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Charles Manson returns to prison after hospitalization with serious illness, report says

TMZ reported Tuesday, Jan. 3, Charles Manson was hospitalized. Officials say he is still alive. (Video: Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)

Convicted mass murderer and cult leader Charles Manson has been returned to prison after getting hospitalized for a few days because of a serious illness, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing confirmation from a corrections official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Manson, 82, was taken from the Corcoran State Prison, where he’s serving a life sentence, to a hospital in Bakersfield in California’s Central Valley, media outlets reported earlier this week. The Bakersfield Californian reported that Manson is suffering from lower gastrointestinal bleeding caused by a lesion.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has declined to comment on Manson’s current condition, citing federal and state medical privacy laws. But Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the department, told The Washington Post Saturday that Manson is in prison. She declined to comment further.

Manson was signed in as “Joe Doe” when he arrived at Mercy Hospital’s location in downtown Bakersfield before dawn on Monday, the Bakersfield Californian reported. Three prison vans were parked outside the hospital late Tuesday night, according to the Associated Press.

TMZ reported that Manson was supposed to undergo surgery Thursday night, but doctors determined that he was too weak and the procedure was too risky.

The lingering mystery of Sharon Tate and the Manson murders

Manson is serving life in prison for orchestrating the 1969 killings of seven people, including actress Sharon Tate. His devout followers Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, Leslie Van Houten and Charles “Tex” Watson also were convicted. All were sentenced to death, but were later spared execution when the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily banned the death penalty in 1972.

Tate, who was 8 1/2 months pregnant, was murdered along with four other people on Aug. 9, 1969, at her hilltop home in Beverly Hills, Calif. Supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, were killed the following night at their home in the Los Feliz neighborhood in Los Angeles.

Manson had gathered a group of runaways at a Los Angeles ranch, where he proclaimed himself a Messiah leading them to a life fueled by drugs. Prosecutors said that he and his followers were trying to start a race war and believed it was foretold in the Beatles song “Helter Skelter.”

Manson has sought freedom and been denied 12 times. His next parole hearing is set for 2027.

In late December, Krenwinkel sought parole after being denied 13 times, the AP reported. State parole officials postponed a decision to give themselves time to research whether Krenwinkel meets the criteria for having battered women’s syndrome. The Los Angeles Times reported that Krenwinkel’s attorney made new claims that she had been abused by Manson.

‘The Girls,’ by Emma Cline: Charles Manson, reimagined

In an op-ed published Wednesday in the Los Angeles Times, Debra Tate, Sharon Tate’s sister, said Krenwinkel — “and all members of the Manson family” — should not be set free. Postponing a decision on Krenwinkel’s petition to conduct further investigation “is a colossal waste of tax dollars” and “a travesty of justice,” she said.

“Look up the word ‘sociopath.’ You will see there is no cure for this affliction. There is no medication, no programming that can relieve it,” Debra Tate wrote.

Van Houten was approved for parole early last year after being denied 19 times. Her attorney, Richard Pfeiffer, told the Los Angeles Times that 18 psychiatrists who have evaluated her for three decades found her suitable for parole. Gov. Jerry Brown rejected the parole board’s recommendation, and Van Houten remains in prison.

Atkins, who said on the witness stand that she was “stoned on acid” when she stabbed Tate to death, died in 2009. The 61-year-old had brain cancer.

Watson, Manson’s self-described right-hand man, was denied parole for the 17th time in October, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Around the mid-2000s, the elderly Manson and a 17-year-old began communicating. In 2014, Manson and then 26-year-old Afton Elaine Burton, who’d moved from Illinois to California to be closer to Manson, applied for a marriage license. But the license expired, and the two never wed.

“I love him,” Burton told the AP in 2014. “I’m with him. There’s all kinds of things.”


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