Los Angeles Times

Mass murderer? Cult leader? Musician? Charles Manson's son wrestles with father's legacy

The soft-spoken man with the crooked smile and bright blue eyes wants to change the way the world thinks about his father.

He says his dad has been misunderstood for half a century. Unfairly blamed. Wrongly vilified. The man is 51. His name is Michael Brunner.

His father was Charles Manson.

"I would say 95% of the public looks at Charlie as this mass-murdering dog, and it's really, obviously, just not true," Brunner says. "He didn't necessarily kill."

Brunner stops. He is very nervous. He has spoken publicly about his notorious bloodline just once before, and that was 26 years ago. He is out of practice and deeply conflicted. He has guarded his privacy for decades. But now, loyalty to a biological father he has never known wins out.

"Can we start again?" he asks.

He continues. Then pauses. Whispers. "I thought this was going to be so easy."

Very little is easy when you're the only son of America's most famous cult leader and Mary Theresa Brunner, the first member recruited into the Manson "family," as his followers were known.

When the man who shares your nose and your grin persuaded his disciples to commit nine gruesome murders

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