Fight for Charles Manson’s remains has turned into a ‘circus,’ Kern County attorney says
Even in death, Charles Manson is proving to be troublesome for authorities.
A month after Manson died in a Bakersfield hospital, at least five people have stepped forward to claim his remains.
With so many parties vying for the body, the Kern County Counsel filed paperwork in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Monday asking the court to keep it abreast of any future claims. The coroner doesn’t want to release the remains to the wrong person and end up getting sued by someone else, the county’s attorney said.
“We have the following problem we’re trying to cope with here: The Department of Corrections asked the Kern County Coroner to receive the body because we have refrigeration and they don’t,” said Bryan Walters, a deputy attorney in the county counsel’s office. “When we received it, we thought no one would claim the body. We assumed it would be an easy matter to take care of.”
But this is Charles Manson, the mastermind of the gory rampage that claimed the life of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six others during two August nights in Los Angeles in 1969. The problematic prisoner with a swastika carved into his forehead generated a cult following during four decades of imprisonment.
People from Florida, Wisconsin, Illinois and California all say they have a right to the remains, according to a court filing. One of the people vying for the body says he is Manson’s grandson; another claims to be a pen pal of the killer.
Further complicating matters is the issue of court jurisdiction.
The proper jurisdiction for administering a decedent’s estate is the county where they were “domiciled,” according to state health and safety code.
“What is the domicile of Charles Manson? He would’ve returned to Los Angeles? He could’ve been shipped everywhere by the prison system. Is it where he was housed?” Walters said.
Manson spent time living in Los Angeles County before he was imprisoned and was arrested in Death Valley in Inyo County. He was incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison, in Kings County. He died Nov. 19 at age 83 in a hospital in Kern County.
“This is a really weird legal case,” Walters said.
At least one person has filed a claim in Los Angeles County arguing they have the rights to Manson’s corpse. Others could follow, Walters said.
“We included everyone that we know about in our proof of service” for the court filing, Walters said. “We’ve had pen pals that claim they have written wills. It’s like a circus, and nothing is clear where we should hang our hat on.”
Santa Ana-based attorney Alan Davis filed the petition in Los Angeles County this month on behalf of Manson’s grandson in Florida, Jason Freeman, and an administrator Freeman hired in Orange County. Davis said he’s not surprised others are seeking to claim Manson’s estate.
“I’m sure there will be more. People will come out of the woodwork whenever someone famous dies,” he said. “I didn’t really expect that we were going to make a lot of money out of it. It’s just like any other probate to me.”
Attempts to reach the other parties named in Kern County’s filing were unsuccessful Thursday.
Walters said his office is considering seeking a court order to determine who should get Manson’s body. That request would be filed in Kern County because that’s where the body is stored.
“The corpse is here, so that court should have jurisdiction,” he said. “Of course, I can’t find any case law. It kind of follows the general feel of jurisdiction.”
For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.
2:55 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from an attorney for a man seeking Manson’s estate.
This article was originally published at 1:50 p.m.
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