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Charles Manson a no-show for unsuccessful parole hearing

The 77-year-old hasn’t shown up to a parole hearing in 15 years – and may never again be asked to argue for his freedom.

Charles Manson, now 77, as pictured in a prison photo last month. He carved a swastika into his forehead during his trial.
Charles Manson, now 77, as pictured in a prison photo last month. He carved a swastika into his forehead during his trial.
Image: AP Photos/California Department of Corrections, File

Updated, 20.15

NOTORIOUS MASS-MURDERER Charles Manson has been denied parole by a Californian prison board – declining to show up for what could be his last possible attempt to argue for his freedom.

Manson, now a grey-bearded 77-year-old, did not attend the hearing where the parole board ruled he had shown no efforts to rehabilitate himself.

The parole hearing at Corcoran State Prison in Central California – Manson’s 12th parole hearing since his imprisonment – said Manson was not now eligible for parole for another 15 years.

That means Manson would be 92 years old before he will be offered another opportunity to make his case for freedom.

“At his age, I think he doesn’t care,” said Deputy District Attorney Patrick Sequeira, who argued against Manson’s release. “He would be lost if he got out. He’s completely institutionalised.”

“I’m done with him,” Debra Tate, the sister of murdered actress Sharon Tate, said after the hearing.

For four decades, Tate has traveled to whatever rural California prison has held the notorious cult leader and his band of murderous followers for hearings she said are too numerous to count.

“I’ve tried to take this thing that I do, that has become my lot in life, and make it have purpose,” said the 59-year-old Tate, who was 17 in August 1969, when Manson sent his minions across LA on two nights of terror. “I’ve been doing it for Sharon and the other victims of him for the last 40 years.”

A non-reclusive recluse

Manson has not attended any parole hearings since 1977, but is anything but a recluse. He has a steady stream of visitors who submit requests to see him, including college students writing papers about him, said Theresa Cisneros, spokeswoman for Corcoran State Prison. Manson must approve all requests.

“He has a large interested public,” she said, adding that Manson receives more mail than most prisoners.

Manson has been cited twice for having smuggled cellphones. Authorities found he had been talking with people in California, New Jersey, Florida, British Columbia, Arkansas, Massachusetts and Indiana.

The phone numbers were traced, but Department of Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton said she could not disclose who received the calls. Manson also was cited in October for having a homemade weapon in his cell.

Manson’s notoriety stems from one of the most gruesome mass murders in American history, the 1969 slayings of Tate and six others. Manson’s trial with three women acolytes was a spectacle that drew international attention.

Manson was depicted as the evil master of murder, commanding a small army of young followers. He and the three women were sentenced to death. But their lives were spared when the California Supreme Court briefly outlawed the death penalty in 1972.

One of them, Susan Atkins, died in prison. Two others, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel, remain incarcerated.

Manson also was convicted of two unrelated murders. An assortment of his followers are being held in California prisons.

Corrections officials released a recent picture of Manson in advance of his hearing. It shows the gray-haired old man with a swastika on his forehead, a reminder of his dark past. He carved the symbol during his trial. The photo was a dramatic change from his previous picture, when his head was shaved.

Manson’s appearance has changed many times over the years but most memorable was the first image the world saw of the shaggy haired, wild-eyed cult leader staring from the covers of magazines in 1969.

Debra Tate says she doubts the parole panel will vote to free Manson, but she does wish that his posture as a messiah out to save the world was perceived by everyone as being a sham.

“I would hope he would get the moxie to come to terms with the reality of his situation and not the myth. They were a bunch of renegade sociopaths that banded together and had one hot flame for a short period of time,” she said.

“It’s important to me that I try to diminish and tarnish their status as urban legends. It’s wrong, it’s just plain wrong.”

- Tracie Cone

Read: California prison officials release new photo of Charles Manson

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