Columbiana County native still in running to be awarded Manson estate

Staff report


Two men who claimed the most direct line of descent to murder mastermind Charles Manson were eliminated Friday from the bitter battle over Manson’s estate, leaving a Columbiana County native still in the running.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge dismissed probate petitions by Matthew Lentz, a musician who claims he was fathered by Manson at a 1967 orgy, and Michael Brunner, whose mother was a member of the “Manson family” when he was born.

The judge scheduled a hearing Dec. 14 to set a trial date.

Another court dismissed their bid to claim Manson’s corpse after Manson died in November. Manson, 83, was serving a life sentence for orchestrating the 1969 killings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and eight others.

Judge Clifford Klein narrowed the estate case down to Jason Freeman, a man who says he’s the cult leader’s grandson, and Michael Channels, Wellsville native and pen pal who peddled memorabilia he collected from Manson.

A court decided in March to give Manson’s corpse to Freeman, who had the body cremated.

Channels, 52, of Santa Clarita, Calif., was a toddler when Manson’s followers committed the murders.

In the case involving Manson’s body, Channels gave a judge a copy of a will he said Manson sent him in 2004. Channels said the document disinherits all known family members, naming Channels sole heir.

Some say Manson’s estate could be worth millions, given his artwork, music and other memorabilia.

Channels wrote numerous letters to Manson in prison before getting a response. They stayed in touch more than 20 years and visited more than 20 times at California State Prison in Corcoran.

Lentz made his first court appearance in the case Friday and asked the judge to give him more time to find a lawyer. But the judge told him he had blown deadlines and his time was up.

Brunner asked to withdraw his petition because he didn’t think he could win the estate, which includes rights to songs Manson penned and other possible intellectual property.

Freeman is a former cage fighter whose father, Charles Manson Jr., committed suicide.

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