Charles Manson, the 83-year-old convicted murderer and former cult leader often referred to an an American “icon of evil,” remains hospitalized but alive this weekend as hoax reports of his death spread online thanks to a network of fake news sites.
News reports circulated last week saying that Manson, who has been denied parole 12 times since his 1971 conviction, had been hospitalized in Bakersfield, California, but details of his ailment and condition were not publicly disclosed. Manson had also been hospitalized in January of 2017, with what was reportedly a serious illness at that time, but the man who is arguably the country’s best-known convicted murderer survived. He marked his 83rd birthday in prison on November 12.
According to some reports, Manson was not expected to survive his current hospitalization, with some reports describing his condition as “grave,” but as of Sunday morning, no genuine reports of his death had emerged.
That didn’t stop a network of fake news sites designed to look like local news websites from posting false stories reporting Manson’s death, such as a story on a hoax site calling itself Florida Times. The Inquisitr will not provide links to the fake news stories, but they can be easily located via Google searches.
The identical story also appeared on a site using the internet address “texas-express.com.” But according to the Hoax Alert site, which spots and exposes online hoaxes in real time, both the “Florida” and “Texas” sites are part of a network of fake news sites that have spread earlier news hoaxes.
According to Hoax Alert, the same network of fake news sites earlier spread multiple stories claiming that various celebrities and sports figures had donated sums of money in the tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars to Hurricane Harvey victims, but those stories were all false as well.
On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reported that while Manson, an inmate at Corcoran State Prison in California, is apparently still alive, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has cited both state and federal privacy laws to explain why authorities have released no further information on his condition.
According to CNN, in 1971, Manson and four of his followers, members of Manson’s so-called “Family” cult, were convicted of the brutal and bizarre 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tate and four of her friends in their Beverly Hills home. Manson did not participate in the murders but a jury agreed with prosecutors charges that he ordered his followers to carry out the killings.
The Tate murders took place on August 9, 1969. The following night Manson personally accompanied six of his followers as they drove around Los Angeles, searching for more victims. The search ended at the home of supermarket mogul Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary LaBianca, in the Los Feliz district of Los Angeles. According to accounts of the LaBianca murders, Manson first entered the home and tied up the couple. He then exited the house and instructed his followers to enter and kill the LaBiancas.
Manson and his followers were convicted of the LaBianca murders as well. One of those followers, Leslie Van Houten — now 68 years old — admitted stabbing Rosemary LaBianca more than a dozen times after another Manson acolyte, Charles “Tex” Watson had murdered Leno LaBianca. Van Houten was 19 years old at the time. She was ruled eligible for parole in September of this year.
California Governor Jerry Brown has not yet decided, however, whether to approve Van Houten’s parole. Just a year ago, Brown ruled against granting parole to Van Houten on the grounds that “she remains an unacceptable risk to society if released.”
While Van Houten has reportedly served as a model prisoner, receiving both bachelor’s and master’s degrees while behind bars and leading several inmate self-help groups, the same cannot be said for Manson himself. The ailing cult leader has run up more than 100 prison rule violations during his 46-year incarceration, ranging from drug and weapons possession to threatening guards and possessing a cell phone.
Manson and his convicted followers initially received the death penalty, but when California abolished capital punishment in 1972, their sentences were reduced to life in prison.
[Featured Image by AP Images, File]