‘Deadly Secrets: The Lawson Family Murder’ – episode 5 – ‘The collectors’

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STOKES COUNTY, N.C. -- Ever since Charlie Lawson killed six members of his family and himself on Christmas Day, 1929, people have been drawn to the story.

"I saw it and thought it was tragic, but it was also interesting especially that it became a tourist attraction,” said Aaron Greene, who stumbled across the story because of his interest in local history. “I came across the two souvenir pieces that were sold at the home.”

After Lawson murdered his family, interest in the story started drawing the curious to the farm and crime scene, so Charlie's brother started charging admission. Marion Lawson sold souvenir pamphlets and photographs of the crime scene.

“There is not that much stuff out there and to have it and to be able to hold it and say I’m preserving it is important to me,” Greene said.

Greene admits collecting things associated with such a tragedy draws some questions from his friends.

“Most ask, 'What's wrong with you?'” laughed Greene. “I don't really connect with the murders it’s more of how it became a local lore.”

Thanks to the internet, the number of people talking about it continues to grow.

“I started gathering information and I guess it progressed into the modern age,” said Kyle Berrier, a local historian who started a Facebook group about the Lawson family. He has a close connection to the story. His great-great-great-grandfather was a member of the junior order and helped lay the family to rest.

“I've had family around this story as long as I can remember,” he said. “I had two great-grandmothers, one that was in the same class as Marie [Lawson].”

But even without a family connection the mystery and questions surrounding the tragedy have kept the story from dying for all these years.

“There are some that say let it die, let it rest,” Berrier said. “As humans, we have natural inclination to be interested in a murder or mystery, we have all these mystery TV shows and movies but this isn't a movie, this is real life.”

This is part of FOX8's series on the Lawson Family Murder. 

For episode 4, click here

For episode 3, click here

For episode 2, click here

For episode 1, click here

Listen to the trailer for FOX8's podcast, "Deadly Secrets: The Lawson Family Murder."

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