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(Reuters) - Cult leader and convicted mass murderer Charles Manson, reportedly taken from a California prison where he is serving a life sentence to a hospital for an undisclosed medical issue, "is alive right now," a state prison official said on Wednesday.
Celebrity gossip website TMZ reported on Tuesday that Manson was transported to a hospital in Bakersfield, California, about an hour from California State Prison in Corcoran, where he was being held. Manson, 82, was seriously ill, a source told the Los Angeles Times but could not provide further information.
A spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Krissi Khokhobashvili, declined to confirm the media reports or provide details on Manson's location or specifics on his medical condition.
"Charles Manson is alive right now," Khokhobashvili said by telephone on Wednesday, adding that Manson was still "assigned" to the prison in Corcoran. She declined to comment further.
In the 1960s, Manson, a charismatic ex-convict, assembled a group of runaways and outcasts known as the "Manson Family." In the summer of 1969, he directed his mostly young, female followers to murder seven people in what prosecutors said was part of a plan to incite a race war.
Members of the cult stabbed heavily pregnant Hollywood actress Sharon Tate 16 times in the early-morning hours of Aug. 9, 1969. Manson's followers stabbed or shot to death four other people at Tate's home.
The following night, Manson's group entered the nearby home of grocery store chain owner Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, stabbed the couple to death and used their blood to write "Rise," "Death to Pigs," and "Healter Skelter," a misplaced reference to the Beatles song "Helter Skelter," on the walls and refrigerator door.
Manson was originally sentenced to death but was spared execution and his sentence converted to life in prison after the California Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional in the state.
Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Jonathan Oatis