SANTA CLARITA (CBSLA) — An attorney for Charles Manson's grandson has filed a petition in Los Angeles Superior Court to claim his grandfather's remains.
However, Manson's long-time pen pal and self-described friend insists he has the rights to the body and the document to prove it.
Manson passed away in November after serving nearly 50 years at Corcoran State Prison.
After three decades of friendship with Manson, Michael Channels of Santa Clarita is explaining the riddles penned by a serial killer.
"Basically, you've got to know how he writes 'Evil IS,' because it's EVIL."
Channels' childhood fascination with horror led to a correspondence that began in his late 20s.
"I actually went into the whole thing thinking: 'I want to meet the Boogey Man, I want to meet the Boogey Man!'"
So he wrote a letter.
"It took me about 50 of those letters to get him to write back and say you know what, here's an autograph, I'm really too busy, have a good day. OK, I got one, now I'm going for more."
Over the years, Channels says, he received thousands of letters, postcards, even gifts from Manson crafted from his cell. Like a mask made of paper plates, a signed document and Kool Aid.
CBS2's Rachel Kim sat down with the world's most successful pen pal.
Rachael: That's scary
Michael: It is scary! But then again that goes into my soul. I love scary things. You can't scare me enough!
Rachel: You called him Charlie. Was Charlie evil?
Michael: Oh yeah, yeah. He had that side to him, he could be. He was more of a loving kind of charming guy though than he was evil.
A charm that could manipulate the impressionable into murder. When Channels was asked if he could have seen himself joining the Manson family, he said:
"I most definitely, probably think I'd probably could've," he said. "If it would've been all the girls, the girls, weed, party all the time, sure.
Rachel: Girls and weed are one thing, could you kill someone or help kill someone?
Michael: No way, no way.
The Manson family murdered at least seven people, but Channels says Manson never wanted to talk about it.
"I'd seen a person who never talked about murder, never talked about killing people. You could bring it up and he'd be like: 'you got that murder and death thing on your mind,' he'd want to change the subject from that."
Rachel: Did Manson ever confess to killing anybody?
Michael: No, not at all.
Rachel: Never during this entire time ever discussed any of the murders, never took responsibility?
Michael: We discussed it, responsibility ... he didn't feel he was responsible. He kept saying that over and over and over again."
When it came to Manson's mental state, Channels says:
"I don't think he was insane, no, but he had his moments where he seemed different. Just depended what day it might be, what Manson you might get."
He says Manson sent him his last will and testament dated Feb. 14, 2002, naming Channels executor of his estate, including his remains.
Their last phone conversation was recorded in October of 2017. Channels believes Manson knew he was nearing death:
"I'll always be with you, as much as I'll be with myself," Manson told Channels.
He says Manson wanted to be cremated.
"He didn't want people cutting tattoos off his head, putting them on displays or museums, tattoos off his arms," Channels said. "He didn't want his brain being examined."
But when Manson died in November, several people challenged the will, including Manson's grandson.
"He did not like that family," Channels said. "Up until three years ago, that grandson was talking bad about him. He could have been one of the people up there in the hospital room but why wasn't he? Because Manson didn't want him there."
Channels says although people are questioning his motives, he intends to honor his friend's last request.
Manson's grandson says he has rights to Manson's body because he is family. His attorney questions the authenticity of Channels' version of the will, and says if it is real, it may prevent the sons from access to the remains and not the grandson. A hearing on the petition will be held Jan. 26.
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