Charles Manson After 50 Years: Murder House for Sale and Son Speaks Out

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MansonThe home in the Los Angeles area where Charles Manson and his followers murdered a couple 50 years ago is being sold for $1.98 million.

Rosemary and Leno LaBianca were murdered in their home at 3311 Waverly Drive in Los Feliz on Aug. 10, 1969. This occurred the night after pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others were stabbed, beaten, and shot little more than 10 miles away, according to USA Today.

The series of murders caused the city of Los Angeles and surrounding areas to live in fear and panic.

According to the Redfin listing, the home, described as “truly one of a kind” is a classic 1920s single-story home with two bedrooms, one-and-a-half baths, a pool, and a view of downtown Los Angeles.

Why the Manson Family Murders Still Haunt People 50 Years Later

Attention to the Manson “family” was renewed by Quentin Tarantino’s film, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” The movie is scheduled to open in theaters July 26, 2019. The movie is set in the late 1960s. Sharon Tate is played by actress Margot Robbie.

Manson and his followers received a death sentence in 1971, however, those punishments were overturned to life in prison after the California Supreme Court ruled capital punishment was unconstitutional in 1972.

In 2017, Manson died of natural causes in a California hospital while serving his life sentence.

The Son of Charles Manson Speaks Out

The son of Charles Manson, Michael Brunner, 51, wants to change the way people view his father. He says Manson has been misunderstood and unfairly blamed. Brunner says his father has been wrongly vilified, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“I would say 95% of the public looks at Charles Manson as this mass-murdering dog, and it’s really, obviously, just not true. He didn’t necessarily kill.”

Brunner has only spoken publicly about Manson once before. That was 26 years ago. For decades, he has appreciated his privacy. However, his loyalty to Manson, a man he has never known, seems to have won out, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Brunner whispers to himself during the interview, “I thought this was going to be so easy.”

However, it seems that being the only son of America’s most famous cult leader and Mary Theresa Brunner, who was the first recruit into the Manson family, would not be easy.

Brunner shares Manson’s chin and nose. Manson, the man responsible for persuading his followers, the “family” as they were called, to commit nine brutal murders in what prosecutors stated was an effort to start a race war. This came from orders that were supposedly encoded in the Beatles’ “White” album. This was a scenario referred to as “Helter Skelter.”

According to Brunner, He is not looking for celebrity, it is more about posterity. He believes that being Manson’s son is not something to brag about.

Valentine Michael Manson

On Aug. 8, 1969, Brunner, born Valentine Michael Manson, was 14 months old. His mother was in the L.A. County’s Sybil Brand Institute for Women. She was arrested for using stolen credit cards.

This was the same night Manson sent Charles “Tex” Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel, Susan Atkins, and Linda Kasabian to Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon. Each one of them had a change of clothes with them. Watson had a gun and all the others, except Krenwinkel, were armed with knives.

The next morning, Sharon Tate was found dead. She had been stabbed 16 times and hung from a beam in her living room. Tate was over eight months pregnant and, according to the Los Angeles Times, begged for her unborn son’s life. That same night, Abigail Folger, Jay Sebring, Steven Parent, and Voytek Frykowski were killed at the hands of the Manson family.

The following night, family members murdered Rosemary and Leno LaBianca in their home in Los Feliz and desecrated their corpses.

Chief prosecutor Vincent T. Bugliosi described Manson as a “dictatorial leader” whose followers were “slavishly obedient to him,” in his opening statement. Additionally, he said that Manson’s motive was “almost as bizarre as the murders themselves.”

According to the prosecutor, the motive “was to ignite Helter Skelter, in other words, start the black-white revolution by making it look like the black people had murdered the five Tate victims and Mr. and Mrs. LaBianca, thereby causing the white community to turn against the black man and ultimately lead to a civil war between blacks and whites, a war Manson foresaw the black man winning.”

Growing Up Brunner

Brunner was living with his maternal grandparents in Eau Claire, Wisconsin by the time the Manson family was convicted and sentenced to death. Elsie and George Brunner adopted the boy and raised him as their own.

He stated the Brunners provided what he needed to thrive. They pushed him in school, in sports, and made sure he was doing the right thing.  Brunner said he was loved growing up.

The adoption was finalized in 1976, and the family threw a party to celebrate. “It was like having an extra birthday,” Brunner said.

He believes the Brunners wanted to get rid of the Manson name to give him a normal life. He believed it prevented him from being harassed or bullied at school.

However, Brunner’s childhood was complicated. Due to the adoption, his grandparents became Mom and Dad, his mother became his sister, and his aunts and uncles were now his cousins. Mary called every Sunday from the California prison where she was serving time for armed robbery and he knew she was his biological mother.

This knowledge lead to questions eventually. “If that’s my biological mother, who’s my biological father?” The Brunners did not lie to him, however, the young son would often forget and ask again.

He would ask the Brunners to tell him about Manson. They would say, “Oh, he’s a crazy guy…” Brunner did not believe they lied to him. He said they told him what they needed to say and what he needed to hear.

During his time at Arlington Heights Elementary School, a classmate passed him a note. Brunner is not sure if he was in the third or fifth grade, but the note said Manson was a murderer. It was about this time Brunner realized that Charles Manson was more than “just some guy.”

In high school, a friend who was “kind of a fanatic into anything cultish or, you know, off the wall filled me in on a lot of things. But again, she was reading the same narrative that everybody else was at the time.”

“Charles Manson, evil genius, who persuaded his followers to kill.”

His high school friend thought it was cool, however, Brunner did not want to deal with it. He says he did not pay a lot of attention to the information, but stated, “it doesn’t matter how deep you bury your head, you’re going to hear about Charles Manson.”

Brunner believes he had an “average” childhood and the Manson drama did not occupy his time. He enjoyed water sports, skiing, bike riding and hanging out with friends. However, “there’s that one little tenth of a percent, and everybody has that, really. I mean, everybody has a little something in their history that, I’m not going to say embarrasses, but they keep in the closet.”

Brunner is a self-described average guy who enjoys time in the woods and water. He enlisted in the army after he graduated high school. He was self-employed for several years and not he works in manufacturing.

By Jeanette Smith


USA Today: Take a look inside a Charles Manson murder house on the market for $1.98M
Los Angeles Times: Mass murder? Cult leader? Musician? Charles Manson’s son wrestles with father’s legacy
NBC News: Los Angeles site of Manson murders goes on market for nearly $2 million

Featured Image Courtesy of George’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Top Image by California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons – Public Domain License