Mary Brunner, aka Mother Mary, met Charles Manson after moving to California in 1967. Brunner became known as the first member of ‘The Manson Family’. Brunner is the mother of Charles manson’s son, Michael Brunner.
The 21-year-old Mary Brunner’s life was transformed when she met 33-year-old Charles Manson after he had been released from prison a few weeks prior. She allowed him to stay in her apartment and the two soon became lovers. Looking for a sense of adventure, Mary quit her job, she was working as a librarian, and the two embarked on a journey across California.
While traveling around Venice, California, Mary Brunner and Charles Manson encountered 18-year-old Lynette Fromme, who subsequently joined the couple. In April of 1968, Mary gave birth to Valentine Michael Manson Brunner, also known as ‘Pooh Bear’, the son of Charles Manson.
Nine Nude Hippies Arrested
On April 22, 1968, Mary Brunner and Charles Manson, alongside several of the family, were apprehended near Little Sycamore Canyon. To the shock of the arresting officers, the suspects were found huddled together, nude and around a campfire, beside a bus they had stolen a few weeks prior.
Mary Brunner was arrested on suspicion of endangering the life and health of a child. When deputies inspected the scene, they found her one-week-old son, Valentine Manson, inadequately dressed and shivering in the near freezing temperatures.
Witches of Mendocino
In an attempt to find a new home for the family, Mary Brunner and several of her cohorts, including Patricia Krenwinkel and Susan Atkins, relocated to Mendocino, California. However, their stay was short-lived, as they were arrested soon after for giving LSD to a group of children. At their trial, the defendants were given the nickname ‘the Witches of Mendocino’.
Brunner was a participant in the murder of Gary Hinman. Mary Brunner, Susan Atkins, and Bobby Beausoleil went to Hinman in order to rob him, but things didn’t go as expected. After several days of torture, Hinman ended up dead. On August 8, 1969, a week after the discovery of Gary Hinman’s body, Brunner and Sandra Good were apprehended for using stolen credit cards in a department store. On the night of August 8, while Brunner and Good were in police custody, Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian went to Sharon Tate’s home and killed everyone inside.
On August 21, 1971, Brunner, along with fellow Family members Catherine “Gypsy” Share, Dennis Rice, Charles Lovett, Larry Bailey, and Kenneth Como, drove a van to a Western Surplus Store in Hawthorne, California. Once inside, the group brandished guns, ordered patrons and clerks to lie on the ground, and proceeded to steal 143 rifles from the store. A store clerk tripped the silent alarm, which alerted police officers to the robbery.
The group then debated whether to kill all of those in the store, and allegedly planned to hijack a Boeing 747 and threaten to kill one passenger every hour until Manson and fellow family members were released from prison. When a police squad car arrived, Share opened fire on the vehicle, shattering the windshield. More squad cars soon arrived, blocking the van from fleeing, and the Family members fired nearly 20 rounds at the officers. The police ultimately gained control of the situation and apprehended the group, though Brunner, Share, and Bailey were injured in the process.
20 Years To Life
Due to her involvement in the murder of Gary Hinman, Mary Brunner, along with Susan Atkins and Bobby Beausoleil, were charged for their crimes. However, Brunner was eventually granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony against Beausoleil and Atkins.
Brunner was sentenced to 20 years to life for the Hawthorne shootout. She ended up in the same prison where Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel served their life sentences. Brunner was released on parole in 1977.