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Tex Watson was a member of Charles Manson's "Family," and was Manson's right-hand man. He was convicted of the family's infamous 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders, which were orchestrated by Manson.
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Tex Watson was a key member of Charles Manson's "Family," and on August 8, 1969, he led other Manson followers, under Manson's orders, into a house in Hollywood, and murdered actress Sharon Tate and four other people. The next night, Watson murdered Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, as part of Manson's "Helter Skelter" vision. Watson was found guilty of murder in 1971, and has been in prison ever since.
As a teenager, Charles "Tex" Watson led his church youth group and regularly attended the Sunday night services. In high school, Watson was an honor-roll student and respected athlete. During his third year at North Texas State University, he visited a friend in California and decided to move there, which he did in 1967. Once in Los Angeles, he enrolled at Cal State but quickly dropped out, caught up quickly in the freedom of the hippie counterculture movement.
One night, Watson stopped to pick up a hitchhiker who turned out to be Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys. Wilson invited Watson back to his mansion, which was filled with people hanging out, listening to music, and doing drugs. Before long, Watson had moved into the house and met Charles Manson, who was a regular visitor. Wilson eventually kicked everyone out, and Watson moved out to Manson's desert ranch, where he proceeded to fall under Manson's spell.
Watson moved out of the ranch in November 1968, but was back four months later. Upon his return, he found the focus of the Manson "Family" had changed to what Manson called "Helter Skelter," his name for the inevitable race war that he foresaw. To precipitate Helter Skelter, Manson sent Watson and three of Manson's "girls" to 10050 Cielo Drive and told them to kill everyone there, which they did, savagely stabbing actress Sharon Tate and three other women, and shooting and killing a male visitor.
The next night, Manson sent Watson and two of the women to kill Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, and Watson brutally killed them both while the women helped. Before fleeing to Texas on October 2, 1969, Watson had a hand in one more murder: that of ranch hand Donald "Shorty" Shea, whom Manson thought had spoken with the police.
Watson tried to live a normal life in Texas but was arrested for the Tate/LaBianca murders there on November 30, 1969. Two years later, he was found guilty in a California court of seven counts of murder and sentenced to death, but California's 1972 ban on the death penalty changed his sentence to life in prison.
In prison, Watson became a born-again Christian and an ordained minister. He has written an autobiography, Will You Die for Me?, and has been married and divorced, having four children in between.
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Charles Manson's eerie ability to control his "family" of young hippies in California remains as mysterious and intriguing today as it did in 1969, when Manson orchestrated the infamous murders of Sharon Tate and Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Many Manson Family members were sentenced to life in prison for participating in those murders, including Squeaky Fromme, Susan Watkins and Patricia Krenwinkel. Members Bobby Beausoleil and Steve Grogan, under Manson's bizarre influence, committed other murders. Examine our list of Manson Family members and find out about life on the Spahn Movie Ranch, Charles Manson's uncanny hold over his followers, and the random and brutal crimes that ensued.
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