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Notorious cult leader Charles Manson dead at 83 

Washington, Nov 20 (IANS) Charles Manson, the fiery-eyed 1960s cult leader whose followers committed heinous murders that terrorised Los Angeles and shocked the US, has died at 83. He had been behind bars for 48 years.

He died of natural causes at 8.13 p.m. on Sunday at a hospital in Kern County, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a news release.

The news of his death was confirmed by Debra Tate, the sister of his most famous victim, actress Sharon Tate, who was heavily pregnant with film director Roman Polanski’s baby when she was stabbed to death by his followers.

“This could be the end of an era or just the beginning,” she declared, adding: “I said a prayer for his soul.” 

Prison officials said it’s “undetermined” what will happen to Manson’s corpse as he has no next of kin, the US media reported.

The diminutive and charismatic Manson orchestrated a wave of violence in August 1969 that took the lives of seven people, spawned headlines worldwide and landed him and his “Manson Family” of followers in prison for most of the remainder of their lives.

Manson served nine life terms in California prisons and was denied parole 12 times. His notoriety made him a cult figure to those fascinated by his dark apocalyptic visions. With a Swastika tattooed on his forehead, Manson was the very embodiment of evil.

The brutal killings began on August 9, 1969, at the home of Tate and Polanski, while he was out of the country at the time. The first set of victims were Tate; a celebrity hairstylist named Jay Sebring; coffee fortune heiress Abigail Folger; writer Wojciech Frykowski; and Steven Parent, a friend of the family’s caretaker.

The next evening, another set of murders took place. Supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, were killed at their home. Over the course of two nights, the killers took the lives of seven people, inflicting 169 stab wounds and seven .22-caliber gunshot wounds. 

The killings collectively were known as the Tate-LaBianca murders. Manson was not at the scene of either slayings, but was nonetheless convicted of murder for directing his followers. 

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