Judge separates squabbles over Charles Manson’s remains and estate

January 28, 2018 GMT

Litigation over the estate of Charles Manson may resume in Los Angeles, but potential heirs fighting for the late cult leader’s corpse must make their case elsewhere, L.A. County Superior Court Judge David Cowan ruled Friday.

Manson died in November at the age of 83, and no fewer than four separate parties have staked claims since over his estate and remains two of Manson’s supposed children, a supposed grandson and a longtime pen pal.

Ruling on venue Friday, Judge Cowan said that the fights for Manson’s estate and remains are to be separated and decided in different counties, according to court reporters.

Los Angeles Superior Court will continue to host hearings concerning Manson’s estate, will and other related matters since he resided in L.A. when his crimes took place, Judge Cowan ruled.

The disposition of Manson’s remains, meanwhile, should be resolved in either Kings County, where he spent over 50 years behind bars, or Kern County, where he died in a Bakersfield hospital on Nov. 19, the judge said.

“He was incarcerated in Kings County, not L.A. County,” Judge Cowan said, according to The Orange County Register. “It should be Kings County or Kern County, not L.A. County for the venue.”

Manson’s body is currently in the custody of the Kern County coroner, and a hearing involving it is scheduled for Wednesday in Bakersfield, the county seat.

Potential heirs claiming custody of Manson’s body include two alleged sons, Michael Brunner and Matthew Lentz, as well as Manson’s purported grandson, Jason Freeman, and a pen pal, Michael Channels, who claims to hold a will listing him as the estate’s executor and sole beneficiary.

“I’m here to claim my grandfather, have him cremated, spread his ashes and do the right thing,” Mr. Freeman said during a press conference held outside court Friday.

An attorney representing the Kern County coroner said that Manson told guards at Corcoran prison that he had no surviving children and lacked a will, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Manson and several of his cult followers were convicted of participating in a series of brutal slayings that terrorized southern California in the late 1960s, including the March 1969 murder of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others inside her Los Angeles home.

Manson unsuccessfully pursued a music career before ordering the murders, and the eventual heir to his estate could potentially collect royalties off of Manson songs subsequently recorded by artists including Guns N’ Roses and the Beach Boy, as well as any other commercial rights involving his image, The L.A. Times reported.