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Robert A. Waters

I'm a long-time fan of bluegrass and hillbilly music. Lots of local murders made their way into song. A few were: "The Knoxville Girl," "Banks of the Ohio," and, of course, "Tom Dooley." Thanks for publishing this story. A few years ago I met Ralph Stanley at a Bluegrass show and obtained his autograph, which I still cherish. Robert


I'm so glad you liked this post.
I have to confess a fondness for bluegrass also. I really like Tom T. Hall. I even visited his birthplace, I have to confess, because I was in the area (eastern Kentucky) going on a caving expedition in Olive Hill, Kentucky and had the most memorable experience of my life.

We took our new baby to a hole-in-the-wall bar in Olive Hill, Kentucky, where there were maybe 20 people, a 5-piece hillbilly band, youngest member 65 years old. They sung all the bluegrass standards and an unforgettable rendition of "Your mama don't dance and your daddy don't rock & roll." There were a lot of drunk old people in the place, and three of the sauced old ladies tussled over who would dance with my baby next. An unforgettable night in the mountains.

Home Sweet Home

Laura, if you liked Carter Caves, next time you are in Kentucky check out Mammoth Caves. I took a trip there once and loved it. Also went to Kentucky Down Under and got to pet a kangaroo!


do you know the address to the Lawsons cabin?

please and thank you

Trudy J. Smith

As the author of WHITE CHRISTMAS, BLOODY CHRISTMAS as well as the new 376 page book about the Lawson Family Murders of Christmas Day 1929 titled THE MEANING OF OUR TEARS, I would like to bring this correction to your attention... It is incorrect to say there is no book in print currently about these murders! Also I would like to comment that this book was developed over the course of 19 years of interviews with people who personally knew the murderer and his victims as well as people who were involved first hand with handling the bodies and viewing the aftermath within 24 hours of the event.

If you would like to know the details of this murder from well-documented first-hand interviews, you will find the information quite different from what has been presented in this "documentary" much of which is carelessly presented and directly opposed to my years of research.

The official website for the new Lawson book is:

I invite you to read for yourself what really happened. I now have the story of what happened inside the house that day from a man who witnessed these murders as a nine-year-old. This and much more new information is contained within the new book and will NOT be seen in the documentary. Thanks for allowing me equal time. Trudy J. Smith


Well, it seems kinda funny that the producers of the documentary are donating a good portion of their profits to help build a domestic abuse shelter in Stokes County, where the murders occured. What has Miss trudy Smith done to help the community other than cause drama within the Laswon family? Nothing at all. She sits back counting the money she's making off of this book as the family gets torn apart. Its bad how some people will use such tragedies to better their own asstes and finances, not caring what problems they cause. And lets not bring up how she has her minions come onto the Break Of Dawn website's forum and down the movie like they do. Everyone envolved or related to the family of the deceased were all for the movie and have shown up for most of the showings. I guess Miss. Smith was mad because the opening day of the film was on the same day as her book signing. Kinda blew up in her face considering they sold out 3 shows with more than 200 people showing up for each one. And all the rave reviews about the book, wait, there was just one, and that was from the publisher, to whom she paid. Everyone should check out the movie and form your own opinion about it. , and remember, its for a going to a good cause.

Deborah Morton

Having read The Meaning of Our Tears, I must dispute the veracity of Ms. Smiths assertion that she "has the story of what happened inside the house that day from a man who witnessed these murders as a 9 year old." Ms. Smith did not interview that man, she was only told a story by someone who knew that man for about 2 years. She never attempted to contact any of the man's family -- I know because that man was my father, who died in 2005. Ms. Smith's lack of thorough investigative journalism in this very crucial part of her book leads me to wonder what other "facts" may be as poorly researched as this one was.

Betty Haynes

Thank you for including my link to my site Hillbilly Ghosthunters. The Charlie Lawson page on my site gets a lot of traffic. I will have some updated material to add to it in the near future.

Betty Sue


I would like to say that the person who gave Trudy Smith the information about the nine year old boy was under the impression that the family knew of this. And She was not the only person he told this to. There was no intention of having any ill will or gain from telling what the man said that was put in the book, and there has not been any exchanging of money, I don't understand why this is causing such a family problem. I am sorry this has caused such a problem, if the family was not told of this i guess he had his reason's, but i know the part in this book was studied toward the Lawson's tragedy long before she ever met him, and i know the other person he told also.
So how could two people have the same story and it be called not true? I am deeply sorry for any hurt feeling's, and that was not the intention at all.
The truth was just being told and this is America, freedom of the press.
Thank You!

Maria Hodges

In the first place I don't trust the word of someome who doesn't sign their name to what they declare as Unknown just did. Secondly you claim to know this other person Hassell Miller told his so called stoy to yet you didn't give the person's name. And assumptions that the woman who said Hassell Miller told his story to thought his family knew about it is highly suspect as well. And last but not least Hassell Miller would have told his family BEFORE he told these other un-named people.Too many un-named people in your post for it to be believable at all.

Anne Johnson

I have to agree with Mrs. Hodges. I do not think that Mr. Miller would have told strangers and neighbors anything before or instead of telling his family. And regarding the book too many errors and misinformation fill it, I don't believe that it was researched as well as you think it was. To Mrs. Morton, it took a lot of courage for you to speak your mind on this subject and I am sorry for any trouble that the lies have caused you and your family.


I am the unknown person, I was unaware his family did not know of this, and what reason would I have to lie, I have made no money from this, and Bonnie Snyder can be your other person, whom he said this to also. Im truly sorry this has turned out like this, I have been following the Lawson Story long before I meet Hassle, he come out and told me this-unmedicated,
I didnot beg him at all for the information, it all came about with the picture's he had on the wall, that's when he told me of this.
Again, to Debbie I am truly sorry if I hurt you in anyway, we were friends, I did not know what an inpact this would have. I have nothing to gain from this, except your father being a part of history.
I myself would be grateful it were my father.


And as for the other comments, they were not there, don't know me, so the facts need to be straight firts.
I believe this talking about people is childish.

Anne Johnson

The very fact that you told Trudy Smith anything without checking with the family first was very disrespectful.

Anne Johnson

What reason would you have for lying about it? The main reason that comes to my mind is that you wanted to get your fifteen minutes of fame by getting your name in that new book. Was it worth upsetting this family for it? One other question did you contact Trudy Smith or did she contact you?

Maria Hodges

You said we "other people" were not there and do not know you. But I know very well who you are Renee. I met your husband at Walmart around this time last year when I was having prints made of my Lawson photos. I e-mailed you a number of times and you never responded. He said he gave you my email address so we could discuss our mutual interest in the Lawson Tragedy but like I said I e-mailed you several times but gave up when you never responded. But I don't have to know someone to believe or dis-believe or agree or disagree with something they say or do. I believe you should have talked with Hassell's family BEFORE talking to someone else about him.
Maria Hodges

Deborah Morton

The point is this--no one contacted any of our family to attempt to confirm, clarify, or put into context anything that might have been said by my father,or to find out what our reaction might be to this story being published. Given the amount of "research" that is alleged to have gone into this book, it is mystifying to me as to why we were never contacted. If the assumption was that we must have known, then it would seem logical to talk with us to see if there was additional information to be obtained. If the assumption was that we did not know, it would seem that the astute researcher/editor would want to have some independent verification of the material reported before presenting it as fact. Either way, it is inconsiderate, disrespectful and unprofessional . . while people will often report their understanding of what soemone has said to them to a reporter, or author, it is the author who has the respnsibility of checking his or her facts before deciding whether or not to include such information in a publication. People will draw their own conclusions about the veracity of the information contained in the book. I know I did. I am most sorry for the Lawson and Manring families, and the pain which they likely experience from the inaccuracies and assumptions that are tossed about. As far as I can tell, there has never really been any question of how this tragedy occurred, and who did it, for many years. Whether or not the family members were open to discussing their thoughts and feelings about it or not is absolutely their right and decision to make.
I appreciate the opportunity to express my opinion and beliefs, just as other have done in the preparation of TMOOT, and on this website.

Maria Hodges

You put that very well Deborah. I agree with you whole heartedly and I appreciate the way you keep bringing it back to the point of it all, the bottom line if you will, which is that no one in your family was contacted about it at any time. And you should have been. That would have been the only right and caring way to do it.


To clarify this, I was sent an email when all this began about the book, I did not tell Trudy anything to get my 15 min. of fame, I respect Mr. Miller more than that-his family. I didnot know at first that my telling of this was going in the book, and yes I talked to Trudy first, but it was with no intention to harm the family name, I knowed Hassle was intervied in the first book, so thats the only reason I assumed his family was aware of what he told me.
Now I can only appoligize for this and that's all I can do, I should have contacted the family, if I had known it was going to be like this. I just don't understand why it is so horrible for her father's name to be in a book? I thought alot of him and his daughter's-family, actually I sent them a Christmas card last year. I have the upmost respect for them, my god, I stayed to help till his death, which I took upon myself to do, because I cared, and his other daughter was alone through all of it. So, I am sorry,
and this is not a game to me, I am not going to play talk tag, I just want Debbie to know I didnot intend to hurt her at all.


I tried to email you several times, but could not get it to go through, i finally found it, I only talk to 1 person about the Lawson subject. I do not know you,
and I think this subject is between me and Debbie.

Anne Johnson

If you thought as much of Mr. Miller and his family as you say you did, you should not have told Trudy ANYTHING regardless of the fact he had been interviewed before. It was not your place. How would you feel if someone told something about your family? If you wanted to keep this between Debbie and yourself you should have contacted her personally, the minute you put this post on the internet it became an open subject of discussion. As far as "playing talk tag" obviously your are not going to get the point and I personally have nothing more to say to you.


Neither do I, this stuff is a sin, and I want be a part of it. And What point? I don't have to defend myself to total strangers.

Karen Jackson

I am Mr. Miller's other daughter, Karen.I am posting this comment to stand with my sister,Deborah, regarding the information printed by Trudy Smith in THE MEANING OF OUR TEARS.Investigative journalism/reporting means "digging deep" to find the truth. Clearly this was not the case in this matter.
Karen Jackson

Maria Hodges

To Renee Dudley: I spoke with Bonnie Snyder of Squires Inn a few minutes ago and she said that Hassell Miller never told her any such thing about being at the Lawson's home Christmas Day and witnessing some of the murders and that she never said he did. Bonnie also said that when she was at the book signing that you, Renee Dudley, was there and that you said to her.."don't you remember saying Hassell Miller told you he witnessed Charlie Lawson murder his family" and Bonnie said she told you that no, Hassell Miller never said anything to her about that and furthermore that she had never said he did. She said you kept trying to get her to say she did say that. But Bonnie said it was absolutely not true. I believe Bonnie Snyder.
Maria Hodges


I think there is more focus on arguing and bickering on who is "right" and who is "wrong!" Get your claws in girls! I have never read the book by Trudy Smith and her late father (whom I personally think we should leave out of dicussion since he can't speak for himself!), and her new book "The meaning of our Tears either. And I also haven't seen the Documentary. I have lived in Winston-Salem all my life, 52 yrs. I have heard these stories and just go on my own thoughts as to what happened. Some things are just more interesting when left to the imagination anyway. I just don't understand all the bickering!! Sounds like money is being made at both ends so "Judge not lest he be judged!" Lets act like adults here and keep to the topic. I think opinions are great as to what may have happened that day long ago and thats what I would like to talk about. Thats what keeps this story living because no matter who we speak to and what we hear.....NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW WHAT HAPPENED THAT DAY!! And no one is right or wrong. I have visited the forum at the website of the Documentary and I must say for the most part it is very informative until you get to the parts of the "he said she said" of the books that Trudy Smith wrote. Maybe that is the way it is in her view with information she has recieved. Maria you are always ranting how everyone is entitled to there own opinion yet if it doesn't somehow coincide with yours you get your feathers ruffled. This isn't your story, it didn't happen to you or your family. I just think we should act as adults and post our opinions instead of making hurtful comments. "You can read what you want but we know deep down that we will form our own opinions of what we hear." Have a great day ladies!

Anne Johnson

First of all if you have not read the book or watched the documentary you do not have any right to come in here and attack anbody. Secondly Maria Hodges did not come in here first and attack anybody, her Documentary was attacked by Trudy Smith, saying the documentary was not true. Yes everyone is entitled to there own opinion and my opinion is this. Maria is an excellent researcher and does not deserve to be attacked like this. We at A Christmas Family Tragedy, are sick and tired of her being attacked. We did not draw first blood Trudy Smith and her cronies did. If you wanna start a beef with someone come in our message forum and do it, do not sneak attack us. Although I would bet you were already a member of our board. Why are you coming in our message forum if you have not read the books or watched the documentary. Also why did you single Maria out. She has not done anything , but defend herself and this documentary.


get a grip.......nobody is attacking anybody, I am only stating an opinion. Are you Maria's body guard? Can she speak for herself? I only mentioned the fact that this forum is turning into an "he said, she said" forum. I don't recall asking for your opinion, but since you decided to take control, butt out. This has nothing to do with you! Stop brown nosing to get brownie points with Maria. Who is she anyway? You say she is such a good detective. Sounds more to me like if everyone doesn't agree with poor little maria her croonies come to her defense. I'm not here to please anyone, just think its stupid to argue over something that happened so long ago and nobody knows what happens. stay out of it, who are you anyway

This has everything to do with me. It doesn't matter to me if you asked for my opinion or not I gave it to you. I'll butt out when I get good and darn ready. I am just taking up for a woman I consider a friend. If it is stupid to argue over it then shut up about it. You started this crap when you attacked my friend.


I agree with everything Anne said especially since it is my family you are talking about. Maria and the crew did a wonderful job with the Documentary. Maybe if you took the time to actually watch it instead of just downing it you would see that for yourself.

I"m not downing anything. I've not seen the documentary or talking about "your friend". I merely stated that this forum was turning into a she said he said form, and that it was argumentative. You do not need to use curse words to convey a message here. You seem to be so unhappy and bitter, poor little thing, I feel so sorry for hoo. Let miss maria speak for herself!


P.S. I would never be a member of that forum. It is a forum of what you want to hear as the gospel. If you say anything aganst the sainted maria then you have no place I will not be visiting there.......aren't you glad? I am!!


I don't know what you are reading but I never cursed. And I am by no means unhappy. Bitter yes when it comes to this story, because of people like you treating it with such disrespect.

Anne Johnson




This is indeed an interesting and informative forum. I just checked out the other forum that the documentary is on and after reading some of the blogs I agree with silently broken. Sure Trudy made money off her 2 books, most people who write them want to make money "duh". But what I want to know why Maria and everyone else seems to think its ok to make money off that documentary AND....a scrapbook that is in the works??? You are no better than Trudy Smith is, so Maria.....stop acting all high and mighty. You are the one making the scrapbook and I believe you gave a very short reference to someone that is helping. too are making money off this tragedy. You seem to think this is different only because of interviews with family members and their permission?? I've read both books and it is hardly any different, perhaps sometime in the near future you can take a look at the post on your forum. You contradict youself continuously. At least Trudy doesn't have a forum that is critical of your work. You are such a hipocrit its scary. I think you are only nice to people when it is for the good and benefit of what you will recieve. But you have to live with that.....and please .....your picture taking ability is great, however you are'nt very photographic so while enjoying most photos, the ones you are in well need I say more. As a matter of fact, take a good long look in the mirror at the things you have done too......if you can stand looking at yourself! Whew...must say I feel much you??

Anne Johnson

How dare you, this is so uncalled for. We know what you are doing, you are trying to bait Maria in here and get her upset with the hopes that she will say something that you can use to discredit her. If you think that will happen you don't know Maria. In fact you don't know her anyway. They may make money off this Documentary, Soundtrack and The Scrapbook, but at least they are donating part of the proceeds to help set up a shelter for Domestic Violence. Can Trudy say that? And another thing they didn't have to make up the stuff they told in it. Maria has not done or said anything to you and she does not deserve to be treated like this. The only reason you do not come in our forum and post this junk is because you would be banned and you know it!!! So you come in here and attack her. A personal attack on looks is mean spirited, hateful, and cruel she had the nerve to post her picture, where is your's? I'm sure you are not a raving beauty. Funny how Casey and Lacy sound the same. And guess what I do feel better.


I can't understand the reasoning behind the personal attack on Maria. That has nothing at all to do with the Documentary or anything else. You have some nerve. That is just completly uncalled for. You have totally crossed the line. You agree with silentlybroken, well my guess is you are one and the same.


YOU sound pretty mean spirited to me. Looks like you argue with almost everybody here if they say something you don't want to hear. That post was telling Miss MARIA that she isn't the only person that doesn't need to be treated badly......she talks trash about alot of people...I've read it on her forum and you are right...I know I would get deleted from that pitiful forum because I've noticed like "noneofyourbusiness1" got deleted for speaking their minds.....that goes to prove unless it sells CD'S or scapbooks she is not interested in hearing anything that may disprove her gospel. You would swear she actually thinks she is a Lawson where as she is only profiting from them with her pitiful son......Oh and by the way, have a nice day and read the seems I and alot of others know its for the MONEY!!


Oh and pissy whoops, I mean sissy, butt out, I know you too are one of MARIA'S croonies. Question: When she says roll over do you play dead too? You guys are a bunch of pathetic loosers. How much are you getting off the movie and scrapbook deal????? And I don't care who you think I am......I just agreed with this person so you can't believe 2 people may have the same opinion? Boy you are shallow....... Kisses


Hello girls! Another one of Marie's "croonies" here...she's got a lot doesn't she! :-) That's cuz she's an awesome person!!

Silentlybroken: You say let's act like adults and post opinions instead of making hurtful comments - then you say "stop brown-nosing to get brownie points w/Maria" and call her "sainted Maria". Tsk, tsk, tsk - that doesn't sound very adult to me :-(

And Elizabeth - sweet kind Elizabeth - you're a little bit of a hateful person aren't you? The difference between Trudy Smith and Maria is that a portion of Maria's scrapbook and the DVD money is going toward Domestic Violence - Trudy is keeping all her money to herself. That sounds like a big difference to me!!

Also you say that you think Maria is only nice to people when it is for the good and benefit of what she will receive - well I myself have never given or done anything for Maria and she's always been very nice to me.

As for the rest of your post - I just can't sink down to your nasty hateful level. I do hope you don't go through all your days with that nastiness inside - it's just not good for your heart!!

And the reason that we "croonies" respond to these posts instead of Maria is because she legitimately cares for victims of domestic violence and is trying to raise money for them. She cannot do this by discrediting herself by responding to childish posts.

You have a great day now, ya hear - and please - watch out for that heart of yours!! :-)Angela

Anne Johnson

Well that just tells me who you are. Nobody else knew they were deleted/banned you just told on yourself.


As long as you are discussing my family and my friends I won't butt Out. How much is Trudy paying you?


Actually I have never had the pleasure of Meeting Trudy or her late father. And I also haven't had the priviledge of meeting "Saint Maria" either.

And by the is posted all over that forum that "noneofyourbusiness1" had been deleted. I know who I am and I'm not that person, but do agree with alot of what was said by that person. Gosh, are you alliterate or what? Surely you two can read?

Well got to go upholster a chair.....some of us actually have to work for a living and not depend on blood money to support us....ta ta


alliterate?? You crack me up!!

Oh geez......yes angela. I almost forgot to respond to you sweetheart, I just now remembered the fact that miss maria is looking to open a shelter for domestic violence. Hmmmm, maybe just maybe she will finally find a name for herself while she is at home counting all her cash ..

... take care love

Anne Johnson

This is just getting ridiculous. I refuse to keep up this childish discussion anymore, I have better things to do. We at the message forum know what you are really all about. So I say Goodbye, Good Luck, Take Care, Have A nice Day!!!



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