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Battle Over Cult Leader Charles Manson's Estate Goes To Court

LA Times

Notorious cult leader Charles Manson has managed to make the news again, months after he died.

Manson became infamous in the 1960s as the leader of The Family, a cult whose members were responsible for the murders of at least nine people, including actress Sharon Tate.

Manson in 1969.AP

While Manson wasn't convicted of any murders himself, he spent 48 years in prison for orchestrating the crimes before his death behind bars last year, at age 83.

But two months after he died, Manson's body still hasn't been buried or cremated. In fact, the notorious criminal's corpse may be subjected to a DNA test to help sort out a confusing legal battle over his estate.

Manson in 2016.AP

While Manson didn't have many possessions when he died, his career in the music industry before being sent to jail could be worth a lot of money. Manson has writing credits on songs recorded by The Beach Boys and Guns N' Roses.

Manson's property may also be worth thousands to  ghoulish "murderabilia" collectors looking to get their hands on anything owned by the cult leader.

But the fight over Manson's estate, including multiple wills, pen pals, and a man who claims to be Manson's grandson, is going to court this week.

Multiple groups are competing for the right to Manson's estate, including people who claim they're related to the cult leader.

A Los Angeles Superior Court will try and sort out the competing stories about the killer's last will. There are at least two being held up as legitimate, while a close associate of Manson and the California prison system say Manson had no will when he died.

MMA fighter Jason Freeman claims to be Manson's grandson.Sherdog

Jason Freeman claims to be Charles Manson's biological grandson, and has some proof to back it up. He showed the Associated Press a 1986 court ruling listing Manson's son, Charles Manson Jr., as his father.

But another man, Matthew Lentz, says he is Manson's son, and wants to give the cult leader's body a DNA test to prove his claim. Lentz and memorabilia collector Ben Gurecki, another associate of Manson's, say they want to give him a proper burial. Gurecki even called the court case over his estate "a circus."

Meanwhile, Manson's longtime pen pal Michael Channels has what he claims is a signed will, allegedly sent to him by Manson in 2002.

Mike Smith, a music agent for one of the claimants, sums the case up this way:

"We think Manson's worth more than anyone realizes. There's a lot of money there."

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The court case is expected to drag on as the judge sorts out the competing claims. In the end, everyone might be out of luck.

In the past, the proceeds from a Guns N' Roses single written by Manson were ordered to be given to the families of his victims. Unless the time on their claims has run out, they could be given the rest of his estate too.

Only time will tell how this crazy story ends!

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