CALIFORNIA, November 19, 2014 — It appears that notorious 80-year-old convicted serial killer Charles Manson has found his soul mate. Press releases indicate Manson is scheduled to be married next month to a young woman named Afton Burton. Burton, age 25, was re-named “Star” by Manson when she was 16 years old.
Is this potential union really the result of May-December love? Unlikely. It is more likely a strategic move by Manson and his best friend and family member, Craig Hammond. Manson is a complex and highly enigmatic personality. However, after having long conversations with Manson and developing a friendship with Hammond, I have some clear insight into Manson and his motivations.
In 2009, I had more than 3 1/2 hours of conversations with Manson. I also became friends with 63-year-old Hammond, who Manson calls “Grey Wolf.” At that time, Burton and Hammond were living together close to the California Corcoran State Prison for Men so they could visit Manson as frequently as allowed.
Manson has a habit of nick-naming those close to him. “Star” and “Grey Wolf” are both names Manson picked.
Hammond and Manson met after the infamous “Manson Family Murders,” so Hammond had no involvement and little knowledge of the bloody murders in August of 1969 which viciously and savagely took the lives of seven people in their homes in a two night spree.
After Manson’s conviction, Hammond remained close to Manson. He has visited Manson and played chess with him for 45 years. Afton Burton is no more than a pawn in their ongoing game of chess.
Burton lived in Illinois with her parents and had written Manson many letters. Manson replied to those letter. When Burton was 16, Manson instructed her to move in with Hammond at his California residence. According to Hammond, Manson instructed Burton to “take care of him,” meaning Hammond.
In 2009 when this author was speaking to Manson, Hammond and Burton, phone calls placed to Hammond would be frequently answered by Burton.
On one particular morning, Manson placed a call directly to this writer’s office phone without the benefit of the prison communication system. The call came at 3 a.m. Manson explained the call by saying he had access to a guard’s office, but a week later, every news source in America reported Manson was caught with an illegal cell phone.
After four years of quiet, Manson again made the news in concert with his friend Hammond. Press reported that Hammond was arrested for sneaking a watch type of cell phone into the prison. It appears that Hammond provided the means for Manson’s cell phone in 2009.
As a result of the arrest, Hammond was banned from Corcoran and from all communication with Manson. This spelled trouble for Manson, as Hammond was Manson’s lifeline to the outside world.
Additionally, Hammond and Burton were working hard for Manson’s release, but this effort ground to a halt when Hammond was arrested.
What to do?
Manson is crafty. If he marries Burton, she will have spousal access to Manson, although his sentence precludes them from conjugal visits. Burton will access records kept from view for close to half a century and she can provide Manson a direct line to Hammond and vice versa.
Burton has given her life to Manson, so from her standpoint, she may be in love with Manson. However, last year when the marriage first became tabloid fodder, Manson steadfastly denied the possibility.
Love? Unlikely. Strategy is a better explanation.
Paul mountjoy is a Virginia based psychotherapist