INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Before becoming one of the most infamous criminals in history, Charles Manson lived in Indiana.
Manson, the hippie cult leader who became the hypnotic-eyed face of evil across America after orchestrating the gruesome murders of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six others in Los Angeles during the summer of 1969, died Sunday after nearly a half-century in prison.
The 83-year-old was born to a drug-addicted, teen prostitute.
“His mother once traded him for a pitcher of beer at a bar,” Alan Hunter said.
Hunter is a Hoosier historian. He walked along what used to be Central State Hospital, a mental institution that was on Vermont Street on the west side of Indianapolis. Manson wasn’t a patient there, but lived nearby.
Hunter said Manson was sent to a reform school in Terre Haute at age 13.
“He escaped there and started stealing things, breaking into cars, businesses and homes. So, they sent him to the boy school in Plainfield,” Hunter said.
In Plainfield, Manson escaped 18 different times. According to Hunter, one time he robbed a grocery store of $100. He tried to get straight, using the money to rent a home at West Vermont Street and North Exeter Avenue near the psychiatric ward.
“He got a job as a Western Union telegraph boy. But when the money ran out, he started committing crimes again,” Hunter said.
Just blocks away was Central State, where Hunter believes Manson likely mingled with patients there using his charisma to brainwash them.
“I think this is where he figured out that I can do this and people listen to me and whatever reason they think I’m cool,” Hunter said.
Manson spent about eight years in Indiana, according to to Hunter, then moved around before landing in California. The rest is history.
“As far as I’m concerned, the world is a happier place without Charley Manson in it,” Hunter said.
Manson was also to Flanagan’s Boys Town in Nebraska, where he expressed interest in farm work. He said he wanted to work around cows and horses. But escaped there and was sent back to Plainfield within four days.