Charles “Tex” Watson has lodged a series of complaints with Wikipedia, concerning “errors” about his biographical information. In 1969, Watson was one of four members of Charles Manson’s “family” who broke into the home of Terry Melcher and committed mass murder. Although he will likely spend the rest of his life in prison, Watson is unusually concerned about his online reputation.
Watson has said his involvement in the Manson murders is something he deeply regrets. In a 2004 radio interview, the convicted killer said he accepted full responsibility for his actions. However, he contends he was manipulated by Charles Manson because he lacked a sense of direction and identity — which made him highly susceptible to Manson’s destructive plans.
As reported by CNN, Charles Watson, who became an ordained a minister in 1983, writes for a website that provides Christian ministry to correctional institution inmates.
According to the Independent, Charles Manson’s former right-hand man, who is now a born-again Christian, sent a five-page list of corrections to Wikipedia, demanding that his page be edited for accuracy.
First and foremost, Charles Watson asked for his notorious nickname, “Mad Charlie,” to be removed from the information box as an “other name.”
Watson’s Wikipedia page describes how he and his friends broke into a house on a mountain overlooking Beverly Hills, and stabbed four people — including actress Sharon Tate who was eight months pregnant.
The Wikipedia page says Watson fatally stabbed another victim, Alison Folger, seven times and stole $70 from her purse. Watson requested that information be changed, as he contends he was not responsible for Folger’s death and did not steal any money from her purse.
Charles “Tex” Watson blames the death on another Manson family member, Patricia Krenwinkel. “It is not true [change it to] Watson assisted Patricia Krenwinkel in killing Folger,” Watson wrote.
The convicted murderer also asked Wikipedia moderators to include more detail about his early life, including the fact that he worked at Banff Airlines and an onion packing plant to save money for college tuition.
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Charles Watson, who fathered four children during conjugal visits with his ex-wife, further asked for the genders of his children to be removed from the Wikipedia page. Watson also asked the editors to remove a paragraph requesting signatures to oppose his parole as there were no supporting citations provided.
Wikipedia writer William Buetler said, “It does seem that Watson has done at least a bit of research into how Wikipedia works, he understands there should be citations, and knows he can lobby for the removal of uncited material—although it seems more likely someone will just find a news story about the signature drive than remove this detail.”
A team of volunteers who processes thousands of comments and requests about Wikipedia entries each day met last week to confirm that the five-page letter was actually written by Charles “Tex” Watson. However, the editors agreed that what really matters is if the information provided is authentic.
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Lane Rasberry, one of the volunteer editors for Wikipedia, said Watson’s request was processed like every other request the team receives. However, he admits he is unsure how he feels about receiving the request from a convicted killer.
“But should prison inmates be permitted to edit Wikipedia? Should there be a special rule which keeps certain people out of Wikipedia based on their off-wiki behavior? Perhaps, but in this case, I pass no judgment on the person making the request. They are incarcerated, which is where their society wants them to be, and they are free to write letters.”
Some of the facts disputed by Charles “Tex” Watson remain on the page with “citation needed” tags. The editors also removed the nickname “Mad Charlie” from the list of “other names.”
The Manson family members were all sentenced to death. However, they later had their sentences commuted to life in prison, as the U.S. Supreme Court suspended death penalty laws for four years in 1972. Charles Watson is currently serving his life sentence in Mule State Creek Prison in California.
[Photo By California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]