The Manson Family was a cult started by Charles Manson.
Manson was born to Kathleen Maddox, an unwed sixteen year old girl, in 1934. It is said that his mother, an alcoholic, sold him to buy beer.
When he was returned to her she had him sent to a boarding school.
After a number of years living with his religious aunt and uncle, he returned to his mother who rejected him.
After a number of robberies, he was put in jail for the first time.
One month before his parole hearing in 1952, he raped a boy in jail by holding a razor to his throat.
Two years later he was paroled.
Manson began to pimp a young woman he met and eventually took her, and a second woman to New Mexico to work for him as prostitutes.
He was caught and tried under the Mann Act (a 1910 act that prohibited white slavery and trafficking for immoral means).
In 1967 he was released (having spent more than half of his life in institutions). Upon release, he requested permission to move to San Francisco which was granted.
When he arrived he became part of the Hippie movement and he set himself up as a guru.
He moved in with 23 year old student Mary Brunner and convinced her to allow other women to join them.
Eventually eighteen other women were living with them – this was the beginning of the family.
By 1968, Manson had established a home for the “family” at a ranch owned by George Spahn.
Manson convinced one of the family members, Lynette Fromme, to sleep with Spahn in order to get free rent.
Manson began teaching his followers that social uprisings were coming – using the assassination of Martin Luther King as evidence.
He also told them that the social turmoil he had been predicting had also been predicted by The Beatles.
The White Album songs, he declared, told it all, although in code; in fact, he maintained, the album was directed at the Family itself, an elect group that was being instructed to preserve the worthy from the impending disaster.
In 1969, on August 8, Manson told Family members at Spahn Ranch, “now is the time for Helter Skelter.”
That evening the family, under the direction of Manson, would commit the famous murder of Sharon Tate, leading to other murders over the two day period.
Source: Listverse, Top 10. (Verified as having some circumstantial information).