In Tom Snyder’s 1981 interview with killer-cult leader Charles Manson, he could never get Manson to say how many kids he had. “How many children do I have? Uh, I don’t know,” Manson told Snyder. “I’ve got lots of children, man. Uh, in fact sometimes I even think that you’re a child.”
Part of the reason Charles was being so evasive was because he didn’t really know for sure himself. It’s impossible to know how many of the 10-12 babies born between 1967-9 to the women of The Manson Family were actually Charles’. In the two years during which he built his group of devoted followers, Charlie would arrange almost nightly orgies and encourage all the women to try to get pregnant to help build up their clan’s numbers. Once babies were born, they were usually taken away from their mothers, because Manson believed that being too close to biological parents could mess kids up.
Before it was known that the Manson Family was responsible for the Tate-LaBianca murders, The Family was rounded up and arrested several times for stealing cars and dune buggies. During one of these raids, the children were put into foster care. After the fallout of the murder investigation, a few were reunited with their mothers or their mothers’ families, but others were adopted.
Manson does have three known children. The first, Charles Manson Jr., was born to Manson and his first wife Rosalie. Charles, who was in juvenile detention centers during most of his childhood, quickly landed back in jail after his marriage to Rosalie. She divorced him while he was incarcerated and their son, Charles Junior, later changed his name to Jay White, his stepfather’s name. He committed suicide in 1993.
His second son, Charles Luther Manson, was born to his second wife, Leona “Candy” Stevens. Yet again, Charles Manson got married, got his wife pregnant, and ended up back in prison. Mirroring the actions of his first wife, Candy divorced Charles while he was away. It’s unknown what happened to Charles Luther Manson.
The last child Manson is known to have fathered is the son of Mary Brunner, his very first convert. Their son was named Valentine Michael Manson, after protagonist Valentine Michael Smith in Manson’s favorite book, Stranger in a Strange Land. Manson was practically illiterate, but he listened to other prisoners tell him the plot of the book, and the themes of alienation and free love resonated deeply with him. In keeping with Manson’s parently philosophy, this first baby born into the Family was looked after by the group of women, and mostly kept away from Manson and Brunner. His nicknames in the Family were “Pooh Bear” and “Sunstone Hawk.”
Brunner is connected with the murder of Gary Hinman, but served time in prison for his involvement in a police shoot-out while trying to steal guns from a Western Surplus store after Manson and other family members were arrested for the Tate-LaBianca murders. The Family was planning to use the guns to highjack a Boeing 747, and kill one person on board per hour until Charles Manson was released from prison. Pooh Bear spent some time with the state before being sent to live with Brunner’s parents in Wisconsin. It’s also unknown what became of Valentine “Pooh Bear” Manson.
Several years ago a DJ named Matthew Roberts got a lot of media attention when he claimed he was Charles Manson’s son from a 1967 San Francisco orgy. Two separate DNA tests proved he wasn’t actually related to Manson, but Roberts still identifies himself as Manson’s son. His most recent work was a performance art-piece about Manson.
The horrifying tale of Charles Manson is being explored by NBC series Aquarius and a new Lifetime movie called Manson’s Lost Girls airing tonight at 8 PM EST (7 PM CST).