Charles Manson’s Childhood

Nothing But Reform Schools and Prison as a Young Man

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

Charles Manson was born to an unmarried 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, but when Kathleen told him she was pregnant, Scott fled the area never to return. It is therefore believed that young Charles 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 and 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 leaving young Charles to fend for himself and/or with a variety of babysitters while she was bar-hopping and hanging around various men getting into trouble. Charles refers to his mother as a prostitute from what he remembers.

Kathleen was involved in a robbery in 1939 and was given a ten year prison sentence which sent Charles 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 than sent him to the Gibault School for Boys in Terre Haute, Indiana. Gibault was a school for boys considered to be juvenile delinquents and was run by Catholic priests.

Charles Manson fled Gibault twice, once returning to his mother who only sent back, and again later 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 fled to Illinois. After being caught for more robberies, he was then sent to the Indiana Boys School, yet again, another school for juvenile delinquents where Manson says he was beaten and raped. After two failed attempts he eventually escaped in 1951.

Yet again 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 he could be paroled in a 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 20 years old.

In 1955 he married a local waitress named Rosalie Jean Willis and for a brief time found honest employment and lived a life seemingly unlike his prior years as he attempted to straighten out. He later convinced his then pregnant wife to move to Los Angeles and he stole a vehicle for them to get there. Somehow the stolen vehicle was discovered in their possession 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 learned of this he tried to escape, getting caught and losing his chance at an upcoming parole.

When Charles was released from prison he began pimping woman for a living and was caught forging a U.S. Treasury check and was arrested and given a 10 year suspended sentence and probation. He then moved with the woman he was pimping to New Mexico and taking her from there to Texas where he was again arrested and charged with violating his probation. He was then sent back to Los Angeles to serve his 10 year sentence which was conditionally 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.


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