Manson corpse case on ice for another month in heirs dispute
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The corpse of Charles Manson will remain in a morgue for at least another month while would-be heirs and a friend wait for a court hearing to fight over his remains.
A Kern County Superior Court commissioner on Wednesday set a March 7 hearing in the dispute that includes a son of Manson, a grandson and a pen pal who collected and sold memorabilia of the murderer.
The Kern County coroner’s office filed the case to have a judge referee who should get the body of the cult leader who orchestrated the 1969 killings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and eight others. Manson, 83, died Nov. 19 in a Bakersfield hospital.
Deputy Kern County Counsel Bryan Walters said “bodies are stacking up in the morgue” from methamphetamine and opioid epidemics and the coroner would like to dispose of the body.
The latest person to emerge in the fight for Manson’s remains is Michael Brunner, whose mother was one of the first members of the so-called Manson family.
Brunner was born in April 1968, a little more than a year before the world learned the name of Charles Manson and the bizarre following he cultivated. At the time of the Tate slayings, Mary Brunner was in jail.
Brunner’s attorney filed papers in court Tuesday that included a birth certificate and baptismal certificate for a Michael Manson, whose parents are listed as Charles Manson and Mary Brunner.
Michael Brunner, 49, who was raised by his maternal grandparents and took their name, is the last survivor of three men acknowledged as Manson sons, attorney Daniel Mortensen said. That would put Brunner in line to take control of the remains if two wills purportedly signed by Manson are deemed invalid.
A Manson grandson, Jason Freeman, who is the son of the late Charles Manson Jr., is also seeking the body. Michael Channels, a longtime buddy of Manson and avid “murderabilia” collector and dealer, is listed in one will as executor of the Manson estate and sole beneficiary.
Mortensen said delivering the body to Channels would violate the wishes of his client and go against the public interest.
“It cannot be ignored that Mr. Channels is a dealer in Manson memorabilia, with a public and macabre interest in the infamous crimes of (Manson) and a long history of sensationalizing and seeking to profit therefrom,” Mortensen wrote.
Channels did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Another purported son, Matthew Lentz, who claims he was fathered by Manson during a Wisconsin orgy, is listed in a will filed with the Kern County coroner that leaves everything to him as Manson’s “one living child.” Lentz has yet to file anything in court.
Walters has questioned the validity of both wills in court papers. He said the coroner’s office has blood samples of Manson if a DNA test is needed to determine if Lentz is kin.
The Manson estate, which could include lucrative rights to songs he wrote or to license his image, will be litigated in Los Angeles because that’s where Manson lived when he was convicted of, Superior Court Judge David Cowan ruled Friday.