Charles Manson’s Childhood

Swallowed up by the system

charles manson childhood

Charles Manson mugshot, Federal Correctional Institute Terminal Island, May 2, 1956.

Charles Manson was born to a 16 year-old runaway named Kathleen Maddox on Monday, November 12, 1934 at a Cincinnati, Ohio hospital. He was first named “no name Maddox,” however within weeks, he was renamed Charles Milles Maddox. His father, Colonel Walker Henderson Scott Sr., was an army man stationed nearby. When Kathleen told him she was pregnant, Scott fled the area never to return. Therefore it is likely that young Charles Manson never met his real father. 

Charles later obtained the last name Manson from William Eugene Manson whom Kathleen began dating in 1934. Manson was a heavy drinker and would be missing for days at a time. The two divorced just three years later in 1937. As Kathleen struggled with her own alcoholic tendencies she too would go missing for days at a time. She’d leave young Charles Manson to fend for himself or with a variety of babysitters while she was bar-hopping and hanging around various men getting into trouble. 

Kathleen Maddox, Charles Manson’s Mom

Kathleen was involved in a robbery in 1939 and the courts gave her a ten-year prison sentence. Charles went to live with his aunt and uncle in West Virginia until his mother was paroled in 1942. They reunited and Kathleen continued her abusive parenting habits but by this time Charles himself was becoming his own problem getting arrested and finding trouble around every corner. His mother sent him to the Gibault School for Boys in Terre Haute, Indiana. Gibault was a school for juvenile delinquents and was run by Catholic priests.

A Childhood Behind Bars

Charles Manson fled Gibault twice. The first time returning to his mother who only sent him back. Later he fled again, this time to Indianapolis where he rented a room and supported himself by burglarizing stores at night. He was eventually caught and a sympathetic judge sent him to Boys Town, another juvenile delinquent school in Omaha, Nebraska. After four days he and another child inmate stole a vehicle and drove to Illinois. After the police caught him for more robberies, the courts sent him to the Indiana Boys School. Yet another school for juvenile delinquents where Manson says he was beaten and raped. After two failed attempts he escaped in 1951.

After more thefts and robberies he was apprehended and sent to the National Training School for Boys in Washington D.C. where he was evaluated for physiological problems and deemed to be aggressively antisocial. Upon recommendations from the physicians there, he was transferred to the Natural Bridge Honor Camp. Before his scheduled parole hearing set for 1952, he was caught raping another boy at knifepoint. Manson was transferred to the Federal Reformatory in Petersburg, Virginia where he was caught committing several homosexual crimes against other boys and was then transferred to a maximum security facility in Ohio. He was released to his aunt and uncle in 1954 at twenty years old. Charles Manson’s childhood had officially ended.

The Marriage of Charles Manson

In 1955 he married a local waitress named Rosalie Jean Willis. For a brief time he found honest employment and lived a quiet life. He later convinced the pregnant Willis to move to Los Angeles. He stole a vehicle to drive them out west. He got caught and Manson was sentenced to three years at Terminal Island, San Pedro, California. During his prison stay there, his wife met another man and was planning to divorce Charles. Once he found out he tried to escape. He was caught and lost his chance at an upcoming parole.

Last Days of Charles Manson’s Childhood

When Manson was released from prison he began pimping for a living and was caught forging a U.S. Treasury check in the amount of $43. He was arrested and given a ten-year suspended sentence and probation. He then moved with the woman he was pimping to New Mexico and was again arrested and charged in Texas for violating his probation. He was sent back to Los Angeles to serve his ten-year sentence which had been suspended on the basis that he not violate his probation. In July 1961, he was transferred from the Los Angeles County Jail to the United States Penitentiary at McNeil Island, Washington.

charles manson childhood

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