The body of murder mastermind Charles Manson may soon be put to rest after a US official said she will rule soon in the dispute over who can collect his remains.
The tussle has been evolving since the 83-year-old, who orchestrated the 1969 killings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and eight others, died November 19 in a hospital in Bakersfield, California.
A man who claims he was fathered by Manson and another who says he's a grandson are locked in a three-way dispute with a pen pal who was friends with Manson and has filed what he said is the cult leader's will.
The three parties all dispute elements of the competing claims. There are doubts over the authenticity of the will filed by friend Michael Channels.
And there are questions about whether Michael Brunner was fathered by Manson and whether Jason Freeman is really his grandson.
The hearing on Wednesday was anticipated to be mainly to schedule future hearings, but Kern County Superior Court Commissioner Alisa Knight said she did not want to continue the matter and said she would rule after reviewing court filings, according to Deputy Kern County Counsel Bryan Walters who represented the coroner's office.
Mr Walters said at a previous hearing that they want the case resolved to make room for bodies stacking up in the morgue from the methamphetamine and opioid epidemics.
The commissioner said she "thinks it's unreasonable to have a body in storage while people fight over it," Mr Walters said. "We want to get this resolved as soon as possible, so we're in favour of her decision."
Another purported son, Matthew Lentz, who claims he was fathered by Manson during a Wisconsin orgy, appeared in court on Wednesday for the first time, Mr Walters said.
Mr Lentz has not filed court papers in the Kern case, but is named as the sole beneficiary in a will filed with the coroner's office by another memorabilia collector who befriended Manson while he was in state prison.
Mr Lentz is joining forces with Mr Brunner and also intervening in a separate court case in Los Angeles over Manson's estate, said Mike Smith, a spokesman for Mr Lentz.
That estate case is being heard in LA County because that is where Manson resided at the time of his arrest.
- Digital Desk and PA