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Recordings may reveal new evidence in Manson murders

Investigators believe a decades-old recording may tie the infamous Manson Family to more killings. KNBC-TV's Patrick Healy reports.

Eight hours of audio never before heard by law enforcement has been requested by the Los Angeles Police Department, and it could link followers of the Manson Family to unsolved murders.

In a letter dated March 19, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck requested "eight hours or so" of audio recordings between attorney Bill Boyd and his then-client Charles "Tex" Watson, according to a U.S. bankruptcy filing.

Watson, the former right-hand man of Charles Manson, is currently serving a life sentence for his involvement in the 1969 Manson Family murders.


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Although the LAPD has yet to receive the recordings, police believe the interviews could contain information about unsolved murders.

"The LAPD has information that Mr. Watson discussed additional unsolved murders committed by followers of Charles Manson," Beck wrote in a request to a trustee with the U.S. Department of Justice.

The LAPD's request corresponds to the liquidation of Boyd's Texas-based law firm as part of a bankruptcy proceeding. Boyd, who died in 2009, represented Watson beginning in 1969 and "for some time thereafter," according to Beck.

"It is requested that the original recordings be given to the LAPD in order to determine if information regarding unsolved murders was included in the recordings. The LAPD, Robbery-Homicide Division will be investigating Mr. Watson's recordings…" wrote Beck.

Document: LAPD Chief's Letter Requesting Audio Recording (PDF)

A bankruptcy court hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in Plano, Texas, to determine if the audio will be given to police.

The recordings remained private until September 1976 when Watson authorized its sale to author Chaplain Ray Hoekstra to help cover unpaid legal fees. Hoekstra used the material for his 1978 book "Will You Die For Me?"

Watson was sentenced to death for the murders of Abigail Ann Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, Thomas Jay Sebring, Steven Earl Parent, and Sharon Tate Polanski. California temporarily suspended the death penalty in 1972, and Watson has been serving a life sentence ever since. He was most recently denied parole last November.

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