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The Manson Family: Study In Forensic Psychology

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Forensic psychology is the practice or study of psychology and its influence in the law. “Psychologists involved in this type of work may be found working in prisons, jails and rehabilitation centres, schools, government agencies, or in private practice etc.” They may work directly with lawyers, accused, offenders, victims, families, or with prisoners within federal correctional facilities or rehabilitation centres. They may even work in colleges, universities, government agencies, or in other parts of society interested in researching and examining the correspondence of human behaviour and the legal system.

The criminal justice system is a series of government agencies and institutions whose goals are to identify and catch unlawful individuals to inflict a form of punishment (according to the countries laws). Other goals include the reintegration of offenders that could lead to preventing other offences and moral support for victims.

Crime: The Tate killings were the murder spree of five people conducted by members of the Manson Family (Charles Manson’s cult group) on August 8 1969. Four members of the Manson Family broke into the home of married couple, actress Sharon Tate and her husband Roman Polanski a director in Los Angeles. They killed recently pregnant Tate, as well as three individuals who were visiting that night. Polanski was absent on the night of the murders. The assassinations were executed by Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, and Patricia Krenwinkel, under the direct order of Charles Manson. “Manson, a would-be musician, had previously attempted to enter into a recording contract with record producer Terry Melcher, who was a previous renter (from May 1966 to January 1969) of the house along with musician Mark Lindsay and Melcher's then-girlfriend, actress Candice Bergen.” Melcher had denied Manson a contract, leaving him disgruntled and thirsty for revenge. Before the murders took place, Charles Manson instructed Tex Watson to go to 'that house where Melcher used to live, to 'totally destroy everyone in the house, as gruesome as you can'. Manson had told the women involved to abide by Watsons plans and orders.

Shortly after midnight on August 9 Watson was first to enter the home. He encountered a sleeping Frykowski, and proceeded to kick him in the head. When Frykowski asked why he was doing this, Watson allegedly replied, 'I'm the devil, and I'm here to do the devil's business.' Atkins, on Watson’s direction, reportedly found the house’s other occupants. Watson tied Tate who had been stabbed 28 times and Sebring who had been stabbed 51 times prior together by their necks with rope that he then slung from the ceiling beams. According to Bugliosi, when Sebring protested the rough treatment of pregnant Tate, Watson shot him. Helter Skelter (book) says that Frykowski and Folger both fought against their captors to no avail. Frykowski reportedly escaped once before Watson caught up and unleashed a flurry of stabbings on the front lawn. Abigail Folger had a met a similar end less than 15 metres away. It is unknown what order Frykowski and Abigails deaths occurred. For the majority the murders were organised, an escape vehicle was accessible, it was under the cover of night, weapons were brought and found. Manson would have had a memory of the layout of the house as he had visited previously. However Forensic professionals working on the murders failed to note or sample blood found on bushes where someone had supposedly fallen. No samples were taken from the pools of blood found around the two bodies in the living room. Twenty one of the forty-five blood samples found around the crime scene were never sampled.

Perpetrator(s) “A person who carries out a harmful, illegal, or immoral act.”

Susan Denise Atkins born May 7, 1948 died September 24, 2009 was an American serial killer who was a member of Charles Manson's 'Family'. Known within the Manson family as Sadie Mae Glutz, Atkins was convicted for her participation in eight of these murder sprees, including the most notorious, the Tate murders in 1969. She was sentenced to death, which was then changed to life imprisonment when the California Supreme Court invalidated all death sentences issued prior to 1972. At the time of her death, she was California's longest-serving female inmate.

Charles Denton Watson Jr. (born December 2, 1945), better known as Tex Watson a leader of the 'Manson family'. The night after the Tate murders Watson was involved in the murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, as part of Manson's 'Helter Skelter' vision. Watson was found guilty of murder and imprisoned in 1971.

The Helter Skelter Scenario is a theory hypothesised by Vincent Bugliosi, head prosecutor in the Tate–LaBianca murder trial, to determine and explain the reasons behind the killing sprees. Bugliosi described a theory at trial and in his book Helter Skelter. Charles Manson often preached to members of his 'family' about 'Helter Skelter'. in the months leading up to the Tate murders Manson envisioned an apocalyptic war arising from racial tensions between blacks and whites. This vision was a heavy reference to music of the Beatles, particularly songs from their 1968 double album The Beatles (commonly known as 'the White Album'), Manson and his followers were declared the perpetrators based on the prosecution's theory that they were attempting to trigger the Helter Skelter scenario.

Linda Darlene Kasabian (born Drouin; June 21, 1949) is a former member of Charles Manson's 'Family'. She was the key witness in District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi's prosecution of Manson and his followers for the Tate murders in 1969. Linda Darlene Never murdered Instead she acted as a lookout so that the Tate murders could go underway.

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Patricia Dianne Krenwinkel (born December 3, 1947) is an American murderer and a former member of Charles Manson's 'Family'. During her time with Manson's group, she was known by various other names such as Big Patty, Yellow, Marnie Reeves and Mary Ann Scott, but to The Family she was most commonly known as Katie. Krenwinkel is now the longest-incarcerated female inmate in the California penal system.

Charles Manson – Birth name (Charles Milles Maddox) is what one might call a criminal mastermind even though his killing spree was cut short. Charles Manson was born on November 12, 1934 in Cincinnati, Ohio to his mother, Kathleen Maddox and father (name unknown). he died on November 19, 2017 in Bakersfield penitentiary (California) from a heart attack. Manson was married to Rosalie Jean (Willis) Manson (1955-divorce date unknown); was also married to a woman named Leona in the early 1960s, whose last name is not publicly known. Manson had at least two children with Rosalie Jean (Willis) Manson: Charles M. Manson Jr. (1956-1993) and Charles Luther Manson. During Manson’s childhood, Manson's mother sold him for a pitcher of beer to a woman who wanted to have children. According to the California Parole Board, Manson had a “history of manipulation, controlling behaviour and mental illnesses which included schizophrenia and paranoid delusional behaviour.” Manson’s family population reached more than 100 followers and was a steadily growing community of brainwashed hippies. To this day it is stated that Manson never committed any murders himself making him the perfect criminal mastermind as his influence over his followers was unprecedented.

Victim(s) “A person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.”

Steven Earl Parent was born in California on February 12, 1951. He lived in the Los Angeles suburb of El Monte with his father Wilfred Elmer Parent (a construction superintendent) his mother Juanita, his younger sister Janet, and 2 younger brothers, Greg and Dale. Steven was currently attending Arroyo high school at the time of his murder.

Thomas John Kummer (October 10, 1933 – August 9, 1969), known professionally as Jay Sebring, was an American celebrity hair stylist, and the founder of the hairstyling corporation Sebring International. Sebring was murdered by members of the Manson Family along with his ex-girlfriend Sharon Tate.

Wojciech Frykowski was an aspiring screen-writer from Poland who tried to make it in Hollywood with the help of his friend, Roman Polanski.

Abigail Folger was born on Aug. 11, 1943, into an über wealthy and Catholic family, Folger’s early life was one of tradition and high-society. She was a model student who graduated from Harvard University with an art history degree. She worked for the University of California Art Museum in Berkeley, then left for New York where she worked at a book store and then as a social worker in the ghettos. It was in New York in 1968 when she met Voytek Frykowski, who was new to America. He claimed to be an aspiring writer. The two communicated mostly in French as his English wasn’t very good.

Sharon Marie Tate Polanski (January 24, 1943 – August 9, 1969) was an American actress and model. Perhaps best known for her death during the Tate murders. During the 1960s, she played small television roles before appearing in films and was regularly featured in fashion magazines as a model and cover girl. On August 9, 1969, At the time of her death, she was eight-and-a-half months pregnant with the couple's son.


All of the Manson family members involved in the Tate-Labianca killings were all convicted for their roles in the murders. Originally every defendant received a death sentence however in 1972 all death sentences had been changed to life in prison as a death sentence was ruled unconstitutional every defendant and even Manson himself was given a possibility of parole.

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The Manson Family: Study In Forensic Psychology. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 9, 2023, from
“The Manson Family: Study In Forensic Psychology.” Edubirdie, 17 Mar. 2022,
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