Cult leader Charles Manson died of cardiac arrest accompanied by respiratory failure, triggered by colon cancer that had spread to other areas of his body, according to his death certificate.
He died Nov. 19 at Bakersfield's Mercy Hospital, near where the 83-year-old had been serving a life sentence for orchestrating the 1969 killings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and eight other people.
The Kern County death certificate, issued Monday and first obtained by TMZ.com, says Manson died minutes after his heart stopped, but he had been suffering respiratory failure for days. It says his cancer developed months ago.
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His death set off competing claims for his remains and possessions. A hearing based on a claim by a man who says he's Manson's grandson is set for Jan. 8 in Los Angeles, while a purported will filed by a Manson associate has been preliminarily rejected by Kern County on technical grounds.
"It's not unusual to have multiple filings, particularly for famous or infamous people. Someone's going to have to sort it out sooner or later," attorney Alan Davis said Tuesday.
He filed the Los Angeles County Superior Court paperwork on behalf of grandson Jason Freeman, who is nominating attorney Dale Kiken to administer Manson's estate.
Kiken previously provided The Associated Press with documents showing Freeman is Manson's grandson, but Davis said he and Kiken are searching for other and closer next of kin. As administrator, Kiken would represent Manson's estate and not any one individual.
"People do come out of the woodwork," Davis said. So far they said no other relative has asked to be appointed as the estate's representative.
The Kern County sheriff-coroner's office is also still trying to determine Manson's next of kin, with no estimated time for a decision, spokesman Sgt. Steve Wells said Tuesday.
Next month's court hearing could help, Davis said, because anyone objecting to Kiken being appointed administrator on behalf of Manson's grandson could object then.
They say Manson left no will, despite the two-page document filed last month by Michael Channels, who exchanged letters and visited the killer in prison. The will, dated Valentine's Day 2002, purportedly leaves everything to Channels.
Kern County rejected Channels' filing on two technical grounds, including that he didn't provide a Manson death certificate that wasn't available at the time. But it also said Manson's official last address wasn't in Kern County, even though he died there.
Davis said Manson's last address before he went to prison was in Los Angeles County, so the probate fight should be decided there. Kiken has said there might be a third claim by Los Angeles musician Matthew Roberts, who has described himself as Manson's son. Roberts has not returned repeated telephone messages, and Channels could not be reached despite repeated telephone calls.
Manson was said to have music, artwork, writings and at least two guitars when he died. Independent probate attorneys said his estate's real value could be in controlling the use of his image and the power to authorize any biographies or documentaries.
Kiken said an appraiser would have to determine the value.
"I think a lot of the items he has may have a value far beyond their intrinsic value just because of his notoriety," he said.