Mary Brunner, aka Mother Mary, a former member of the Manson Family, met Charles Manson shortly after moving to California in 1967. Brunner has become known as the first member of what would become ‘The Manson family’.
The 21-year-old Brunner met the 33-year-old Manson after Manson had been released from prison a few weeks earlier. She let Manson stay at her apartment, and the two became lovers. Looking for adventure, Mary quit her job and the two began to travel around California in a van.
While traveling around Venice, California, Brunner and Manson met 18-year-old Lynette Fromme, and the three moved in together. In April of 1968, Mary gave birth to Valentine Michael Manson, aka ‘Pooh Bear’, the son of Charles Manson.
Nine Nude Hippies Arrested
On April 22, 1968, Bunner, Manson and several other family members were arrested near Little Sycamore Canyon. They were found nude, huddling around a campfire, next to a bus that had been reported stolen a couple of weeks earlier.
Brunner was booked on suspicion of endangering the life and health of a child, after deputies said they found her one-week-old son, Valentine Manson , improperly dressed and shivering in the near freezing temperatures.
Witches of Mendocino
Brunner and several other family members lived in Mendocino, California for a while, trying to find a new place for the family. Brunner and the others, including Patricia Krenwinkel, Susan Atkins and Ella Jo Bailey, were arrested for giving LSD to a group of children. At their trial they were given the nickname the “Witches of Mendocino”.
Murder And Stolen Credit Cards
Brunner was a participant in the murder of Gary Hinman. On August 8, 1969, a week after Hinman’s body was found, the day of the Tate murders, Brunner and Sandra Good were arrested for using stolen credit cards in a department store. The girls’ bail had not yet been determined, but they knew from experience that they would need about $600 to get out of jail.
On the night of August 8, while Brunner and Good were in police custody, Manson sent Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian to Sharon Tate’s home, located at 10050 Cielo Drive. According to Tex Watson, Manson told him not to come back to the ranch until they robbed a sum of $600.
20 Years To Life
Brunner and Susan Atkins were charged along with Bobby Beausoleil for the murder of Gary Hinman. Brunner later received immunity from prosecution to testify against both Beausoleil and Atkins.
After Manson was found guilty of the Tate/LaBianca murders, Brunner and other Manson family members made a plan to break Manson out of prison, but the plan backfired and they were all arrested and jailed.
Brunner was sentenced to 20 years to life. 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.
Related: Hinman Murder