Pastor at Charles Manson's funeral was interrupted several times by the cult leader's passionate supporters
The two-hour documentary by REELZ, 'Charles Manson: The Funeral', premieres on Saturday, April 13, 2019
Notorious cult leader Charles Manson died in November last year and his remains were finally handed over to his grandson, Jason Freeman, after an intense court battle with Michael Brunner, a man claiming to be Manson's son, and Michael Channels, Manson's pen pal and longtime memorabilia collector. A new documentary from REELZ reveals the entire process Freeman had to go through to get his grandfather's remains, including some tense moments with Manson supporters.
MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) previously reported that the SVP of REELZ Development and Production, Rob Swartz, said in an interview announcing the documentary: "This documentary shows the unusual real story confronting Jason Freeman who struggles to comprehend his role in a situation that involves family, infamy and the inevitable event of death. Freeman's story will no doubt leave viewers asking themselves what they would do if faced with similar circumstances."
The court battle was followed by the bizarre funeral on March 17, 2017, in which the majority of those who showed up to pay their respects were Manson supporters. Of the 20 people at the funeral was Sandra Good, who was in the original Manson Family. Good was not a part of the two-day killing spree that took place in 1969 which saw the death of pregnant film star Sharon Tate. She was, instead, a devout follower who preached Manson's environmental directive known as Air, Trees, Water, Animals (ATWA).
Another notable presence at the funeral was Manson's fiancee Afton Burton, who he was only engaged to for a very brief time beginning in 2014 up until his death. The couple with a 53 year age gap never tied the knot because of his death.
The other supporters at the funeral, however, were the ones who stole the show. This proved to be particularly true for Manson's friend and pen pal, John Michael "JJ" Jones. JJ started corresponding with the notorious cult leader through letters. He sent a poem to Manson and then the two started communicating with each other. This led to a friendship which lasted till the day Manson died. JJ proved how much of a friend he is by weeping at the funeral, which also seemed to get on Freeman's wife, Audrey's nerves.
A major presence at the funeral, aside from JJ's theatrics, was Craig Hammon "Gray Wolf", Manson's friend and confidante. Amongst all those who attended, he was the most reserved and composed. You could tell that he was there just to say goodbye to his friend and then leave. Everything seemed fine up until the moment he put a confederate flag on the casket just before the funeral started. Audrey clearly looked like she wanted everything to be done ASAP.
The most outspoken member of the group, however, was Billy Gram. As he claimed in the documentary, Gram is a "supporter of the truth about Charles Manson". Gram firmly believed that Manson's trial was a farce and that he wasn't a cult leader who orchestrated the brutal 1969 killings. Freeman also said that Gram is the most passionate Manson supporter he has ever come across and he isn't wrong in making that claim.
All of the emotions before the service seemed to get worse when Church of the Nazarene pastor Mark Pitcher, who presided over the funeral, started his speech. The pastor said: "There were many choices thrust upon him that brought about very challenging circumstances through his early years. But he also made choices that brought great consequence and negatively impacted other people for many, many years."
This didn't sit well with JJ or Gram but it was only the latter who got up and confronted the pastor about his speech. The pastor then lets the supporters say a few words and Gram readily got up to the podium, pointed at the casket and proclaimed: "This is not the devil", before continuing about how Manson was a good person. Gray Wolf also said a few words and then the service wrapped up.
After the interrupted speech, the cremation takes place, which is an emotional moment for everyone except Audrey. All in all, the Manson Supporters turned out to be a strange group of people who have very strong opinions about the cult leader.
The two-hour documentary, 'Charles Manson: The Funeral', premieres on Saturday, April 13, 2019, at 8 pm ET/ 5 pm PT.