- A federal bankruptcy judge gives audiotapes to the LAPD in its probe of unsolved murders
- Tapes were held by attorney of Charles "Tex" Watson, a follower of Charles Manson
- The attorney is a debtor in a bankruptcy proceeding
- Police investigating whether Watson discussed unsolved killings by Manson followers
A federal bankruptcy judge in Texas has approved a request from the Los Angeles Police Department to turn over audiotapes that may develop new clues about unsolved killings involving followers of notorious murderer Charles Manson.
The tapes are about eight hours of recordings between convicted murderer Charles Denton "Tex" Watson and his attorney from 1969, Bill Boyd of McKinney, Texas, whose law firm is the debtor in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the same state, court papers said.
Watson was convicted along with three other members of the so-called Manson family in the grisly 1969 murders of five people, including eight-months pregnant movie actress Sharon Tate.
According to court documents, Watson waived his attorney-client privilege to the tapes in 1976, and his attorney received partial payment for his legal fees when he gave a copy of the tapes to Chaplain Raymond G. Hoekstra, who subsequently wrote a book, "Will You Die for Me: The Man Who Killed for Charles Manson Tells His Own Story."
In March, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck wrote the U.S. court trustee asking for the original recordings. The judge approved the request on Tuesday.
"The LAPD has information that Mr. Watson discussed additional unsolved murders committed by followers of Charles Manson," said a letter signed by Beck and Lt. Yana Horvatich, acting commanding officer of the robbery-homicide division.
Beck's letter is dated March 19, seven days after Watson asked that all legal material relating to his case be turned over to his nephew, Brian Patton, of Rowlett, Texas, according to court papers.
"One last thing: I want to thank you for hunting me down. I'm so glad these documents didn't get in the wrong hands," Watson wrote in a March 12 letter to a U.S. court trustee asking that he forward the legal materials to Patton.
In November, Watson, 66, convicted of seven counts of first-degree murder, was denied parole for the 16th time and will be considered again in 2016, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
In March, Manson, 77, who is serving a life sentence for nine murders and who led his family of followers in a murder spree in 1969, was denied parole for the 12th time and will be up for parole again 15 years from now, when he would be 92.