The Manson Family
The Manson Family, one of the most notable cults in pop culture, were a group of wayward hippies founded by a wannabe rock star named Charles Manson in 1967. After forming a quasi-commune in San Francisco and moving to Los Angeles, the "Family" committed a brutal string of murders in the Summer of 1969 that included those of supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, Folgers Coffee heiress Abigail Folger, and actress Sharon Tate, who starred in Valley of the Dolls and was eight months pregnant with her and husband Roman Polanski's first child.
Manson was obsessed with The Beatles, particularly the White Album, and told his followers about his own theories about social upheaval and plans to start a race war that he called "Helter Skelter," after The Beatles' hit song. His insistence on this resulted in the group's attempts to blame their grisly crimes on African-Americans, specifically the Black Panthers, by leaving chilling messages and symbols written in their victims' blood.
In October 1969, Manson and a handful of his followers — the majority of whom were young women — were apprehended. After a lengthy trial, the murderers were given the death penalty, but when it was abolished in California in 1972, the sentences for all of the members were commuted to life in prison. On Nov. 19, 2017, the famous cult leader died at the age of 83.