Manson's lasting legacy: 'Live freaky, die freaky'

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Forty years ago, a group of young people led by a charismatic, 5-foot-2-inch ex-con named Charles Manson set out on a murderous spree in Los Angeles, California. They planned to spark an apocalyptic race war that Manson called "Helter Skelter," after a song by the Beatles.

Crimes linger in our memories when they are especially horrific or when they represent the era in which they occur. The Manson murders did both. And they grew to symbolize the dark side of the California dream, as well as the political, social and cultural turbulence of the 1960s.

The Manson murders abruptly ended the "decade of love," and Southern California lost its sun-kissed, self-indulgent innocence. The crimes added a lasting mantra for the times, Los Angeles Times columnist Patt Morrison said: "Live freaky, die freaky."

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