Killer Charles Man­son alive as re­ports swirl of ill­ness

The Mercury News Weekend - - NEWS - By John Rogers

For nearly 50 years Charles Man­son has been the liv­ing per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of evil, a de­monic pres­ence cap­tured in scores of pho­tos, each of them marked by his pierc­ing dark eyes and the crude Nazi swastika he carved into his fore­head.

That per­son­i­fi­ca­tion re- turned to the pub­lic con­scious­ness again this week, com­plete with a prison mug shot of a now-el­derly but still evil- look­ing Man­son, af­ter a re­port by TMZ.com that the killer of glam­orous ac­tress Sharon Tate and six oth­ers is se­ri­ously ill and hos­pi­tal­ized in Bak­ers­field.

The state De­part­ment of Cor­rec­tions and Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion de­clined to con­firm that Thurs­day, say­ing only that Man­son, who turned 83 on Sun­day, is still alive.

To re­veal more, spokes­woman Vicky Waters told The As­so­ci­ated Press, would vi­o­late fed­eral and state pri­vacy laws.

A ca­reer crim­i­nal and con artist, Man­son had rein­vented him­self dur­ing the Sum­mer of Love as a Christ- like fig­ure who at­tracted young peo- ple to a com­mune he es­tab­lished at an old, aban­doned movie ranch on the edge of Los An­ge­les.

Man­son was par­tic­u­larly fas­ci­nated by the Bea­tles’ song “Hel­ter Skel­ter.”

He saw the song as pre­dict­ing the com­ing race war, al­though its lyrics mainly seem to ref­er­ence a child­hood play­ground slide of that name.

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