Wednesday, May. 04, 2011

The Manson Family Ranch

The Spahn Movie Ranch is just your typical family home. If that family is the Family of Charles Manson and his devoted cult of followers, that is. In 1968, at age 80, dairy farmer George Spahn allowed Manson and his followers to move onto his 500-acre (200 hectares) property near Topanga Canyon in Southern California and live rent-free in exchange for housework and sexual favors from the group's women. It was from this ranch that Manson directed the killings of actress Sharon Tate — the pregnant wife of director Roman Polanski — and six others over a two-day period beginning Aug. 9, 1969. (Tate, who was just two weeks away from giving birth, was stabbed 16 times.) In an article from 1969, TIME called the killings "one of the grisliest, bloodiest, and apparently most senseless crimes of the century." After their arrest in October 1969, mastermind Manson and three of his followers were sentenced to death. (When California abolished the death penalty in 1972, their sentences were commuted to life in prison.)