Charles Manson, the cult leader whose “family” did numerous killings at his bidding, has passed away after being jailed since the 1970s. He was tried for murder and sentenced to death in 1971. His death penalty was changed to a life sentence in 1972 after the death penalty was outlawed in California. He was in jail ever since and denied parole numerous times. In his life, he had both a biological family who tried to distance themselves from his memory and a cult family, most of whom also went to jail for actions done in his name. Here’s what you need to know about Charles Manson’s family, including his sister, cousin, and grandchildren.
1. Manson’s ‘Cult Family’ Carried Out Murders at His Bidding
Charles Manson not only had a family by blood, but he also had a cult-like “family” of his own creation that carried out gruesome murders at his command. They came into the public eye in 1969 after murdering actress Sharon Tate, who was married to Roman Polanski and eight-and-a-half months pregnant, along with three of her friends at her Beverly Hills home. They also killed an 18-year-old who was visiting the gardener that night. The next night, Manson’s “Family” killed two small business owners. Manson was arrested and has been serving a life sentence ever since. Jeff Guinn, who wrote a biography about Manson, said that Manson chose his female “Family” members, usually picking girls from troubled families that he could seduce and then hook with LSD and abuse. The members of the Manson family included Mary Brunner, Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian, Clem Grogan, Patricia Krenwinkel, Charles Tex Watson, Lynette Squeaky Fromme, and Bruce Davis.
2. Manson Was Married Twice and Had at least Three Children
Manson had two wives: Rosalie Willis, a hospital nurse who married him at 15, and Leona Candy Stevens, a prostitute he married in 1959. He had one son with Rosalie — Charles Manson, Jr. — and one son with Candy — Charles Luther Manson. Jr. renamed himself Jay White, but later committed suicide in 1993. Charles Luther Manson has stayed out of the spotlight. Charles Manson later had another son, Valentine, with follower Mary Brunner in 1968. Valentine’s grandparents (on Brunner’s side) got guardianship of him in 1970, and Valentine has stayed out of the spotlight for all of his adult life. Manson has said that he likely has other children he doesn’t know about.
3. Manson’s Sister, Nancy, and Cousin, JoAnn, Spoke About His Childhood for a Biography
Manson’s adopted sister, Nancy, and cousin, JoAnn, spoke about his childhood for biographer Jeff Guinn. Nancy wasn’t as hard on their mother as Charles was, looking back. She said her mom was a single mother with an “incorrigible” 10-year-old who wouldn’t go to school and was often violent, according to Guinn. Nancy was a child when the murders happened.
JoAnn’s parents raised Manson in their home in West Virginia for several years. JoAnn said that Manson was never happy and never did anything good, Daily Mail reported. She said he was obsessed with knives and guns and had an intense anger, even as a boy. She said he threatened her with a sickle when she was only nine.
She also said that even as a young boy, he was recruiting girls to attack boys he didn’t like.
4. Manson’s Mother Was More Interested in Drinking Than Her Young Son
Manson’s mother, Kathleen, was just 15 when she had her son in 1934. Jeff Guinn, who wrote a biography about Manson, said his father was an older man who seduced her and then abandoned her, occasionally visiting Charles Manson because the courts made him. Kathleen was from Kentucky, but lived in Ohio when Manson was born. She married William Manson when Charlie was born, but he wasn’t Charles’ biological dad, Guinn wrote.
Kathleen was not a devoted mother. She was more interested in dancing and drinking than in Charles, Guinn said. She was sentenced to five years in jail for a robbery when Charles was four. By the time Charles was a teen, he was living on the streets and spending time in prison.
5. Charles Manson Has at least Three Grandchildren
Manson has at least two or three grandchildren. One, Jason Freeman, was born to Charles Manson, Jr. (Manson’s child with his first wife, Rosalie Willis), CNN reported. Manson, Jr. later renamed himself Jay White, but tragically committed suicide in 1993.
Freeman is a kickboxer and cage fighter who also works on oil rigs. He “came out” publicly as Manson’s grandchild in 2012 in order to get out from under the shadow of fear and the “family curse,” as he called it. Even in his own family, he was discouraged from talking about his grandfather or asking his grandmother, Rosalie, about him. Freeman now has children of his own and said he wishes he could go back in time and convince his dad that things would get better.
In January 2017, Freeman posted a video online saying he had been blocked from visiting his grandfather in the hospital:
The Manson Blog wrote in April 2017 that they tracked down another grandchild, the daughter of Charles Luther Manson. No mention was made of a DNA test authenticating the claim.
Charles Manson’s son Michael Brunner said he had a two-year-old child in an interview in 1993.