Charles Manson still alive, but his condition remains a mystery

LOS ANGELES — Mass murderer Charles Manson remained alive Friday, authorities said, but details of the illness that brought him to a Bakersfield hospital remain unclear.

Vicky Waters, a spokeswoman with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said the department would only say that Manson was still living but could not provide any further details.

Kern County Sheriff’s Lt. Bill Smallwood told the Los Angeles Times earlier this week that Manson is at a local hospital.

In January, Manson, 83, was rushed to Mercy Hospital in Bakersfield for what authorities at the time would describe only as a serious medical problem. He was returned to prison a few days later.

Manson’s health problems come as Gov. Jerry Brown is deciding whether to grant parole to one of his followers.

Leslie Van Houten was recommended for parole by a panel of state commissioners in Chino. It was the 21st time that Van Houten, 68, has appeared before a parole board, and the second time that commissioners found her suitable for release.

Brown rejected her parole last year, concluding that Van Houten — the youngest member of Manson’s so-called family — posed “an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison.”

Manson and members of his “family” of followers were convicted of killing actress Sharon Tate and six other people during a bloody rampage in the Los Angeles area in August 1969. Prosecutors said Manson and his followers were trying to incite a race war he dubbed “Helter Skelter,” taken from the Beatles song of the same name.

Tate, the wife of director Roman Polanski, was 8 1/2 months’ pregnant when she was killed at her hilltop home in Benedict Canyon on Aug. 9, 1969. Four others were stabbed and shot to death the same night: Jay Sebring, 35; Voytek Frykowski, 32; Abigail Folger, 25, a coffee heiress; and Steven Parent, 18, a friend of Tate’s caretaker. The word “pig” was written on the front door in blood.

The next night, Manson rode with his followers to the Los Feliz home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, then left three members to kill the couple.

Manson initially was sentenced to death. But a 1972 ruling by the California Supreme Court found the state’s death penalty law at the time unconstitutional, and his sentence was changed to life in prison with the possibility of parole. He has been denied parole 12 times.

During his four decades of incarceration, Manson has been anything but a model prisoner. Among other things, he has been cited for assault, repeated possession of a weapon, threatening staff and possessing a cellphone.

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