Merry Ho-Ho-Oh No!: The Lawson Family Murders

In light of the holiday season, this week I wanted to share with you a story that, prior to my own research, I had never heard of before. Originally this post was going to be about various Christmas horror or murder cases, but this single story caught my eye. Sometimes the holidays can bring out the worst in people… 

Charlie Davis Lawson was known as quite the family man in 1911 when he married Fannie Manring. He had moved from city to city with his brothers working as tobacco farmers until 1927, when he and Fannie had saved enough money to buy their own family home and farm on Brook Cove Road in Germanton, North Carolina.

Together, Charlie and Fannie had seven children together; Marie, Arthur, Carrie, Maybell, James, Raymond and Mary Lou. Around Germanton, they had been known to be nothing but a lovely family with well-behaved children who worked hard for their money. No one who knew them ever thought anything strange of them until 1929 when Charlie took his family into town to buy new clothes and have a family portrait taken for the holiday season. Now, to us this sounds perfectly normal, but back in the late 20s, it was extremely uncommon for working-class families to take portraits or even buy brand new clothing for that matter, but Charlie simply explained it as a treat for the family for Christmas.

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Little did anyone know that in the afternoon on December 25th, 1929, Charlie Lawson would not only take his own life, but also kill all but one of his family members. He started his spree by killing his daughters Carrie (12) and Maybell (7) as they set out to their aunt and uncle’s house for the evening. As they walked towards the barn, Charlie shot both of them with a shotgun and then beat them to ensure that they were dead. He hid their bodies in the barn.

Next, he killed his wife, Fannie (37) as she was standing on their front porch. This gunshot startled his daughter Marie (17) and she instructed her two brothers James (4) and Raymond (2) to hide. When Charlie entered the home, he promptly shot and killed Marie before hunting down and killing the two young boys. The last Lawson family member to die that day was baby Mary Lou (4 months), and it is believed that she was bludgeoned to death with a blunt object because Charlie couldn’t stand the thought of shooting his baby.

It wasn’t long before neighbours started showing up at the home and police were called in to investigate, but promptly after killing Mary Lou, Charlie escaped into the woods. Where he would roam for hours as reporters and concerned towns people learned of the murders. That evening, Charlie turned the gun on himself and he died of a gunshot wound to the head in the forest behind his home. The shot was heard by nearly everyone who was at the farmhouse at the time.

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No one will ever know for sure what caused Charlie to commit such a horrible crime on what should be one of the happiest days of the year, but many theorize that his mental state was altered by a head injury that he sustained just months prior to the festive events. Autopsy reports state, however, that there were absolutely no abnormalities in his brain. According to a book published about the events entitled “White Christmas, Bloody Christmas“, it is also speculated that Charlie had a romantic relationship with his eldest daughter, Marie, and that she had become pregnant, therefore Charlie believed they needed to die in order to cover up the incest in the family.

There are many different theories about what would cause any person to commit such a horrible act of violence toward their own family, but it was seen that Charlie felt remorse based on how the family was positioned post-mortem. Each family member was laid on the floor with their arms across their chests and a stone under each head acting as a pillow. He also felt the need to keep the family name alive however…

Remember how I said that he killed all but one family member? Well, that person was their eldest son, Arthur (16), whom Charlie had sent out to run errands just minutes before committing the murders.

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I know that the holidays can bring out the absolute worst in some people… But could you imagine?!

Thank you all for joining me for today’s special Christmas themed story! I know it was a short one, but I have a lot of juicy content on the way. I’m just trying to enjoy the holidays with my family in the meantime. What do you guys think about the Lawson Family Murders? Do you think something or someone forced Charlie to kill his family? Or do you think it was all chalked up to mental illness? Please send me a tweet @kelsimarie1330 or comment down below, I would LOVE to hear your theories as always. 

Until next time… Keep it spooky and Happy Holidays!

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