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Woody Harrelson’s father is arrested for murder

Woody Harrelson’s father is arrested for murder


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Judge John Wood, known as “Maximum John,” is assassinated outside his San Antonio, Texas, home as he bent down to look at a flat tire on his car. Actor Woody Harrelson’s father, Charles Harrelson, was charged with the murder after evidence revealed that drug kingpin Jimmy Chagra, whose case was about to come up before “Maximum John,” had paid him $250,000.

Chagra, worried about the sentence that was soon to be imposed by Judge Wood, apparently conspired with his wife and brother to hire Harrelson to carry out the murder. Shattered bullet fragments found at the scene were traced to a .240 Weatherby Mark V rifle—the type recently purchased by Harrelson’s wife, Jo Ann. Harrelson, who had a prior conviction for murder in 1968, was convicted and sentenced to two life sentences in prison. Jo Ann, convicted of conspiracy to obstruct justice and perjury, was later paroled. Woody Harrelson funded his father’s appeals, enlisting the aid of controversial attorney Alan Dershowitz.

Charles Harrelson died on March 15, 2007, at age 69 of a heart attack in his cell at Colorado’s Supermax federal prison.


Woody Harrelson

Woodrow Tracy Harrelson (born July 23, 1961) is an American actor and playwright. He is the recipient of numerous accolades, including a Primetime Emmy Award, and has been nominated for three Academy Awards and four Golden Globe Awards.

Harrelson first became known for his role as bartender Woody Boyd on the NBC sitcom Cheers (1985–1993), for which he won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series from a total of five nominations. He has received three Academy Award nominations: Best Actor for The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996) and Best Supporting Actor for The Messenger (2009) and for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017). He was also nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his role as Marty Hart in the first season of the crime anthology series True Detective.


In his younger days, Woody Harrelson wasn't into marriage

Woody Harrelson didn't exactly have a positive influence for what a healthy, committed relationship should look like. According to Esquire, his mother raised her three boys alone, as Harrelson's father "abandoned the family when Woody was seven." By the time the future star was 18, his dad was arrested for murder. As it turned out, Woody's father, Charles Harrelson, was a contract killer — essentially the closest thing to Woody's Natural Born Killers character, Mickey Knox.

Two years after his father's incarceration, Woody experienced his first arrest. As he recalled to The Hollywood Reporter, a cop stopped him when he was "20 or 21. [for] jaywalking." The actor told the outlet that he carried "a lot of rage," and with that, disbelief in monogamy. "I never believed in the concept of [marriage]. I just never believed that it made any sense," he explained. "You end up, before you realize it, in a cage — maybe a very comfortable cage, but still a cage — and you can't be the person you want."

Sure enough, as the Cheers star detailed, he "was incapable of long-term relationships," simply sleeping "with whoever would have [him]." However, as fate would have it, it all changed with Laura Louie. As he told The Hollywood Reporter, "Then I met my wife."


Woody Harrelson’s father is arrested for murder - HISTORY

Today I found out Woody Harrelson’s father, Charles Voyde Harrelson, was a contract killer.

Charles Harrelson is most noted for having been convicted of assassinating U.S. District Judge John H. Wood, Jr. outside of a parking lot in San Antonio, Texas, as well as being convicted of killing a grain dealer, Sam Degalia, Jr., for money.

In the latter case, Harrelson received 15 years in prison, but was paroled and released from prison within 5 years, released in 1978. One year later, he was arrested for allegedly killing Judge John Wood. Charles denied having killed the Judge, claiming he was in Detroit at the time. However, a taped conversation between Joe Chagra and Jamiel Chagra revealed that Charles Harrelson had claimed to have killed the judge. Harrelson stated in court that he only said that to collect the very large payment for the contract out on the Judge’s life. However, principally due to the taped conversations between the Chagra brothers implicating him, he was convicted and sentenced to two life sentences.

Interestingly, Joe Chagra, after being released from prison in 2003, stated that Charles Harrelson had not been the killer of the judge, and, in fact, he and his brother had known the feds were recording their conversations so decided to implicate Harrelson in the murder to get back at Harrelson for blackmailing Joe Chagra Harrelson had threatened to go to the authorities with evidence he had connecting Chagra to the murder of the judge.

At the time of the judge’s death, Jamiel Chagra was schedule to appear before Judge Wood on the very day the judge was murdered. Judge Wood had a reputation for handing down the maximum sentence for any drug offense, earning him the nickname “Maximum John”. This connection with the judge was the reason the feds were listening in on the Chagra brother’s conversations.

Woody Harrelson himself had almost no contact with his father between 1968 and 1981, but after his father was arrested, he frequently visited him in prison, even going so far as to try to get him a new trial, but failing. In the end, Charles Harrelson died of natural causes in his maximum security cell on March 15, 2007.


The private eye connection

The Alan Berg story is basically one big soap opera, full of twists, turns, and crazy cliffhangers. And one of the wildest moments involves that aforementioned private eye hired by Alan Berg's dad. As it turns out, this detective was named Claude Harrelson, and yeah, he was totally related to a certain Oscar-nominated actor and his hitman father.

See, Charles Harrelson had quite a few of brothers, one of whom became an FBI agent, one a prison warden, one a polygraph operator, and then there was Claude, who went the private eye route. And in a crazy coincidence, Berg's dad just happened to hire the brother of the man who allegedly killed his son. And according to the victim's brother, attorney David Berg, Claude and Charles were actually running a racket, hoping to earn $3,000 for revealing the location of Alan's body. Yeah, that's quite a plot twist right there, but it was far from the last shocking moment in the Alan Berg saga.


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Then Harrelson forced Berg into his car at gunpoint and told Attaway to drive to a remote location where he shot his alleged victim in the temple then strangled him after he failed to die.

According to Amazon , Berg was only 31 when he disappeared. Six months later his remains were found in a ditch in Texas.

Harrelson was acquitted of Berg's murder due to lack of evidence, but David Berg hasn't stopped looking for answers.

Four decades later, he writes that his family has uncovered new documents including proof Harrelson's alibi was fake and statements from a witness whom Harrelson confessed to, according to The Post.

Berg also says Attaway has outlined each step of the crime she was allegedly an accomplice to in interviews.

To hire: Charles Harrelson, pictured in 1960, allegedly kidnapped and killed Alan Berg in 1968

Art: In 1994, Woody Harrelson, pictured, played a murderer in 'Natural Born Killers'

Difficult past: Woody Harrelson, pictured with wife Laura Louie, reconciled with his father despite his profession and absence in his life

Woody Harrelson learned of his dad's dubious profession for the first time at age 12, years after the man had run away leaving his mother to raise him and his two brothers alone.

He told The Guardian in 2012 that he heard his father's name mentioned as a suspect in the assassination of US District Judge John H. Wood Jr. outside of his home in San Antonio, Texas.

'I'm sitting there thinking there can't be another Charles V. Harrelson. I mean, that's my dad! It was a wild realization,' he told the newspaper.

After two years on the run, Harrelson was arrested and admitted not only to Wood's for-hire murder but also claimed he was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, according to The Post.

Despite his dad's occupation and absence in his life, Woody reconciled with his father in the early 1980s and in later interviews described his love for the man.

Not about revenge: Trial lawyer David Berg, pictured, says the book is not about revenge but to 'set the record straight'

Book: David Berg's book apparently unearths new evidence implicating Harrelson in his brother's murder

'If you sit down and rap with the guy, the main thing you're probably going to do is laugh,' Woody said in a 1994 interview, the same year the younger Harrelson starred as a crazed murderer in 'Natural Born Killers.'

And even David Berg describes the assassin as an intelligent man who could also be 'gentle and romantic.'

When his father died of poor health aged 69 in prison in 2007, Woody was said to be 'devastated.'

Before his death, he said in a TV interview: 'How do I feel about him? Well I love him. I definitely love him. Very fond of him. I mean, there's probably a lot of people who should be behind bars. I don't necessarily think he's one of them.'

But Berg disagrees. He describes H arrelson's acquittal as a 'gross miscarriage of justice' and says the book is not about revenge but about setting 'the record straight.'


Charles Harrelson was a twice-convicted murderer

In fact, Woody was around 12 years old when he found out who his father really was and what the man did for a living. He was sitting in the backseat of a car when he heard his father's name come on the radio in conjunction with the murder trial of grain dealer Sam Degelia, as Simon Hattenstone wrote in The Guardian. Woody recounted to Hattenstone the moment when, as a young boy, he "was in the car waiting for a lady who was picking me up from school, helping my mum . I was listening to the radio and it was talking about Charles V. Harrelson and his trial for murder and . I'm sitting there thinking there can't be another Charles V Harrelson. I mean, that's my dad! It was a wild realization."

Despite not having had much of a relationship when Woody was young, he reconnected with his father as an adult. He was surprised to find that, despite their vastly different lifestyles, his father was "quite a bit" like him. "It was just mind-blowing to see all the things he did just like me . Idiosyncratic things. The way he laughed. The face, very similar."

They maintained a relationship. Woody advocated for Charles's conviction to be overturned in the late 1990s, according to People. Although he was never able to get Charles a new trial, Woody continued visiting his father until Charles died in prison in 2007.


1979 Woody Harrelson’s father is arrested for murder

Judge John Wood, known as “Maximum John,” is assassinated outside his San Antonio, Texas, home as he bent down to look at a flat tire on his car. Actor Woody Harrelson’s father, Charles Harrelson, was charged with the murder after evidence revealed that drug kingpin Jimmy Chagra, whose case was about to come up before “Maximum John,” had paid him $250,000.

Chagra, worried about the sentence that was soon to be imposed by Judge Wood, apparently conspired with his wife and brother to hire Harrelson to carry out the murder. Shattered bullet fragments found at the scene were traced to a .240 Wetherby MarkV rifle—the type recently purchased by Harrelson’s wife, Jo Ann. Harrelson, who had a prior conviction for murder in 1968, was convicted and sentenced to two life sentences in prison. Jo Ann, convicted of conspiracy to obstruct justice and perjufy, was later paroled. Woody Harrelson funded his father’s appeals,enlisting the aid of famed attorney Alan Dershowitz.

Charles Harrelson died on March 15, 2007, at age 69 of a heart attack in his cell at Colorado’s Supermax federal prison.


Who was Woody Harrelson’s father, Charles Harrelson?

For his role in Natural Born Killers, Woody Harrelson was reportedly encouraged by Oliver Stone to channel his father, Charles Harrelson. It was valid advice: A notorious hit man, the elder Harrelson was known as a smart and merciless hit man.

Well before Woody became an Oscar-nominated actor, the Harrelson name has been in the headlines for Charles’ crimes.

Charles, who was born and raised in Texas, was reportedly a good student who didn’t cause trouble. After leaving the family home and moving to California, his first job was even as a straight-and-narrow encyclopedia salesman. However, Charles transitioned to the other side of the law in 1960, when he was arrested and convicted of armed robbery.

By the time Woody was born in 1961, Charles was heavily entrenched in organized crime. According to a new book, Run, Brother, Run, Harrelson was responsible for the 1968 murder of Allen Berg, but he was never convicted. He was convicted, however, in the 1968 murder of another Texas man, Sam Degelia. According to his girlfriend, Sandra Sue Attaway, Charles carried out the hit with his accomplice, Pete Scamardo, to pay back a drug debt. In spite of a 15-year sentence, Charles was paroled in 1978.

Within the year, Charles was accused of another — more high-profile — murder.

In May 1979, U.S. District Judge John H. Wood, Jr. was shot and killed outside a San Antonio townhouse. Following an anonymous tip, Charles was investigated. He managed to evade police for a year, but was caught following a six-hour standoff with police in September 1980. During his arrest, Charles claimed he was also responsible for the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, but the “confession” was discounted by the FBI.

Charles was convicted in the murder of John H. Wood and was sentenced to two life terms. Even then, he didn’t go down without a fight. In 1995, Charles and two other inmates at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary attempted to escape. Discovered by guards, the group surrendered and Charles was transferred to a maximum-security prison in Colorado. He stayed there until his death in 2007.

As most of his adult life was spent on drugs, making hits or behind bars, Charles never played a very active role in Woody’s life. Nonetheless, Woody found ways to think fondly of his father.

“This might sound odd to say about a convicted felon, but my father is one of the most articulate, well-read, charming people I’ve ever known,” Woody told People Magazine in 1988. “Still, I’m just now gauging whether he merits my loyalty or friendship. I look at him as someone who could be a friend more than someone who was a father.”

^^Woody in Natural Born Killers.

Woody was also so convinced his father didn’t deserve life sentences that he allegedly spent millions of dollars trying to secure Charles a retrial.

“How do I feel about him? Well I love him. I definitely love him. Very fond of him. I mean, there’s probably a lot of people who should be behind bars. I don’t necessarily think he’s one of them,” Woody said in a TV interview before his father’s death.


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Charles Harrelson, who at one time also claimed to have killed John F Kennedy, pictured shortly before his assassination in 1963, was jailed over the 1979 killing of U.S. District Judge John Wood Jr in San Antonio, Texas.

U.S. District Judge John H. Wood, center, was ambushed and killed outside his front door in San Antonio, Texas in 1979. Government sources listed convicted hit man Charles V. Harrelson, left, and convicted narcotics trafficker Jimmy Chagra, right as 'targets' in the investigation

Actor Woody, 58, said he first learned of his dad's dubious profession for the first time at age 12, years after the man had run away leaving his mother to raise him and his two brothers alone.

He has not taken part in the latest podcast but told The Guardian in 2012 that he heard his father's name mentioned as a suspect in the assassination of US District Judge John H. Wood Jr. outside of his home in San Antonio, Texas.

'I'm sitting there thinking there can't be another Charles V. Harrelson. I mean, that's my dad! It was a wild realization,' he told the newspaper.

'I tried for years to get him out. To get him a new trial. just being a son trying to help his dad. Then I spent a couple of million beating my head against the wall. Lawyers upon lawyers.'

Charles Harrelson is interviewed in a Harris County Jail visitor's room

After two years on the run, Harrelson was arrested and admitted not only to Wood's for-hire murder but also claimed he was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He later denied this.

Despite his dad's occupation and absence in his life, the pair reconciled. When his father died of poor health aged 69 in prison in 2007, Woody was said to be 'devastated.'

Before his death, he said in a TV interview: 'How do I feel about him? Well I love him. I definitely love him. Very fond of him. I mean, there's probably a lot of people who should be behind bars. I don't necessarily think he's one of them.'


Natural-Born Killer: Woody Harrelson's Father Infused Actor's Movie Career

March 22, 2007 — -- Actor Woody Harrelson, who rose from playing the dimwitted bartender on television's "Cheers" to a psychopath in "Natural Born Killers," finally put a family skeleton to rest this week with the death of his father -- convicted murderer Charles Harrelson.

The 45-year-old renegade actor always insisted his father was innocent of charges that he killed a federal court judge in Texas and openly supported him throughout his movie career.

"Woody had kind of a rough-hewn image," Michael Musto, gossip columnist for the Village Voice, told ABC News. "There was something very trailer-park about him and his appeal, so his father didn't destroy his career."

Charles Voyde Harrelson -- a reputed professional gambler and hired assassin -- died of an apparent heart attack in his maximum security cell at the Colorado federal prison known as "Supermax." The same facility where Unabomber Ted Kaczynksi is held.

The 69-year-old Harrrelson was convicted of shooting U.S. District Judge John H. Wood, who was killed on his way to work in May 1979. Harrelson was first sent to a prison in Atlanta, but an escape attempt prompted his transfer to Colorado.

Charles Harrelson had been prosecuted four times in three murders and was serving two life sentences. He claimed he had been involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and some reports assert the actor's father was one of the tramps photographed on the "grassy knoll."

Woody was 7 years old when his father was sent to jail. In some ways the actor's role in "Natural Born Killers" mimicked his father's life -- a victim of a traumatized childhood becomes a serial murderer.

"I'm not saying my father is a saint, but I think he's innocent of that [judge's killing], yeah," Woody Harrelson once told ABC's Barbara Walters.

The colorful actor, who was once married to screenwriter Neil Simon's daughter Nancy, is not the first celebrity to deal with a rogue relative.

Just recently actress Lindsay Lohan's father was released from a New York state prison after serving almost two years for driving while intoxicated and other charges.

"Desperate Housewives" star Teri Hatcher revealed in Vanity Fair last year that her uncle had sexually abused her as a child.

Academy Award-winning actress Charlize Theron experienced a family homicide while growing up in South Africa. She was 15 when her mother shot her father, who had threatened them in a drunken rage. It was ruled self-defense.

"Spiderman" star Tobey Maguire's father -- beset with financial troubles -- staged a botched bank robbery in 1993. He served two years in jail after a neighbor saw him carrying a bag of cash into his California garage.

Harrelson has always been open about his father's checkered past and supported him. In 1987 he served as his incarcerated father's proxy in a marriage ceremony.

The actor has also been vocal about his own values: He has admitted to being a sex addict and was himself arrested in a 1996 challenge of marijuana laws. He is reportedly a strict vegan, eating only raw and dried foods, and an environmental activist.

"When a celebrity has a black sheep in the family they have a choice," said columnist Musto. "They can totally pretend they don't exist or embrace it. Woody embraced his father and I think that. most families try to keep a distance from loose-keg relatives."

Publicists and public relations experts make a living managing the secrets of their celebrity clients. "I've seen a 1,000 scandals in 53 years," Howard J. Rubenstein, founder of the renowned agency that advises high-profile clients, told ABC News.

The best policy for handling a publicity crisis is telling the truth, said Rubenstein. "The rule of thumb is to stick to the truth, get it out quickly and then shut it down," he said. "We are never in favor of just trying to cover up. It's going to come out if you lie about it."

Nowadays, the public is more accepting of all familial transgressions and has a notorious short memory, said Rubenstein.

"When someone has problems and the public reads about it, they love it and they lap it up," Rubenstein said. "But later, if you ask them about it, they don't have the slightest recollection."- Sometimes a family crisis can inspire success. Actor Tobey Maguire said in an interview reported in the Daily News that criticism over his father's arrest gave him "a fervor, an angry ambition that cannot be stopped."

Psychologists say positive things can happen when a child recognizes that "life can turn negative quickly," said Charles Figley, a psychologist from Florida State University, who specializes in celebrity cases and grief counseling

"The turning point is whether a person embraces it," said Figley. "Woody did, so he has already worked this out psychologically."

In fact, said Figley, Harrelson took advantage of his father's tragedy in developing his public persona as an actor.

"In 'Natural Born Killers,' Woody was against the grain and challenging the system," said Figley. "He turned it into an asset. But he still probably still feels a certain degree of unmitigated sadness and regret."

Carrying the sins of the father can take its toll, and nearly every person -- celebrity or not -- has a family secret, said syndicated columnist Dr. Joyce Brothers.

"The stress is enormous," said Brothers. "There are times when you have to get something off your chest and other times when you have to keep things to yourself."

Mental health experts agree that today's society places a great value on revealing secrets, with reality television where contestants compete for shock-value revelations.

"It's difficult in our culture to deal with secrets, because we have a culture that to some extent is built on revealing secrets," said Brothers. "It takes a lot of energy to keep a secret and even more to push it down before it comes back up to the surface."

Whether in the open or bottled up, family skeletons really never go away, said Dr. Jenn Berman, a Beverly Hills psychotherapist who counsels celebrities.

"Woody's father led a lifestyle that impacted his morals, values and emotional abilities," she said. "There is no way he wasn't affected by that. In childhood a parent has to make you feel safe, and love is the basis for all sense of self."

Grief is also complicated when family shame is so public. Often it is more difficult for family members to deal with illness or an accident than a parent's lifestyle choices -- like murder and prison.

"Children always love the parent, even if he is an abusive or bad parent," said Berman. "As an adult, Woody has learned to make peace with that in some way."