Charles Manson returns to prison after stay at hospital, report says

Mass murderer Charles Manson has returned to prison after he was taken to a hospital earlier this week, a corrections official told the Los Angeles Times.

Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said on Friday that Manson was back in jail.

“Inmate Manson is at California State Prison-Corcoran,” she said in an email, without elaborating.

On Wednesday, Manson, now a grizzled, shuffling 82-year-old, lay hospitalized with an undisclosed illness after being taken from the prison, where he was serving a life sentence, according to news reports that correction officials would not confirm, citing privacy laws.

Manson was convicted of orchestrating the 1969 murders of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six others. The cult leader attracted disaffected young people who lived in a commune, followed his orders and were ultimately turned into killers. 

After attracting a few dozen followers from San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district, many of them young women, runaways or other lost souls, he took them to an old movie ranch on the edge of Los Angeles that he transformed into a commune of sex, drugs and music. On Aug. 9 and 10, 1969, he sent some of his devotees out on a murderous mission to two of Los Angeles’ wealthiest neighborhoods, where they killed Tate, several of her society friends and others. Most of the victims, including coffee heiress Abigail Folger, were stabbed.

Tate’s husband, Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski, was out of the country at the time.

Authorities would learn that Manson had hoped the killings would touch off a race war. He had apparently gotten the idea from a twisted reading of the hard-rocking Beatles song “Helter Skelter.”

Both TMZ and the Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday that Manson had been hospitalized. TMZ said he had been taken to a medical center in Bakersfield, about 60 miles south of the prison in Corcoran.

Two vans from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation were parked early Wednesday outside Bakersfield’s Mercy Hospital Downtown, where state prisoners have been treated before. Thornton then said that Manson was alive and assigned to the prison in Corcoran. She had declined to say whether he was at the hospital in Bakersfield, citing safety privacy laws prohibit her from discussing an inmate’s medical situation.

Tate’s sister Debra Tate told The Associated Press on Tuesday night that, as a Catholic, she makes “no ill wishes” for the people who killed her sister, and will reserve her feelings until hearing Manson has died.

“I would probably say a prayer for them and shed a tear and ask God to have mercy on their souls, but so far I haven’t allowed myself to feel anything because it’s unsubstantiated,” Tate said. “I’m not allowing myself to feel anything until I know that it’s true.”

Manson and three female followers, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten, were convicted of murder and sentenced to death for killings at two gruesome scenes in the summer of 1969. Another defendant, Charles “Tex” Watson, was convicted later. 

All were spared execution when the California Supreme Court overturned the state’s death penalty in 1972 and all existing death sentences were commuted to life in prison even though capital punishment was later reinstated. Months later the U.S. Supreme Court also temporarily banned the death penalty.

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, which prosecuted Manson, has objected to his release. He was most recently up for parole in 2012 - his 12th bid for freedom.

The California State Prison, Corcoran, has medical facilities to treat inmates requiring urgent or emergency care as well as in-patient hospital stays.

“In general, inmates are sent to outside hospitals if they need surgical services, emergency care, or diagnostic services of an acute nature,” said Joyce Hayhoe, a spokeswoman for the federal receiver who controls prison medical care. “These services are not provided in state prison facilities.”

In November, the state inspector general, which monitors the corrections system, characterized care at Corcoran as “inadequate.”