Woody Harrelson’s father, Charles Harrelson, was an organized crime member charged with the assassination of a federal judge. Here are 5 facts to know.
Charles Harrelson – Woody Harrelson’s Notorious Father
Charles Harrelson was born in Lovelady, Texas on July 23, 1938. He is the father of well-known actor Woody Harrelson. Charles Harrelson had four wives in his lifetime – Nancy Hillman Harrelson, Jo Ann Harrelson, Diane Lou Oswald and Gina Adelle Foster. His ex-wife Diane Lou Oswald is the mother of Woody Harrelson and his two brothers. Charles was an encyclopedia salesman in California and a professional gambler, before being introduced into the world of contract killing. In 1968 at the age of 30, he left his wife Diane and family, leaving her to care for son Woody Harrelson and his two brothers alone. Woody would not hear of his father Charles again until many years later. During the time he was estranged from his family, Charles Harrelson was tried and implicated in a series of murders for hire.
Charles Harrelson Murders
In 1968, Charles Harrelson was tried and acquitted of the murder of Alan Harry Berg. Also in 1968, Charles was tried and convicted of being hired to murder Sam Degelia, a grain dealer in McAllen, Texas. It is reported that he was paid $2000 for the assassination. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but released after only 5 for good behavior. Not long after being paroled for the murder of Sam Degelia, Charles Harrelson was again implicated in another murder, this time for the assassination of Judge John H. Wood Jr.
The murder of Judge John H. Wood Jr. – Could Charles Harrelson Be Innocent?
Woody Harrelson’s father Charles was convicted of shooting Judge John H. Wood Jr. to death outside of his home in San Antonio, Texas in May of 1979. Harrelson was hired to do this by a drug dealer named Jamiel Chagra of El Paso, Texas. Judge Wood held the nickname “Maximum John” due to his history of delivering long sentences for drug-related offenses. Chagra was scheduled to appear before Judge John H. Wood Jr. the day of his murder for a similar offense. An anonymous tip led to the discovery of Charles Harrelson as a suspect, as well as recorded conversation tape between drug dealer Joe Chagra and his brother Jamiel Chagra in prison. However, Harrelson denied actually murdering Judge Wood during this trial, claiming that he only took the credit for it to receive the large payment Chagra was offering. Later on, Chagra himself also stated that Harrelson did not actually murder the Judge. At that point, Charles Harrelson was already sentenced to two life terms in prison.
Charles Harrelson’s Claim – The Assassination of JFK
In September 1980, Harrelson was involved in a standoff with police during which he claimed to be involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He was allegedly high on cocaine at the time. Joseph Chagra also stated during his testimony during Harrelson’s trial for the murder of Judge Wood, that Harrelson did claim to have shot the President. He was able to draw maps to show where Harrelson was standing during the shooting. He admitted to not believing this claim and the FBI apparently never took much stock in it either.
Charles V. Harrelson has claimed to have been responsible for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on at least two occasions. He later recanted the claim.
Charles Harrelson’s Escape Attempt
On the Fourth of July in 1995, Charles Harrelson attempted to escape from prison, along with two other inmates named Gary Settle and Michael Rivers. They were all inmates in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. The three men surrendered after being shot at. Harrelson was subsequently transferred to a maximum security facility in Florence, Colorado where he spent the rest of his days. He enjoyed life much more in the maximum security environment because of the silence.
Woody Harrelson Relationship with Father Charles, the Contract Killer
Until Charles Harrelson’s arrest for the murder of Judge John H. Wood Jr., his son Woody had no idea that his father was involved in such a sinister world. After Charles left the family in 1968, he and his son Woody were estranged for years. It was only after Woody learned about his father through the news reports on the murders that he made contact with him again. One could say that had Charles Harrelson never become involved in murder for hire work, him and son Woody would have never reunited. According to Woody, he wanted to rebuild his relationship with his father, viewing him as more of a friend than a father figure. He even tried to get a retrial for Charles after Chagra stated that it was not actually Charles Harrelson who shot Judge John H. Wood Jr., spending lots of time and money to no avail. Woody regularly visited his father Charles in prison until Charles died in 2007 from a heart attack. Charles Harrelson was age 69 when he died.
Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson promoting their new movie Lost in London, which was written and directed by Woody Harrelson.
Actor Woody Harrelson discussing his father Charles Harrelson, who he learned was a contract killer after years of being estranged from him when he left his mother to care for him and his two brothers alone in 1968.