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A man who knew Manson at the Spahn Ranch said that Manson had lured Mrs. Kasabian away from her husband, got her to steal $5,000 from him and other men at the ranch. When the men caught Manson, "he showed us his big buck knife, with about a twelve-inch blade, and he asked us if we would like to kill him, just to prove he couldn't die." Manson, said the ranchman, read deeply in Oriental theology, and believed in reincarnation and the insignificance of individual lives. Manson, who is white, "felt the Establishment was the white man. and his karma was to catch up with everybody and shoot all the pigs he saw for, like, enslaving the Negro. It wasn't wrong to kill the pigs, to slash them down with a knife, because they were destroying the earth." Manson, according to this acquaintance, hoped that his killings would touch off racial war in the U.S. After the carnage was completed, he and his followers would take over the ruins of the U.S.—or at least of Los Angeles.

Star Student. Bizarre as such notions are, Manson's behavior, given his background, is at least less inconsistent than that of his followers. Charles Watson attended Methodist Sunday school in tiny Copeville, Texas, and grew to be a big, handsome star-student and athlete, voted outstanding member of his junior class. Yet when he went away to college in 1964, his grades fell and he gave up athletics. He dropped out of school, was arrested for stealing typewriters from his old high school. He headed west, enrolled in another college, and dropped out again. When he returned from California a few months ago, he was bearded and emaciated. Says his lawyer and old family friend Bill Boyd: "He's a totally different guy. He acts completely detached and unconcerned. I seriously question his mental state."

Miss Krenwinkel was a shy and chubby adolescent growing up in a respectable section of Los Angeles. A friend recalled her as "a quiet and very sensitive girl who kept all her feelings to herself. She didn't like to see anybody get hurt. I remember once we were talking about one of the guys we know who enjoyed killing cats. She broke into tears." Her parents separated when she was in high school. In 1967, after meeting Manson, she rejected the "straight" world so suddenly that she left her car in a parking lot, quit her job without picking up her paycheck and went away with him. Now she, with others like her, is charged with murder.

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