Charles “Tex” Watson
A tall, square-jawed, athletic minister of the gospel and prison chaplin, Charles “Tex” Watson still wears the label of monster just not as well as his former associate Charles Manson did.
The American public has always been reluctant to accept the handsome, All-American jock with the Texas drawl and the piercing blue eyes as the real cause of the terror the Manson family spread in the summer of 1969.
Charles Watson grew up in a strict, Christian household. People like that don’t commit brutal mass murder, right? Charles Watson was a star athlete and sports editor of his high school yearbook. People like that don’t commit brutal mass murder, right? This one did and admits to it and offers graphic detail. But still he does not scare people the way Manson does.
After the Tate-LaBianca murders went down Watson skipped town back to Texas. He got proper legal representation and fought extradition back to California managing to stall his own prosecution for the murders until well after the media had completley hung the murders on Manson, the eccentric career criminal with the crazy eyes that the public wanted to convict the second they saw him.
By October 1971 when Watson finally came to be sentenced the murders were still shocking but it was difficult for the media to do with Watson what they had done with Manson. Watson was at least semi-rational at the time and did not engage in the bizarre antics his accomplices had during their trial.
Watson got the same penalty (death commuted to life) as Manson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten. But he does not have anywhere near the same infamy that his former associates do.
Watson himself has owned up to everything he did. He doesn’t blame it all on Manson’s influence or the drugs he was taking. He has confessed without reserve and continues to do so whenever asked.
Watson was doing LSD and selling it before Manson (who was in prison where that particular drug was one of few that was difficult to get) was. Watson and Susan Atkins both admitted later that were doing speed and hiding the fact from Manson by sharing a stash.
Watson, in his autobiography WILL YOU KILL FOR ME? has confirmed he said that he was “the devil” and was there to do “the devil’s business” at the Tate-Polanski residence the night of the murders. Susan Atkins claimed she heard him say this at the scene and in court he at first denied it but then confirmed it.
Watson didn’t only say he was there to do the devil’s business which might have refered to Manson and hypothetical orders Manson may have given him. Watson directly refered to himself as the devil and then refered to what he was about to do as the devil’s business presumably meaning his own personal business since he had directly refered to himself as the devil.
Even as far as Manson family members go, Charles “Tex” Watson was the really dangerous one. He was a crack shot, the only one in the family, and taught his female accomplices how to wound more severely with a knife (i.e. cut and twist). The second most dangerous was Pat Krenwinkel, then Leslie Van Houten.
Susan Atkins was a willing participant but only insofar as she was able to inflict a few defensive stab wounds and hold victims down for Tex Watson and Patricia Krenwinkel to kill them. She was able to stab Frykowski in the legs aimlessly thrusting a knife behind her only after he began pulling her hair.
Leslie Van Houten stabbed Rosemary LaBianca 16 times after being ordered to by Watson. Most if not all the stab wounds she inflicted happened post-mortum i.e. after Rosemary LaBianca was dead meaning it was really Watson that inflicted the fatal wound and then enticed Van Houten to inflicted post-mortum wounds as a method of mutual incrimination to ensure her silence.
Watson likely finished the murders his female accomplices were unable to. The girls greatly helped Watson by slowing victims down, wounding them and restraining them but he is the one that did the vast majority of the actual killing beyond being a part of the murders as an accomplice. Patricia Krenwinkel (the one who had studied to be a nun) did more damage and showed more aggression than the other two girls did but Watson administered the coup de gras . They, including Watson, all confirm this.
When it comes to violent crime one has to have more concern about the people who physically carry it out than ones who manipulate others into carrying it out for them. That does not mean Manson is not guilty of anything or that he isn’t dangerous in his own right. It just means that acts of violence involving him did not usually happen without the help of other dangerous people.
As a fluke of the California judicial system Watson got life in prison and he never received what he should have gotten which was the death penalty. Watson was sentenced to die and should have died. That he was re-sentenced after the death penalty was overturned in California in 1972 makes it kind of perplexing that when the death penalty was reinstated his sentence was not appropriatley adjusted back to his getting his ticket punched as logically (but not necessarily legally) it should have been. Atkins, Krenwinkel, Van Houten and of course Manson should have been dispatched thusly also.
Then there is the question of the similarities in names. Charles Watson and Charles Manson are similar names. I wonder if the public drew any distinction between the two. Also since jailhouse informants at a women’s prison dorm where Susan Atkins was being held are a source of much of the impetus given to the Los Angeles district attorney’s office to focus on Manson I wonder if the informants could have been confused over which Charles was which.
Atkins, for her part stated in an interview in 1976 that she had done over 300 hits of acid between summer 1967 and fall 1969. She confirmed she got very little acid from Manson who discouraged her from using it while she was pregnant. She also stated that on the night of the Tate murder she saw Tex Watson do superhuman things comparing it to the story of the women who, in the heat of a moment, lifted a car off of her child after an accident.
Nazi experiments with cocaine on concentration camp prisoners yielded results which Third Reich scientists presented as evidence that hard drugs could boost human performance.
Because of facts like those I suggest that Watson was the most dangerous Manson family member. He procured hard drugs for the family heightening their level of physical threat, He also used the same drugs rendering himself into an even more physically formidable murderer.