Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on November 12, 1934, Manson was the illegitimate son of Kathleen Maddox, a 16-year-old prostitute. His surname was derived from one of Kathleen’s many lovers, whom she briefly married, but it signified no blood connection. During 1936, Kathleen filed a paternity suit against one “Colonel Scott,” of Ashland, Kentucky, winning the grand monthly sum of five dollars for the support of “Charles Milles Manson.” Scott instantly defaulted on the judgment, and he died in 1954, without acknowledging his son.
In 1939, Kathleen and her brother were sentenced to five years in prison for robbing a West Virginia gas station. Charles was packed off to live with a strictly religious aunt and her sadistic husband, who constantly berated the boy as a “sissy,” dressing him in girl’s clothing for his first day of school in an effort to help Manson “act like a man.” Paroled in 1942, Maddox reclaimed her son, but she was clearly unsuited to motherhood. An alcoholic tramp that brought home lovers of both sexes, Kathleen frequently left Charles with neighbors “for an hour,” then disappeared for days or weeks on end, leaving relatives to track the boy down. On one occasion, she reportedly gave Charles to a barmaid, in payment for a pitcher of beer.
Charlie was adapted to a life of violence and loneliness. He kept to himself and didn’t have any friends. Charlie was an observer; he never got involved or talked to people. Soon Charlie was following in his mother’s foot steps. He began stealing and causing trouble. By age nine he was sent to a reform school. In less than a year he ran away from his school. He tried to run to his mother but she wanted nothing to do with him. Charlie was in and out of reform schools, jails, and institutions. By 1958, Charles Manson was released on parole only to cause more chaos.
Arrested in Indiana, he escaped from the local juvenile center after one day’s confinement. Recaptured and sent to Father Flanagan’s Boy’s Town, he lasted four days before his next escape, fleeing in a stolen car to visit relatives in Illinois. He pulled more robberies en route and on arrival, leading to another bust at age 13. Confined for three years in a reform school at Plainfield, Indiana, Manson recalls sadistic abuse by older boys and guards alike.
By 1959 Charles had been committed of rape, drug use, pimping, stealing, and fraud. Manson was emotionally insecure and was lacking attention. He went in and out of jail all the time.
On March 21,1967, Charles was released from prison for the second time. The 32 year old went to San Francisco. Charles Manson protested his freedom, “Oh no, I can’t go outside there…” “I know I won’t be able to adjust to the world, not after I spent all of my life locked up and my mind was free. I am content to stay in the penitentiary, just to take my walks around the yard in the sunshine and play my guitar.” (He was obsessed with music, especially Beatles) The prison guards ignored Manson and unleashed the evil man into society once again.