Charles Manson Photo Reveals Cult Leader as Aged, Sullen-Looking

Manson, despite having aged into a silver-haired old man in prison for a grisly 1969 murder, is still too dangerous to be released, prosecutors say.

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California Department of Corrections / AP
California Department of Corrections / AP

A gaunt, distant-loooking Charles Manson posed for his prison mug shot recently, revealing that the brazen, wild-eyed cult leader, notorious for orchestrating the 1969 murder of actress Sharon Tate, has turned into a sullen, silver-haired septuagenarian. He awaits a parole board hearing on Wednesday, his 12th such hearing, but it is unlikely he will be released.

Manson, 77, refused to attend his last hearing in 2007, describing himself as a prisoner of the political system. The board refused to release him, concluding that he “continues to pose an unreasonable danger.” He has told prison officials he does not plan to attend the upcoming hearing, either. Even still, because of the minute chance that a parole hearing could actually spring Manson from behind bars, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office announced that it will stand in opposition to Manson being released.

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He has not been a model prisoner, however. Manson was punished for possessing a weapon, a sharpened pen, threatening a peace officer, and for keeping a contraband cell phone, along with many other violations over the years.

The photo, taken in June and released by the California Department of Corrections at the request of CNN, seems to show a completely different person than the one-time cult leader. But his forehead still bears a swastika he has worn for decades, which he once said stood for a “dead-head black stamp of rejection.”

Manson and several members of his group were convicted of murdering Tate, the wife of director Roman Polanski, who was eight months pregnant. He was sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to life with the possibility of parole.

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