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Bad Boy From Rosebud: The Murderous Life of Kenneth Allen McDuff

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In October
of 1989, the State of Texas set Kenneth Allen McDuff, the Broomstick
Murderer, free on parole. By choosing to murder again, McDuff became the
architect of an extraordinarily intolerant atmosphere in Texas. The spasm of
prison construction and parole reformsäó_collectively called the ™ëMcDuff
Rulesí¬äó_resulted from an enormous display of anger vented towards a system
that allowed McDuff to kill, and kill again.™šBad Boy from Rosebud™šis a
chilling account of the life of one of the most heartless and brutal serial
killers in American history. Gary M. Lavergne goes beyond horror into an
analysis of the unbelievable subculture in which McDuff lived. Equally
compelling are the lives of remarkable law enforcement officers determined to
bring McDuff to justice, and their seven-year search for his victims

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1. They Was Just Pranks

ePub

1

They Was Just Pranks

“I got sent to prison because I was an asshole. They should have been able to overlook that.”

—Kenneth Allen McDuff

I

On the eastern edge of Rosebud, Linden Street heads south from Main Street toward a baseball field carved out of surrounding farmland. Small wooden houses, old but well kept, and shaded by large pecan trees, line the streets. On the east side of Linden, only the second building from Main, stands what once was the Rosebud Laundromat. A small living area connects to the rear of the laundromat where the family of John Allen “J. A.” McDuff lived. At least some of the McDuff children, including two boys named Lonzo (“Lonnie”) and Kenneth, were born in far-off Paris, Texas, and no one seems to know why the McDuffs, who lived in the Blackland Prairie before moving to Rosebud, ended up in the area.

J. A. did farm work. His wife was a hefty, domineering woman named Addie. Addie ruled. She controlled everything, including the money, the children, and J. A. “The only opinions J. A. had were Addie’s,” a longtime Rosebud resident would say.1 At least one of Kenneth’s teachers, however, knew of some who thought that at one point J. A. had made some effort to bring discipline into the lives of his two sons. In reality no one knew for sure. The family was a mystery to those around them. In Texas Monthly, Gary Cartwright wrote that the McDuffs were not the friendliest people, in fact, they were downright weird—“but they weren’t white trash either.”

 

2. The Broomstick Murders

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2

The Broomstick Murders

“It was like taking a bird that was taught to love and respect people out of its cage and blowing its head off.”

—Jack Brand

I

The summer of 1966 was hideously hot even by Texas standards. It was also a period of great sadness. August began with the largest mass murder in American history—the University of Texas Tower shootings in Austin by Charles Whitman. After murdering his wife and mother during the night and spending the next morning preparing, Whitman began a ninety-minute killing spree in which he fired over 150 rounds at innocent and unsuspecting people, killing fourteen and wounding at least thirty-one. The Texas Tower tragedy came at a time when Texans were just starting to live down the assassination of John Kennedy in 1963. The irony of both crimes was that neither Whitman nor Oswald were native Texans, yet both will forever be associated with Texas.1

Five days after the Tower tragedy, on August 6, 1966, Roy Dale Green and Kenneth Allen McDuff began their day by pouring concrete with J. A. and Lonnie McDuff. They were anxious to go out and have fun when their Saturday workday ended sometime between noon and 1 P.M. Years later, Texas Ranger John Aycock discovered that Roy Dale had been Kenneth’s second choice to go out to Fort Worth. He had asked another friend named Nicholas to go with him. It probably did not matter to Kenneth, at least not for what he had planned. On that night Kenneth wanted to perform before an audience, and he settled for Roy Dale.2

 

3. A Prisoner of the State

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3

A Prisoner of the State

“People in prison are vicious and crazy; this is worse than hell.”

—Kenneth Allen McDuff

I

On August 9, 1966, after Kenneth McDuff had committed the Broomstick Murders and was back in jail, the State of Texas revoked his parole.1

Sheriff Brady Pamplin established, at least to his own satisfaction, that Kenneth and his brother Lonnie had actively engaged in the destruction of evidence. Jo Ann, Kenneth’s date, told Pamplin that the brothers had taken something behind a barn at Lonnie’s home. Pamplin quickly secured a search warrant for Lonnie’s residence northeast of Rosebud.

The nighttime search did not yield any incriminating evidence, but Lonnie was arrested anyway for “fraudulently and illegally concealing a weapon used for murder.” Jo Ann’s statement apparently served as the probable cause for his arrest. Pending a hearing, the Justice of the Peace set his bond at $10,000. Shortly after daylight, Constable R. J. Brannon and Rosebud City Marshal Terry Fletcher returned to the residence and found charred remains of clothing in Lonnie’s driveway. Metal studs, common to western style shirts, were mixed with the ashes of burnt cloth.2

 

4. Freed to Kill Again

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4

Freed to Kill Again

“You know, when you’re on parole and you been on death row, it’s hard to find a date.”

—Kenneth Allen McDuff

I

Furman v Georgia was not the only significant development affecting the prison life of Kenneth McDuff in 1972. That year, a disgruntled Texas prison inmate named David Ruiz, who was serving a twenty-five-year sentence for armed robbery, initiated a handwritten lawsuit alleging a variety of violations of his civil rights in the prison system. His complaint alleged overcrowding, poor medical care, and the use of Building Tenders as guards of other inmates. The Building Tenders kept control of their area, and in turn, received preferred treatment by guards and prison officials. Ruiz alleged that Building Tenders beat other prisoners to keep them in line.1 The Ruiz case went before United States District Judge William Wayne Justice of Tyler. Thus began the longest and most expensive trial in the history of Texas.

 

5. Parole

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5

Parole

“I don’t know why people got so excited; I was just standing there with my knife.”

—Kenneth McDuff

I

At the time of the Broomstick Murders, Bill Miller was a law enforcement officer in the Fort Worth area. He remembers vividly the horrible deaths of Robert, Marcus, and Louise at the hands of Kenneth McDuff. Later, he had firsthand experience with the McDuffs when he assisted in the investigation of Lonnie’s murder. One day in October 1989, while at his office at the Bell County Sheriff’s Department, he took a call from a friend who owned a convenience store:

“Guess who just came in my store? Kenneth McDuff,” said the caller.

“Well, there’s going to be problems,” Bill said.1

On October 14, 1989, only three days after Kenneth McDuff walked out of prison, a pedestrian strolling the 1500 block of East Avenue N in Temple came upon the body of a black female lying in a field of tall grass. She was in her twenties, about 5’6” and weighed about 115–120 pounds. She had been beaten and strangled, no more than twenty-four hours before her body was found. Within days, she was identified as a suspected prostitute named Sarafia Parker. Texas Ranger John Aycock later located and interviewed a witness who could allegedly place Parker in a pickup truck driven by McDuff on or about October 12, 1989. On that day, Kenneth McDuff had reported to his parole officer—in Temple. No other connection between the murder of Sarafia Parker and McDuff has ever been established or made public. Although the case is still open, at least officially, and McDuff was never accused of any crime involving Sarafia Parker, informed confidential sources are convinced that Kenneth Allen McDuff resumed his murderous life with her death.2

 

6. An Absence of Beauty

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6

An Absence of Beauty

“You look out the window and wonder and say, ‘Somebody ought to neuter all these people.’”

—J. W. Thompson, Austin Police Department

I

Interstate Highway 35, the major artery for Central Texas, connects San Antonio, Austin, Belton, Temple, and Waco. Around Austin, the highway runs along the Balcones Fault, separating alluvial bottoms and agricultural lands to the east, from the rocky sediments of the Hill Country ranches to the west. In his biography of Lyndon Johnson, Robert Caro called the Hill Country “The Trap,” which accurately contrasts its mesmerizing beauty with the hardiness it took to tame the area.

San Antonio and Austin are splendid examples of the power of multiculturalism, and monuments to cooperation among diverse populations. Further north, the hamlets of the Blackland Prairie surround the larger cities of Belton, Temple, and Waco. Baylor University in Waco, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Southwestern University in nearby Georgetown, and other colleges and technical schools in the area provide splendid educational opportunities to the people who live here. The hard-working, conservative, largely religious people help contribute to and take pride in their neighborhoods and schools. Throughout the area, man-made lakes provide water, recreation, and breathtaking scenery. Central Texas is a beautiful place to live.

 

7. Going to College

ePub

7

Going to College

“This guy is sitting by somebody’s wife and somebody’s daughter in class!”

—Parnell McNamara, Deputy United States Marshal

I

At the beginning of 1991, McDuff reported to his Temple parole officer that he was working in a warehouse in the Dallas area as a forklift operator. Six days later he asked to transfer his parole supervision to the Dallas District. But less than two weeks after that he reported to his Temple parole officer that he was back in Temple living with J. A. and Addie. Kenneth’s aging parents apparently had little energy for raising a forty-five-year-old teenager; McDuff moved into the Jean Motel in Temple during much of March. Only six weeks earlier McDuff had discovered a way that he could have access to a private room, eat three meals a day in a cafeteria, receive money for subsistence—even during holidays—and receive an education. All he had to do was go to class. Kenneth Allen McDuff was going to college.1

 

8. Every Woman’s Nightmare

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8

Every Woman’s Nightmare

“He knew where there was a good-looking girl in a convenience store that he was going to take.”

—Alva Hank Worley

I

Unlike other Louisiana parishes, Evangeline Parish reflects the cultural and geographic diversity of the entire state. On the southern end, Cajun Catholics and other Louisiana French descendants inhabit a fertile prairie. Farmers take advantage of the high water table to flood fields for the planting and harvesting of rice. The recent craze for Cajun food transformed the flooded rice fields into aquafarms, supplying crawfish to customers around the world. On the northern end of Evangeline Parish, Anglo-Saxon Protestants dominate piney woods, red dirt, and rolling hills. Louisiana’s geo-demographic, political, religious, and cultural dichotomy, “north” and “south” Louisiana, meet in Evangeline Parish. This cultural fault line between north and south Louisiana is where Allen and Pat Reed raised their family. They had two daughters, Lorraine (“Lori”) and Colleen. Two older daughters named Anita and Mae, from Pat’s previous marriage, completed the family of six.1

 

9. The Cut

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9

The Cut

“There’s an awful lot of weirdos out there, and you never know when you are going to meet one.”

—Richard Stroup, McLennan County Sheriff’s Deputy

I

Living her adult life in a culture with an absence of beauty took its toll on Brenda Kay Thompson. She looked much older than her age—thirty-seven. At 5’5” tall and weighing only 115 pounds, she was a small woman. Her drawn and hollow-looking face made her look emaciated, almost skeletal. What were once beautiful brown eyes were instead sunken into bony sockets surrounded by a rough complexion. She looked tired. Her tragic life gave her a “worn” look common among the “older” (both in terms of age and arrests) girls at the Cut. She had several aliases, including Debbie Johnson, and Debbie Ward. A criminal background check reveals a long history of a dozen or so petty crimes ranging from small thefts settled by paying fines to more serious charges of possessions of controlled substances carrying with them five- and six-year sentences. Additionally, she had a history of DWI and moving traffic violations, trespassing charges, and numerous counts of forgery.1

 

10. The Car Wash

ePub

10

The Car Wash

“Nobody should be put through that type of torture.”

Alva Hank Worley

I

Every Christmas season miles of multi-colored lights illuminate Congress Avenue in downtown Austin. From the Colorado River, which Austinites insist on calling Town Lake, to the State Capitol, the bulbs form a colorful tunnel, and at times motorists have trouble seeing traffic signals. But it does not matter; Austin drivers have little respect for traffic lights anyway. Mild weather usually greets Christmas time; hardy Austinites do not bother with winterwear like sweaters or coats. At best, light windbreakers suffice, especially during the Christmas season of 1991 when the average minimum temperature was about forty-six degrees.

The tragic murder of four teenage girls in a Yogurt Shop dominated Austin news in December of 1991. The “Yogurt Shop Murders” broke the city’s heart. Billboards with pictures of the four beautiful high school girls begged for information about what had happened. Not since Charles Whitman went on his shooting spree at the University of Texas Tower in 1966 had Austin been through such a collective traumatic event. The Austin Police Department became a hub for a multi-jurisdictional effort to solve the murders; and within the department all available resources were marshalled. To this day, the case has not been solved.

 

11. Cowboy

ePub

11

Cowboy

“Something is wrong with that man.”

[Bruce] a.k.a. “One-Arm”

I

Before December of 1991, the people of Austin, Texas, did not consider going to a yogurt shop, or washing their car, a dangerous activity—and for good reason. The overall crime rate for Austin had fallen by two percent from 1990 to 1991, and although the murder rate rose by seven percent, the actual number of victims rose from only forty-six to forty-nine. Additionally, the Austin Police Department’s Homicide Detail was particularly good at solving its cases. Nationally, about sixty-six percent of homicide cases were solved; in cities with more than 250,000 people the “clearance rate” was slightly over half; in Austin, the rate was an impressive eighty-six percent. The Yogurt Shop Murders and the abduction of Colleen Reed, however, spread fear throughout the Austin metro area. “I guess the public’s attitude is developed by high visibility crimes, and certainly during the latter part of the year [1991] we had those high visibility crimes,” said Assistant Police Chief George Phifer.

 

12. The Convenience Store

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12

The Convenience Store

“We had a feeling that this is bad; this can’t wait.”

Bill Johnston, United States Attorney

I

Officially, Kenneth McDuff completed graduation requirements from TSTI in late February, 1992. The certificate he “earned” was mailed to J. A. and Addie. For most students, graduation means an opportunity to seek employment and build a future. For Kenneth McDuff, it probably meant an end to his state-supported lifestyle of sex and drugs. Reportedly, just a couple of days before his rendezvous with Holly, he had driven to Victoria, Texas, to interview for a job. According to Addie, he was excited at the prospect of gainful employment at the Victoria Machine Works, and then crushed to learn he was not hired. It was on February 29, 1992, according to Addie, that “Kenneth left [her home] so mad he didn’t take his glasses or his clothes.”1

And so, during the early morning hours of March 1, he might still have harbored anger over not getting a job he and his mother claimed he wanted very badly. More likely, however, his anger centered over the end of a very bad night. He had no money and could not get any because his cigarettes had been stolen from him; his Thunderbird had broken down the day after over $800 had been spent repairing it; he was coming down from an evening of smoking crack, and he had not had a woman. In a mood fashioned by such a bizarre evening, Kenneth McDuff headed towards the Quik Pak #8.

 

13. The Boys

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13

The Boys

“These guys would fight the devil on the steps of hell!”

—Gary M. Lavergne

I

The three men sometimes call themselves “The Boys.” Two of them are brothers and the third might as well be. Deputy United States Marshals Mike and Parnell McNamara are the sons of Thomas Parnell (“T. P.”) McNamara. T. P. ran the United States Marshal’s Office in Waco for thirty-seven years, a record that is now out of reach because of age requirements and mandatory retirement. So great was T. P.’s reputation as a lawman that he has been enshrined in the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame—quite a feat for a U.S. Marshal. From 1902 until his death in 1947, Mike and Parnell’s great-uncle, Guy McNamara, was a McLennan County Constable, Chief of the Waco Police Department, a Deputy U.S. Marshal, and finally a full United States Marshal.1 Law enforcement is as much a part of Mike and Parnell’s genetic makeup as their blue eyes are.

 

14. “Don’t Hurt Junior”

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14

“Don’t Hurt Junior”

“Junior ain’t never done anything wrong in all his life.”

Addie McDuff

I

Two years after Sonya Urubek became part of the Reed Case, she testified about the different methods used by investigators in approaching the abduction. Specifically, Don Martin methodically checked out the many leads received, placing no particular emphasis on any one. Sonya was so convinced that the McDuff lead was a good one that she thought it was important to begin gathering evidence from Colleen’s possessions. Those possessions were in large plastic bags in Lori’s attic. Lori took great care of Colleen’s things, still hoping to one day return them to her younger sister. The plastic garbage bags had the effect of sealing and preserving the evidence, making it much easier to collect things like hair samples, and greatly reducing the chance of contamination. Sonya also asked Oliver (Colleen’s boyfriend) to visit APD headquarters, where he volunteered personal evidence for comparison for what would be found on Colleen’s clothes—and possibly her remains, if they should ever be found. Shortly after the abduction, Oliver went to the store where he bought the windbreaker he had given to Colleen—the one she was pictured wearing at the ATM. He tried to buy an identical suit, but could only find one that was nearly identical. The store insisted on giving it to him.1

 

15. Searching for a Monster

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15

Searching for a Monster

“It was like playing Scrabble with a chimpanzee.”

—Bill Johnston

I

ATF Special Agent Charles Meyer is a tall, lean man with an angular face and sleek, Clint Eastwood eyes. He is as good an interrogator as anyone who has ever questioned a suspect. He is so good in fact, that a frustrated Austin defense attorney once lamented in open court that “Chuck Meyer always seemed to be there when somebody needed a little interrogating.”1

A native of San Antonio, Chuck flew helicopters for the Army in Vietnam. After earning a degree in management and marketing, he was drawn to law enforcement. He looked into different agencies and chose the ATF for a career. Chuck Meyer is an intensely disciplined investigator. It is hard to imagine him being flustered or losing his cool. He likes to work quietly. Not only does he dislike publicity of any type, he actively avoids it. Although he has been involved in some of the highest profile cases in recent Texas history, a search through the archives of the Austin American-Statesman reveals a single, three-word Chuck Meyer quote: “We did great.”2

 

16. Heartbreaking Stupidity

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16

Heartbreaking Stupidity

“The truth was pushing him around the parking lot.”

Tim Steglich

I

The Bell County Sheriff’s Department could hardly have been more generous with Tim Steglich’s time. For months he did little more than assist the many other law enforcement agencies engaged in the pursuit of Kenneth Allen McDuff. Many leads eventually led to Belton and Temple, and policemen like Tim and Mad Dog Owens provided valuable help. Officially, for Tim, it was a missing person’s case filed by Addie McDuff, and as long as Kenneth was missing he had a duty to look for him. Other agencies were looking for McDuff, but for very different reasons.

On March 24, 1992, the jurisdictions with an interest in Kenneth McDuff met at Bill Johnston’s office in Waco to share information. Don Martin and J. W. Thompson represented the Austin Police Department. Don briefed Tim on his interview of Beverly and mentioned that someone named Morris had directed McDuff to Beverly’s house in Del Valle. Tim readily agreed to look for Morris. He found him the next day, but it was not an easy search. Although Morris was deathly afraid of McDuff, Tim successfully convinced him to give a statement, which was forwarded to the Austin Police Department. After reading the statement, Don and J. W. wanted to talk to Morris. When Tim contacted him again several days later, Morris became abusive. He said he did not want to be harassed. Very patiently, Tim worked with Morris and eventually Morris had a “change of heart.” On April 7, Morris met with Don and J. W. and repeated his statement detailing his trip to Del Valle with Billy and McDuff. He was also willing to take a polygraph to prove he had nothing to do with the abduction of Colleen Reed.1

 

17. “As Nice As I Could Be”

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17

“As Nice As I Could Be”

“Hank, what on Earth made you believe you could walk away from this?”

—Charles Meyer

I

The Bell County Sheriff’s Office is not far from Bloom’s Motel. It just seemed like a long trip late in the afternoon of April 20, as Tim Steglich drove Hank to make a statement. At 5:25 P.M., Tim read Hank his Miranda warning. Tim tried to get in touch with a number of officers but could find no one. He did not want to leave Hank alone so he asked Deputy Ted Duffield to get in touch with Don Martin and J. W. Thompson of the Austin Police Department as soon as possible. Getting in touch with APD was the top priority—it was their case. Other officers could be contacted later.

Tim had to make an immediate decision. At the time, Hank was not a suspect or under arrest. Since he was making a voluntary statement, he could have asked for a lawyer at any time. Tim decided to get a brief statement first; he wanted the bottom line on paper—a girl was abducted from a car wash and McDuff did it. And so, Tim began slowly and carefully taking a statement for a case he was not that familiar with. As Hank spoke of kidnapping, rape, torture, and probable capital murder, Tim forced himself into a mode of extraordinary concentration. It was more important to get the statement than allow himself the luxury of normal emotion.1

 

18. Guns and Condoms

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18

Guns and Condoms

“How much more degraded can this get?”

—Mike McNamara

I

To this day Mike and Parnell McNamara and Bill Johnston grope for words to express how completely saddened they were by their trip to where Colleen had been killed, and by what they heard Hank Worley say that night. But rage quickly replaced sadness; and their faces of stone returned. Almost every night for the next couple of weeks, they roamed the streets of Belton, Temple, Waco, and the hamlets of the Blackland Prairie. They did not give up until there were no leads and there was absolutely nothing else to do.

“Each night at about midnight the tension got almost unbearable because you could not help but wonder if he was killing someone else at that moment. Where is he right now? What is he doing right now? Who is being tortured right now? Who is choking to death?” remembered Mike. For many nights Mike returned home during early morning hours. Even then he could not sleep. He would sit in a chair in the darkness, sometimes for two hours—thinking.

 

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