Manson cultist making fourth parole bid


SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Charles 'Tex' Watson, who led Charles Manson's cultists on their bloody murder rampage and now teaches the Bible as a prison chaplain, makes his fourth bid for a parole Thursday.

Watson, 35, was scheduled to appear before the state Board of Prison Terms at a parole hearing inside the California Men's Colony, where he is serving a life term for the seven Tate-LaBianca murders 12 years ago.


'I will ask the board to give him a parole date, based on his performance,' his attorney, Edwin Olpin, said Wednesday.

'He is a model inmateand everyone agrees with that.'

Prosecutor Stephen Kaye and three reporters will join Watson and his attorney at the hearing.

Watson has been turned down for parole for the past three years, Olpin said. But he noted that when he is given a release date it will still be years more before he is freed.

In previous parole bids, the board cited the 'unusually vicious' nature of the murders -- rather than Watson's exemplary behavior in prison -- as the basis of its denials.

The former Manson follower, who became a born-again Christian several years ago, is the assistant pastor of the prison chapel and spends his time in custody preaching sermons, counseling fellow inmates and conducting worship services and Bible studies.


In 1978, Watson told a UPI reporter that his spiritual conversion allowed him to feel genuine remorse for the seven killings August 1969.

'It's still painful thinking about the murders,' he said at the time.

'I know its terrible what happened...really the pits of hell...but I don't feel it should be drilled out over and over again.'

Manson, Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkle and Susan Atkins also are serving life terms for the two-night murder rampage in which actress Sharon Tate, pregnant at the time, and four of her friends and grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife were killed. The convicted murderers all have been denied repeated bids for parole.

'I'm always going to be Tex Watson, that murderer, in the public's eyes,' Watson said in the 1978 interview. He said he realized he had been forgiven by God, however, and now is 'headed for gloryland.'

Watson believes he was totally under Manson's control and possessed by the devil when he committed the murders.

Watson has said he wants to get out of prison, but insists he is content to stay behind bars as long as God wants.

'If God wants to use me here, then I want him to use me here. If he wants to use me on the outside, then he'll use me on the outside,' he explained.


Watson married Kristin Svege, 22, of San Luis Obispo, a woman he met after a mail correspondence, in a prison ceremony in September 1979. They have been permitted some conjugal visits.

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