Mother Says ‘Tex’ Watson Was Her ‘Pride and Joy’

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 1 — Charles “Tex” Watson’s mother testified Tuesday that before he joined the cult of Charles Manson he was his family’s pride and joy, an honor student and star athlete who attended church regularly.

Mrs. Elizabeth Watson of Copeville, Tex., tearfully told the jury in her son’s trial for the Tate-LaBianca murders that he returned home from California in 1968 and spoke of an impending revolution and of “a man called Jesus who was named Manson.”

She said she visited him in California earlier in the year and found him to be the “same old Charles” but when he came home in December he was a changed man.

The prosecution contends Watson, 25, was Charles Manson’s chief lieutenant in the series of seven murders that included actress Sharon Tate. Manson and three of his young women followers have already been convicted of the slayings and sentenced to die.

Watson has pleaded innocent and innocent by reason of insanity. The defense contends that repeated use of drugs affected his mind and he was a “robot” obeying Manson’s orders.

After he had joined Manson’s family, she said Watson came home to act as a pallbearer at a friend’s funeral.

“His voice sounded funny,” she recalled with tears in her eyes. “He talked about a man called Jesus who was named Manson and he talked about a revolution and that he was going to a bottomless pit and only the Manson family would be left.

In other developments related to the Manson cult, a newspaper said Tuesday a gun stealing raid on a weapons shop was part of an elaborate plot by the cult to mount a “commando style” attack on the courthouse to free their jailed leader.

The Los Angeles Herald-Examiner said Manson family members planned to free their leader by taking hostages a judge and deputy district attorney at Manson’s current murder trial. They planned then to lead a mass jail break through tunnels from the courthouse basement, the newspaper said.

Both the sheriff’s office and the district attorney’s office refused to confirm or deny the report.

The newspaper, which said sheriff’s investigators were the source of its information, said it would stand by reporter Cliff Blackburn’s version.

Manson sent secret messages to his followers by writing them in milk on letters sent by other prisoners, the newspaper said. The hidden messages supposedly appeared when the letters were heated by a hot iron after reaching members of the family.

Four men and two women, described by authorities as members of the cult, were arrested Aug. 21 after they allegedly raided a surplus store and held the clerks and customers at gunpoint while loading a panel truck with guns. The attempted theft resulted in a Shootout with police and their subsequent arrests.

Manson currently is on trial for the slayings of musician Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald “Shorty” Shea.

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