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Relatives, others want remains of cult leader Charles Manson

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The body of murder mastermind Charles Manson was barely cold when competing bids began for his remains and belongings among relatives and longtime associates.

Their plans have not been divulged, but some fear they might create a shrine for those who are still fascinated by the man behind the bizarre celebrity slayings that terrorized Los Angeles nearly a half-century ago.

The value of Manson's belongings — said to include music, artwork, writings and at least two guitars — is unclear. But probate attorneys said the real value of his estate could be in controlling the use of his image and the power to authorize any biographies or documentaries.

"It's going to be a food fight," said probate attorney Adam Streisand, who is not involved in the Manson case but was involved with Michael Jackson's estate and currently is representing the estate of Hugh Heffner.

"You have to sort of worry about creating a monument that becomes a focal point for people to exercise their extremist views," he said.

At the very least, it seems, Manson devotees want to prevent his ashes from being anonymously interred with other indigent inmates.

One person seeking control of Manson's estate is his purported grandson, Jason Freeman, who flew into California with a documentary film crew after Manson died last month.

His effort is challenged by Manson associate Michael Channels, who exchanged letters and visited the killer in prison. Channels has filed a two-page will in court dated Valentine's Day 2002 that purportedly leaves everything to him.

Freeman's attorney, Dale Kiken, said there might be a third claim, by Los Angeles musician Matthew Roberts, who has described himself as Manson's son. His bid is backed by Ben Gurecki, who has done YouTube videos focused on Manson and told several media outlets that he obtained a January 2017 will from Manson naming Roberts as his heir.

Kiken said prison officials told him Manson left no will and he disputes the validity of the ones that have surfaced.

Manson, 83, died Nov. 19 of natural causes after spending decades in prison for orchestrating the 1969 killings of actress Sharon Tate, who was pregnant, and eight other people. Prosecutors said the slayings were intended to trigger an apocalyptic race war.