Lawson Family Murders

Charles Lawson

Charles Lawson

This is where the Lawson family lived and the location where Marie, James, Raymond and Mary Lou were murdered.

This is where the Lawson family lived and the location where Marie, James, Raymond and Mary Lou were murdered.

This is where Charles Lawson put the bodies of his daughters Carrie and Maybell.

This is the tabacco barn where Charles Lawson put the bodies of his daughters Carrie and Maybell.

The bloody scene inside the cabin.

The bloody scene inside the cabin.

Lawson FuneralCharles Davis Lawson was a tobacco farmer from Stokes County North Carolina.  He owned a farm on Brook Cove Road near Germantown.  He lived there with his wife, Fannie (37), and their seven children:

Marie (17)

Arthur (16)

Carrie (12)

Maybell (7)

James (4)

Raymond (2)

Mary Lou (4 months)

Lawson Family photo taken just hours before the murders.Top Row: Arthur, Marie, Charles, Fannie, Mary Lou.Bottom Row: James, Maybell, Raymond, Carrie.

Lawson Family photo taken just hours before the murders.
Top Row: Arthur, Marie, Charles, Fannie, Mary Lou.
Bottom Row: James, Maybell, Raymond, Carrie.

On Christmas day in 1929 Mr. Lawson led his family to town to buy them new clothing and to have a family picture taken.  This was considered odd behavior because they were not a well-off family.  Little did his family know that these would soon be their burial clothes.

Shortly after arriving home Mr. Lawson’s two daughters Carrie and Maybell decided to go to their aunt and uncles house.  Their father way waiting for them to pass by their tobacco barn.  When they were within range he shot them with a shotgun. Then to make sure they were dead he beat them.  He then put the bodies in the barn.

Then he returned to the family cabin where his wife Fannie was sitting on the porch and shot her. His daughter Marie was inside and screamed when she heard the shot that killed her mother.  Also inside was Mr. Lawson’s sons James and Raymond.  The two young boys ran to hide when they heard the gun shot.  Charles shot Marie next and then found the two boys and shot them as well.  Lastly, and the saddest part of all this bloodshed is when Mr. Lawson killed four month old Mary Lou.  It is believed that the baby was beaten to death.

After the bloody massacre Charles hid in the nearby woods. People began to gather at the Lawson residence after hearing about the tragedy.  A few hours after he killed his family the gathered people heard one last gunshot.  The gunshot where Mr. Lawson took his own life.

Officials found letters near Charles that he had written to his parents.  They also saw where the grass had been trampled in a circle going around a tree near Mr. Lawson’s body. It is believed that he had been pacing around the tree before taking his own life.

The bodies of his family were found with their arms crossed over their chests and rocks underneath their heads.

The only survivor of the Lawson family was the oldest son, Arthur, who Mr. Lawson had sent on an errand right before the killing started.  Arthur lived until 1945 when he was killed instantly in a vehicle accident.  He was survived by his wife and four children.

Many years later, in 1990, a book was being published about the murders. Among the people interview was Stella Lawson who was the cousin of the Lawson children.  Stella admitted to overhearing her mother and other extended members of the Lawson family talking at the funeral about how Fannie had mentioned before her death that she had been troubled about the relationship between her husband, Charles, and their daughter seventeen year old daughter, Marie.

It was also later found out that weeks before Christmas Marie had shared a secret with a close friend, Ella May. She told Ella May that she was pregnant and that it was Charles’ baby.  Ella May said that both Charles and Fannie knew about the pregnancy.

There are still things left unanswered after all these years after this horrible event.  What did the letters that Charles had written to his parents say?  Why did Charles position the bodies the way he did?  Why did he spare the life of Arthur?

We will probably never know.

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16 Responses to Lawson Family Murders

  1. colby lawson says:

    Family secrets are always pasted down its just a matter of fishing the right family member.

  2. Daphine Sams says:

    I remember ,as a child, my parents drove by the house and told us about this and how horrific it was. i was born in 1933. We were about 8 years old.
    . It’s stange, when hearing about it and being so young, and remembering it still, It makes a young child wonder, can this happen to us?

  3. jehouse61 says:

    I believe “passed down” is what they meant.

  4. adrcol says:

    My late mother, Lois June Mitchell – 6/1/22 to 9/7/07, was the victim of incest by her father, a farmer. Something demented takes over fathers about their daughters. Mental illness had claimed her paternal grandmother and Lois succumbed to it by 1941; shattering heirloom china in the basement of her fiancés in laws home. People mistakenly believe that the record of their demented behavior is held only in the memory of those who knew, so killing them erases it. However God always knows, and ones soul must atone. Crossing their arms and placing their head on a stone was perhaps some demented display of dignity. Letting the son go would have either been to evade obstruction of his defense, or to simply see him as separate from the scandal. The letters I venture to guess we’re a confession.

  5. Margaret Lawson says:

    I was shocked to see this during research on my own birth. Yes family secrets are passed down but it doesn’t have to stay that way. In this case I don’t believe the Father should share the same headstone. There was a similar case in NZ in 1982 where Anne Lawson Married her Second Husband Gary Eyton. He became the stepfather of her 5 children being quins there was a rumour he interfered with one of the daughters, he shot Anne then himself in the back. I’ve only been doing my research one week during this time the Murders in North Carolina just popped up. I won’t know if there’s any relation to me as yet. Is this a coincidence or is it just meant to be. I have no intention of visiting the grave site.

  6. Pamela Lopez says:

    Nearly finished the book on Amazon Kindle unlimited. It is fascinating and so sad. Perhaps the demons that plagued Charlie were the unnatural desire he had for his daughter. Life was very difficult in those days, the mortality rate for children was high. It broke my heart to read that a two year old died because she got to close to a fire that was essential to keep the home warm during harsh winters. The fact the Jettie may have died because a country Doctor used his unwashed hands to go up inside her to turn a breech baby around causing her illness leading to her death. Leaving her many children without their mother.. I really don’t have anything to add of value, human nature has always fascinated me, why we do the things we do, how it affects those closest to us. The repercussions from this horrendous crime will be felt for years by locals and family members alike. May they all have a sense of peace. It also helps me to appreciate what we do have now, not in a material way but the advances in health care and technology to make our lives a bit easier. I recommend the book to everyone.

  7. Isabella says:

    I bought the book White Christmas Bloody Christmas years ago at an antique store in stokes county and I found a pic in the back of this book-I would like to share this pic to see if anyone knows who this family is in this very old picture-I was told it is a pic of Charlie Lawson and his wife and three of his children-but at this point I am not sure-

  8. Isabella says:

    I will put this old pic in an e-mail if anyone can tell me who this family is-
    I find it odd that it was in the back of my book when I bought it therefore that is why I was thinking that it was a Charlie Lawson family portrait-It would be great to hear from a Lawson family member that would possibly know something about this old photo to see if it is indeed Charlie Lawson or yet another Lawson family member being that this old pic was in my book that I bought years ago in Stokes County-

  9. Melissa says:

    In a 1918 at the Piedmont tobacco warehouse in Winston-Salem, Charlie got into a brawl with Jesse McNeal. McNeal pulled a small knife and stabbed Charlie in the mastoid (behind the ear) and the lung. Charlie was not expected to live because the wounds were so severe. It is thought that the damage to his head may have caused his actions in 1929. His family stated he was never the same after that incident. Just another layer to this awful tragedy.

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