We have another true crime case, coming from Germanton, NC. The year, 1929; the date December 25. The patriarch of the family, Charles Lawson married Fannie Manring in 1911. They would move to the Germanton areas following Charles’ brothers, Marion and Elijah. The Lawson’s worked as tenant tobacco farmers and eventually were able to save enough money to buy a farm on Brook Cove Road in 1927.
The Lawson’s were a large family, there were a total of 8 children, one however, William, born in 1914 and died of illness in 1920. The surviving children included: Marie – 17, Arthur – 16, Carrie – 12, Maybell – 7, James – 4, Raymond – 2, and Mary Lou – 4 months.
Shortly before the murders occurred, Charles took his entire family into town to purchase new clothes and have a family picture taken. This isn’t something that would typically happen in a working-class rural family. This occurrence lead people to believe that Charles’ actions were premeditated.
Christmas day arrived; Charles chose to murder his two middle daughters first. They were on their way to their aunt and uncle’s home, and when they had gotten near the tobacco barn, their father shot them both with a 12-gauge shotgun. To be sure they were both dead, he also bludgeoned them. Placing their bodies into the barn.
Charles made his way back up to the house, Fannie was on the porch, and she was murdered next. The gunshot alerted Marie in the house who screamed after hearing the blast. The two little boys went to hide.
Marie was shot next, and then Charles found the two little boys, James and Raymond and killed them as well. Lastly, he killed baby Mary Lou. It is believed that she was bludgeoned to death. The only child to survive the massacre was 16-year-old Arthur, who had been sent on an errand.
Arthur returned home to find his family dead. His father wouldn’t be discovered until later. Many people had heard the gunshots on the property and were already gathering there. The gunshot that Charles used to kill himself was heard by the crowd. The police would find CNharles in the woods, and there were letters to his parents, and also footprints circling the tree, as if he was pacing before killing himself.
Why did a seemingly “well-to-do” farmer, and family man, murder his entire family? Nobody knows for sure. The autopsy on Charles didn’t show any brain abnormalities. There is one other possible reason that wasn’t really learned until 1990.
There is a claim that Charles had been sexually abusing his daughter, Marie, and that she was in fact pregnant with his child. Family of the Lawson’s stated that Fannie was concerned about the incestuous relationship between Marie and Charles. Fannie had expressed her concern as early as 1928. A few weeks before her death, Marie had confided in a friend that she was pregnant by her own father and that both of her parents were aware of it.
Shortly after the murders, Charlie’s brother, Marion Lawson, opened the home on Brook Cove Road as a tourist attraction. The Lawson family were buried in a family plot in North Carolina.
Stay Curious my Friends!