Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor who sent Charles Manson to prison and co-authored Helter Skelter, has died. A Los Angeles NBC affiliate says the cause of death was cancer. Bugliosi was 80.
Born in Minnesota, Bugliosi moved to Los Angeles in the ’60s and earned a law degree from UCLA. He then began working in the L.A. County District Attorney’s office, and, in 1970, he was appointed prosecutor in Charles Manson’s high-profile murder trial. Manson, of course, was a cult leader who convinced his followers that a race war would soon destroy the world. As part of the preparations for this event—which Manson called “Helter Skelter”—he ordered his followers to kill Sharon Tate, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, and several others. Though Manson didn’t commit the murders himself—and the evidence against him was mostly circumstantial—Bugliosi was able to get him convicted by arguing that everyone involved in a conspiracy to commit murder is guilty of the murders, regardless of if they actually committed the murder. Manson is still in prison.
With co-writer Curt Gentry, Bugliosi then went on to write Helter Skelter, a book that is easily the most famous account of the Manson murders. (In fact, multiple TV movies have been made from Helter Skelter, one in 1976 and one in 2004.) Bugliosi entered private practice in 1972 and went on to write 11 other books, including Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O.J. Simpson Got Away With Murder, Till Death Us Do Part: A True Murder Mystery, and two books on George W. Bush, The Betrayal Of America (on the 2000 presidetnial election) and The Prosecution Of George W. Bush For Murder (in which Bugliosi presented a case for why Bush should be held accountable for every soldier’s death in Iraq).
Bugliosi is survived by his wife and two children.