Charles Manson Follower Recounts Life With Infamous Cult Leader: “He Really Got Mean”

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Barbara Hoyt once belonged to one of America’s most infamous “families.”

Hoyt was a follower of charismatic cult leader Charles Manson in the late 1960s. The Manson Family, as the group was often called, though they had no relation to each other, cemented its spot in American history after several of the group’s followers brutally stabbed pregnant actress Sharon Tate and her friends to death in Tate’s Benedict Canyon home in August 1969. The next night, group members struck again, killing grocery business executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary.

Hoyt was never involved in the killings, but she recounted her time with the cult to Dateline: Secrets Uncovered, describing the “fun” early days with the group to eventually fleeing on foot from the desert in terror after fearing for her own life.

Manson, a career criminal, was just released from prison when he found his way to San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury in the late 1960s, a time when young people from across the country were flocking to the district in search of peace and love.

“He could somehow identify the ones you could be tricked, coerced, drawn in,” journalist Jeff Guinn, who wrote the book Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson, said of how he found his followers.

According to Guinn, Manson relied on his charisma and tips he picked up in prison from pimps. “From them he learned how to control women who were and this is his quote ‘bent but not broken,’” he said.

Manson lured the women in with his music, philosophy, and the promise of a group where they could be loved and accepted. He reportedly convinced many of the women to have sex with men he wanted to join the group.

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