His looks are grizzled and the signature of evil carved low on his forehead – a jagged swastika – has begun to fade, but the new photograph of Charles Manson reminds us that America’s most infamous mass murderer is still alive as the 40th anniversary of the killing spree that shocked the world approaches.
It was in August 1969 when the cult leader and members of his band arrived at the home of Sharon Tate, the actress and pregnant wife of the film director Roman Polanski, to kill her and four others, including the coffee heiress Abigail Folger. They were variously shot and stabbed. Two other victims, Rosemary and Leno LaBianca, were killed the following night.
At the trial of Manson and his co-defendants, prosecutors said he was trying to incite a race war in Los Angeles which he believed had been prophesied in the Beatles song, “Helter Skelter”.
Manson, who is now 74, remains incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison in California in spite of his numerous attempts at winning parole. He and his co-defendants were spared execution after capital punishment was briefly taken off the books in America before being reinstated by the Supreme Court in 1976.