Is it possible that the remains of cult leader and convicted murderer Charles Manson might soon be buried in Bakersfield?
The 83-year-old prison inmate who, in the summer of 1969, directed his followers to commit nine savage murders, died in a Bakersfield hospital Nov. 19.
According to a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Manson's body on Friday remained in the custody of the Kern County Coroner's Office, 12 days after his death.
The notion that the notorious figure could somehow end up interred in Kern County soil seems outrageous on one hand and completely unsurprising on the other.
After all, it's been documented that officials in Southern California have given hard cases a bus ticket to Kern in the past. We are not strangers to the idea that we are sometimes used as a dumping ground. Air pollution drifts southward from Northern California and collects in Bakersfield, the perfect end point for noxious gases in the valley. And Los Angeles has used Kern County as a place to dump its surplus sewage sludge for decades.
Why should we be surprised that Bakersfield could become the cult leader's final resting place? Maybe we can sell tickets.
According to state law, whenever a California prison inmate dies, and no claim is made by the inmate's next of kin, the department of corrections "shall dispose of the body by cremation or burial no sooner than 10 calendar days after the inmate's death."
Rumor has it that Manson will be buried at Bakersfield’s historic Union Cemetery. There's no proof that this will come to pass.
And yet ... how surprised would we be?
An employee of Union Cemetery who did not identify herself said Friday the disposition of Manson's remains had not yet been determined.
Asked if Union had been in recent contact with corrections officials, she said the cemetery would have no comment.
Meanwhile, the New York Daily News reported this week that Manson's grandson isn't giving up his plan to claim and bury the mass murderer, even after GoFundMe pulled the plug on his fundraising website.
"If we can't raise money with GoFundMe, we'll find another way. It will definitely be a group effort. It's not just one person, it's a lot of people holding hands," Jason Freeman told the Daily News.
And another man, a prison pen pal who corresponded with Manson for years and even met him, has been named in Manson's will, according to TMZ. Dated Feb. 14, 2002, the will reportedly leaves all of Manson's personal belongings, including cash, image rights and clothing to the pen pal.
The will says Manson's body should be turned over to his pen pal. The man says he will claim the body, but TMZ reported that if he doesn't do it within 10 days of Manson's death, the prison will cremate him.
It had been 12 days as of Friday.
In a statement sent to local media, Kern Minority Contractors Association member and occasional candidate for local office Marvin Dean said Manson was a known race-hater and wanted to start a race war in America.
"We don’t need a restless ghost, with a swastika embedded in his forehead, walking around the graveyard in our neighborhood," he said. "The 'Helter Skelter' serial killer needs to be returned to his native state of Ohio, or back to his prison home of the past 53 years. What irony it would be for a neo-Nazi to be buried in a predominately minority neighborhood! It’s disrespectful!"
One can imagine if Manson were indeed buried at Union, the sorts who find themselves fascinated by such grisly figures gathering graveside through the years in strange worshipful circles.
Bakersfield: the final home of Charlie Manson.
Kind of has a ring to it.