The release of Charles Manson’s body was postponed another five weeks Wednesday amid new family wrangling, though his grandson floated a settlement involving spreading the killer’s ashes in the ocean.
Grandson Jason Freeman proposed the ocean burial to the Daily News after appearing in court in Bakersfield, Calif., and asking for more time to consider the competing claim made in the last few days by Manson’s last known surviving son, Michael Brunner.
The judge continued the matter to a follow-up hearing March 7.
“I think him and I should be able to work together to resolve this,” Freeman said, referring to Brunner, who would be his biological uncle and first in line to collect the body.
Freeman, who attended the hearing with a spiritual counselor and is working on a documentary, said he wants to be part of a ceremony.
“I’d like to see a small private service and spread his ashes in the ocean so nobody can actually get to him,” Freeman, 41, told The News. “We’ve got to do it as soon as possible. …It’s sad that he’s been on ice for this long.”
Charles Manson’s body has been in cold storage with the Kern County coroner since he died from heart failure and colon cancer on Nov. 19 at age 83.
(California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation/via Reuters)
Manson’s body has been in cold storage with the Kern County coroner since he died from heart failure and colon cancer on Nov. 19 at age 83.
Freeman’s lawyer Dale Kiken said he asked the court for the extra five weeks because he might seek the unsealing of records to investigate Brunner’s legal status as someone adopted by another man as a baby.
In a court filing late Tuesday, Brunner’s lawyer Daniel Mortensen submitted a birth certificate that names Manson as Brunner’s biological father.
Mortensen said Brunner was open to a speedy settlement with Freeman.
“He’s the nicest guy in the world. He wants to act in a cooperative way,” Mortensen said. “His biggest concern is, he doesn’t want this to be a circus. He wants finality.”
The ‘Manson Family’ murders
In his Tuesday filing, Brunner said he wants to cremate Manson and scatter the ashes “in a dignified and private manner.”
If Brunner and Freeman do strike a deal ahead of the March 7 hearing, the court still must rule on whether Manson pen pal Michael Channels has any standing to claim the body.
Channels claims Manson named him as his sole beneficiary in a 2002 will. He submitted the document to coroner officials to claim Manson’s remains, but a lawyer for the county wants a court ruling on its validity.
In their filing Tuesday, Brunner and Mortensen scoffed at the “purported” will and said even if Manson did sign it, the document doesn’t give Channels the right to decide the cult leader’s final resting place.
A will can’t “gift” a body to a recipient, Mortensen told The News.
Charles Manson’s grandson Jason Freeman speaks to media on Jan. 31, 2018.
(Nancy Dillon/New York Daily News)
“It cannot be ignored that Mr. Channels is a dealer in Manson memorabilia,” Mortensen wrote in the filing, suggesting Channels might try to profit off the body somehow.
Channels did not attend the hearing on Wednesday. His lawyer attended the proceeding by phone and agreed to the continuance.
Manson’s followers killed six people during a terrifying two-night murder spree in August 1969.
Actress Sharon Tate, who was 8 ½ months pregnant at the time, begged for her life as she was stabbed repeatedly inside her Los Angeles house along with coffee heiress Abigail Folger, celebrity hair stylist Jay Sebring and two others.
The next night, Manson’s gang chose another house at random and brutally murdered wealthy grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary.
Charles Manson pictured in 1986.
Manson was eventually convicted of nine murders in all and spent nearly a half century in prison.
He was sentenced to death originally, but that was commuted to life with the possibility of parole when the death penalty was briefly outlawed in 1972.
Prosecutors said Manson and his followers were trying to incite an Armageddon-like race war named after the Beatles’ song “Helter Skelter.”
Manson was denied parole 12 times between November 1978 and April 2012.