Looking for a depressing way to start the holiday season?
On Christmas Day in 1929, Charlie Lawson murdered his family on a farm in Rural Stokes County, North Carolina, before taking his own life.
It’s known as one of the most horrific Christmas Day Massacres in history.
The father’s victims included six of his children, along with his wife Fanny, who he’d been married to for nearly 20 years. The youngest of the children, Mary Lou, who can be seen cradled in her mother’s arms in the photo above, was only four months old. There was an eighth child in the family, though they died of pneumonia a few years before the bloodbath.
The eldest of the children, James Arthur, 16, was the only person to survive. And that’s because he was sent to run an errand on that tragic afternoon — not knowing what was to come of his entire family.
After returning from walking in the snow to purchase more shotgun shells with his cousin, he was welcomed home by the horrific sight of his murdered mother and siblings. His father killed them one by one, either by shooting them or beating them to death. The dead included his sisters, 17-year-old Marie, 12-year-old Carrie, seven-year-old Maybell, and baby Mary Lou, as well as his brothers, four-year-old James and two-year-old Raymond.
Although there have been several theories surrounding why the family patriarch would do something so gruesome, it’s a secret that he took to his grave.
Following the slaughter, Charlie arranged the bodies with their arms crossed over their chests and rocks beneath their heads.
Then, he walked into the woods and took his own life, but not before pacing back and forth. Legend has it that before pulling the trigger, he anxiously contemplated what he had done.
One of the most popular theories is that the father had gotten his daughter Marie pregnant and decided to kill everyone in order to keep what he did from being discovered. Other speculate that he killed his family because he was in debt and didn’t want them to live in poverty. But the truth will never be known.
The entire family was buried together in a single plot in the Browder Family Cemetery just outside their hometown.
Arthur went on to live his life and had four children with his wife. Sadly, he was killed in a car accident in 1945.