A California court awarded the body of cult leader Charles Manson to his grandson Monday, ending a months-long, five-way battle over the corpse.
Manson died in a California hospital in November while serving a life sentence for orchestrating the murders of nine people – one of whom was eight months pregnant – in August 1969.
The Bakersfield Hospital held off on releasing the remains, and kept the body on ice because five people came forward claiming they had rights to the corpse.
Court records show the claimants were from Florida, Wisconsin, Illinois and California, with one claiming to be Manson’s grandson, and another claiming to be a long-time pen pal. The court ultimately decided that Jason Freeman, his grandson, had priority, according to The Associated Press.
Freeman claims Manson’s son, the now-deceased Charles Manson Jr., fathered him during an orgy in Wisconsin and that he was named the elder Manson’s sole beneficiary in a will filed in 2002. Opposing him was Michael Channels, who claimed to be a long-time pen pal and that he too had been named Manson’s sole beneficiary in a 2002 will.
The court rejected Channel’s will on legal grounds and awarded Freeman the corpse after confirming that he was Manson’s closest living relative to come forward, NBC News reported.
With his flesh claimed, Los Angeles courts will now decide who has rights to his property, which includes an estate, music royalties, and commercial rights to “murderbilia” mementos.
Manson was put on trial in 1970 for orchestrating the murders of nine people, including an unborn baby, at the hands of his cult followers, the “Manson Family.” His trial ended in a death sentence, but California was embroiled in a fight over the death penalty at the time. That fight ended with the State Supreme Court abolishing execution in 1972, a ruling that only lasted a few months before voters reinstated the penalty, but long enough for Manson to be granted a life sentence instead.
Manson’s sentence was never reconsidered after California reinstated capital punishment, and he lived in a state prison for over 45 years until he was rushed to the hospital and died Nov. 20.
The Manson Family’s murders extended over two days in August 1969, killing actress Sharon Tate — wife of director Roman Polanski–as well as coffee heiress Abigail Folger and three others. Tate was more than eight months pregnant when she was killed, and the murderous cult used the blood of their victims to write “pig” on the front door of Tate’s home.
The following night, Manson and his followers also killed a married couple, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Manson would later say his goal in the murders was to incite a race war.
Manson applied for and was denied parole 12 times during his 45 years in prison.
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