Woody Harrelson's hitman dad who killed a federal judge now focus of true-crime podcast 'Son of a Hitman'
Woody Harrelson is rightly recognized as the incredibly talented actor who has earned himself three Academy Award nominations for his roles in movies like 'The People vs. Larry Flynt' and 'The Messenger'. However, not many people know of his disturbing family secret.
Two years before he made his debut as the kindhearted bartender in 'Cheers,' Woody's father, Charles, had gone to prison for life for the assassination of a federal judge in Texas.
Charles, it emerged, was a murderer-for-hire with a long history of run-ins with the law and will now be the subject of a true-crime podcast called 'Son of a Hitman' that will investigate his life and crimes.
Woody, however, wasn't directly involved in his father's life during this time. The actor revealed that Charles disappeared from their family's home in Houston in 1968 and left his wife Diane to raise him and his two brothers, Brett and Jordan.
He was absent for the next 13 years until 1981, when Woody, a junior at Indiana’s Hanover College, heard about his dad's arrest in the shooting death of John H. Wood Jr., a federal judge in San Antonio, whom he allegedly killed in a drug-related matter.
While the dealer who was accused of hiring him was eventually acquitted in a retrial, Charles was still left serving two life sentences, a verdict Woody branded a "travesty." The actor said he believed his father was a victim of prejudicial pretrial publicity and argued that the trial judge was one of the murdered man’s pallbearers.
He insisted that it was not because he had feelings for his father, who he said "took no valid part in my upbringing," but did admit he had grown closer to him after his incarceration.
"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," he said. "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."
But it was not Charles' first infraction. In 1968, the year he first disappeared, he had been tried for the murder of Alan Berg, a carpet salesman, as well as the murder-for-hire killing of Sam Degelia Jr., a resident of Hearne, Texas.
He was acquitted in the Berg case but was convicted in Degelia's murder and sentenced to 15 years in prison though he was released on good behavior after serving just five years.
Following Charles' death from a heart attack in 2007, much of his life has become the source of speculation, including claims he made that he had been involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
'Son of a Hitman' will feature 10 episodes and see host and journalist Jason Cavanaugh have in-depth conversations with two of his sons, Brett and Jordan, as well as with those who knew Charles before and after his arrest, to separate fiction from reality.
The podcast will also look into the hitman's contentious relationship with the law and his sons' view of events and will debut on Spotify in May.