Meet the Men Fighting in Court Over Charles Manson’s Remains
A California judge is expected to make a decision this week on who will obtain the remains of deceased cult leader Charles Manson.
The Gateway Pundit spoke to two of the men involved in the legal dispute to hear their sides of the story.
Manson’s remains have been kept under a fake name in a freezer at an undisclosed California morgue since he died on November 19.
Jason Freeman is a former MMA fighter, father, husband and a deeply religious man — he also happens to be Manson’s grandson.
Michael Channels says he has been Manson’s best friend for 30 years. After decades of friendship, he maintains that he is sure that the infamous cult leader wanted his ashes to be spread in Death Valley and that he hopes to be able to do so.
The two are now part of a group of people who are battling over the iconic cult leader’s remains and estate. The Gateway Pundit spoke to both men to get their sides of the story.
Another person involved in the dispute, Michael Brunner, is said to be the son of Manson and former Manson Family member Mary Brunner. He has previously refused contact with his father and has spent years attempting to distance himself from his name.
On Wednesday, a Kern County court commissioner told lawyers representing the three men that she will issue a ruling online “in a couple of days,” though no announcement had been made as of Saturday.
According to a statement on the website Manson Direct posted by Afton “Star” Burton, the woman who intended to marry the former cult leader, “the only person with legal standing to claim Charlie’s remains is Jason Freeman, because he is Charlie’s actual grandson.” Manson, according to the website, had been under the impression that after his death, his body and worldly possessions would be in the hands of the State of California.
Channels took severe offense to Burton’s claim, seeming annoyed when asked about it. He explained that she acts like a spokesperson for Manson, but that she never was.
“She is irrelevant now and always has been. I told Manson I hated the bitch. He still called me — and called me last. She is jealous, that’s how I see it. She asked Manson to write her a new will and he told her no. She means nothing and never has,” Channels responded.
He said that he nicknamed her “the hollow easter bunny” because when you see a huge chocolate in your Easter basket “you get all excited, but bite into it and find out it’s hollow and empty.”
He added that “Manson had some very shady friends at times and she was one of them.”
Channels maintains that he is the only person in the court dispute who actually knew Manson personally and discussed his final wishes with him. He also has a copy of a will signed by Manson in 2002, leaving everything, including his body, to him.
“I got to know him through the mail, writing him letters in the early nineties. I wrote him about 50 letters explaining who I was before he even wrote back,” Channels told the Gateway Pundit. “Then he started calling me and we started having visits. I was the last person he ever called.”
“I talked to him about his wishes a lot over time. I am the only person who did do that. None of the people on the other sides even knew him personally. None of them. I talked to him about everything,” Channel said, reiterating that they have been friends for three decades.
Channels kept a tight lip when asked what most of those wishes were, however.
“He had a list and some were more bizarre than others. The minute I tell you what he told me others will use read it and use it — so I try not to say too much about it. Nobody knows, but me,” Channels said.
After some prodding, Channels said that one of his wishes was to be buried in a general’s uniform at the Hollywood Forever Cemetary — in a shrine. Since this desire is a bit of a stretch, he plans to spread his ashes in the desert instead.
“I am the executor of a will. I am to see that Manson’s wishes are done, that is all. I am not fighting, they are fighting and dragging me along in the mud for a ride with them. I am doing what the law said to do, turn in the will. Now, here we are. I didn’t ask for any of this,” Channels said.
Freeman, for his part, is anxious for the judge’s decision so that he can put this behind him.
“I know a lot of people see it as a battle and in a way it is, I’m just waiting for the storm to pass so I can move forward,” Freeman told the Gateway Pundit.
The intrigue surrounding the court fight has led to curious Daily Beast reporters skimming through Freeman’s social media and hastily reporting the conclusions that they come to, without actually speaking to him.
The website reported that “in a Facebook Live video posted last month, Freeman and his young son displayed a creepy Manson puppet with a swastika tattoo painted on its forehead and a toy guitar in its hands. They laughed about stuffing the doll with Manson’s ashes.”
“We’re going to do things as a family with grandpa,” Freeman said in the video with his son. “There’s nothing wrong with that. And if anybody says there is, no. Just lively entertainment. And finally I get to take him fishing. Finally.”
Freeman denied that he actually plans to place his grandfather’s ashes inside the doll.
“The puppet… a good friend made it and sent it to me. It came in that day and I was excited to receive it. I did ask that he put a smile face instead of the other mark in his forehead. The video is two months old. I had no clue about what was going to happen,” Freeman said of the Daily Beast digging up the footage.
Feeling as though he missed out on having a normal relationship with his grandfather, Freeman explained he was simply expressing his longing with humor.
“I always had a vision of fishing with my father and my grandfather. Most kids do. My family just appears to be dysfunctional on the surface. Not many people want to look at the good in life, they want to cling to the negative and build off that. I’m the opposite, I use negative to create positive,” he told TGP.
Indeed, Freeman’s family has seen many rocky days.
In 1993, his father Charles Manson Jr., who had changed his name to Jay White, committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. He had reportedly not been able to cope with knowing what his father had done.
”He couldn’t live down who his father was,” Freeman, told CNN in 2012. “He just couldn’t let it go.”
Freeman has also seemed to struggle with this at times. For example, though he now goes by Jason Freeman Manson, he previously only used his mother’s maiden name.
“I took on my mother’s last name, Freeman, her maiden name. My mother and my step dad did a great job at doing what my grandmother tried to do with my father — which was keep everything in the closet. The one who really had it rough was Charles Manson Jr., my father, who took his life when I was a freshman in highschool,” Freeman explained in a recent Facebook live chat. “That is the roughest part for me to look back on and think of.”
Freeman explained that he cannot imagine what his father had to go through.
“If I would go back and read some of the comments that people say, and if I would involve myself with what society thought of me now because of what the media made my grandfather out to be, that would be a rough road. I want people to know me for me, not because of what my grandfather was involved with or accused of,” Freeman said.
According to Freeman, until the day he died, Manson claimed that he was innocent and not involved with the murders. He says that they had been in contact in recent years, though he was never able to visit and meet him in person.
“My father and my grandfather have always been on my mind and in my heart…” Freeman said. “The thought of not having the opportunity to see my grandfather is heartbreaking. Working with the prison system in his last days were complicated and hard to deal with at times.”
“I’ve been in my grandfather’s life for 8 years and it has helped me answer questions that no one else could answer after my fathers death,” Freeman told TGP. “Each step has been planned out many years ago. I’m just walking it out. Hate me or love me, I’ll always stand up for my rights and the rights that my grandfather was denied through out the years of incarceration.”
Channels described Manson as a “very charismatic person who could hold the attention of a room.” His connection to Manson is undeniable. It is clear as he tells his story that he cared very deeply for him.
“If he wasn’t in prison he could have been a great inspirational speaker. He had become the face of serial killers because of the fact that he was not there. In the media’s eyes, he’s safe. Safe to use as the face of crime that is, Manson has become ‘KING OF CRIME’ like how Elvis was the ‘King of Rock and Roll’ and Michael Jackson was the ‘King of Pop,’” Channels said.
There have been many theories over the years that the killings were actually directed by another member of the cult — though they remain just that, theories and speculation.
One point by Manson defenders and fans is not speculation, however.
Despite headlines such as “Charles Manson, one of nation’s most infamous mass killers, dead at 83,” from USA Today and “How Charles Manson became a notorious criminal, cult leader, murderer,” from Business Insider — Manson himself was not actually present at any of the slayings. The musician is widely recognized by the world’s collective memory as the one behind the horrific murders, while many do not know the names of those who actually held the knives. This does not mean he is innocent or that he did nothing wrong, but it is certainly interesting how those who actually did the unspeakable seemed to be almost shielded, in a way, from public eye as the years pass.
When asked if he believes Manson was wrongly imprisoned, Channels said it was a “tough question.”
“Do I think his trial was political? Yes, I believe the District Attorney was using Manson to up his own stock to run for State Attorney General. Do I think he got a fair trial? NO,” Channels said.
The Manson estate could potentially be worth a significant amount of money due to licensing rights for his music and likeness. The person who ends up controlling it will have the right to approve films or documentaries made about his life. Quentin Tarantino is currently working on a film about the cult leader and Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio have already joined the cast.
The film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, has been blasted by Sharon Tate’s sister, Debra Tate. She even fumed that Jennifer Lawrence, who was rumored to be playing her sibling, was not pretty enough for the role.
Another film that is in the works, Charlie Says, will focus on Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten , and Patricia Krenwinkel — three members of the Family who were convicted for their roles in the murders.
Channels already owns the largest collection of Manson artifacts in existence and says that it has nothing to do with why he is seeking Manson’s estate — in fact, he says he is trying to do the opposite and prevent his ashes from behind sold off in the murderabilia industry, where Manson artifacts and artwork can bring in thousands of dollars.
In videos of Channels’ garage it looks like a Manson Family museum. He even once found bones belonging to victim Donald “Shorty” Shea at the Spahn Ranch. His discovery was part of a two-part special that aired in December on the History Channel.
“I was shocked that they were human bones, but the show had them tested — then the Los Angeles Police Department called me,” he said.
One of the bones was destroyed during the tests, but Channels now has the others in a special urn with cowboy boots and a hat.
“For years I kept him in a box because I had no idea, but I felt like he needed more respect than that, so I invested in this,” he said, sending a photo.
“My life has been bizarre when it comes to Manson, to say the least. The others don’t know what they are messing with. It’s like a curse or a black cloud that some people don’t deal well with. I pray the others know what they opened up, you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube now though,” Channels asserted.
When asked if he thought he would win, Channels said that he already has.
“Win or lose, it’s not about that to me. It’s about Charles Manson’s wishes. I am a winner if it comes to Manson anyway — I knew him for 30 years, he entrusted me with things he didn’t of others. So, how do I lose?” Channels asked. “I don’t. The court rules and I will accept whatever they decide, I respect their decision. I may not agree, but I respect it. There is no win or lose to me.”
Freeman has stronger feelings about the issue and believes that he is entitled to the remains.
“I feel strongly on my behalf on receiving my grandfather body. This stage the Lord built under my feet has equipped me to handle society and keep a lot of people out of my circle in life so I can grow spiritually to handle what’s to come,” Freeman said. “I understand these next steps in life are going to be hard and I will be tested, as I have in the past, to equip me for the journey to come.”
“I’m a front-line Warrior and will not stop fighting for what’s right in the case in front of me,” Freeman added. “God deals the cards, we play them out.”
Though he is all in on the fight, Freeman also acknowledges that the decision is not up to him. He told the Gateway Pundit that he will invite the other men to scatter the ashes with him should he win.
“I’m not in charge of what happens on Monday, I’m prepared to accept the responsibility of doing what’s right,” Freeman said. “When the decision is made, if it falls in my favor I will greatly lend my hand out with a invitation to the parties involved to attend the scattering of my grandfather’s ashes.”
Channels believes that the others seeking the remains are attempting to use his collection of artifacts to demonize him in the court of public opinion, while they themselves have poor intentions. He said that they “put me on trial so they can win something in their minds. There is nothing to win.”
“It is sad that they did this to me while they want to put ashes in some dummy,” Channels said. “I guess all in fair in love and court.”