There are very few people who would ever be glad to hear they’re related to Charles Manson, but one man is bravely taking on the mantle of Manson’s grandson.
Jason Freeman, 41, is a former oilfield worker, former mixed martial arts fighter, and a father of three. He learned about his notorious lineage as a teenager, and that his father was born with the name Charles Manson Jr., the first son of the infamous mass murderer.
Manson Jr. changed his name to Jay White, taking the name of his mother’s new husband following her divorce from the future serial killer. Even though he tried to distance himself from his father as much as possible, he never could get past his relation to the man who committed such heinous crimes. Jay White committed suicide in 1993.
RELATED: CHILLING CHARLES MANSON QUOTES
White’s son, Jason Freeman, has been far more accepting of his paternal heritage. He had been in contact with Manson by phone, and even tried to lobby Corcoran State Prison for visitation rights. He never did get to meet his grandfather before he died and suspected that it was Manson himself who prevented the two from meeting face to face.
“He wanted to protect me, keep me out of all the pressure and hatred the world has,” Freeman told the New York Daily News.
Speaking to PEOPLE magazine, Freeman recalled a time when Manson seemed almost frustrated with his inquiring grandson. “He kept asking me what I wanted. ‘What do you want from me?’ I said, ‘I just want to get to know my grandfather'.”
At first, Freeman says that he blamed Manson for his father’s death, but after years of speaking to him reached a point of “forgiveness.” Later, he’d come to believe Manson, who had maintained he never ordered his followers to kill actress Sharon Tate and others in the summer of 1969.
“He said his hands are clean,” Freeman told PEOPLE. “He specifically said he did not kill Sharon Tate or anybody in that house. He would never hurt a human with a baby inside of them.”
Freeman says that Manson was a “loving, compassionate man,” who cared deeply about environmental causes. Manson’s followers founded ATWA (Air Trees Water Animals), an environmental advocacy group, while he was incarcerated.
Former Manson prosecutor Stephen Kay disagrees. “I don’t care if you have the most powerful microscope in the world, you couldn’t find any good in Charles Manson. He had control over his family members and they would do whatever he directed them to do.”