At least five people have filed petitions for the right to Charles Manson’s body
The fight over Charles Manson’s body continues.
On Wednesday, lawyers for the California county where the cult leader’s body has been stored since his death last month filed court documents, saying that at least five people have claimed rights to the corpse.
Among those who have claimed ownership of the body are Manson’s grandson and two prison pen pals, according to the Los Angeles Times. The five claimants hail from all over the country including Florida, Wisconsin, Illinois and California.
With so many people fighting over the body, and confusion over which county has jurisdiction to make the decision, experts say it could take years to settle the issue.
In the meantime, Manson’s body will be kept on ice until a decision can be made.
This week, Kern County’s attorneys asked the Los Angeles Superior Court to keep them abreast of any future claims to Manson’s body, since there have already been five claimants and they don’t want to accidentally turn the corpse over to the wrong person.
The dead cult leader’s body has remained on ice at the Kern County Coroner’s office since his death last month
The big legal issue surrounding Manson’s body is which county has jurisdiction to decide who it is turned over to.
In California, the county where the dead person had their permanent residence has jurisdiction, but in Manson’s case that is fraught because he was living in a prison in Kern County when he died on November 19.
Before he was sentenced to life in prison for orchestrating the murders of Sharon Tate and eight other people in a 1969 killing spree, Manson had lived in Los Angeles, so there’s an argument to be made that Los Angeles County is responsible for his body.
‘What is the domicile of Charles Manson?’ Bryan Walters, a county attorney, told the Los Angeles Times. ‘He would’ve returned to Los Angeles? He could’ve been shipped everywhere by the prison system. Is it where he was housed?’
‘This is a really weird legal case,’ Walters said. ‘It’s like a circus, and nothing is clear where we should hang our hat on.’
Manson’s grandson Jason Freeman (pictured) is one of the five men claiming to have the right to his body. He told the New York Daily News last month that he wants to give him a proper burial
In the documents they filed this week, Kern County lawyers said that five people had laid claim to Manson’s body already.
The LA Times said that another person had filed documents in LA County asking for Manson’s body as well.
Among those petitioning for Manson’s body are his grandson Jason Freeman, 41, who lives in Florida and never met the cult leader. The married father-of-three told the New York Daily News last month that he wants to give Manson a proper burial.
Two others were pen pals, including 52-year-old Michael Channels of Santa Clarita, California.
Channels says he met Manson in 2002 after the two had corresponded through letters and that soon after, Manson sent him a will leaving his entire estate to him.
Freeman’s lawyer is skeptical of the will, since it wasn’t even properly signed.
‘We are aware that there is a document that is reported to be a will, but frankly we are very suspicious,’ lawyer Alan Davis said. ‘Manson was incarcerated and we are suspicious that someone could get to him and get it signed.’
Michael Channels (left), a longtime pen pal of Manson, is another claimant to his body
Channels claims Manson gave him a will not long after they met in 2002, leaving his entire estate to him
‘It turned into something I have never expected,’ Channels said of the will. ‘It’s a nightmare all the way around.’
In the so-called will, Manson cuts out both of his known sons from his estate. But even if it was valid, one legal expert says that Freeman would still be the likely beneficiary since the will doesn’t mention his grandchildren specifically, just the sons.
Previous reports have also stated that a man named Matthew Roberts was also fighting to get Manson’s body, on the claim that he was his son
‘The grandson was not disinherited in the will,’ Jack Barcal, a specialist in probate and trust law, told the OC Register. ‘The property should go to his grandson or whoever the grandchildren are.’
While Channels’ alleged will gives him the right to all of Manson’s estate – including the rights to cash in his prison account, and the rights to his prison and police records and his image, music, printing, movie and publishing rights, he says it has been more of a hassle than anything.
‘It turned into something I have never expected,’ Channels said. ‘It’s a nightmare all the way around.’
If he does get Manson’s body, Channels said he would probably cremate him and spread his ashes in the desert.
‘Cemeteries don’t want him,’ he said. ‘They think if they take him, they will pollute the whole ground.’
Previous reports have also stated that a man named Matthew Roberts was also fighting to get Manson’s body, on the claim that he was his son.
Roberts, who was adopted, said he tracked down his birth mother some years ago who told him that Manson had raped her.
After that revelation, he reached out to Manson in prison and the two became acquainted.
However, there’s no evidence as of yet that they are biologically related, as Roberts claims.
Manson was serving a life sentence when he died last month, for orchestrating the 1969 murders of Sharon Tate and eight others in a murder spree (pictured above in December 1969)
The LA Times report also did not mention Roberts being one of the five who has filed paperwork to claim Manson’s body, so it’s unclear if he has followed through on that promise or not.
Freeman’s lawyer said he wouldn’t be surprised if even more people came forward to claim the body.
‘I’m sure there will be more. People will come out of the woodwork whenever someone famous dies,’ he said.
He added that the case has the potential to go on for years.
A preliminary hearing has been set for January 8 to discuss the issue.