More about infamous mass murderer Charles Manson, 80, and his girlfriend, 26

Convicted mass murderer Charles Manson (front), 80, has a licence to marry his girlfriend Elaine 'Star' Burton in prison in Corcoran, California, his home for the past 45 years. -- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM MANSONDIRECT.COM
Convicted mass murderer Charles Manson (front), 80, has a licence to marry his girlfriend Elaine 'Star' Burton in prison in Corcoran, California, his home for the past 45 years. -- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM MANSONDIRECT.COM
Convicted mass murderer Charles Manson (left), 80, has a licence to marry his girlfriend Elaine 'Star' Burton in prison in Corcoran, California, his home for the past 45 years. -- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM MANSONDIRECT.COM
Convicted mass murderer Charles Manson (left), 80, has a licence to marry his girlfriend Elaine 'Star' Burton in prison in Corcoran, California, his home for the past 45 years. -- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM MANSONDIRECT.COM
Convicted mass murderer Charles Manson (left), 80, has a licence to marry his girlfriend Elaine 'Star' Burton in prison in Corcoran, California, his home for the past 45 years. -- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM MANSONDIRECT.COM
Convicted mass murderer Charles Manson (left), 80, has a licence to marry his girlfriend Elaine 'Star' Burton in prison in Corcoran, California, his home for the past 45 years. -- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM MANSONDIRECT.COM
Convicted mass murderer Charles Manson (right), 80, has a licence to marry his girlfriend Elaine 'Star' Burton in prison in Corcoran, California, his home for the past 45 years. -- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM MANSONDIRECT.COM
Convicted mass murderer Charles Manson (right), 80, has a licence to marry his girlfriend Elaine 'Star' Burton in prison in Corcoran, California, his home for the past 45 years. -- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM MANSONDIRECT.COM
Convicted mass murderer Charles Manson (right), 80, has a licence to marry his girlfriend Elaine 'Star' Burton in prison in Corcoran, California, his home for the past 45 years. -- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM MANSONDIRECT.COM
Convicted mass murderer Charles Manson (right), 80, has a licence to marry his girlfriend Elaine 'Star' Burton in prison in Corcoran, California, his home for the past 45 years. -- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM MANSONDIRECT.COM
Convicted mass murderer Charles Manson (left), 80, has a licence to marry his girlfriend Elaine 'Star' Burton in prison in Corcoran, California, his home for the past 45 years. -- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM MANSONDIRECT.COM
Convicted mass murderer Charles Manson (left), 80, has a licence to marry his girlfriend Elaine 'Star' Burton in prison in Corcoran, California, his home for the past 45 years. -- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM MANSONDIRECT.COM

Convicted mass murderer Charles Manson, 80, has a licence to marry in prison in Corcoran, California, his home for the past 45 years.

Who is he, what did he do, and who is this woman, 26-year-old “Star,” he can now marry?  Who is Charles Manson?  He orchestrated a spate of nine murders that shocked the world in 1969. Among those murdered at their Los Angeles homes was eight-months pregnant actress Sharon Tate.  Tate was the wife of director Roman Polanski. The murders are termed the Tate-LaBianca after Tate and two other victims - middle-aged couple Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.

Who did the actual killing and what happened to them?

Manson had a group of staunch followers made up mostly women. It was this group, called his "Family", who performed the murders as he ordered.

In an interview with British journalist Robin Mckie, one of Manson's former followers, Linda Kasabian, said that when she met him in July 1969, he had about 20 followers with him.

Kasabian was the main witness during Manson's trial and is credited with his conviction. She was not punished, assumed a different identity and was living in a trailer. She said that they lived on a ranch and spent their days selling drugs and doing pretty crimes.

She was among the four followers who went to Tate's home on Aug 8, 1969. She was a lookout while the other three stabbed Tate, three of her guests and a man who was at her home at the wrong time. The guests were celebrity hairdresser Jay Sebring, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, film-maker Voityck Frykowksi. The other man was Steven Parent, a friend of the Tate estate's caretaker.

The actual murderers that day were Tex Watson, Susan Atkins and Patricia "Katie" Krenwinkel. They were sentenced to death, but when the death penalty was briefly outlawed, they were re-sentenced to life imprisonment.

Watson was tried separately. The women, including Leslie Van Houten who was found guilty of killing wealthy grocers LaBiancas, remained devoted to Manson through their 10-month trial, and even for some time after.

It is believed that Manson still receives a large amount of mail, much of it from young people who want to join the Family.

Atkins died in prison of brain cancer in 2009, while the other two are still in jail. Sandra Good and Lynette Fromme, who followed him then, are thought to still support Manson.  Why murder?

In the murders, Manson's Family left words that belonged to lyrics of the Beatles’ songs. Manson thought the songs contained messages ordering him to kill, and that The Beatles' song Helter Skelter foretold an uprising in which blacks would murder a third of the world's white population.  The Family were going to stay in the Mojave desert and emerge from a pit at the end of the uprising.

Tate and the four others who died were killed because they were occupying the former home of Terry Melcher, a producer who Manson was angry with because he broke a record deal.

Manson had spent most of his life in prison. After his release from prison doing time for forgery, he decided he wanted to become a rock star more popular than The Beatles.

Vincent Bugliosi, a district attorney for Los Angeles, whose book Helter Skelter details Manson’s trial, questioned Manson about his beliefs. "We both know you ordered those murders," Bugliosi told Manson. "Bugliosi," Manson replied, "It's The Beatles, the music they're putting out. They are talking about war. These kids listen to this music and pick up on the message. It's subliminal." There was also a 2004 movie titled Helter Skelter, focusing on Manson.

Who is hoping to marry him?  Afton Elaine Burton, 26, left her Midwestern home seven years ago and moved to Corcoran to be near Manson. She goes by the name “Star”.She maintains several websites advocating for Manson’s innocence. She had spoken of their marriage last year, but Manson dismissed it.

Star was brought up in a strict Christian Baptist home. She was locked up in her room by her parents when they thought she was turning into a hippie because of her drug use.

She was first introduced to Manson when a friend gave her a sheet of his quotes. She liked his view on the environment, and started writing to him.

She has carved an X on her forehead, just like her husband-to-be did once. The X was later changed to the now famous swastika tattooed on his forehead. 

jalmsab@sph.com.sg