Serial killers fascinate Americans, and there are countless TV series and movies about them, some based on truth and others fiction. Americans are especially captivated by serial killers if there is a bit of Hollywood mixed in. Charles Manson was convicted on seven counts of first-degree murder for his role in the Tate-LiBianca murders. At his trial, the court ruled that the Manson family was an extension of Charles Manson. The judge determined that when his followers committed murder for him it was the same as if Manson had done it himself. That was a decision.
According to the FBI, serial murder is “the unlawful killing of two or more victims by the same offender(s), in separate events, with an emotional cooling-off period between the murders.” The FBI previously set the number of victims at three, but its Behavioral Analysis Unit lowered that number to two in 2005. But this does not seem to be an description of the Manson crimes.
Maybe he was a spree killer. The FBI’s general definition of spree killing is two or more murders committed by an offender or offenders without a cooling-off period. And the Manson family murders did carry out separate murders that took place over two consecutive nights, so they didn’t do much cooling off.
Or were they mission killers? Mission killers are a kind of serial killers that feel a need to kill certain types of people, or a class of people such as religious or racial groups. They claim they are doing society a favor by eliminating certain groups of people, such as prostitutes. They are not considered psychotic. Some classify Charles Manson as a mission killer because he had masterminded the murders, and said he believed that they would trigger an apocalypse. Basically, he sent his family members out on a mission to kill for him. But did he have a serious mission that he believed in?
There are also visionary serial killers, the ones who are compelled by voices or visions to kill certain types of people, and they are considered psychotic. Charles Manson led his family to believe that he was a manifestation of Jesus and he prophesized an apocalyptic race war, but he may have been just manipulating them. There is no evidence that he heard voices or had visions.
Another kind of serial killer is the power and control one. This kind of serial killer experiences sexual gratification from the domination and humiliation of the victim. Power & Control serial killers are considered sociopaths. Charles Manson did rape a boy when he was in his early teens and incarcerated, but it was probably a dominance issue, as he had also been raped by other inmates in one of the reform schools he had ben sent to. But as a cult leader he certainly enjoyed sex with all the female members of his family and none of his girls ever accused him of any kind of sexual assault. Crimes committed by sociopaths are usually unplanned and , and that doesn’t fit Manson’s profile, either.
And the last classification for serial killers is hedonistic. Sex is their primary motivation, and they receive pleasure and sexual gratification from violence. They don’t care about power, vengeance or monetary gain. Some of them don’t care if their victims are dead or alive, either. Hedonistic serial killers usually kill with their hands, as they need skin-to-skin contact and take time to torture or mutilate their victims. They normally fantasize about their murders. That wasn’t Charles Manson, either.
It happens that Charles Manson loved animals, especially horses. As a matter of fact, Manson was cremated in an ATWA tee shirt, proving that he was an environmentalist until beyond the end. However, most serial killers share a common denominator in that 99% of them admitted that they began their strange behavior by acting out their fantasies on animals, usually when they were children. Because most serial killers come from dysfunctional families, these acts usually go unnoticed by their families. When these kids perfect the art of small animal torture and dissection they begin to perform the same thing on humans. As residents of Minas Gerais, we can’t help but wonder about the 800 cat’s tails that were found in São Lourenço in August of 2015. Could it be some sort of serial killer induction or training camp?
Charles Manson was neglected and abused as a child, and when he was in reform schools, he sometimes pretended to be crazy to keep bigger boys away from him. In studies done on dead serial killers, it has been found that 70% of them sustained serious head injuries as children or adolescents. Many researchers have concluded that the pre-frontal cortex (the area of the brain that is used for planning and judgment) hadn’t been functioning well because of these injuries. Most injuries that result in violent behavior come from childhood abuse, but they can also come from accidents or birth injuries. Damage to the limbic brain, hypothalamus or temporal lobe can also cause aggression. These areas are involved with hormones, aggression, emotion, and motivation, but injuries to them can also result in seizures and forms of amnesia. The bottom line is that head injuries can decrease social, educational and employment capacity.
Charles Manson died when he was 83, and still a prisoner. He was not autopsied, so no one will ever know if he suffered any head injuries as a child. An intense court battle to claim his body followed his death, and his grandson, Jason Freeman, won the body over Michael (originally Valentine) Brunner, who claimed he was Manson’s son and Michael Channels, Manson’s pen pal and his memorabilia collector. Jason was the son of Charles Manson, Jr. The local sheriff’s department kept Manson on ice for the four months it took to decide who had the right to his body and estate. Although Manson lived on a $35 monthly stipend while in prison, his net worth was $400,000.00 when he died. That was from things like image licensing, book royalties, music royalties, and sale of his artwork and two guitars. Jason Freeman, a cage kick boxer, the son of Charles Manson Jr., gave his grandfather a Christian funeral. About 20 people attended, and some interrupted the sermon a couple of times. After the funeral, Manson was cremated and his ashes were distributed to friends and followers to scatter around a creek. But someone didn’t follow instructions and some of his ashes made their way into a painting of Manson, filling in the eyes in the painting. This painting is on display in the Haunted Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is probably another medium to our fears, dreams and fascination with murderers.
I was born near the end of WWII and raised in a small town in New Jersey, just a little more than a 30-minute drive from NYC. It was a wonderful place to be brought up, feeding ducks and canoeing on the river that meandered through the town in the summer, and ice-skating on that same river in the winter.
My two brothers and I were privileged to be raised in a lovely town that was safe to explore on foot, but close enough to NYC to be taken there on day trips to see the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Baily B & B circus, museums, Chinatown, street fairs in the spring and Broadway shows as we grew older. But we thought nothing of it.
Later as teens, we would go into NYC to buy a couple of beers (the drinking age in New York State was 18, and 21 in New Jersey) and hang out in Greenwich Village where we saw singers such as Bob Dylan who were on the first rung of the ladder on their way to fame.
The sixties were a time of speaking out and creating change. I decided to do my part by joining the Peace Corps, an innovative cold war program established by John F. Kennedy in 1961. I arrived in Brazil at the end of 1966, and after an adaptation period, was sent to serve in Porto Nacional, in what was Goias at that time. I can’t say I changed the course of the country, especially as I was immediately called upon to teach English in the local high school.
I have been teaching ever since; high schools, college literature, college language pedagogy, financial English and everything in-between. I married a wonderful Brazilian from Rio and we had 3 boys and moved around some, as he was an engineer who worked on hydro dams. Nowadays I am a widow and live in BH with 3 cats, one of which has extraordinary powers, and I have 4 wonderful and uniquely different grandchildren nearby. Thus far, I have had an interesting life, and this new endeavor called a blog should make it even more interesting.
Tattoos have been around for more than 5,000 years. Egyptians, for example, used tattoos to differentiate between peasants and slaves, a kind of social branding. But ink art, which is what some fans like to call tattooing, has really exploded in the past 25 years. But not all of us have succumbed to this fad. And many of us who don’t have a tattoo have a favorite mug. Having a tattoo or becoming attached to a mug are not dissimilar. According to research, 60% of Americans say they have an emotional attachment to a favorite mug. And about 40% said their special mug was irreplaceable, and about 1/3 of those said they would be devastated if it broke. Personally, I think that most of these people don’t have tattoos. Mugs and tattoos are both an extension of our personalities, and both express the way we would like the world to perceive us. That is not to mention, of course, that those of us who have tattoos or mugs are often irrationally attached to them.