Charles Manson, a mass murderer and one of the most notorious cult leaders in America, was reportedly taken to a hospital in deteriorating condition earlier this week.
The former Manson Family leader, now 83, was hospitalized in Bakersfield, California, three days ago, TMZ first reported Wednesday. The Los Angeles Times later confirmed with Kern County sheriff’s Lt. Bill Smallwood that Manson was taken to the hospital.
Vicky Waters, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, told the LA Times that Manson is still alive, but she did not comment on the severity of his condition.
However, an unnamed source familiar with the situation suggested to TMZ that Manson’s condition was deteriorating.
“It’s not going to get any better for him,” the source told the celebrity news site. The source also described Manson as “ashen” and lying still while covered in blankets.
“It’s just a matter of time,” the source said, according to TMZ.
Manson was hospitalized earlier this year for gastrointestinal issues.
According to the Los Angeles Times and the Bakersfield Californian, Manson was “seriously ill” and taken to Mercy Hospital’s downtown location in Bakersfield in January. That hospital is 62 miles south of the California State Prison in Corcoran, where Manson has been serving a life sentence since 1971.
Manson gathered a group of devoted followers in the 1960s, a cult that later became known as the Manson Family. Under Manson’s direction, cult members murdered seven people, reportedly in order to incite a race war in the summer of 1969.
On Aug. 9, 1969, Manson’s followers fatally stabbed actress Sharon Tate, who was pregnant and married to film director Roman Polanski, 16 times and killed four other people in the actress’s Los Angeles home. The group also killed Leno and Rosemary LaBianca the following night, stabbing them to death in their home. They used the couples’ blood to scrawl words at the site, including a reference to the Beatles song “Helter Skelter.”
In June 1970, Manson and three of his followers — Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten — went on trial for the murders. In 1971, a jury convicted the four defendants on multiple counts of first-degree murder.
Manson was initially sentenced to death, but it was later changed to life in prison when the state Supreme Court struck down California’s death penalty statute for violating the state constitution.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated that Mercy Hospital Downtown is 62 miles north of the California State Prison in Corcoran. It is south of the prison.