Charles "Tex" Watson:
Watson went from being an "A" student in his Texas high school to being Charles Manson's right-hand man and a cold-blooded murderer. He led the killing spree at both the Tate and LaBianca residences and participated in killing each member of both households. Found guilty of killing seven people, Watson is now living his life out in prison, he is an ordained minister, married and father of three, and claims he feels remorse for those he murdered.
Charles Watson's Childhood Years:
Charles Denton Watson was born in Dallas, Texas on December 2, 1945. His parents settled in Copeville, Texas, a small impoverished town where they worked at the local gas station and spent time at their church. The Watsons believed in the American dream and worked hard to provide better lives for their three children, of which Charles was the youngest. Their lives were financially modest, but their children were happy and following proper paths.
As Charles got older he became involved in his parent's church, the Copeville Methodist Church. There he led devotions for the church youth group and regularly attended the Sunday night evangelistic services. At his high school he was a honor role student and good athlete and earned the reputation as a local track star by breaking records in high hurdles. He also worked as the editor on the school paper.
Watson was determined to attend college and worked at an onion-packing plant to save money. Living in his small hometown was beginning to close in on him and the thought of gaining freedom and independence by attending college 50 miles away from home was appealing. In September 1964, Watson went to Denton, Texas and began his first year at North Texas State University (NTSU). His parents were proud of their son and Watson was excited and ready to enjoy his newfound freedom.
A Frat Boy:
At college academia quickly took a second seat to going to parties. Watson joined the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity in his second semester and his focus switched from his classes to sex and alcohol. He participated in some of the fraternity pranks, some more serious than others. One involved stealing and for the first time in his life he had to disappoint his parents by admitting he broke the law. His parents lectures failed to deter his wish to get back to the campus fun.
Watson's First Exposure to Drugs:
In January 1967 he began working at Braniff Airlines as a baggage boy. He earned free airline tickets which he used to impress his girlfriends by taking them for weekend trips to Dallas and Mexico. He was getting a taste for a world away from Texas and he liked it. During a visit to a fraternity brother's home in Los Angeles, Watson was taken in by the psychedelic atmosphere of drugs and free love which took over Sunset Strip during the 60s.
From Texas to California:
Against his parents' wishes, by August 1967, Watson left NTSU and was on his way to total freedom - Los Angeles. To keep a promise to his parents to finish college he began attending classes at Cal State in business administration. His cherished frat clothes were tossed away for the cooler hippie look and his preferred "high" switched from alcohol to marijuana. Watson enjoyed becoming part of the group who separated themselves from the establishment and they accepted him.
A Mother's Plea:
Within months of being there, Watson took a job as a wig salesman and quit Cal State. He moved to West Hollywood then to Laurel Canyon in a house behind the strip. His mother came to visit him just one time after he was hurt in a serious car accident. Unimpressed with his life style, she begged him to return to Texas and although a part of him wanted to return to his hometown, pride kept him from going. He would not see her again until after he was on the run for killing seven people.
Watson's Major - Full-Time Hippie:
Watson began dealing marijuana and he and his roommate opened a wig shop called Love Locs. It closed quickly and Watson began relying on drug dealing to pay for his new Malibu beach home. His desires to earn money soon dissipated to wanting to get high, go to rock concerts and lay on the beach. He finally evolved into what he thought was a full-time hippie and he felt he had found his place in the world.
The Meeting Which Changed His Life Forever:
Watson's life changed forever after picking up a hitchhiker who was Dennis Wilson, a member of the rock-group the Beach Boys. After arriving at Wilson's Pacific Palisades' mansion, Wilson invited Watson up to see the house and meet the people hanging out there.
Watson Meets Manson: He was introduced to various people, including Dean Moorehouse, an ex-Methodist minister and Charlie Manson. Wilson invited Watson to return to the mansion anytime to hang out and swim in the Olympic-sized pool.
The Wilson Mansion: The mansion was filled with dropouts who hung out doing drugs and listening to music. Waston eventually moved into the mansion where he mingled with rock musicians, actors, children of stars, Hollywood producers, Charlie Manson and members of the Manson "Love Family." He was impressed with himself, the boy from Texas - rubbing elbows with the famous and he was drawn to Manson and his family, drawn to Manson's prophesizing and to the relationship his family members seemed to have with one another.
Heavy Hallucinogens: Watson began doing heavy hallucinogens regularly and became consumed by a new drug-induced perspective in which he believed love and deep bonds to others were formed. He described it as a "kind of connection even deeper and better than sex." His friendship with Dean had deepened as well as with many of Manson's "girls," both of whom encouraged Watson to rid himself from his ego, and join the Manson family.
Joining the Manson Family: Wilson began to pull away from the regulars who were living in his mansion after complaints of sexual child abuse circulated. His manager told Dean, Watson and others living there that they would have to move. With nowhere to go, Dean and Watson turned to Charlie Manson. Acceptance wasn't immediate, but in time Watson's name changed from Charles to "Tex", he turned over all of his possessions to Charlie and moved in with the family.
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See Also: The Manson Family Photo Album
Desert Shadows by Bob Murphy
Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry
The Trial of Charles Manson by Bradley Steffens