Portfolio Project: Case Study of Ted Kaczynski and Charles Manson

Portfolio Project

Case Study of Ted Kaczynski and Charles Manson

CRJ425 Criminal Law

Colorado State University Global

During a thirty year span of time, two individuals struck the nation with an eerie sense of fascination and fear as they carried out their horrific deeds. Theodore J. Kaczynski and Charles M. Manson are two names that will likely not fade from history any time soon, and for good reason: their actions will continue to baffle minds for years to come. Ted Kaczynski, notoriously known as the Unabomber, committed acts of terrorism through the use of homemade explosives and evaded capture for nearly 20 years. Charles Manson, leader of the “Manson Family”, brought terror to California in the late 60’s along with the deaths of at least 9 people. The goal of this project is to analyze the cases of these two individuals in depth, identify key elements, and evaluate the nature and purpose of criminal law as it relates.



Between the years of 1978 and 1995, Kaczynski either mailed or hand delivered numerous homemade pipe bombs that killed three individuals and injured another 24 (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2016). His targets included those working in the fields of engineering, airlines, computer sciences and forestry industries (Harrado, 2004). In total, there were sixteen bombings, but not all were successful. Because his crimes crossed state lines and used federal services, the United States Postal Service, Kaczynski would be charged with multiple violations to United States Code Title 18 – Crimes and Criminal Procedure. Additionally, because three people had been killed by his bombs it meant that California and New Jersey could prosecute him for murder (Peil, 1998).

Facts of the Case

The facts that underlie his arrest are for mailing and/or placing sixteen bombs that killed three individuals in two states and injured nine others, U.S. v. Kaczynski, 239 F.3d 1108 (9th Cir. 2001). The bombs grew in sophistication as each one was sent, but not all detonated. Analyst’s found the letter “FC” stamped into the bomb components which they were able to determine stood for “Freedom Club” – an anarchist terrorist group who engaged in bombing campaigns against scientists and technologists (University of Michigan).

Kaczynski had sent his bombs to known universities professors and other individuals linked to the scientific and technological advancement of society. His bombs killed three people: Hugh Scrutton, a computer store owner, Thomas Mosser, an advertising executive, and Gilbert Murray, a timber industry lobbyist.

Results and Punishment

After his arrest in 1996, the Eastern District of California held a pre-trial hearing. At the hearing, a federal prosecutor read from excerpts from Kaczynski’s daily diary that were seized during the investigation of his cabin. The prosecutor claimed that those excerpts amounted to Kaczynski’s admission to the sixteen attacks (Peil, 1998). From here the case against Kaczynski would become an ordeal no one would have thought it would become.

His case was quickly selected as a federal case and after his indictment in California, Kaczynski appealed to have his sentence vacated. Kaczynski relied on 28 U.S.C. 2255 to support his allegations that his plea was involuntary because his counsel had violated his wishes regarding the dissemination of his mental condition and the denial he received on his Faretta request to represent himself, U.S. v. Kaczynski, 239 F.3d 1108 (9th Cir. 2001). United State Code 28, subsection 2255 addresses federal custody and remedies on motion attacking sentence. Kaczynski felt that his rights had been violated by his defense team which is why he took this stance. The courts found that his Faretta request was untimely and not in good faith, that his counsel could present any evidence at their discretion, and that his plea was voluntary, U.S. v. Kaczynski, 239 F.3d 1108 (9th Cir. 2001).

On June 18, 1996, the State of California charged Kaczynski with “four counts of transporting and explosive in interstate commerce with intent to kill or injure”; “three counts of mailing an explosive device with intent to kill or injure”; “and three counts of using a destructive device during and in relation to a crime of violence”, U.S. v. Kaczynski, 239 F.3d 1108, 1110-11 (9th Cir. 2001). The State of New Jersey returned their indictment of Kaczynski on October 1, 1996, charging him with “one count of transporting and explosive device in interstate commerce with the intent to kill or injure”; “one count of mailing an explosive device with the intent to kill or injure”; “and one count of using a destructive device during and in relation to a crime of violence”, U.S. v. Kaczynski, 239 F.3d 1108, 1110-11 (9th Cir. 2001). After these charges were presented, th government gave notice of intent to seek the death penalty on May 15, 1997, U.S. v. Kaczynski, 239 F.3d 1108, 1110-11 (9th Cir. 2001).

These charges are stem from violations to U.S. Code 18, Crimes and Criminal Procedure. The court determined that he had violated subsections 844(d), attempting to transport explosives, 924(c), use of a weapon in connection with a violent crime, and 1716, explosives are a nonmailable item.

Kaczynski wanted to avoid a death sentence so he filed a notice under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 12.2(b), noting that he wanted to now introduce expert testimony regarding the state of his mental health, U.S. v. Kaczynski, 239 F.3d 1108 (9th Cir. 2001). Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 12.2(b) is the notice of an insanity defense and mental examination.

In December of 1997, Kaczynski wrote to the district court detailing that he was in conflict with his attorneys over the presentation of a mental status defence, U.S. v. Kaczynski, 239 F.3d 1108 (9th Cir. 2001). After an ex parte meeting a compromise had been worked out that Kaczynski would withdraw his Rule 12.2(b) notice and that no expert mental health testimony would be presented at the guilt phase of the trial. Now that things were settled, the trial was set for January 5, 1998.

Over the first three days of his trial Kaczynski had requested new representation, was denied his request, agreed to move forward with his current defense team, announced that he didn’t want to represent himself, attempted to commit suicide, and then decided he did want to represent himself. This caused his trial to be continued to several weeks later, and in the meantime was ordered to complete a competency examination.

The courts had caught on to what he was doing; Kaczynski was purposefully attempting to delay the case as long as possible. All further requests to withhold information about his mental health and to represent himself were promptly denied. After a final Faretta request and denial, Kaczynski entered into a plea bargain, stating that he would plead guilty unconditionally to the indictments from both states if the government would withdrawl its notice to seek the death penalty, U.S. v. Kaczynski, 239 F.3d 1108 (9th Cir. 2001).

The plea bargain that Kaczynski accepted was taken by the court on the same day and on May 4, 1998 he was sentenced to four consecutive life sentences, plus an additional thirty years imprisonment, U.S. v. Kaczynski, 239 F.3d 1108 (9th Cir. 2001). He was also ordered to pay more than $15 million in restitution to his victims. Because of the deal that he accepted, he was not able to appeal. His sentencing is in accordance with the penalties listed for the violation to 18 U.S.C. § 844(d), 924(c) and 1716.



Charles Mason had never been a stranger to crime. He had been arrested multiple times and was ironically already in jail when he was wanted for the deaths of some of California’s elite.

On August 9, 1969 in the early morning hours, residents at 10050 Cielo Drive in Los Angeles were brutally attacked and murdered. Sharon Tate, who was eight months pregnant, Jay Sebring, Voytek Frykowski, Abigail Folger, and Steven Parent were found dead by the housekeeper later that same morning (Linder, 2008). The next day, again very early in the morning, Leno and Rosemary LaBianco were also attacked and murdered (Linder, 2008). In addition to these murders, Manson is also attributed with the deaths of Gary Hinman, a friend of the “Family”, Dennis Wilson, a member of the Beach Boys, and Barbara Hoyt, a former “Family” member.

Facts of the Case

The Tate murders occurred in the early morning hours of August 9, 1969. Steven Parent was the first victim, he was shot with a .22 caliber revolver 4 times in the chest (Bugliosi & Gentry, 1980). Police also noticed a deep cut on the palm of his hand; they believe this was a defensive wound. The occupants of the house were next. All had been asleep, but they were all woken up and taken into the living room. Tate and Sebring were tied together by their necks and the rope was tossed over a ceiling beam. Sebring began to beg for Tate’s life as she was pregnant; for this he was shot and then stabbed seven times (Bugliosi & Gentry, 1980).

Frykowski’s hands had been tied together with a towel which he was able to free himself from. He got loose and struggled with his attacker, but was able to make it to the front door. He was not able to get away, though; when he got to the door his attacker had caught up, hit him over the head repeatedly with the butt of his gun, stabbed him numerous times and then shot him twice (Bugliosi & Gentry, 1980). Folger was able to get out a window but was quickly caught and stabbed her to death. Tate was last. She pleaded to be allowed to live long enough to give birth and attempted to do anything to save her child (Bugliosi & Gentry, 1980). Her attackers had other plans; Tate was stabbed sixteen times (Bugliosi & Gentry, 1980). The word “Pig” was written on the front door, People v. Manson et al., 61 Cal. App. 3d 125.

The LaBianca murders occurred the next night. Leno and Rosemary were awoken, tied up and taken to the living room (Bugliosi & Gentry, 1980). Their heads were covered with pillowcases and bound in place with lamp cords. Leno was kept in the living room while Rosemary was taken back to her room. Leno was stabbed with a bayonet (Watson, 1978). Rosemary tried fending off her attackers who had taken her to her room but she was stabbed several times before her attacker returned to the living room to finish off Leno (Watson, 1978. The word “WAR” was carved into his body. Rosemary had succumbed to her first few stab wounds but that didn’t stop her attackers from stabbing her lifeless body more than 40 times (Bugliosi & Gentry, 1980). “Death to the Pigs” was written in blood on a wall in the living room; over a door, “Rise”; and on a refrigerator door, “Healter [sic] Skelter.”, People v. Manson et al., 61 Cal. App. 3d 125.

Results and Punishment

One week after the murders had occurred, police raided Spahn Ranch, the home of Manson and his family. But the police were not there to arrest them for the murders but rather for car theft (Grabianowski, 2017). After being released on a technicality, they fled. From August to October, no one had tied the Manson family to the murders until one of the members made a confession that they had been connected with the Hinman murder. When investigators had learned this, the pieces to the Tate-LaBianca murders began to fall into place and conveniently all of the suspects were already in jail (Grabianowski, 2017).

It was easy to see that Manson was the leader of this group of individuals who had physically committed the murders: Susan Atkins, Patricia Krewinkel, Leslie Van Houten, and Charles Watson. The Tate-LaBianca murder trial would prove to be very chaotic.

One of the biggest challenges at the start of the trial was the extradition of Charles Watson from Texas to California. The matter became so convoluted that the DA decided to proceed against Manson and “his girls”. When jury selection began, so did Mansons antics; he requested to ask his potential jurors “a few simple, childlike questions that are real to me in my reality” but was denied (Linder, 2008).

Trial began on July 24, 1970. Manson walked into the courtroom with a freshly cut “X” on his forehead stating to the court that he had X’d himself from their world (Linder, 2008). The prosecution began, stating that Linda Kasabian, a former “Family” member, would be their main witness; she had accompanied the killer to both murders and was promised immunity for her testimony (Linder, 2008).

When Kasabian was called to testify, Manson’s attorney, Irving Kanarek, objected on the grounds that the witness was not competent “and is insane” People v. Manson et al., 61 Cal. App. 3d 125. The judge denied the objection and Kasabian remained on the stand for the first 18 days of the trial (Linder, 2008). She proved to be a very credible witness, offering her account of both nights, and on Manson’s behavior.

On August 3, 1970, Manson stood before the jury with a copy of the Los Angeles Times newspaper displaying the headline “Manson Guilty, Nixon Declares”. His defense team jumped on this as an opportunity for a mistrial on the grounds of prejudice to the jury; the order was denied when all jury members stated that the article would not influence their final decision, People v. Manson et al., 61 Cal. App. 3d 125.

Throughout the trial, many of the witnesses against Manson stated that they had received threats from Manson. This worked against Manson; the prosecution used it to show Manson’s total control over the members of his so-called family (Linder, 2008). The prosecution had called a total of 84 witnesses and 300 exhibitions of evidence and on November 16, 1970, after twenty-two week, the prosecution rested (Linder, 2008). Trial resumed three days later, it was now time for the defense to present their case; the only thing they stated was “the defense rests”, People v. Manson et al., 61 Cal. App. 3d 125.

All three women and Manson wanted to testify. The women’s attorneys stated that their testimonies were strongly opposed, believing that they were still under direct control of Manson and that they would testify that they had planned and executed the murders without Manson’s help (Linder, 2008). The judge ruled that the right to testify took precedence and allowed all four to testify.

On January 25, 1971, the jury returned with their verdict: Manson, Krenwinkel and Atkins were indicted on seven counts of murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder; Van Houten was indicted on two counts of murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder, People v. Manson et al., 61 Cal. App. 3d 125. All four were sentenced to death, but the sentence was overturned with the repeal of California’s death penalty in 1972.


18 U.S.C. § 844(d)

18 U.S.C. § 924(c)

18 U.S.C. § 1716

Bugliosi, V., & Gentry, C. (1980). Helter skelter. Ringwood, Vic.: Penguin Books.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). (2016, May 18). Unabomber. Retrieved April 5, 2020, from https://www.fbi.gov/history/famous-cases/unabomber

Grabianowski, E. (2017, November 17). How the Manson Family Murders Worked. Retrieved May 11, 2020, from https://people.howstuffworks.com/manson-family-murders-worked4.htm

Harrado, J. (2004). LETTERS TO THE UNABOMBER: A CASE STUDY AND SOME REFLECTIONS. Archival Issues, 28(1) 35-46. Retrieved from https://minds.wisconsin.edu/bitstream/handle/1793/45968/MA28_1_4.pdf?sequence=3

Linder, D. (2008). Manson Chronology. Retrieved May 07, 2020, from http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/manson/mansonchrono.html

Peil, M. (1998, January 23). A summary of the legal proceedings. Retrieved May 6, 2020, from https://www.law.cornell.edu/background/unabom/summary.html

People v. Manson et al., 61 Cal. App. 3d 125

U.S. v. Kaczynski, 239 F.3d 1108 (9th Cir. 2001)

Watson, C. (1978). Will you die for me?: As told to chaplain Ray (Hoekstra). Old Tappan, NJ: Revell.

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