Inmate Sets Fire to Charles Manson
Wednesday, September 26th, 1984
SACRAMENTO, Sept. 26 — Multiple killer Charles Manson is expected to live after being severely burned Tuesday when a fellow inmate set him on fire at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville.
Manson, convicted in the killings of actress Sharon Tate and six others, was doused with paint thinner and set afire by murderer Jan Holmstrom after a dispute about Holstrom’s Hare Krishna religious chanting, prison authorities said.
The incident occurred at 8:45 a.m. in the prison hobby shop, where Manson had been working. Other inmates quickly extinguished the blaze.
Manson was treated in the prison infirmary and was reported in serious but stable condition Tuesday night with second- and third-degree burns over 18 percent of his body.
“The burns are not life-threatening, but he probably will have some scars,” Lt. Bill Hartwell said. Manson is expected to be hospitalized 10 days to two weeks, he said.
Holmstrom, 36, is serving a life term for second-degree murder in Pasadena. Since being sentenced in 1975, he also has been convicted of assault with a deadly weapon on another inmate and assault on a prison peace officer, Hartwell said.
Holmstrom was described as a “psychiatric case in remission.” He has not received a parole date.
“Holmstrom told us that Manson had threatened him the last two days for practicing his (Hoistrom’s) religion,” Hartwell said. “The two had a verbal confrontation several days ago, when Manson said he couldn’t stand Holmstrom’s chanting.”
Hartwell said Holmstrom apparently planned retribution and threw the paint thinner into Manson’s face, then lit it with a match. He said much of Manson’s beard was burned, and hospital orderlies removed most of the hair on his head to treat the burns.
Holmstrom was placed in a prison security section and could be prosecuted for assault with a deadly weapon.
A spokesman for the International Society of Krishna Consciousness in Berkeley said he “never heard of Holmstrom.” He said there may be Hare Krishna members in prison, but he does not know of any. Holmstrom, he said, could have claimed membership in the sect after he entered prison.
Prison officials said they knew of no other Hare Krishna activity at the facility.
Manson, who served 11 years in solitary confinement, was released to the general prison population in 1982 and since has worked as a janitor. He has been denied parole five times and is scheduled for another hearing next year.
The illegitimate son of a 16-year-old prostitute, Manson led a band of nomadic disciples into Los Angeles from a desert hideout for a rampage of slaughter that he believed would set off a “Helter Skelter” race war.
On Aug. 9, 1969, Manson dispatched his followers to the Beverly Hills mansion of Sharon Tate, who was eight months pregnant. Tate, jet-set hairdresser Jay Sebring, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, her boyfriend Voitcyck Frykowski, and Steven Parent, a friend of the home’s caretaker, were murdered.
The next night, wealthy grocer Leno LaBianca, and his wife, Rosemary, were slain in their Los Feliz home in Los Angeles.
By BILL WILSON