The Lawson Family Christmas Massacre

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Let’s start the Christmas articles, shall we?

Germantown, North Carolina-
It was two weeks before Christmas in 1929 when a tobacco farmer named Charlie Lawson decided to treat his entire family (wife Fannie and their children: 17 year old Marie, 16 year old Arthur, 12 year old Carrie, 7 year old Maybell, 4 year old James, 2 year old Raymond, and little Mary Lou was just 4 months) to a lavish spending spree. They were all treated to brand new duds, and then they had a family portrait taken. This was extremely expensive, and it was very uncharacteristic of Charlie to splurge this way – it would’ve been unlikely for any rural farmer to spend big like this! But what his family didn’t know was, their father had his reasons, Charlie wasn’t doing this out of the goodness of his heart. They were unknowingly purchasing their burial clothes, and a photo for the world to remember them by.

On Christmas Day the family celebrated; Mama baked a cake while Daddy and his oldest son, 16 year old Arthur, hunted for rabbit. Eventually Charlie told his son that he was out of shotgun shells, and Arthur was sent out into the snow to go buy more. Arthur couldn’t have known that daddy was not truly out of shells, that he’d saved up enough to kill his family. Within moments of Arthur’s departure, the father began to execute his plan.

Charlie’s first victims were Carrie and Maybell; the girls had been walking to visit relatives, and on their way off of the property they had to pass by the tobacco barn. When they came near, Charlie appeared from inside said barn and blasted them both with his 12 gauge. To ensure that his girls were truly good and dead, Charlie beat them for good measure, then quickly dragged them inside the barn. After this, the father attacked his wife, Fannie, while she was on the porch. When she was dead, Charlie went inside to find the rest of his children. Marie had heard the shot which killed her mother, and she’d screamed in terror while the little boys attempted to hide from their killer. Sadly, there was no hiding from Charlie; he found and executed them all one by one. The baby of the family, Mary Lou, was killed last; she was beaten to death whilst laying in her crib.

When his family was dead, Charlie carefully laid the bodies out; he placed stones beneath his victim’s heads, and folded their arms seemingly lovingly across their chests. After he accomplished all he’d set out to do, the killer wandered out into the woods where he walked in circles for hours.

Poor unsuspecting Arthur came back home to a bloodbath; it wasn’t until the law was called that Charlie ended his own life. The final shotgun blast was heard from the family home; Arthur and a few others followed the sound of the blast into the woods where they discovered Charlie’s remains.

So, the big question here is, what in the world would bring a seemingly loving family man to murder his entire family? This type of act was not at all common back in that time period. Up until this point Charlie had been much loved and respected in his community; those who had known the man just couldn’t believe Charlie, in his right mind, capable of this. Originally it was surmised that the father must’ve been ill, maybe a brain tumor was to blame. Or possibly culprit had been that head injury Charlie had sustained just months before the murders, maybe that had caused him to flip out! At autopsy the killer’s brain was examined, and when this failed to bring about any satisfactory answers, the townspeople then concluded that poor Charlie was not responsible for the massacre at all; maybe he’d witnessed an organized crime murder and the family had been murdered to ensure their silence. This is extremely unlikely as well, they were grasping at straws.

Those closest to the family had said that things were not as they had seemed. Charlie had been “having an affair” with his eldest daughter, 17 year old Marie (Yeah, I know) and that she had been carrying her father’s baby. Marie confided this to her best friend, and family members did state that this was a well kept family secret; Fannie had admitted that both she and Charlie were aware that Marie was in “the family way”. Charlie couldn’t stand the thought of the entire town knowing of what he’d done to his daughter; Marie didn’t have a boyfriend, and for a young single lady to get herself knocked up back then would’ve been an absolute disaster. It would have completely ruin the young lady’s life, and make her unmarriable. So that probably answers that, but there’s still one question: why allow Arthur to survive? Maybe Charlie had been worried that 16 year old Arthur, already big and strong, would’ve stopped his father. On the other hand, it’s likely Charlie just wanted his blood line and name to live on – and it did. Arthur went on to father a few children of his own before meeting his own untimely fate in an car wreck at just 31 years of age.

*Bonus facts! It’s said that 5,000 people came from far and wide to attend the Lawson family funeral. Afterwords, the property was turned into a tourist attraction; it cost a whopping 25¢ a head to tour the place, gawk at the uncleaned blood left inside the home, and even gaze upon Fannie’s uneaten Christmas cake. Said cake had contained raisins, so many of the paying gawkers picked the raisins off the top of the cake to keep as souvenirs; those charging admission were eventually forced to place the confection inside a glass case! While the home has since been demolished, it’s said that a family member kept a jar of blood scooped up from the porch as a souvenir. And this proves that our fascination with the macabre is nothing new, y’all.

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