Mass murderer Charles Manson, the one-time long-haired cult leader...

VACAVILLE, Calif. -- Mass murderer Charles Manson, the one-time long-haired cult leader whose followers killed nine people on his orders, lost most of his hair and beard when he was set on fire by another killer, prison officials said Wednesday.

Manson remained in serious but stable condition with second- and third-degree burns over 18 percent of his body, and will be treated at the prison hospital at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville.


Jan Holstrom, a convicted murderer with psychological problems and a lengthy record of prison infractions, told guards he threw paint thinner at Manson and then set him afire with a match because they argued over Holstrom's constant recital of Hare Krishna chants.

Manson 'was just hanging around' the prison hobby shop when the incident occurred Tuesday, said Bob Gore, spokesman for the state Department of Corrections.

The 49-year-old cult leader was convicted of masterminding the bloody and ritualistic 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tate and eight others.

Holstrom, 36, who claims to belong to the Hare Krishna sect, was sent to prison in 1974 for the murder of his father, a Pasadena, Calif., gynecologist, over what authorities said at the time might have been a religious disagreement.


Officials said Manson, who was released into the prison's general population last year, is in a single-man cell at the hospital and burn specialists would be brought in to treat him. They had listed his condition Tuesday as 'good' but subsequently changed their wording to 'serious but stable.'

Manson, who was burned on the face, scalp and hands, 'had his hair and beard basically singed off' in the incident, Gore said.

'Whatever there was, it's gone now. There will be some scarring, and I think it will take some time to determine if he will need plastic surgery.'

Lt. Bill Hartwell said Holmstrom will remain in an administrative detention cell pending completion of the investigation of the morning incident at the prison's hobby shop.

A spokesman for the Hare Krishnas in Washington said Holmstrom 'came in contact' with the sect about a decade ago, but has had no connection with the organization since then.

Southern California authorities said it was Holstrom's involvement with the Hare Krishnas that apparently led to the murder of his father in January 1974.

Pasadena Police Detective Bill Bergner said Holstrom was living with another Krishna member when, for reasons never fully explained, he fired three blasts from a shotgun into his father's head in an ambush outside the family house.


Bergner said a search of the younger Holstrom's house turned up a lot of Hare Krishna literature and other religious material.

Chuck Girot, the deputy district attorney who prosecuted Holstrom, said Holstrom pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but was convicted of second-degree murder.

He recalled that Holstrom appeared to be jealous of his father's success.

'The guy had substantial emotional problems,' Girot said.'He just never really grew up.'

Holstrom, who was scheduled to be released from prison in 1982 for the murder, received additional prison time for assaulting a guard with a weapon. In the past 15 months, he has reportedly been accused of eight prison rule violations. He is currently scheduled to be freed on Dec. 15, 1986.

Hartwell said, however, that pending the outcome of the burning incident, Holstrom could face additional criminal charges.

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