VACAVILLE, Calif. -- Prison officials suspect mass murderer Charles Manson and three other convicts of plotting an escape by using a hot-air balloon to fly over the walls at the California Medical Facility.
Prison spokesman Don Custard said Monday that Manson and the other inmates were placed in special custody pending an investigation.
He said escape charges may be filed.
Custard said guards discovered a hacksaw blade, a piece of metal that appeared to be fashioned into a knife, 100 feet of nylon rope and a catalog for ordering a hot-air balloon. The hacksaw blade was found in Manson's cell along with what officials suspect were marijuana and LSD.
Manson, 48, was the notorious head of the 'family' of young dropouts who killed actress Sharon Tate and six others in Southern California in 1969.
Custard said the discovery of the items was made after a guard became suspicious Friday night when he found the door to the prison's Protestant chapel tied shut with an electrical cord. When the guard ordered the door to be opened, he found Manson and the other inmates.
A search resulted in discovery in the chapel's attic of a piece of metal that could have been 'a prison-fashioned weapon,' Custard said.
Custard said guards searched Manson's cell on Saturday and found the hacksaw blade and what they believe to be marijuana and LSD. He said tests are being performed to determine the contents of the substances.
Custard said guards conducting a later search of the chapel found the nylon cord and the balloon catalog.
During his first 12 years in prison, Manson was held in solitary confinement. But last June, prison officials decided to permit Manson to leave his closed cell and become part of the general prison population on a trial basis.