Mary Brunner met Charles Manson shortly after moving to California, at age 21. The pair drifted and lived together, and in April 1968, Brunner gave birth to Manson's son. Manson had been gathering followers meanwhile, and on August 8, 1969, Manson sent some of them into Hollywood to commit murder. Brunner, however, was unable to join them, having been arrested and jailed for credit card fraud earlier that day. After the Manson "Family" went to prison in 1971, Brunner and others hatched a bizarre hijacking plan to force Manson's release, but they were all arrested and jailed, Brunner until 1977.
At age 21, Mary Brunner moved to Los Angeles to take a job in the library at the University of California, Berkeley. While walking her dog one day, she met Charles Manson and the two became good friends and, eventually, lovers. Manson moved into Brunner's apartment for a while, but they soon took to the road in Manson's Volkswagen van, traveling around California while Manson gathered followers.
In April 1968, Brunner gave birth to Manson's son, Valentine Michael, who received the nickname "Pooh Bear." Allegedly, Manson and some women from his burgeoning "Family" delivered the baby, and Manson cut the umbilical cord with his teeth. After stints in Venice and San Francisco (where they lived with Squeaky Fromme), Manson, Brunner, Poor Bear and the rest of the family moved to the secluded Spahn Ranch.
In July 1969, Manson follower Bobby Beausoleil left Spahn Ranch with Brunner and Susan Atkins to visit Gary Allen Hinman, a friend of various family members over the years. A few days later, Hinman was found murdered in his home, and a few days after that, Beausoleil was found with Hinman's car and arrested for his murder. According to one version of events, Manson sent the trio to Hinman's house to take money from him, and Manson showed up at one point and cut Hinman's face with a knife or sword. According to another, Manson had nothing to do with any of it. For Mary Brunner's part, she was never convicted of any crime related to Hinman's death, and was given full immunity for her testimony.
A little more than a week after Hinman was found dead, on August 8, 1969, Brunner and another Manson family member were arrested while using stolen credit cards in a department store. That night and the next, while Brunner was in police custody, Charles Watson (also known as "Tex") and other Manson followers committed the Tate/LaBianca murders.
In August 1971, Brunner and several other Manson followers held up a "surplus store" and stole a large cache of weapons. They intended to hijack a commercial jet and hold the passengers hostage, killing one every hour until Manson and others were released from prison. The police arrived at the store, however, and following a shootout, Brunner and each of her accomplices were arrested. She was released from prison in 1977.
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