. >> manson moves the group from spahn and leads them to barker
ranch, their hideout in death valley. instead of preaching free love he now prepares them for war. >> it was like, this is going to happen, this is going happen, this is going to happen. we were hiding gas and hiding food and learning how to live on very little. the guys had to work. we all had to get ready. there was no more hippie fun and games going on at the end. >> it was obvious that manson was ready for some kind of change. now the family was talking about getting weapons and preparing for some kind of black/white armageddon. he had plenty of work for me. the dune buggies the family was acquiring needed work and customizing to charlie's special purpose. escape to the desert when
helter-skelter came down. when the scripture spoke of four angels charlie saw the beatles, prophets bringing the world of helter-skelter. every night we listened to charlie sing his new songs and teach us about helter-skelter. the family trip had changed from love to apocalypse. from ego death to real death, helter-skelter. >> it's so difficult nowadays to understand because we don't have the same level of racial tension that was pervasive in the 1960s. but people all over the country were talking about the
possibility of a race war. in most of the major cities blacks and whites were at one another's throats. to think there would be an all-out apocalyptic race war kind of made sense to a lot of people. it wasn't as crazy as it might seem today. >> it was a real racial thing he was saying. but the way he was saying it made sense. it was almost like, yeah, they should rise up and they should have their time. we were all given buck knives. it was all part of, you know, when everything goes crazy you have to learn how to defend yourself so you don't get raped or killed or whatever. andless your knife would be you eat with it, you open a can with it. it's your survival tool. and then charlie would teach us to use a knife like they do in prison as part of your fist.
never not one time was it you're going to go use this and kill people. never. it was always defense, defense, defense and survival. >> manson preaches his doomsday scenario for months but the war never begins. catherine share believes the pressure to live up to his predictions may have cost seven people their lives. >> i think i might have heard him say a couple times that i'm just going to have to show them how to do it or maybe i'll be the spark. it's like he had to live his own legend. he went so far that there was no turning back.
the tate and labianca murder trial was the most sensational of its time, making news around the world with its stories of cult sex and murder. >> why are you here? >> curiosity. >> i'm very interested in the trial primarily from the standpoint of what motivates young people to follow a man like this. >> why do this? >> why? because i'm interested in people. i always wanted to know what makes them tick. >> prosecutor vincent bugliosi's helter-skelter theory adds to the drama. he argues that charles manson
ordered the seven savage killings to ignite a bloody race war. but what if the prosecutor got it wrong? >> you know, you want me to feel sorry for something i didn't do? i didn't kill anyone. i didn't order anyone to be killed. >> well, we just reported what bugliosi said. it was his theory. it was as good as any theory. i mean, nobody could come up with a rational reason why this happened. so sure, put the beatles into it. come up with a theory that involves music. it made it more bizarre and more headline making. whether it was true, none of us will ever know. >> it made no sense whatsoever that these people, completely obedient to charles manson, would go out on their own and commit some of the host horrendous murders imaginable without his direction and guidance because he controlled their daily activity.
>> he didn't kill with his own hands. but did he give the orders? i asked him and he said no. many people have asked him that, and he says the same thing. he says, look, the young people who committed the murders had free will. they were intelligent. they were well educated. independent thinkers. they didn't need me to tell them or order them or command them to murder. and he may be right. >> according to manson, the version of the murders presented at the trial is false. he claims the slayings were inspired by another male family member, bobby bosela. less than two weeks before the tate murders, they visit the home of gary hinman. the group holds hinman captive, pressuring him for money. after two days of intimidation
beausoleil ends the young man's life. >> beausoleil stabbed hinman to death. then what does he do? he dips his hand in blood and with the palm of his hand, he leaves a paw print on the wall. the paw print was the symbol of the black panthers. they were trying to put the blame on the black panthers. susan atkins printed the word "political piggy" in blood on the gary hinman wall. eventually he was arrested because he was driving hinman's fiat car. he had blood on his clothing, the murder knife was found hidden in a tire well. hinman was murdered july 27, 1969, a week and a half before the tate/labianca murders. manson claims the girls were so troubled by beausoleiol's arrest they came up with a plan to convince police they had the wrong man.
as a group, leslie, mary, squeaky, sadie and linda informed me of bobby's arrest. the girls held their own meeting and discussed the best method of assisting bobby. they decided if a murder similar to the hinman slaying continued to occur, the police would begin to believe bobby was not their man. deep inside i knew if i stuck around, anything those kids did would come right back in my lap. as i left the back house, i spotted tex walking toward the boardwalk. it's time to get something done for bobby. the girls are ready to do whatever is necessary. they don't have a plan or a place picked out. so it looks like it's going to
be pretty much up to you. 20 minutes later the old ford and its crew of four pulled out of the dirt driveway. i hadn't twisted any arms. i wasn't sitting behind anyone with a gun to their head giving directions. on that evening, august 8, 1969 while waiting for the kids to return, i was aware of being totally without conscience. here i was, waiting for the report of murder to come back to me, not caring who had died or how many victims there were. the closest i could come to disliking myself was charlie, you are your mother's son. thinking of my mother quickly altered any softness that may have been creeping into my mind. my head was straight now. i would give them something to open their eyes and then take our group out into the desert.
>> manson has never admitted giving the orders to his followers to commit murder. he told me that he could understand that they might have wanted to please him, that they did see him as jesus christ and they wanted to precipitate this apocalyptic race war between blacks and whites. but he never commanded them to do anything like that. >> he's just full of it. he's just such a liar. he really is. there was nothing that happened anywhere around charlie that he didn't initiate. from washing a dish to going out to the tate house. >> to prove that manson had enough power to order the murders, bugliosi finally hands a credible witness with firsthand knowledge of the manson family.
>> linda kasabian ended her testimony in the manson trial. whereupon she walked across the street to the police station and held a news conference. >> linda kasabian was the girl that bugliosi called his little hippie human being. he had to absolve her, basically, to get her to testify. i mean, she was technically as culpable as anyone. she went along both nights. i remember the day that she described everything that happened at the tate house. >> they don't want to realize what they've done. >> watching abigail folger being chased across the lawn in her white nightgown. she told about the screams and the cries, and she told about sharon tate pleading for her baby's life. it was all very terrible and
very affecting. >> there's a lot of people that have a mrs. understanding, and what they think is this. i would never have done that. my children definitely would not do that. they must have been bad. and they have no idea how much you can just warp the mind. all that charlie said was go get some black clothes and jump in the car with tex and do everything he says to do. they were just doing what they were told, and it just started happening. >> his message was simple, now it's time for helter-skelter. ♪ he said, i've got a favor i want you to do for me tonight.
i want you to go to that house. i want you to take a couple of the girls and totally destroy everyone in that house. make it a real nice murder, just as bad as you have ever seen. despite all we'd been taught, i was spinning inside, trembling. then i went to the movie set to round up sadie, katie and linda. of course we'd known it was coming to this.
rubio and chris christie who went head to head over each other's records. now let's go back to, "will you kill for me?" on the night of august 8, 1969, charles manson assembled a group of assassins. armed for bloody murder. >> i don't think he tapped just anyone that night. linda acted from the very beginning like she was tough. she was a little street hippie. patricia had been with him from almost the beginning, and she would do anything for him. susan atkins, she was all, i can do it. i'm just as good as everybody. please love me. there was a big change in charles watson, in tex, towards the end there.
he was secretly taking speed and spending more and more time with charlie. he finished charlie's sentences. he'd laugh like him. i think he just completely lost himself towards the end there. there was a lot of stuff happening in people's psyches that just all culminated into this horrible tragedy. >> i didn't know anything about the house. i was just told to do whatever tex said. i had been told there was no such thing as death. you were supposed to be able to kill and not feel anything. tex got the bolt cutters and cut two lines that led to the house. i saw headlights. tex told us to lie down and not make a sound. he went out of sight and i heard
four gunshots. >> steven parent, 18-year-old kid. watson came up to the car, shot him four times. left him dead. what happened next as they approached the house, watson got into the house through the window, went to the front door, opened the front door and had patricia krenwinkel and susan atkins enter. linda kasabian stayed outside. >> at first it seemed empty, but as we got further in we could see a large man wojciech frykowski asleep on the sofa. he mumbled, who are you? what do you want? i answered, i'm the devil and
i'm here to do the devil's business. >> tex told me to go into the other rooms and see if there was anybody else in the house. i walked past one room and saw a woman reading a book. the lady, abigail folger, looked at me and smiled. i went on to the next room and saw a man sitting with his back to me. and the woman that was pregnant lying on the bed. the lady was sharon tate and the man was jay sebring. tex ordered them all in front of the fireplace. >> they put a rope around the necks of sharon tate, abigail folger and jay sebring.
and they secured that rope by throwing it on top of a beam in the ceiling. so they're all immobilized. at that point one of them, i don't know which one, said what are you going to do with us? tex watson said, you're all going to die. >> when i started to tie the rope around sharon's neck, sebring struggled. shouting for me to be careful. i screamed and shot him. as he slumped forward on the rug still alive, sharon became hysterical. i didn't know what else to do. i went over to him and stabbed him till i thought he was dead. >> tex ordered me to go over and kill frykowski. i had a knife in my hand and i was swinging. i know i stabbed him. abigail folger had gotten loose and was in a fight with patricia krenwinkel.
there was mass confusion. people were running and screaming. i went over to the woman who was pregnant and she begged for mercy. and i told her i didn't have any and that she was going to die. then tex said kill her. and i said, i can't. and so he did. there was no remorse. >> there was no mercy. and when it was all over with, there was 102 stab wounds, 7 gunshot wounds. and when they left the residence they printed the word "pig" in sharon tate's blood on the front door. i mean, it's too horrible to even talk about. >> tex in his book said he got
total instruction and he felt like he had charlie in his head the whole entire way like running a tape. nobody really knows for sure about charlie's motives and what he was thinking but charlie. i think he was getting more desperate to keep it all together and to keep control. >> many killers are pathological liars. they'll either tell you what you want to hear, they'll brag by admitting having done things you know they didn't or they play innocent. i think manson is different in that respect. manson has never admitted giving the orders to his followers to commit murder. he told me that he could understand that they might have wanted to please him, but he never commanded them to do anything like that.
morning news. >> friday night in los angeles a movie actress and four of her friends were murdered. the circumstances were lurid. this was at the home of movie director roman polanski. it was his wife, sharon tate, who was one of the victims. she had been stabbed, repeated stab wounds. one of the victims had a hood placed over his head and the word "pig" was written in blood on the door. >> as officers comb the tate property for clues, the killers strike again. >> the latest murders were discovered during the night. the bodies of a man and his wife found in their home. leno labianca, supermarket owner and his wife had both been stabbed to death. and then with blood, the killer had scrawled the words "death to pigs".
>> this night manson, as opposed to the first night, accompanied his killers. and they drove throughout the city of los angeles looking for their victims completely at random. eventually they stopped in front of the home of leno and rosemary labianca, husband and wife. manson gets out of the car, walks up the driveway. he tied leno and rosemary labianca up. he comes back down to the car, sends his killers in, leslie van houten, tex watson, patricia krenwinkel. tells them to make the murders as vicious as possible, just like the previous night. and another horror-filled night of murder. 67 stab wounds. they were found with a pillow case above their head. there was a big lamp next to each one of them. the cord from that lamp had been
wrapped around their necks very tightly. the word "war," w-a-r, was carved in leno's stomach. after the murders what do the killers do? they take a shower and raid the refrigerator. because of all the incredible brutality of these murders plus the fact that they seem to be random and there was no discernible conventional motive, like robbery, burglary, this struck a lot of fear in the people of l.a. particularly in beverly hills and bel-air, the center of the movie colony where these murders happened. >> sharon tate's funeral and the funerals of three of the four people murdered with her were held in four different churches. the services for miss tate, a remarkably pretty actress who was about to become a mother, was held in los angeles. >> people were dropped from guest lists. parties were canceled. because no one knew if the killers were among them.
>> as investigators search for the tate and labianca killers, los angeles police raid spahn ranch. manson and the family are arrested, but not for the slayings. they are wanted for a lesser charge, grand theft auto. >> so they raided the ranch, seized a lot of vehicles that were stolen. a lot of ammunition and weapons. but the search warrant was apparently misdated. so even though they were taken into custody, they were released. at that point they didn't know that they had the killers of the seven tate/labianca victims. >> as police continue their hunt for the killers, manson uses the murders to tighten his grip on the group. he tells them the killings are proof that the apocalyptic race war has begun. >> he held up newspapers and said it's started.
nobody go to town. it's very dangerous. we've got to get out of here. so we all ran for our lives, basically. >> manson and his followers flee to their hideout in death valley and prepare for war. >> things were going faster and faster and scarier and scarier. he was keeping us up, sleep deprivation. it was almost like boot camp. we were constantly being fed lsd. we were trapped. once you were out there, you were absolutely trapped. there was no way out. i think he was getting more desperate to keep it all together and to keep control. as a matter of fact, i remember one time he said, whoever wants to leave now, go home to mommy and daddy, do it now and after this there will be no leaving. we were in the middle of nowhere. people that were involved started talking. and that's why you had young girls who had only been there a
short while and weren't as programmed and didn't have as much of their souls taken run for their lives. and that's what opened up the whole thing. >> i had mixed emotions about those who left. love had given way to mistrust. our own violence threatened our freedom. one by one society was stripping my loves away from me. i knew sooner or later the cops and the whole establishment were going to come down on us for those murders. at the time of the arrests, i thought most of us, including myself, would be back on the streets in a matter of days. but the worm had finally turned.
by the winter of 1971, the jury for the tate and labianca trial had been sequestered for nearly a year. what started as a media spectacle was now the longest and most costly trial of its time. >> i was just totally wrapped up in it, you know. as i say, some nights i didn't even go to sleep. it was my whole life for two years. because i realized that if this guy was not convicted, there's no question what he was going to do. he was going to go out and continue to kill. he was going to kill as many people as he could. so, there was a certain amount of pressure on me. if i didn't get a conviction, obviously, people would have been blaming me. >> after more than 200 days of
testimony, the prosecution rests its case against manson, atkins, van houghton and krenwinkel. the defense also rests, never calling a single witness to the stand. >> so, their position was, it was much safer to conduct their defense by way of cross examination than to take the witness stand themselves and be cross-examined by me. and if there's one thing that i kind of regret, i challenged manson. i told him to take the witness stand. i said, i want to talk to you, charlie, but on the witness stand. and he may have done it if i hadn't challenged him. >> leslie van houghton, patricia krenwinkel and susan atkins continued to stand by manson. now facing the death penalty, they make their loyalty clear to the world. >> the girls, concerning the hair, i think i certainly, i've already been asked if charles manson ordered that. to my knowledge, he certainly
didn't, but i think it's a demonstration of their love and admiration for him, and i use those words cautiously. >> the family members holding vigil outside follow suit. after more than seven months of protesting from their sidewalk stage, they prepare themselves for the jury's decision. >> normally, this business of waiting for a verdict can be the deadliest of dull experiences, but this morning it got off to a livelier start than usual when it was found that five of the jurors arrived for deliberations this morning with their bags packed. >> it was a very dramatic day. the outcome seemed to be foreordained, because the jury had no trouble convicting them. and it was expected. >> this was a jury trial.
the 12 members of the jury conscientiously and diligently evaluated and examined all of the evidence. and after considering all of the evidence, they returned verdicts of first-degree murder and the death penalty. >> i just wonder about a society that kills its problem children, that i fail to see how this has helped anyone. i fail certainly to see how it helped my client or the other defendants, and i fail to see how it's helped this community or this country. it just seems to me to be a medieval relish of savagery, this death penalty. >> the jury's decision draws manson's followers closer together, even with their leader facing death, they remain loyal. >> i'm putting a question to you, how does it feel to convict an innocent man? you know what? you're only judging yourselves. and that's what you all want, death, so that's what you're all going to get. >> they maintain that a race war
is on the horizon and manson will be freed amidst the chaos. >> y'all know there's revolution coming, and it's coming fast. it's just right around the corner now. >> it was all almost like we just thought it was part of the plan. now the whole world will know about him, his music would come out, and everything would still happen. and when it did happen, when everything fell apart, he would get away and we'd still all go to the desert. and that was still everyone's belief. >> patricia krenwinkel, leslie van houghton, susan atkins and charles manson leave the los angeles hall of justice marked for death. in a separate trial, charles "tex" watson meets the same fate. >> i told a jury in my final summation that if it was not a proper case for the imposition
of the death penalty, no case ever would be. how many people do you have to kill to get the death penalty? >> the whole manson phenomenon was symbolic of the death of the '60s and the death of flower power and peace and hippies. they did something terrible. they took the lives of beautiful people. they damaged our way of living to the view of some. >> there are some people that should never be out in the society again, and charles manson is one of them as far as i'm concerned. but you can understand how society created him. abuse, abuse, abuse, torture, abuse, abuse. kick a dog long enough and he'll bite you. he's not unique at all. right now as we're speaking,
there is somebody out there manipulating people's minds and has them isolated somewhere, but it just hasn't hit the news yet. and it's always a disaster. >> how can we analyze that period accurately, not demonize it or romanticize it, but accurately so the good stuff continues to happen and the bad stuff doesn't? if you don't look at these things in their totality about what actually happened, you can't understand the cult phenomenon and particularly, you will be lulled into belief that this couldn't happen again, and of course, it could happen again. you just have to have all the right elements together.
>> do you believe that there should be a death penalty? >> a death penalty? >> yes, for someone who commits a murder or something like that? >> aren't we all born to die? we're born with a death penalty. >> in a gas chamber? >> in a gas chamber. well -- >> or by hanging or by an electric chair. >> i see what you're searching for. >> should there be a supreme penalty for committing a crime? >> what do you think? >> i'm the one who's asking you. >> yeah, but if i don't give you the answer that you want -- >> it doesn't matter to me. >> it doesn't matter. >> it's your opinion. >> well, i don't have the authority to say anything like that. >> you have the authority to believe. >> i believe what i'm told to believe. don't you?
due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. >> america's prisons, dangerous, often deadly. there are 2 million people doing time. every day is a battle to survive and to maintain order. located in the deep south, holman correctional facility where most are serving life sentences. we spent months of the time inside wre