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US 1960s cult killer Charles Manson dead in jail at 83

AFP, Los Angeles, Nov 20 2017, 18:10 IST
Charles Mason. REUTERS FILE PHOTO

Charles Mason. REUTERS FILE PHOTO

Charles Manson, the psychopathic guru who masterminded a savage killing spree in the United States in the late 1960s that shocked the world, has died aged 83, California prison officials said.

Manson "died of natural causes at 8:13 pm (2:13 GMT Monday) on Sunday" at a hospital in Kern County, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a brief statement.

Debra Tate - the sister of Manson's most famous victim, Sharon Tate - told celebrity website TMZ that she received a call from prison officials notifying her of Manson's death.

Manson was earlier moved from the Corcoran State Prison to a hospital in the city of Bakersfield, in Kern County, to be treated for an unspecified illness, US media reported.

In the late 1960s, Manson headed an apocalyptic cult that committed random murders in upscale mostly white neighbourhoods of Los Angeles -unleashing a wave of panic in the city and beyond.

The aim was for African Americans to be blamed, in the hope of sparking what he believed to be an impending and apocalyptic race war.

His "family" disciples committed at least nine murders, but it was the horrific killing spree of seven people on August 9-10, 1969 that sealed his notoriety - and earned him life in prison.

The famous victim was 26-year-old movie actor Sharon Tate, the heavily-pregnant wife of director Roman Polanski, who pleaded for the life of her unborn child before she was stabbed to death.

Manson was not present, but ordered the killings. One of his followers, Susan Atkins, carried out Tate's murder, after which she tasted the actress's blood and wrote "PIG" with it on the home's front door.

Manson, who has never shown remorse, was sentenced to death in 1971 along with four of his disciples for having led the killings of seven people.

The sentences were later commuted to life in prison when California abolished the death penalty.

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