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.
The Manson 'Family'
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 pregnant actress Sharon Tate, her friends Wojciech Frykowski, Abigail Folger and Jay Sebring, along with a male visitor, Steven Parent, whom they killed in the driveway of the property.
The next night, Manson sent Watson and two of the women to kill Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, and Watson brutally killed them both while Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel 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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