This will not be a full review of this huge case but an opinion of mine based on what I have read and seen in documentaries. Two events effectively killed off the sixties; the murder of Meredith Hunter at Altamont and the Tate/LaBianca murders. Manson was the puppet master, there is no doubt about that. After all, he did go into the home of the LaBiancas, tied them up and then went out to bring his puppets in to do the slaughter. All his claims that "It wasn't me who did the murders!" Well, that is true buddy, but sending them out to kill and then tying up the victims and bringing in gullible young people to do your dirty work, what does that make you then?
Many of the followers this master manipulator came from what is generally called "good" or middle class families. This seemed to be a trend with young people. Getting a good start in life but obviously this is not good enough. They do not want to listen to parents or friends about living their lives but sure will listen to an utter bullshit merchant who come to totally control them. This did not work with all people associated. The man who introduced Manson to music producer Terry Melcher, moved away from Manson and his followers, despite the attempts to control him. The frequent complaint from Manson was that the man was "thinking". He would not yield to manipulation. Something Manson did not like.
Young follower Barbara Hoyt told of how they were sent away whilst the murder team were at the ranch house. Manson, Watson, Van Houten. Atkins, Krenwinkle & Kasabian. Kasabian witnessed what happened. Hoyt went to the ranch house with clothes for the group, not knowing what was going on. She said that Manson went berserk when she arrived there. Not this self -proclaimed "God" or "Prophet" showing his true colours? All this "Love & peace" shown to be total bollocks? Barbara Hoyt broke away and became a witness for the State. There was an attempt by Family members to kill her. Again, the true colours of these people came to the surface. One FBI profiler believed that Manson ordered these murders to ensure total control over the group, that he felt was losing to Charles Watson. Barbara Hoyt said that Watson did everything that Manson told him, without question. My view is that theory has been shot down by Hoyt. Some members stopped listening to Manson and left. His grip was not as total as he thought.
There was a documentary some years back in which the three women killers were interviewed in prison. Two accepted that they had done wrong in the worst possible way, and that they had been manipulated and basically, brainwashed. Only one still proclaimed her belief in Manson, though I cannot recall which one. My bet would be Susan Atkins. Paul Watkins was the second-in-command to Manson and he was the main procurer of young girls for Manson. He does not figure largely in the telling of the whole story, but logically, somebody had to be able to draw young girls in, as, let`s face it, Manson would of have been in the age group of the people they "opposed". But in the end, Manson was no different to Jones, Berg & Koresch. A person obsessed with control.