Mass killer, cult leader Charles Manson dies at 83

Charles Manson during a 1989 interview.

By Diane Bartz and Steve Gorman

(Reuters) – Charles Manson, the wild-eyed cult leader who orchestrated a string of gruesome killings in Southern California by his “family” of young followers, shattering the peace-and-love ethos of the late 1960s, died on Sunday, prison officials said. He was 83.

Manson died of natural causes Sunday evening at a Kern County hospital, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a statement. It gave no further details of the circumstances surrounding his death.

He had been serving a life sentence at the nearby Corcoran State Prison for ordering the murders of nine people, including actress Sharon Tate.

Long after Manson had largely faded from headlines, he loomed large as a symbol of the terror he unleashed in the summer of 1969.

“The very name Manson has become a metaphor for evil,” the late Vincent Bugliosi, who prosecuted Manson, told the Los Angeles Times in 1994.

A recent photograph showed the gray-bearded killer’s face still bearing the scar of a swastika he carved into his forehead decades earlier.

Manson became one of the 20th century’s most notorious criminals when he directed his mostly young, female followers to murder seven people in what prosecutors said was part of a plan to incite a race war.

 

GRAFFITI WITH VICTIMS’ BLOOD

Tate, aged 26 and eight months pregnant, was stabbed 16 times in the early morning hours of Aug. 9, 1969, by members of Manson’s cult at the rented hillside house she shared with her husband, filmmaker Roman Polanski, in the Benedict Canyon area of Los Angeles.

Four friends of the celebrity couple, including coffee heiress Abigail Folger and hairstylist Jay Sebring, were also stabbed or shot to death that night by Manson followers, who scrawled the word “Pig” in blood on the home’s front door before leaving. Polanski was away in Europe at the time.

The following night, members of Manson’s group stabbed grocery owner Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary to death, using their blood to write, “Death to Pigs” and “Healter Skelter” – a misspelled reference to the Beatles song “Helter Skelter” – on the walls and refrigerator door.

Although Manson did not personally kill any of the seven victims, he was found guilty of ordering their murders.

He was later convicted of ordering the murders of music teacher Gary Hinman, stabbed to death in July 1969, and stuntman Donald “Shorty” Shea, stabbed and bludgeoned that August.

Manson was sentenced to death for the Tate-LaBianca murders, but his sentence was commuted to life in prison after the California Supreme Court abolished capital punishment in the state in 1972.

Born Charles Milles Maddox on Nov. 12, 1934, in Cincinnati to a 16-year-old girl, Manson spent much of his youth shuttled between relatives and juvenile detention halls. By age 13, he had been convicted of armed robbery.

Newly paroled from prison in 1967, he began attracting members of his “family” in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district, which had become a haven for the hippie youth culture.

The group moved with his followers to the Los Angeles area, eventually settling at Spahn Ranch, site of an outdoor movie location used for Western films and TV shows. Communal sex and drug use were a way of life as Manson became a messiah to the runaways, outcasts and criminals drawn by his charisma, intimidation and twisted spiritualism.

One follower told authorities she had seen Manson bring a bird back to life by breathing on it. Another said he could see and hear everything she did and said.

Manson aspired to be a rock star, and through one of his followers befriended Dennis Wilson, drummer of the Beach Boys, who would go on base their 1969 song “Never Learn Not to Love” on a Manson composition.

Wilson introduced Manson to music producer Terry Melcher, who later snubbed him. Melcher, along with his then-girlfriend, actress Candice Bergen, had previously rented the Benedict Canyon house.

The brutality of the killings stunned the nation.

“There was a lot of fear,” Bugliosi, author of the chilling book about the murders, “Helter Skelter,” told the Times in 1994. “The words printed in blood made it especially frightening for the Hollywood crowd.”

 

SENSATIONAL TRIAL

Denied his request to represent himself during his 9-1/2 month trial, Manson showed up in court with an “X” carved into his forehead, and would later alter it into a swastika.

Co-defendants Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel cut “X”s in their foreheads, shaved their scalps, sang Manson-written songs and giggled through chilling testimony.

At one point, Manson tried to leap over the defense table at the judge, snarling: “In the name of Christian justice, someone should cut your head off.” The judge began carrying a gun afterward.

Manson ultimately was brought down by his followers. Atkins told two inmates about the Tate-LaBianca murders while she was jailed in an unrelated killing, then testified to a grand jury before recanting. Prosecutors then persuaded another follower, Linda Kasabian, to testify against the rest of the group in exchange for immunity.

Convicted along with Manson, his three co-defendants, Atkins, Van Houten and Krenwinkel, also had their death sentences reduced to life terms.

Manson long maintained his innocence, telling Rolling Stone magazine that follower Charles “Tex” Watson was responsible for the Tate-LaBianca killings. Watson was tried separately and is serving a life term for his role in those killings.

Still, Manson seemed resigned to a life of incarceration, ceasing to even attend his parole review hearings after 1997.

“What would I want out for?” he said in a telephone interview with the Los Angeles Times. “This beats an old folks home.”

In April 2012, Manson was quoted by parole officials as having told a prison psychologist the previous fall: “I have put five people in the grave. I’ve been in prison most of my life. I’m a very dangerous man.”

 

(Writing by Diane Bartz, Bill Trott and Steve Gorman; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Diane Craft and Nick Macfie)

 

Freeport evacuating Indonesian mine worker families after shootings

Freeport evacuating Indonesian mine worker families after shootings

TIMIKA, Indonesia (Reuters) – U.S. miner Freeport-McMoRan Inc is evacuating spouses and children of workers from its giant Indonesian copper mine after a string of shootings in the area raised security concerns.

The move follows efforts by Indonesian authorities on Friday to evacuate villages near Freeport’s Grasberg mine in the eastern province of Papua that authorities said had been occupied by armed separatists.

Since August at least 12 people have been injured and two police officers have been killed by gunmen with suspected links to separatist rebels.

Freeport has asked family and household members of its employees to prepare over the weekend for a temporary relocation from the mining town of Tembagapura, about 10 km (6.2 miles) from Grasberg, company sources said. Workers have been asked to stay behind and maintain their work schedule, they said.

Details of the evacuation or the number of people impacted were not immediately clear. Shots were fired at a light vehicle and two large mining trucks were set on fire at Grasberg on Saturday, one of the sources said. The sources declined to be named as they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Freeport in a statement on Saturday confirmed the evacuation plan and said it will be carried out immediately.

“We are working closely with government and law enforcement to ensure the safety of our people and those in the communities we support, and to bring about the return of peace and stability as soon as possible,” it said.

Grasberg is the world’s second-largest copper mine by volume.

The separatist West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-OPM) says it is at war with Indonesian authorities and wants to “destroy” Freeport in an effort to gain sovereignty for the region.

TPN-OPM has claimed responsibility for the shootings but denies police allegations it took civilian hostages.

(Reporting by Sam Wanda in TIMIKA; Writing by Fransiska Nangoy and Fergus Jensen in JAKARTA; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

In grieving Texas town, faith sustains those left behind

A member of the media walks inside the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs where 26 people were killed one week ago, as the church opens to the public as a memorial to those killed, in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S. November 12, 2017.

By Tim Reid

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas (Reuters) – Joe Holcombe and his wife, Claryce, lost eight members of their family in the Texas church shooting last Sunday, including their son, grandchildren, a pregnant granddaughter-in-law and a great- granddaughter who was still a toddler. But they are serene.

Chairs and roses mark where worshipers were found dead at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs where 26 people were killed one week ago, as the church opens to the public as a memorial to those killed, in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S. November 12, 2017.

Chairs and roses mark where worshipers were found dead at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs where 26 people were killed one week ago, as the church opens to the public as a memorial to those killed, in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S. November 12, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

“It’s just not a problem to us,” said Holcombe, 86, adding that he and 84-year-old Claryce believe their dead family members are now alive again in heaven.

“We know exactly where the family is, and it’s not going to be long until we’ll both be there,” he said. “And we’re really sort of looking forward to it.”

Chairs and roses show where Joann and Brooke Ward and others were found dead at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs where 26 people were killed one week ago, as the church opens to the public as a memorial to those killed, in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S. November 12, 2017.

Chairs and roses show where Joann and Brooke Ward and others were found dead at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs where 26 people were killed one week ago, as the church opens to the public as a memorial to those killed, in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S. November 12, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

The Holcombes were upbeat and full of good humor during a telephone interview, and they are not an exception in this deeply evangelical part of Texas.

What is so striking about relatives and friends of the 26 victims of the church shooting in tiny Sutherland Springs is that they all believe good will come from this act of evil and that their loved ones are now safe for eternity, and breathing again, with God.

Psychologists say such deep faith can help families deal with such a ghastly event. Even so, they warn that leaning too heavily on one’s religious beliefs can stunt the natural grieving period and result in post-traumatic stress later.

A cross with a crown of thorns and a Bible open to the book of Proverbs are seen at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs where 26 people were killed one week ago, as the church opens to the public as a memorial to those killed, in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S. November 12, 2017.

A cross with a crown of thorns and a Bible open to the book of Proverbs are seen at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs where 26 people were killed one week ago, as the church opens to the public as a memorial to those killed, in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S. November 12, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

“I can see potentially it could be some form of denial, a delayed traumatic reaction, and if you don’t have some kind of negative feelings, it can catch up with you,” said clinical psychologist and trauma expert Bethany Brand.

Gina Hassan, a psychologist in northern California, said Sutherland Spring’s faith was invaluable in the wake of the shooting, “but if it’s relied upon in a rigid way, then it’s going to be a problem down the line and come back to bite you later on.”

Local veterinarian George Hill, a relative of the Holcombes, said an evangelical belief in Christ was the only way to deal with such a tragedy.

“We haven’t lost hope,” he said. “They are not gone. They are just gone ahead. And we know we’ll see them again.”

He expressed faith that evil would not prevail. “It looks like evil won, but it didn’t,” he said. “Good is going to win.”

Pastor Mike Clements of the First Baptist Church in Floresville, a small city 14 miles from Sutherland Springs, is officiating over the funeral services for the extended Holcombe family on Wednesday.

The dead include Bryan Holcombe, Joe and Claryce Holcombe’s son, and his wife Karla. Their son Danny Holcombe was killed as well, along with his 18-month-old daughter, Noah. Crystal Holcombe, who was 18 weeks pregnant, was Bryan and Karla Holcombe’s daughter-in-law.

Also shot and killed were Emily, Megan and Greg Hill, three children from Crystal’s first marriage, which had ended with her husband’s death.

Under Texas law, Crystal’s unborn child is also being counted as a victim, making a death toll of nine for the family.

People in Sutherland Springs are truly grieving, Clements said. But evangelicals accept Christ into their lives in a very real way, and because of that, their faith is incredibly liberating, especially at a time of such great tragedy.

Most fundamentally, he said, they believe people who have accepted Christ will go to heaven.

“It doesn’t get any better than this,” Clements said over lunch near his church. “There is nothing better than heaven when you are a believer.”

 

(Editing by Frank McGurty and Lisa Von Ahn)

 

U.S. mainland Puerto Ricans anguished, unable to reach loved ones

Evelyn Carrillo, 24, (L) and Deserie Rivera, 34, pose for a photo at Café Borinquen, the Puerto Rican restaurant where they work in Plantation, Florida, U.S., September 21, 2017. Photo taken September 21, 2017. REUTERS/Bernie Woodall

By Bernie Woodall and Stephanie Kelly

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla./NEW YORK (Reuters) – Deserie Rivera is having difficulty sleeping at night, unable to get through to Puerto Rico to find out if her mother is safe after Hurricane Maria struck.

Rivera, a 34-year-old waitress at a Puerto Rican restaurant in the southern Florida city of Sunrise, says that she knows that she is not alone. She has many friends who also cannot reach their loved ones on the devastated island.

“I just want to hear their voices. I want to know they are OK,” Rivera said on Friday morning, desperate after three days to get word about her mother, Noemi Vazquez, 57, and the rest of her family in Vega Alta, on the hard-hit northern part of the island, where six people were confirmed dead by Friday morning.

The day after the Category 4 hurricane struck on Wednesday, more than 95 percent of wireless cell sites were not working on island, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said. [nL2N1M2214] And nearly no one had electricity.

The communications breakdown has been painful for many of 5.17 million people living in the United States who identify as Puerto Ricans, a community that outnumbers the 3.4 million who live on the island.

Puerto Ricans live throughout the mainland United States. The New York area including New Jersey has one of the oldest communities, but in recent years, more than a third of islanders moving to the mainland have settled in Florida, a Pew Research study found.

Jorge Ortiz, the 55-year-old owner of Café Borinquen in Plantation, Florida, where Rivera works, said he feared that number of confirmed deaths will grow once communications return and roadways are cleared of downed trees and power lines.

Ortiz is one of several owners of Puerto Rican restaurants in southern Florida who have said they will collect goods to ship to Puerto Rico, part of a grassroots effort to aid those remaining on the island.

“We will keep collecting for as long as it takes, and that may be a long time,” said Ortiz.

What little Rivera has learned from Vega Alta is not all that reassuring.

“My mom’s neighbors were able to send someone I know a text message when they had just enough signal for that but not enough for a phone call,” said Rivera. “They said that they are OK, so I guess my mom is, too. But I don’t know.”

By Friday morning, some communications had been restored.

Lizette Colon, who lives in New York, was finally able to get in contact with her brother Friday morning. She said that others around her still have not heard from family members.

“It’s so emotional,” Colon said, crying. “I just want people here not to forget us.”

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and Stephanie Kelly in New York; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

Charlie Gard’s parents say hospital denied their ‘final wish’ for dying son

Charlie Gard's parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard read a statement at the High Court after a hearing on their baby's future, in London. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) – The parents of Charlie Gard, a terminally ill baby who a judge ordered should be sent to a hospice to die, said Britain’s top pediatric hospital had denied them their final wish to decide the arrangements for their son’s death.

After a harrowing legal battle that prompted a global debate over who has the moral right to decide the fate of a sick child, a judge on Thursday ordered that Charlie be moved to a hospice where the ventilator that keeps him alive will be turned off.

His parents had sought first to take him home but Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) said that was not possible due the ventilation Charlie needs, they then asked for several days in a hospice to bid farewell to their son.

But they were unable to find doctors to oversee such an extended period of time and so a judge ruled that Charlie be moved to a hospice to die.

“GOSH have denied us our final wish,” his mother, Connie Yates, was quoted as saying by the BBC.

“Despite us and our legal team working tirelessly to arrange this near impossible task, the judge has ordered against what we arranged and has agreed to what GOSH asked,” she said. “This subsequently gives us very little time with our son.”

Great Ormond Street Hospital, a pioneering pediatric center, said that it deeply regretted the breakdown in relations with Charlie’s parents, in a case that has involved months of legal wrangling and has even drawn comment from U.S. President Donald Trump and Pope Francis.

“Most people won’t ever have to go through what we have been through, we’ve had no control over our son’s life and no control over our son’s death,” Charlie’s mother said.

“We just want some peace with our son, no hospital, no lawyers, no courts, no media, just quality time with Charlie away from everything, to say goodbye to him in the most loving way.”

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Search for Arizona man after flash flood kills 9 of his family

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) – Authorities searched on Monday for a missing man after a flash flood crashed down an Arizona canyon, law enforcement officials said, reportedly killing his wife and eight other family members at a popular swimming spot north of Phoenix.

Searchers scoured an area of the Tonto National Forest for an unidentified 27-year-old man who officials said was among 14 members of an extended family hit by a wall of flood water on Saturday afternoon.

Nine of the family, ranging in age from 2 to 57, died in the floodwaters on Saturday afternoon, according to a statement on Monday from the Gila County Sheriff’s Department.Four others from the Phoenix family, aged between 1 and 29, were rescued and survived the incident.

The Arizona Republic newspaper identified the missing man as Hector Miguel Garnica and said that the dead included Garnica’s wife, Maria Raya, 25, and her three children, Emily, 3, Mia, 5, and Hector Daniel, 7. Also killed was Selia Garcia, who authorities said was 57 and whom the Republic identified as Raya’s mother.

The group of 14 was swept down the creek after a thunderstorm hit about eight miles away in an area that had been burned by a nearly 7,200-acre wildfire last month, according to authorities.

Officials with the National Weather Service said one to 1.5 inches fell in 20 to 30 minutes in the area near Payson, about 90 miles (145 km) northeast of Phoenix.

A video posted on social media showed a muddy, debris-filled torrent that hit Ellison Creek, rushing down a narrow canyon where the swimmers were taking in the cool waters at the popular spot.

Three bodies were recovered on Saturday, with the other six recovered on Sunday, officials said.

Forecasters said they were concerned about additional possible flash flooding projected for central and southern Arizona.

The National Weather Service in Phoenix said that most of Arizona was under flash flood watch until Monday evening, warning that the monsoon air mass over the region was very wet and conducive to heavy thunderstorm rain that could lead to flood or flash flooding.

(Reporting by David Schwartz, additional reporting by Taylor Harris; Editing by Andrew Hay and Patrick Enright)

Family firm in Ukraine says it was not responsible for cyber attack

Sergei Linnik, general director of Ukrainian software development firm Intellect Service, and his daughter Olesya pose for a picture at the company’s offices in Kiev, Ukraine July 3, 2017. REUTERS/Pavel Polityuk

By Jack Stubbs and Pavel Polityuk

KIEV (Reuters) – Ukrainian company Intellect Service was not responsible for last week’s international cyber attack that brought down the computer systems of several major companies, the father and daughter team told Reuters on Monday.

Cyber security investigators are still trying to establish who was behind the attack.

But Ukrainian officials and security firms including Microsoft <MSFT.O>, Cisco’s <CSCO.O> Talos and Symantec <SYMC.O> say they have confirmed that some of the initial infections occurred when malware was transmitted to users of a Ukrainian tax software program called M.E.Doc.

They say the virus, dubbed NotPetya by some experts, was primarily spread via an update issued by M.E.Doc, the accounting software developed by Olesya Linnik and her father Sergei at his company, Intellect Service.

In their first interview with foreign media since the attack, the Linniks said there was no evidence M.E.Doc, which is Ukraine’s most-popular accounting software, was used to spread the virus and they did not understand the charges against them.

“What has been established in these days, when no one slept and only worked? We studied and analysed our product for signs of hacking – it is not infected with a virus and everything is fine, it is safe,” said Olesya, managing partner at Intellect Service.

“The update package, which was sent out long before the virus was spread, we checked it 100 times and everything is fine.”

Little known outside Ukrainian accounting circles, M.E.Doc is an everyday part of life at around 80 percent of companies in Ukraine. The software allows its 400,000 clients to send and discuss financial documents between internal departments, as well as file them with the Ukrainian state tax service.

POLICE INVESTIGATING

Investigators have said M.E.Doc’s expansive reach is what made it a prime target for the unknown hackers, who were looking for a way to infect as many victims as possible.

“These malware families were spread using Ukrainian accounting software called M.E.Doc,” researchers at Slovakian security software firm ESET said in a blog post on Friday.

“M.E.Doc has an internal messaging and document exchange system so attackers could send spearphishing messages to victims.”

Ukrainian police said on Monday the Linniks could now face criminal charges if it is confirmed they knew about the infection but took no action.

“We have issues with the company’s leadership, because they knew there was a virus in their software but didn’t do anything … if this is confirmed, we will bring charges,” Serhiy Demedyuk, the head of Ukraine’s cyber police, told Reuters in a text message.

Speaking before Demedyuk’s comments at the company’s modest offices on an industrial estate in Kiev, Sergei, Intellect Service’s general director, raised his voice in frustration.

“We built this business over 20 years. What is the point of us killing our own business?”

Olesya said the company was cooperating with investigators and the police were yet to reach any conclusions.

“The cyber police are currently bogged down in the investigation, we gave them the logs of all our servers and there are no traces that our servers spread this virus,” she said.

“M.E.Doc is a transportation product, it delivers documents. But is an email program guilty in the distribution of a virus? Hardly.”

(Writing by Jack Stubbs; Editing by Anna Willard)

Mourners in Ohio remember U.S. student held prisoner by North Korea

FILE PHOTO - Otto Frederick Warmbier, a University of Virginia student who has been detained in North Korea since early January, attends a news conference in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo released by Kyodo February 29, 2016. Mandatory credit REUTERS/Kyodo/File Photo

By Ginny McCabe

WYOMING, Ohio (Reuters) – Friends and family members will gather in Ohio on Thursday to say goodbye to an American student who died days after being returned to the United States in a coma following 17 months in captivity in North Korea.

Otto Warmbier, 22, was arrested in the reclusive communist country while visiting as a tourist. He was brought back to the United States last week with brain damage, in what doctors described as state of “unresponsive wakefulness,” and died on Monday.

A public memorial will be held on Thursday morning at Wyoming High School, in the Cincinnati suburb of Wyoming. Warmbier will be buried later in the day at a local cemetery.

The exact cause of his death is unclear. Officials at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he was treated, declined to provide details, and Warmbier’s family on Tuesday asked that the Hamilton County Coroner not perform an autopsy.

Warmbier’s father, Fred Warmbier, told a news conference last week that his son had flourished while at the high school.

“This is the place where Otto experienced some of the best moments of his young life, and he would be pleased to know that his return to the United States would be acknowledged on these grounds,” he said.

After graduating as class salutatorian in 2013, Warmbier enrolled at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where he was studying at the school of commerce and was a member of the Theta Chi fraternity. Warmbier was scheduled to graduate this year.

At a memorial service on Tuesday night, students at the university remembered Warmbier as outgoing and energetic.

“Being with Otto made life all the more beautiful,” Alex Vagonis, Warmbier’s girlfriend, said.

Warmbier was traveling in North Korea with a tour group, and was arrested at Pyongyang airport as he was about to leave.

He was sentenced two months later to 15 years of hard labor for trying to steal an item bearing a propaganda slogan from his hotel, North Korea state media said.

Ria Westergaard Pedersen, 33, who was with Warmbier in North Korea, told the Danish broadcaster TV2 that he had been nervous when taking pictures of soldiers, and said she doubted North Korea’s explanation for his arrest.

“We went to buy propaganda posters together, so why in the world would he risk so much to steal a trivial poster? It makes no sense.”

(Wrting and additional reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago and Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen in Copenhagen; Editing by Kevin Liffey)