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Charles Manson was always motivated by race war in planning murders, ex-follower says

Dianne Lake, a former member of Charles Manson's cult, said starting a race war was the motivation for the 1969 murders committed by his followers, despite Manson's assertions to the contrary.
/ Source: TODAY

A former member of Charles Manson's cult-like "family" of followers spoke to Megyn Kelly on Megyn Kelly TODAY Friday about the chilling motivation behind the spate of seven murders in 1969 that contradicted Manson's own assertions about the killings.

Dianne Lake, who was 14 when she came under Manson's control, affirmed to Kelly that starting a race war was the intent of the "Helter Skelter" terror unleashed by Manson's followers.

"Most definitely,'' she said. "He had been talking about this race war from the very beginning. He'd learned about this from his time in jail and reform school."

Buddy Day, the director of the new documentary "Charles Manson: The Final Words," told Kelly that up until his death on Nov. 19 at the age of 83, Manson maintained to him that the murders were not about starting a race war. Manson claimed it was a story line manufactured by the prosecution to secure the conviction for first-degree murder that put him in prison for life.

The documentary, which airs Sunday night on Reelz, explores alternate theories regarding the motivation for the murders.

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Lake, who has written the book "Member of the Family" about her experiences, said Manson took the term "Helter Skelter" from a Beatles song to describe the race war he hoped to foment.

"He was psychotically delusional about him being the second coming of Christ,'' she said. "He used to tell us his name, Manson, that he was 'man's son,' that this was all a prophecy.

"When the Beatles album came out, he would tell us, 'This is the four prophets. They are telling me about a race war.'''

Lake was the victim of sexual abuse by Manson at the age 14 after being introduced to him by a pair of friends. She did not participate in any of the murders and ultimately testified for the prosecution against Manson.

"I think that we were all under his kind of spell,'' she said. "How they could've done that, I don't know. I'm sure that I could not have done that, nor was I ever asked."

Her arresting officer later adopted her as a foster child. She went on to graduate from college and is widowed with three children.

"I've been incredibly blessed and I owe it to the grace of God that got me through that valley of darkness and lived to tell the tale,'' she said. "Hopefully it's a cautionary one."

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.