Whatever Happened To Charles Manson's 3 Children?

Charles Manson, who was the founder and leader of the notorious Manson Family cult, is best known for his involvement in an estimated 35 murders, which included the brutal slaying of actress Sharon Tate on August 9, 1969. As reported by Biography, it is unknown whether Manson actually killed anyone himself. However, he was ultimately convicted of seven counts of first-degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder for directing members of the Manson Family cult to commit the crimes on his behalf. Although he was sentenced to death, his sentence was commuted to life in prison when California's Supreme Court abolished capital punishment.

After serving more than 40 years in prison, Manson died on November 19, 2017, at the age of 83. Biography reports the former cult leader died of natural causes. Although Manson referred to his followers as his "family," he also married two women and fathered at least three children.

Manson married his first wife, Rosalie Jean Willis, in 1955. At the time, Manson was 20 years old and Willis was only 15. According to Yahoo! Life, Manson's first biological child, who was named Charles Milles Manson, Jr., was born in 1956. However, he was not present for his son's birth. By the time his first son was born, Manson was serving time in prison for auto theft.

While Manson was incarcerated, Willis filed for divorce and remarried. Her new husband raised Charles Jr., as his own and the boy eventually changed his name to Jay White.

Charles Manson's first son died by suicide

Jay White went on to have three children of his own. However, as reported by CNN, he never overcame the knowledge of who his biological father was and what he had done. White's son, Jason Freeman, said his family did everything in their power to downplay their association with Charles Manson. Freeman said his family never discussed Manson and he and his father eventually became estranged. In his opinion, White wanted to spare him from the association with Manson and the expected backlash he may have faced.

Despite his family's efforts to keep him out of the spotlight, CNN reports Freeman always felt different. He was also distraught that he and his father remained estranged. Freeman said his father was constantly haunted by Manson's crimes and, "He just couldn't let it go. He couldn't live it down. He couldn't live down who his father was."

As reported by Find a Grave, Jay White died by suicide on June 29, 1993. He was 37 years old. White was laid to rest at Greenwood Cemetery in Hopedale, Ohio.

Author of "Manson Family: More to the Story" H. Allegra Lansing wrote on Medium that Manson married his second wife, Leona Rae "Candy" Stevens, in 1959. In the months prior to their marriage, Manson was facing a hefty prison sentence for forgery. However, Stevens pleaded for leniency, as she claimed she was pregnant with his child. Manson's 10-year sentence was ultimately suspended and he and Stevens married shortly thereafter.

Charles Manson's second son's whereabouts are unknown

Although she was not actually pregnant when she spoke at Manson's trial, Candy Stevens gave birth to a son on September 24, 1960. She named the boy Charles Luther Manson. As reported by Lansing (via Medium) Manson was incarcerated once again by the time his second son was born. Stevens divorced the former cult leader in 1963 –- four years before his March 1967 release. Yahoo! Life reports Charles Luther Manson eventually changed his name and has managed to avoid any media attention over the decades. His whereabouts are currently unknown. 

Following his release from prison in 1967, Manson began dating Mary Brunner, who became known as "Mother Mary." According to Yahoo! Life, Brunner gave birth to a baby boy, who was fathered by Manson, on April 15, 1968. She named the boy Valentine Michael Manson and lovingly called him "Pooh Bear." However, Brunner's parents applied for, and were granted, full custody of the child when he was 18 months old.

According to Yahoo! Life, Valentine's name was changed to Michael Brunner amid the adoption process and he was raised by his maternal grandparents in Eau Claire, Wisconsin –- far away from the spotlight of his biological father's crimes and reputation.

Charles Manson's third son never met his father

As reported by The Vintage News, Michael Brunner's adoptive parents attempted to cloak his identity and protect him from ridicule over his relation to Charles Manson and his biological father's highly publicized crimes. However, Brunner's schoolmates eventually learned his true identity and he was subjected to relentless bullying and even threats to his life. Charles Manson wrote to his son on numerous occasions. However, Brunner claimed he never read any of the letters. Brunner said he was not interested in having any kind of relationship with Manson. 

In 1993, Brunner granted an interview to KCBS News (via YouTube). During the interview, Brunner said he has no memories of his life prior to his adoption. Although he never had any contact with Manson, and his biological mother was more like a sister when he was growing up, his own children now refer to her as their "grandma."

Charles Manson's third son now believes Manson's crimes were 'blown out of proportion'

Following the interview, Yahoo! Life reports Brunner avoided media attention for decades. However, in 2019, Brunner consented to another, more in-depth, interview with Los Angeles Times.

In the 2019 interview, Brunner said he spent a lot of time researching Manson and the crimes for which he was accused and convicted. In Brunner's opinion, Manson is often misunderstood. He said, "I think the public has been fed some untruths, and this whole thing has been glorified and ... blown out of proportion ... Did [Manson] order these crimes? I don't believe that he did. I believe that it was something manufactured after the fact."

During his interview with Los Angeles Times, Brunner said he believes the Tate-LaBianca murders, for which Manson is most well-known, may have happened in the midst of a botched drug deal. He also suggested the victims may have been involved in organized crime.