By BRIAN MELLEY
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The body of murder mastermind Charles Manson may soon be put to rest after a Kern County Superior Court commissioner said Wednesday that she would rule soon in the dispute over who can collect his remains.
The tussle has been evolving since the 83-year-old who orchestrated the 1969 killings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and eight others died Nov. 19 in a Bakersfield hospital.
A man who claims he was fathered by Manson and another who says he's a grandson are locked in a three-way dispute with a pen pal who was friends with Manson and has filed what he said is the cult leader's will.
The three parties all dispute elements of the competing claims. There are doubts over the authenticity of the will filed by buddy Michael Channels. And there are questions about whether Michael Brunner was fathered by Manson and whether Jason Freeman is really his grandson.
The hearing Wednesday was anticipated to be mainly to schedule future hearings, but Commissioner Alisa Knight said she didn't want to continue the matter and said she would rule after reviewing court filings, said Deputy Kern County Counsel Bryan Walters who represented the coroner's office.
Walters said at a previous hearing that they want the case resolved to make room for bodies stacking up in the morgue from the methamphetamine and opioid epidemics.
The commissioner said she "thinks it's unreasonable to have a body in storage while people fight over it," Walters said. "We want to get this resolved as soon as possible, so we're in favor of her decision."
Another purported son, Matthew Lentz, who claims he was fathered by Manson during a Wisconsin orgy, appeared in court Wednesday for the first time, Walters said.
Lentz hasn't filed court papers in the Kern case, but is named as the sole beneficiary in a will filed with the coroner's office by another memorabilia collector who befriended Manson while he was in state prison.
Lentz is joining forces with Brunner and also intervening in a separate court case in Los Angeles over Manson's estate, said Mike Smith, a spokesman for Lentz.
That estate case is being heard in Los Angeles County because that's where Manson resided at the time of his arrest.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.