As Charles Manson's groupies turned into killers, Charles Watson was in the thick of the murders...
On 9 August 1969, actress Sharon Tate, 26, was brutally murdered in her Los Angeles home.
Shot and stabbed, she’d been eight months pregnant at the time. Horrifically, she’d begged for her baby’s life…
Four of her friends were also killed. Inside her home, some of the bodies had been mutilated. There was blood everywhere and the word Pig scrawled on the front door in blood. The electricity and phone lines had been cut, too.
The following evening, a wealthy couple who owned a grocery store were killed in their home. Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were found stabbed to death. Who could’ve committed such heinous crimes?
It wasn’t long before police caught up with the perpetrators…
Charles Manson and his followers – Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, Leslie Van Houten, Steve Grogan and Linda Kasabian – were all arrested.
Although Manson hadn’t killed anyone at the Tate or LaBianca murders, he was thought to have masterminded them, sending his followers to kill innocent people.
The last of the Manson clan to be arrested was Charles ‘Tex’ Watson, 23 – said to be Manson’s right-hand man. The one who wielded the knives and guns on those two horrific nights.
But what had made Charles Watson want to murder?
Born in Texas in December 1945, he was raised in a good, loving, Christian family and he’d excelled at school. A star athlete and student, he attended college before dropping out. Watson then moved to California where he met Charles Manson and began taking mind-altering drugs.
‘Manson’s goal was to free us from our past, all sexual inhibitions, all ego and fear and turn us into his image of love. Drugs such as LSD made us extremely open to suggestion and the force of a stronger personality,’ Watson later said. He also said that Manson had a ‘deceptive charisma’.
Manson wanted to start a race war by committing terrible murders and blaming them on black people. So, to achieve this, he insisted on killings that would attract media attention.
Watson was the leader of those physically involved in the killings. When the police eventually caught up with the Manson family, Watson was the last to be arrested.
He was deemed insane and reportedly committed to a mental institution until he was fit to stand trial. In 1971, Watson was found guilty of seven counts of murder and sentenced to death. This was later commuted to life in prison when the death penalty was briefly outlawed in California.
In prison, Watson rediscovered Christianity, and claimed to be remorseful. So much so, that the LeBiancas’ daughter forgave him.
Now, Watson is still in prison and has been denied parole many times. Despite his repentance, he showed no mercy at the time of the brutal slayings, and he may never be a free man.