Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Charles Manson and the Manson Family

Helter Skelter

Another facet of Charlie, although not nearly as important to him as his music, was his philosophy. To a large extent, this "philosophy" was a con, something he dreamed up to impress his followers, but he probably believed some of it.

The core of this philosophy was a kind of Armageddon. Charlie preached that the black man was going to rise up and start killing the whites and turn the cities in to an inferno of racial revenge. The black man would win this war, but wouldn't be able to hang onto the power he seized because of innate inferiority.

In 1968, Charlie was forecasting racial war when all of a sudden the Beatles released their White Album, which had the song "Helter Skelter." The lyrics fit Charlie's theory to a tee: "Look out helter skelter helter skelter helter skelter/She's coming down fast/ Yes she is/Yes she is." Now, the racial Armageddon had a name. It was Helter Skelter.

Helter Skelter would begin, according to one of Charlie's devotees, "with the black man going into white people's homes and ripping off the white people, physically destroying them. A couple of spades from Watts would come up into the Bel Air and Beverly Hills district...and just really wipe some people out, just cutting bodies up and smearing blood and writing things on the wall in blood...all kinds of super-atrocious crimes that would really make the white man mad...until there was open revolution in the streets, until they finally won and took over. Then the black man would assume the white man's karma. He would then be the establishment..."

Charlie and the Family would survive this racial holocaust because they would be hiding in the desert safe from the turmoil of the cities. He pulled from the Book of Revelations, the concept of a "bottomless pit," the entrance of which, according to Charlie, was a cave underneath Death Valley that led down to a city of gold. This paradise was where Charlie and his Family were going to wait out this war. Afterwards, when the black man failed at keeping power, Charlie's Family, which they estimated would have multiplied to 144,000 by that time, would then take over from the black man and rule the cities.

"It will be our world then," Charlie told his followers. "There would be no one else, except for us and the black servants. He, Charles Willis Manson, the fifth angel, Jesus Christ, would then rule the world. The other four angels were the Beatles.

How did this hokey philosophy result in the blood bath at the Tate and LaBianca houses? Well, Charlie the Prophet had already forecast that the murders would start in the summer of 1969, but as the summer went on, it looked as though the "prophet" was wrong. "The only thing blackie knows is what whitey has told him," he said to one of his followers just before the murders. "I'm going to have to show him how to do it."

After the LaBianca murder, one of Manson's girls, Linda Kasabian, was told to take Rosemary LaBianca's wallet and credit cards and leave them in the ladies room of a gas station in an area heavily populated by blacks. That way, when, theoretically, the credit cards would be used by some black woman, it would appear that blacks were responsible for the LaBianca deaths. However, the credit cards were never used or turned in to the authorities.

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