Notorious cult leader Charles Manson died in November 2017 at the age of 83 after spending nearly 50 years in a California prison. Fast forward a little more than five years since his death and a judge is finally set to rule on the question of who will be heir to Manson’s reported $1 million estate. A motley assemblage of individuals have spent the last few years claiming to be the heir to the Manson dynasty, at least in the financial sense, with at least three different people arguing before the court that they are the convicted mass murderer’s sole heir.
The three people battling it out in court are Daniel Arguelles, a 62-year-old man claiming to be Manson’s “biological son,” Jason Freeman, a 46-year–old former MMA fighter who says he’s Manson’s grandson, and Michael Channels, a collector of “murderbillia” and Manson prison pen pal who says Manson left everything he had to him in the eventuality of his death.
Despite the famous maxim that crime doesn’t pay, Manson did manage to leave behind an estate of significant value owing to his personal infamy as a crazed killer and leader of the notorious “Manson Family.”
In addition to the value of his own personal belongings as morbid collectibles, there are also his works of art and writings plus royalties and publishing rights from his brief career as a songwriter (for example, Guns N’ Roses recorded one of his songs in the early 90s). Together, his assets are estimated to be worth some $1 million or even more to whoever actually gets to inherit them, and that question is scheduled to soon be decided by a Los Angeles judge.
Each of the three claimants has their own documentation and testimony to prove their status as Manson’s sole heir, including a purported 2002 Manson will that leaves everything to Channels, and a birth certificate filed by Freeman’s attorneys showing he is the son of the late Charles Manson, Jr. Freeman is the apparent frontrunner, having gotten legal possession of Manson’s body in 2018.
Now, it’s a judge’s job to sort through all the conflicting testimony and documentation and settle the question of who inherits Manson’s assets once and for all.