Notorious cult leader Charles Manson died Sunday of natural causes, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The 83-year-old was serving multiple life sentences for leading members of his cult "family" to kill seven people in a bloody rampage in Los Angeles that shocked the nation in 1969.
Clearly, people remain interested in Manson and the 1969 mass killing spree of the so-called "Manson family."
While Manson is one of the most notorious convicted killers in American history, he never physically killed anyone himself. He ordered his followers to carry out the deadly deeds in a "helter skelter" spree that stabbed, shot, and killed seven people in 1969.
Bruce Davis was part of Manson's flock. Before he was caught up in a cult, Davis was a young boy in East Tennessee. His father worked as a welder at the Kingston fossil plant. Davis graduated from Roane County High School in 1961, and was a clean-cut kid bound for college at the University of Tennessee.
Davis never graduated from UT. He dropped out and drifted to California. In a few years, he was a full-fledged member of the "Manson family."
The motive for the murders and messages written in blood remains up for debate nearly half a century later. Some claimed Manson and his followers were attempting to start a race war. Other theories say one crime led to another and the bloody display was merely an attempt to cover their tracks by confusing police.
Whatever the motivation, Manson and many of his followers were convicted of multiple murders. Davis was convicted in 1972 on two counts of first-degree murder.
With a swastika carved between his wild-eyes and several belligerent interviews, Manson's notorious image has grown during his decades behind bars. Not so with Davis. He has mostly lived quietly, has not had any discipline problems on his record since 1980, and claims to be a devoted Christian with remorse for his crimes.
In the last five years, California's state parole board has repeatedly recommended Davis be released. Each time, the governor has blocked his parole.
As long as Jerry Brown remains governor of California, Davis is almost certain to remain behind bars. Imprisoned or not, he will always be a mysterious footnote of how a clean-cut kid from Roane County became involved in one of the infamous killing sprees in American history.