true crime

The terrifying story of what happened to this little boy.

You might think you do not know his story, but you do. 

Kathleen Maddox came from a family of religious fanatics. If her father so much as put a hand on her mother’s knee, Kathleen’s grandmother would swiftly reprimand the “vulgar” display of affection.

The young woman from Ohio lived a life full of ‘nos’. “No Kathleen, that dress is too short. Braid you hair, don’t comb it like some hussy. No you can’t go to the school dance, we are going to church,” her grandmother would insist.

With fair hair, and deep brown eyes that produced an intense yet somewhat beautiful stare, Kathleen made the decision at 15 to abandon her life punctuated by “a never-ending list of denials”. She followed through on the threat so many teenagers have made, and ran away from home. She never returned.

Less than a year later, Kathleen fell pregnant to a man she knew only as ‘Colonel’.

The 16-year-old, who had thought very little if at all about the prospect of having children, gave birth to her son in Cincinnati General Hospital, surrounded only by disapproving nurses.

Colonel was not at the birth, and Kathleen made the decision not to list him on the newborn’s birth certificate.

When nurses handed Kathleen the paperwork, she stared blankly at the box that required she write down a name for her baby.

After a few moments, she returned the document.

It simply read, ‘No Name’.

To this day, his birth certificate reads ‘No Name Maddox’.

Kathleen Maddox. Image via Wikicommons.

It is not clear what Kathleen did for a living, but years later, No Name would claim she was a prostitute with an alcohol problem.

There are vignettes, difficult to determine as truth, which have emerged in the early years of No Name's life.

When he was still a baby, Kathleen took him to a restaurant, where the waitress serving them made a big fuss about how beautiful he was. She flippantly joked that she'd buy him from Kathleen, that's how infatuated she was.

"A pitcher of beer and he's yours," Kathleen allegedly replied.

The 16-year-old mother drank a beer, which the waitress brought her free of charge, and after she finished the last drop she went home.

Kathleen did not take No Name with her.

Eventually, once an aunt and uncle heard what Kathleen had done, they found No Name and returned him to his mother.

But they wouldn't be together for long.

No Name at five years old. Image via Wikicommons.

When he was four, Kathleen went out drinking and met a stranger named Frank Martin. Kathleen decided that Martin had "too much money for one man," and orchestrated a robbery with her brother, Luther. The crime would land her in jail for three years.

No Name was placed in the care of his aunt Glenna and uncle Bill, who by all accounts were extremely strict.

In his first few days of school, a notoriously cruel teacher ridiculed No Name for being the son of criminal, and he returned home with tears streaming down his face. His uncle Bill yelled that crying was only for girls, and forced him to return to school the next day, dressed head to toe as a girl as punishment.


This would be a traumatic event in No Name's life, and one he would never, ever forget.

As a child, he was described as disagreeable, dishonest, and out-of-control. His cousin Jo Ann vividly describes his "crazy eyes" and an uncontrollable rage that would overcome him. He loved being the centre of attention, unsurprising given that he was afforded virtually none from his sole parent.

After three years, Kathleen was released from prison. The moment she saw No Name, she stretched out her arms and hugged him - a gesture he had never experienced. Decades later, No Name looks back on that moment as his "sole happy childhood memory".

But her affection towards her only child was short lived and ultimately confusing to the seven-year-old.

What began as harmless lies, turned into manipulative deceit. As No Name grew older, he became violent towards boys and girls. His cousin Jo Ann described, "his interest in people was dictated by what they might be able to do for him.”

No Name as a young boy. Image via Wikicommons.

By the age of 12, No Name's mother had accepted that she was totally unfit to raise a child. She had exchanged him for a pint of beer, abandoned him and neglected him, and now she wanted to wipe her hands clean of him.

She attempted to hand him over to foster care, but was unsuccessful. So eventually No Name was sent to a Catholic school for male delinquents called Gibault School for Boys, a place that he hated from the moment he stepped foot into the building.


He despised it so intensely, that after 10 months he ran away and made it all the way back to his mother's doorstep, desperately hoping she would welcome him home. But that wasn't what happened.

She yelled that she couldn't look after him, and immediately sent No Name back to the place he'd escaped.

His mother would never pick him up for a visit, and No Name would never, for the rest of his life, live in the same house as his mother again.

Surrounded by some of the most defiant, angry and ultimately criminal young men in the United States, it's unsurprising that No Name hardly prospered. He never learned to read or write. Petty crimes turned into serious ones, as he joined groups of boys to drive stolen cars across state lines.

POST CONTINUES BELOW: The episode of Casefile you absolutely need to listen to. 

Once he was arrested, No Name was sent to Indiana Boys School, a correctional institution for adolescent boys.

Despite the high level of security, No Name broke out twice, but was promptly brought back.

What the authorities didn't know, was that he was breaking out to escape being violently raped, which happened repeatedly throughout the three years he spent there. His accusations are difficult to confirm, but they are consistent with behaviour that people know occurred in the institution during that time.

Even the most heinous criminals had family and friends visit them, No Name would later recall. But he had nobody.

For the next decade of his life, as he went from juvenile to adult, No Name was in and out of prison - poor, unemployable and abandoned by his family.

When his sentence at Terminal Prison ended in 1967, No Name was 33 years of age. Upon his release, he begged authorities not to make him leave prison. It was all he had.

They refused, and so out he went into the world, with just $35 in his pocket.

From the moment he was born, the odds were never in his favour.

His childhood was littered with unimaginably traumatic events that permanently etched themselves onto his character.

No Name was perhaps not born a monster. He was made one.

Today, we do not know him as No Name Maddox.

We know him as Charles Manson.

And we are well versed in what happened next.

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