During our childhood our fathers tend to be one of our first role models and seem perfect, but what if your father is a notorious cult leader? That is the case for Valentine Michael Manson a.k.a Michael Brunner, the son of the murderer and cult leader Charles Manson.
Let’s explore the life of Valentine Michael Manson- The son of a murderer
1) Meet the father- a notorious cult leader
Charles Manson is one of the most well-known cult leaders of all time. He was the leader of the cult ‘Manson Family’. His cult is responsible for nine murders. The cult gained national notoriety after its gruesome murder of actress Sharon Tate.
2) Meet the mother- the first member of the Manson Family
Valentine Michael Manson’s mother is Mary Brunner. She was present during the murder of the musician Gary Allen Hinman in 1969. Additionally, she had many aliases such as Linda Dee Moser, Christine Marie Euchts and Mother Mary. She met Charles Manson in 1967 and the two instantly fell in love. Subsequently, she went on to become the first inductee of his cult.
3) Valentine Michael Manson was born in Los Angeles on April 15, 1968. He was named after a sci-fi character from the novel ‘Stranger In A Strange Land’. This novel was Charles Manson’s favourite book. It revolves around a man raised by Martians on Mars who returns to earth as a young adult.
4) Natural Birth at home
The cult leader preferred that all his wives gave natural births at home. Valentine was born in the house in Topanga Canyon, surrounded by the members of the Manson Family. His mother smoked marijuana to bear with the labour pain.
5) As his father was quite eccentric it is not surprising that Charles Manson allegedly cut the umbilical cord of Valentine with his own teeth.
6) Mother arrested shortly after his birth
Shortly after Valentine’s birth, his mother and a few other cult members were arrested. They were found lying naked in a ditch around a stolen bus. Additionally, one week old Valentine Manson was discovered there as well, undressed and cold. He was subsequently placed under the care of a local hospital.
7) His mother lovingly called him ‘Pooh bear’.
8) The family dynamics
Charles Manson maintained a hierarchy in the Manson Family, for him, children were first (male, then female), then the adults (male, then female) and he was above all, sort of like their God.
9) Manson’s three biological sons
Charles Manson had three biological sons, Charles Manson Jr., Charles Luther Manson and Valentine Michael Manson. Valentine is believed to be the only surviving son.
10) The sentencing of his mother
After the Tate-Labianca murders, the cult members involved were sent to prison. Mary Brunner and other cult members organised protests for their release and it was during this time that Valentine Manson was sent to live with Mary’s parents.
Subsequently, Mary Brunner and other members held up a Western Surplus Store and planned to hijack a Boeing 747. Their notorious plan was to kill passengers till Charles Manson and others were released from prison. However, their plan was thwarted by the police and following a shootout, Mary Brunner and others were arrested. She was then sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.
11) Brought up by the grandparents
Mary Brunner’s parents petitioned for the full custody of Valentine Michael Manson. They were successful and renamed the boy as Michael Brunner in a bid to give him another chance at life away from the atrocities committed by his parents. They raised him in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
12) A sibling-like relationship with his mother
Mary Brunner was granted parole in 1997 and hasn’t been in contact with her son and her parents. Moreover, not much is known about her since. In an interview, Valentine Michael Manson states that he had a sibling-like early relationship with his mother.
13) “Your father is a murderer”
Even though Brunner went by another name he was not able to escape his legacy. In the third grade, a kid passed a note on to Brunner stating that his father was a murderer.
14) By the 90s, it was clear to Brunner that he would never be able to escape the spotlight of his notorious father, hence he gave an interview in an attempt to create a separate identity for himself, than just being Charles Manson’s son.
15) The 1993 KCBS interview
In the 1993 interview with KCBS, he stated that he felt no significant connection with his father and that he is someone far away and doesn’t come up in his mind. During the interview, he also stated that his father had a bad upbringing while he, on the other hand, was brought up by the best people. Further stating that all he wanted was to be treated normally and not just as an object of curiosity.
16) He wants nothing to do with his father
Brunner’s friend claimed that Charles Manson tried to write him letters but Michael would just tear them up. He wanted nothing to do with his father and wanted to erase any connection he had with him.
17) Did he inherit his father’s psychosis?
In the interview, Brunner was asked if he feared having inherited his father’s psychosis, to this he replied that he didn’t have any such fear and this was all due to the stable upbringing his grandparents gave him.
18) Michael Brunner in recent news
In 2018, a year after his father’s death, Brunner was involved in a lawsuit with Charles Manson’s alleged grandson Jason Freemon and a long time penpal of Manson. The two claimed that according to a will of Manson they were entitled to his estate. But Brunner refuted the claim and asserted that no such will existed. Manson’s body was eventually given to Jason Freeman who had him cremated.
19) Where is Valentine Michael Manson a.k.a Michael Brunner now?
Brunner now stays at an undisclosed location in the rural midwest with his family.
20) What are his thoughts on his father now?
Following his father’s death in 2017, Brunner started reading and researching a great deal about his father and concluded that Charles Manson was a misunderstood man and not the monster the media makes him out to be.
21) Last correspondence with his father
Sometime before his father’s death, Brunner was working as a military contractor in Afghanistan. While over there he thought of contacting his father and subsequently, he found few people who corresponded daily with him. He wrote to them but did not hear back.
When Brunner returned back to the United States, he found a postcard from Charles Manson with simply the words “write on. write on. write on.” written on it.
Brunner meant to write back but then days turned into weeks which turned into months and he never did write back, and then it was too late. Charles Manson died on November 19, 2017.