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Epilogue: The Writer from Austin

Gary M. Lavergne University of North Texas Press PDF

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The Writer From Austin

Holly Street. A sign tells visitors to walk around to the back of a large circular desk for assistance. A trophy case on the left commemorates victories by Austin Police teams at shooting contests.

Some of the trophies are old and tarnished, as are some of the frames which hold pictures of APD officers killed in the line of duty. Uniformed officers work the reception area near the elevators, which visitors cannot board without a numbered sticker identifying the floor to which the visitor has been given access. A large matted frame near the elevator holds a black and white picture of Billy Paul Speed.

He looks his age-twenty-three.Few know that at the time of his death he was ready to quit police work and go back to school.

Austin and the University of Texas have more than doubled in size since Charles Whitman was a resident. Both have prospered and grown even more diverse. Nineteenth Street is now Martin Luther

IGng Boulevard; First Street is now Cesar Chavez Street. Residents celebrate June 19th as a significant holiday called "Juneteenth" to commemorate the date in 1865 when Texas slaves learned they were free. Comparing Austin to the rest of Texas uncovers about as many similarities as comparing the equally Greek cities of Athens and

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Medium 9781574410297

EPILOGUE: THE WRITER FROM AUSTIN

Gary M. Lavergne University of North Texas Press ePub

EPILOGUE
The Writer From Austin

The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their hones.—Marc Antony in William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene II.

Austin, Texas

Thirty years after the Tower incident, people on the Austin Police Force still think of Charles Whitman, and they still get angry. At APD headquarters, a typical government building, visitors walk into the lobby through front doors facing the access road of Interstate Highway 35, where Houston McCoy sped toward the Tower from Holly Street. A sign tells visitors to walk around to the back of a large circular desk for assistance. A trophy case on the left commemorates victories by Austin Police teams at shooting contests. Some of the trophies are old and tarnished, as are some of the frames which hold pictures of APD officers killed in the line of duty. Uniformed officers work the reception area near the elevators, which visitors cannot board without a numbered sticker identifying the floor to which the visitor has been given access. A large matted frame near the elevator holds a black and white picture of Billy Paul Speed. He looks his age—twenty-three. Few know that at the time of his death he was ready to quit police work and go back to school.

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12: The General

Gary M. Lavergne University of North Texas Press PDF

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The General

keep still. "We could see people moving a bit, but they never could get up and walk away" It would have been easier if they had known that Whitman never shot anyone twice. I

From the top of the Tower, Charles Whitman not only held off an army but he also pinned it down and stayed on the attack, After the tragedy, many police officers' written reports stated that they were unable to move from their positions. Whitman's rapid fire suggested a shift to a greater use of the 30-caliber carbine, an automatic rifle. Earlier he tended to use the scoped 6mm Remington, a far more accurate weapon over long distances, but one that required the manual use of a bolt action. Whitman pinned down Patrolman Jim

Cooney as the officer made attempts to assist Roy Dell Schmidt, the electrician Whitman killed near University and 21 st Streets. "I couldn't get to the man," said Cooney;"

Ambulances were everywhere. For much of the time the drivers and attendants exposed themselves to Whitman's field of vision.

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16 Heartbreaking Stupidity

Gary M. Lavergne University of North Texas Press PDF

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,

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9 The Cut

Gary M. Lavergne University of North Texas Press PDF

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—thirtyseven. 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

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