Is there anything left that hasn’t been said about the notorious cult leader Charles Manson and the crimes he orchestrated that shocked the world? Prosecutor, legal analyst, and investigative crime reporter Liz Wiehl, who digs into the infamous case of Manson, shows that not only is there still information out there that hasn’t been readily shared, but that the cult leader’s tactics are still being used today to entrap and brainwash young women.
“Keith Raniere, founder of the ‘sex cult’ Nxivm, is a modern-day Manson, using Manson’s methods of preying upon girls’ insecurities,” Weihl said. “Manson manipulated those insecurities to bring young women into the Family, using recruiting methods strikingly similar to those of the Nxivm sex cult, which among other consequences has led to Smallville actress Allison Mack being charged with sex-trafficking.”
Manson had just been released from prison in 1967 when he started using tactics he learned from reading books in prison on how to influence people, and listening to older inmates give him “pimp tips” on how to take advantage of others.
Manson mostly chose young female victims going through family issues, legal problems, homelessness, and prostitution. He sometimes pulled in males, such as Tex Watson and Bobby Beausoleil, who he felt would follow him blindly.
In her latest book, “Hunting Charles Manson,” Weihl, along with co-author Caitlin Rothler, explores how the notorious cult leader “groomed” his victims into completely trusting him, then followed up by instilling a sense of deadly fear in them that had them afraid to leave the group or too brainwashed to care. Similar to Raniere’s reported tactics, Manson promised love, peace, and happiness, and a world of trust, something most of his victims desperately sought elsewhere but never received. The trust turned to fear after Manson became violent, often choking, slapping, and hitting anyone who dare define him.
The murder of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and her friends in 1969, followed by the killings of the Bianca couple, remain the most widely-known crimes carried out by members of the Manson family. Manson himself didn’t participate in the murders, but instead ordered several of his minions to brutally murder numerous people after “mind controlling” the members with influential tactics and feeding them a seemingly unlimited supply of LSD.
Other murders, however, reportedly directly involved Manson himself, despite speculation that the notorious cult leader never killed. The book details how Manson struck out violently in ways that could have led to murder even if he didn’t order his family to finish the job.
Donald “Shorty” Shea, a ranch hand at Spahn Ranch where Manson and his family lived, was killed on August 26, 1969, reportedly for “knowing too much.” According to testimony by Bruce Davis, Manson stabbed Shea before other male family members joined in. Afterward, they dumped Shea’s lifeless body in the desert. The ranch hand’s body wasn’t discovered until a decade later.
Manson also allegedly sliced musician Gary Hinman across the face with a sword, which could have proven to be fatal in itself. However, Manson ordered several family members to finish what he started. Blindly following instructions, 23-year-old Beausoleil killed Hinman while several female members of the group helped clean up evidence.
“Hunting Charles Manson” also touches on new material that hasn’t previously been written about in previous well-known books about the case, such as the lives of Manson’s children, grandchildren, and the recent fight for Manson’s estate after he passed away in November 2017. The latest information brings readers to present day on the subject.
Weihl also details the bungled investigation of the murders and how Manson manipulated parole officers who didn’t keep a tight check on him, which could have likely saved lives had Manson been monitored more closely.
“First, had parole officers been keeping better tabs on Manson no murders likely would have taken place because he was in violation of parole long before the first murders,” Weihl explained. “True, Manson was conniving and manipulative with his parole officers but, in my experience as a prosecutor, most con-victs are, so Manson wasn’t special in that regard. So shame on those parole officers.”
It also includes a detailed look at many of the key players in the crimes, the backgrounds of the ranch employees, the overuse of hallucinogenic drugs, mental illness issues, and an in-depth look at the vulnerable young girls who fell prey to Manson’s tactics.
“Hunting Charles Manson” is a stark reminder that although the infamous incidents happened more than 45 years ago, the tactics are still being used today on women across the world, and not only with young, homeless girls, but also influential actresses such as Mack, who starred in a hit show while reportedly under Raniere’s mind control.
Women in mind-controlling cults tend to forget who they really are, drop their interests and families, and commit atrocious crimes for their leader’s “cause.” It can happen to any “normal, average” person, according to Working Psychology, with “no reliable personality factor that predicts cult membership.”
[Feature Photo: Charles Manson/California Department of Corrections]