Name: Charles Denton Watson
Date of birth: 12/02/1945
Place of birth: Dallas, Texas
AKA: Tex, The Executioner
Prisoner ID: B37999
Children: 4 Children
Official Website: aboundinglove.org
Whereabouts: Mule Creek Sate Prison (life sentence)
Books: Will You Die For Me (Free PDF)
“I’m the devil and I’m here to do the devil’s business.”
Charles Denton Watson, also known as Tex Watson, was a member of the Manson family. On August 9, 1969, Watson and other Manson followers murdered pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four other people at a house in Benedict Canyon, Los Angeles. The next night, Watson traveled to Los Feliz, Los Angeles, and participated in the murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, as part of Manson’s Helter Skelter vision. Watson was found guilty of murder and imprisoned in 1971.
Donald Shorty Shea Murder
Somewhere between August 26 and 28, Charles Manson, Tex Watson, Steve Grogan, Bill Vance, Larry Bailey, and Bruce Davis asked Shea to come with them to get some auto parts. After Watson gave a sign, Grogan hit Shea over the head with a pipe wrench and Watson stabbed Shea several times. Shea managed to get out of the car. He then was surrounded by the gang and they brutally stabbed him to death. Grogan later said that Shea was so strong it took all of them to kill him.
According to Bruce Davis and Steve Grogan, both Bill Vance and Larry Bailey were participants in Shea’s murder. However Vance and Bailey were never prosecuted for Shea’s death.
The Tate Murders
On the night of August 8, 1969, Manson told Tex Watson to take some of the girls and to go to “that house where Melcher used to live” and to “totally destroy everyone inside, as gruesome as you can” and Manson told Watson to “leave a sign, something witchy”. Tex Watson took Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian, and Patricia Krenwinkel to Cielo Drive.
When they arrived at the entrance of the Cielo Drive property, Watson climbed a telephone pole near the gate and cut the phone line to prevent telephone access from the house. At this point it was after midnight, August 9, 1969.
Just then, headlights approached. Watson ordered the women to lie in the bushes. He then stepped out and ordered the approaching driver to halt. Eighteen-year-old student Steven Parent had been visiting the property’s caretaker, William Garretson, who lived in the property’s guest house. Watson first lunged at Parent with a knife, giving him a defensive slash wound on the palm of his hand, then shot him four times in the chest and abdomen.
The group then proceeded to the main house. Watson told Kasabian to keep watch down by the gate. Watson cut the screen of a window and entered through the window, and let Atkins and Krenwinkel in through the front door.
They found Frykowski sleeping on the living room couch. Watson kicked him in the head. When Frykowski asked him who he was and what he was doing there, Watson replied: “I’m the devil, and I’m here to do the devil’s business.”
Atkins and Krenwinkel searched the house and found Tate, Sebring and Folger and forced them to the living room. Watson began to tie Tate and Sebring together by their necks with rope and slung the rope up over one of the living room’s ceiling beams. Sebring’s protested to the rough treatment of the pregnant Tate. Watson then shot Sebring and stabbed him seven times.
Frykowski’s hands had been bound with a towel. Freeing himself, Frykowski began struggling with Atkins, who stabbed at his legs with the knife with which she had been guarding him. As he fought his way toward and out the front door, onto the porch, Watson caught up with Frykowski and struck him over the head with the gun multiple times, stabbed him repeatedly, and shot him twice.
Around this time, Kasabian was drawn up from the driveway by “horrifying sounds”. In an effort to stop the massacre, she falsely told Atkins that someone was coming.
Meanwhile, Folger had escaped from Krenwinkel and fled out a bedroom door to the pool area. Krenwinkel ran after Folger, caught her, stabbed her, and tackled her to the ground. Watson joined Krenwinkel and they stabbed Folger 28 times. In the meantime Frykowski struggled across the lawn. Watson went over to Frykowski and then stabbed him to death. Frykowski was stabbed a total of 51 times.
In the house, Tate pleaded to be allowed to live long enough to have her baby, and even offered herself as a hostage in an attempt to save the life of her unborn child. Susan Atkins told Tate as she begged, “Look, bitch, I don’t care about you. I don’t care if you are having a baby. You are going to die and I don’t feel a thing about it.” At this point either Atkins, Watson, or both killed Tate (testimonies vary). Tate was stabbed 16 times. Watson later wrote that as Tate was being killed, she cried for her mother.
Using the towel that had bound Frykowski’s hands, Atkins wrote “pig” on the house’s front door in Tate’s blood.
In the early morning hours of August 10, 1969, Manson and Watson entered the LaBianca house. They awoke Leno LaBianca at gunpoint and tied his hands. Leno was then asked if there was anyone else in the house. He told them that his wife was in the bedroom. Manson went to the bedroom and awoke Rosemary. Manson and Watson reassured the couple that they wouldn’t be hurt, and were just being robbed. After collecting all the cash in the house, Manson ordered Watson to take Rosemary back to her bedroom where Watson placed a pillowcase over her head, wound a lamp cord around her head, and gagged her. He told her to stay quiet and remain in the room. Watson returned to the living room and Manson then left the house. Manson then send Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel to the residence.
Watson began stabbing Leno repeatedly only stopping briefly when Leno started screaming. Rosemary, hearing her husband screams, began screaming and flailing around the room. Krenwinkel and Van Houten called Watson for help. Watson left the badly bleeding Leno in the living room and entered the bedroom to find Rosemary swinging the lamp still attached to the cord used to gag her. Watson, Krenwinkel and Van Houten then stabbed Rosemary to death. Rosemary was stabbed 41 times.
Leno was still alive when Watson came back to the living room and the stabbing resumed. After Watson finished stabbing Leno one of the family members carved the word “WAR” into Leno’s stomach. Krenwinkel then stabbed him a number of times and left a carving fork protruding from his stomach and a steak knife from his throat. The girls then wrote messages in Leno’s blood. “Death to pigs” and “Rise” were written on the living room wall and “Healter Skelter” (they mispronounced Helter Skelter) was written on the refrigerator door.
After the murders, the Family members remained at the house. Some ate food from the LaBianca’s refrigerator, played with the couple’s dogs and showered before hitchhiking back to Spahn Ranch.
Suzan LaBerge, Rosemary LaBianca’s daughter, has been one of Watson’s closest friends behind bars after bonding over their shared beliefs as born-again Christians. She visits, writes and has even advocated for his release.
Coincidence (or not)
Before the murders Suzan LaBerge and Watson lived an estimated 200 feet apart in nearby apartments in Los Angeles for six months prior to Watson’s move into Spahn Ranch. Suzan’s then boyfriend was a member of the motorcycle gang Straight Satans that often visited Spahn Ranch. Manson Family member Danny DeCarlo also was a member of the Straight Satans.
More on Suzan LaBerge: Flirt with danger (NYP)