LAPD officers find themselves once again waiting on Texas to rule on Watson.
Dallas, Tex., Jun. 25 – In September of 1970, LAPD Sergeants Philip Sartuchi and Manuel “Chick” Gutierrez flew to Dallas to accompany Charles “Tex” Watson back to California so he could face trial for the Tate/LaBianca murders. They had waited for nine frustrating months, as Watson’s Texas attorney Bill Boyd appealed his client’s inevitable extradition all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Boyd’s sole purpose for stalling was to ensure Watson would be tried separately from Charles Manson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten.
“The condition of the judicial system in Texas is nothing short of shameful,” said Los Angeles Deputy Dist. Atty. Vincent Bugliosi in May of 1970. “It’s calculated to frustrate the due administration of justice…shameful isn’t strong enough — it’s disgraceful.”
The delays had infuriated officials in Los Angeles to the point, that in July, County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn threatened to sue the state of Texas for $100,000 in damages.
Bill Boyd died suddenly in August of 2009, having a heart attack while running on his treadmill. Four months later Boyd’s law firm, Boyd/Veigel went into bankruptcy. Several items related to the Watson case were discovered when the firm’s assets were liquidated. Among them were audio recordings made between Watson and Boyd in 1970. Both Watson and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office were contacted.
In September of 1976, Watson had signed a document that waived his attorney-client privilege so copies of the tapes could be sold to Chaplin Ray Hoekstra for $49,000. The recordings became the basis for Watson’s book with Chaplin Ray, Will You Die For Me?
This past March, LAPD sent a letter requesting the tapes to the Department of Justice. Detectives reasoned the recordings could provide information on possible unsolved crimes committed by the Manson family.
Last month a Texas bankruptcy court ordered the tapes be turned over to LAPD. The decision prompted a motion from both Charles “Tex” Watson and his local attorney. Both were denied.
According to Watson’s motion, “the LAPD’s letter to the Trustee…the Chief states: ‘THE LAPD has information that Mr. Watson discussed additional unsolved murders committed by the followers of Charles Manson.’ If this be so, and it is not. the request of the LAPD can be satisfied by listening the Tapes without taking possession of them LAPD.” Watson went on to write that he feared the tapes could end up in the media if LAPD were to take possession of them. And that could lead to further suffering for his victim’s families.
Watson was convicted and sentenced to death in 1971 for the seven Tate/LaBianca murders. His sentence was commuted to life on March 20, 1973 after the Supreme Court briefly outlawed the death penalty.
Watson was never charged or tried for the murder of Spahn Ranch hand Donald “Shorty” Shea.
In 1969, Shea was hired by Frank Retz to run the Manson family off of the Spahn Ranch property. Retz owned the neighboring property and was in negotiations to purchase a portion of Spahn. Retz didn’t like the family on either of the properties and called the police on them on several occasions. Manson placed blame on Donald Shea and was convinced he had been working with the police.
Sometime around August 28, 1969, Watson, along with Manson family members Bruce Davis and Steve Grogan, took a ride with Donald Shea. Shea was driving, with Watson sitting beside him. Watson instructed him to pull over, but Shea refused. Watson stabbed Shea and he finally pulled over. From the backseat, Grogan struck Shea with a pipe wrench. Another car containing Bill Vance, Larry Bailey, and Charles Manson pulled up behind them. The group took Shorty out of the car, brought him down a hill behind Spahn’s Movie Ranch and stabbed him to death.
Watson doesn’t discuss this murder in Will You Die For Me? So it’s likely he didn’t talk about it with Boyd. If that is the case, it’s doubtful these tapes contain any discussions about crimes other than the ones Watson was charged with.
LAPD had planned to fly to Dallas to take possession of the tapes on June 15. However, they canceled their plans when they learned Watson’s attorney William Kelly Puls planned to appeal to another court.
If and when the LAPD do take possession of the recordings, the tapes will be turned over the Scientific Investigation Division who will make digital copies for the Robbery Homicide Detectives to review.
Today, the eight cassette tapes sit waiting within a safe in a Dallas office building near the intersection of highways 635 and 75, locally known as the high five interchange.
Fifteen hundred miles away, at the Parker Center in downtown Los Angeles, officers wait for the tapes, just like the officers 4 decades ago waited for Watson himself.
The article states: “Watson doesn’t discuss this murder in Will You Die For Me? So it’s likely he didn’t talk about it with Boyd.”
Just because Watson didn’t write about the Shea murder in his book doesn’t mean he didn’t discuss it with his attorney.
And another thing, if the tapes were sold to Chaplin Ray Hoekstra for $49,000, what is the law firm doing with the tapes, or did Chaplin Ray simply get copies?
That is correct, Hoekstra received copies. The tapes in question are the originals. I contacted International Prison Ministries and they told me they didn’t know what happened to their copies.
As far as him talking about Shea. Yes, it’s just speculation.
If there were something dramatic like that on the tapes he wouldn’t want anyone to hear them, so offering to allow the LAPD to listen to them, or allowing the original sale of them, wouldn’t make any sense. My opinion is that the tapes show nothing illegal that the LAPD will be able to act on, but show him talking about the murders in a callous or joking way. If they leaked to the media there ends any hope he has of ever receiving parole, something he has clearly been working toward.
I don’t believe for a second he cares about sparing the surviving families members from more emotional harm.
I have not been on this site for awhile. It was one of the first I ever came across about the case. I am glad to see it has been updated, and changed up a bit. I think it looks great, and am excited to start coming back more often again 🙂 You have been a huge help lately clearing up some facts!!
Thanks St., glad you like it. A lot of exciting things are coming to the site throughout the next year.
I believe that Watson did say something incriminating in those tapes, that’s why he doesn’t want the LAPD to take possession of them. He has never shown any real remorse for what he has done, so he is not worried about the victims families at all. I truly think he doesn’t want his own kids to see another side of his viciousness.
Lorraine Perez says:
I believe that Watson did say something incriminating in those tapes, that’s why he doesn’t want the LAPD to take possession of them
Well of course he said something incriminating. The question is whether or not he said stuff that has nothing to do with anything he was convicted for. It’s 5 years since those tapes came to light. If there was other incriminating stuff on there, especially since attorney/client privilege was broken in 1976, would he still be aiming for parole ?
I truly think he doesn’t want his own kids to see another side of his viciousness
Well,that doesn’t make sense either. His own kids have never seen Watson anywhere else but in jail. They’ve known all their lives what he’s in jail for. They’ve heard of all the times he’s been turned down for parole. It’s public record so if they want to read up on exactly why, they can. What other side could there possibly be that he doesn’t want them knowing about ? The man was given a death sentence and has been inside for 47 years. That tells one all one would want to know.