US cult leader Manson dies 
in prison at 83

This article is more than 12 months old

LOS ANGELES: Charles Manson, the psychopathic guru who masterminded a savage killing spree in the United States that shocked the world, has died aged 83, California prison officials said late on Sunday.

Manson "died of natural causes at 8.13pm on Sunday (8.13am Monday, Singapore time)" at a hospital in Kern County, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said.

In the late 1960s, Manson headed an apocalyptic cult that committed random murders in upscale and mostly white neighbourhoods of Los Angeles, unleashing a wave of panic in the city and beyond.

The aim was for African Americans to be blamed, in the hope of sparking what he believed to be an impending and apocalyptic race war.

His "Family" disciples committed at least nine murders, but it was the horrific killing spree of seven people on Aug 9 to Aug 10, 1969, that sealed his notoriety and earned him life in prison.

The famous victim was 26-year-old movie actress Sharon Tate, the heavily pregnant wife of director Roman Polanski, who pleaded for the life of her unborn child before she was stabbed to death.

Manson was not present but had ordered the killings.

One of his followers, Susan Atkins, carried out Tate's murder, after which she tasted the actress's blood and wrote "PIG" with it on the home's front door. - AFP