Massacres/Mass Murder · North Carolina

Man kills wife, 6 of his 7 children, self

December 25, 1929
Germantown, North Carolina
Charlie Lawson kills his wife and 6 of their 7 children before killing himself

A few days prior to the murder-suicide, Charlie (43) brought his family to get a photograph taken together, a considerable expense and luxury for a working class family at the time. Because of the irregularity of such an act, some speculated the attack was premeditated.

Charlie sent his 19-year-old son Arthur on an errand directly before beginning the massacre. He killed Carrie (12) and Maybell (7) by shooting them with a shotgun and bludgeoning them to ensure they were dead. He then killed his wife Fannie (37) and children Marie (17), James (4), Raymond (2), and 4-month-old Mary Lou. Charlie positioned each body with their arms crossed and their heads placed on pillows or sacks. Afterward, Charlie wandered into a field a half mile away and fatally shot himself several hours after the murders.

No direct motive was established, but two letters were found on his person. One note in his pocket read simply: “Blame nobody but I.” Another, written on a tobacco bill, stated “Trouble will cause.” Charlie is thought to have had a mental condition which drove him to kill his family and himself; it was noted the summer before the murders Charlie had complained of “a peculiar feeling about the head” following a blow to his head.

An estimated 5,000 people attended the family’s funeral.

Sources:

  • “Five Thousand Gather to Witness Internment of Slaughtered Family.” The Bee [Danville, Virginia]. December 28, 1929
  • “Crazed Farmer Kills Wife, 6 Children and Self.” The Bee [Danville, Virginia]. December 26, 1929
  • “Insane Father Slaughters Family, Then Suicides.” Lubbock Morning Avalanche. December 29, 1929

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