The Manson Murders: A look back at the killings that shocked the nation

Charles Manson started a murderous cult at a California commune and instructed his 'family' of followers to commit a series of murders.

Charles Manson is brought into the Los Angeles city jail under suspicion of having masterminded the Tate-LaBianca murders of August 1969.

Manson died on Nov. 19, 2017 in a California hospital, state officials told NBC News. He was 83. 

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Manson and his "family" of hippies lived at the Spahn Movie Ranch near Chatsworth, a Los Angeles suburb, at the time of the slayings. 

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A room at the Spahn ranch. Ralph Crane / The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett

Sharon Tate, American actress and wife of Polish director Roman Polanski, circa 1965.

Tate was eight months pregnant when she and four friends in her home were stabbed to death by Manson's followers under his direction. His plan was to commit a series of murders that he believed would spark a final confrontation between blacks and whites in America.

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Police officers stand outside Tate's house on Aug. 9, 1969, the day after the murders. AP

Tate's body is taken from her house. 

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The day after the murders at Sharon Tate's house, Manson's followers butchered Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in their home.

The words "Death to Pigs" and "Healter Skelter" (misspelled) were found printed on a wall and a refrigerator door.

Above: Police search the house where La Bianca and his wife were found on Aug. 10.

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Manson is escorted to his arraignment on conspiracy-murder charges in connection with the Sharon Tate murder case in 1969.

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Polanski breaks down inside the limousine after attending funeral services for his wife on Aug. 13, 1969. AP
Susan Atkins, one of the four Manson followers who committed the murders, leaves the grand jury room after testifying against Manson in December 1969. Ralph Crane / LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Manson sits in the courtroom during his murder trial in 1970 in Los Angeles.

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Manson walks into the courtroom with Atkins on Oct. 13,1970.

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Kitty Lutesinger, left, and Kathy Gillies, followers of Charles Manson, kneel on the sidewalk outside the court on Dec. 30, 1970, during Manson's trial. David F. Smith / AP

Jurors leave the Ambassador Hotel and walk to a bus bound for the courthouse where they will continue to hear testimony in the murder trial of Charles Manson in January 1971.

By the end of the trial, the jurors had been sequestered at the hotel for 225 days, longer than any previous jury in U.S. history.

Ralph Crane / The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett

Manson, with a swastika carved into his forehead, walks to court in Los Angeles, during the penalty phase of his trial on March 12, 1971.


Two members of the Manson "family" hold Appaloosa horses on March 19, 1971 at the Spahn ranch.

Only a few members remained at the ranch during Manson's trial.

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Four young followers of Charles Manson kneel on the sidewalk, their heads shaved, outside the Los Angeles Hall of Justice on March 29, 1971. They held vigil at the building throughout the long trial.

Wally Fong / AP file

From left, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten, laugh as they walk to court for sentencing on March 29, 1971. They angrily shouted at the judge when they were in the courtroom, and were ejected along with Charles Manson, before the jury sentenced them to death in the gas chamber.

Their sentences were reduced to life in prison when capital punishment was briefly outlawed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1970s.

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Charles "Tex" Watson is led back to jail from the courtroom after he was convicted of seven counts of first degree murder and one of conspiracy to commit murder in the Tate-LaBianca slayings on Oct. 12, 1971.

Watson was the last of five defendants to be convicted in the slayings.

Related: Charles Manson, murderous leader, dies at 83 

George Brich / AP