205 Chapters
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One—“Stop right there or I’ll kill you!”

William T. Harper University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter One

July 24, 1974 • Day One

“Stop right there or I’ll kill you!”

—Fred Carrasco, hostage-taker

Ronald (Ron) Wayne Robinson kept looking at his watch, anxious to get home for his daughter Sheryle’s eleventh birthday party that night. Aline V. House was kicking herself for forgetting to bring her bloodpressure medication to work. Bobby G. Heard kept looking through the doorway to see if his relief was on his way up to take his place as the only guard in the prison library. Ann Fleming was thinking about her eighty-year-old mother in a Nashville, Tennessee, nursing home. Novella M. Pollard was worried about getting her rent check in the mail on time. Elizabeth

Yvonne (Von) Beseda’s concern was the alteration of her daughter ’s University of Texas cheerleader uniform. All in all, it was just a routine day in

Huntsville, Texas.

That routine ended abruptly with the roar a .357 caliber Ruger Speed Six, blue Magnum revolver made as it was fired in the confined quarters of the thirdfloor library of the State Penitentiary in Huntsville,

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Medium 9781574413533

Chapter 15. We Want Him

Rick Miller University of North Texas Press ePub

Chapter 15

We Want Him

Bill Longley likely visited his parents in Bell County in the late fall and perhaps early winter of 1876, during which time Dick Sanders may have left him and returned home. It is also possible that in March 1877 Longley and Sanders might have been in Kerr County. From March 10 to March 20, a detachment of Texas Rangers from Company C, responding to some source of information, was sent into the county to look for them.1 The Rangers returned empty-handed. No doubt concerned that the authorities would get wind of his whereabouts in his old haunts, Longley said that he went to East Texas, and he ultimately made his way into Nacogdoches County, across the Angelina River. An educated guess would place this trip in the spring of 1877.

For whatever reason, Longley decided that he would detour around the town of Nacogdoches, rather than ride through it. Fuller, who himself was a resident of Nacogdoches, and speaking again in third person, said that the outlaw had “heard something” about Nacogdoches Sheriff Milt Mast and his deputy, Bill Burrows, and did not want to get into “fresh trouble.”2 About four or five miles west of the town, Longley stopped at the farm of George Washington Clevenger, Jr., a twenty-six-year-old who lived with his wife, Missouri Caroline, and two daughters, Ida and Nora.3 Clevenger had a brother who may have been living with him at the time, Joseph Phlemester Clevenger, who was shy of his twentieth birthday, and whom Fuller described as a “good-sized boy.”4

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Medium 9781574410723

11 Cowboy

Gary M. Lavergne University of North Texas Press PDF



“Something is wrong with that man.”

—[Bruce] a.k.a . “One-Arm”


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 fortysix 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.

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Medium 9781574411676

12 “An altered state of consciousness”

Gary M. Lavergne University of North Texas Press PDF

chapter twelve

“An altered state of consciousness”

“Brain damage is fairly common.”

—Dr. John Mullen an Assistant Professor of

Neurological Surgery and Neurology



fter the defense rested, Norman Kinne lined up witnesses who had dealings with Belachheb and were ready to testify that he was perfectly sane. Oh, he was odd, and in their minds maybe a little crazy, but he was certainly someone who had enough mental capacity to know the difference between right and wrong.

The first of the witnesses was Beth.1 She was a secretary for a law firm and the person who had introduced Abdelkrim

Belachheb to Joanie. She described Belachheb as a selfish schemer who readily admitted that he needed to marry a woman who had money—an American who could help him secure permanent residency in the United States. According to Beth, he seemed to have found what he wanted in Joanie, who spent large sums of her limited income on his expensive tastes. He had nice clothes, memberships in clubs, and drank to excess in plush bars and restaurants (not to mention his custom wig). Beth even testified that

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Medium 9781574410297

15: To Whom It May Concern

Gary M. Lavergne University of North Texas Press PDF

mJ--------------- To Whom It May Concern bulletin didn't come right back, so I called the station, and I asked them to repeat the news bulletin. At first they wouldn't repeat it , so I said, "My name is Patrick Whitman.

Would you please repeat it." Then I broke up and went and got my father. From then on it was turmoil. They had to sedate me . I

It probably went exactly as Charles would have hoped. Much of the world's media began to ask questions, many of them directed at

C. A. Whitman of Lake Worth, Florida. The glare of publicity for the Whitman family was only beginning. Still to be discovered were the notes Charles had left at 906 Jewell Street and Penthouse Apartment #505 .

"Johnnie Mike" Whitman was still on a cross-country trip with his friend Jim Poland when his brother Charles began his killing spree . After the news of the sniping broke, the Whitman family began a search for the youngest Whitman boy, eventually locating him in Asbury Park, New Jersey, a small town along the Atlantic Coast.

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Medium 9781574414974

20. The Reed Trial

Gary M. Lavergne University of North Texas Press ePub


The Reed Trial

“The scary part is, those guys reproduce.”

—David Counts, Travis County Assistant District Attorney


Only a few days after Kenneth McDuff had been arrested in Kansas City, the Travis County District Attorney’s Office began to gather circumstantial evidence to establish that Colleen Reed was dead. Under a 1974 law, such evidence could be gathered in cases where a victim’s body was not found. Such laws are necessary. Without them, for example, murderers with access to the means of completely destroying bodies could never be prosecuted. “If the date or the method can be proven on circumstantial evidence, so can death,” explained David Counts, the young, handsome Assistant District Attorney who became the lead prosecutor of the Colleen Reed Murder Trial.1

David Counts was born in the small West Texas town of Knox City, near Abilene. He graduated from Texas Tech and got a law degree from St. Mary’s University Law School in San Antonio. He always wanted to try cases. At the time of the Reed abduction, David was Travis County’s major crimes attorney. He had already put in so much time assisting investigators in the Reed Case that it was logical for him to go ahead and prosecute it. His supervisor, another assistant district attorney named Howard “Buddy” Meyer, asked to help. The two men were genuinely fond of one another and looked forward to working together again.2

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Chapter 8: “A Most Horrible State of Affairs”

David Johnson University of North Texas Press PDF

chapter 8

“A Most Horrible State of Affairs”

Holmes’ contention that Moses Baird was “a man of large connexions [sic]” was an understatement.1 This succinct phrase underscores the next phase of the feud as it escalated out of control. Baird was very popular in both Burnet and Llano Counties, and the brothers were connected by marriage, friendship, and business to a number of large families in the area who in turn had ties to others. These alliances provided a small army of fighting men, many of whom would have sought vengeance even had John Baird not. Prior to this, the feud had been a private vendetta, but it had now escalated into a full scale war. The opportunities for peace were gone.

The Baird family originated in Ireland, their grandfather William

Baird having settled in Missouri. One of his sons, Hartshorn, married “Arminty Eten” there on August 11, 1846.2 Census data indicates that Hartshorn “Beard” [sic: Baird], age twenty-eight was born in Missouri. Living in the household were his wife, Areminthy, age twenty-four, born in Tennessee, and two sons: John R., age three and Moses B., age one. Both of the brothers are noted as born in

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5 Parole

Gary M. Lavergne University of North Texas Press PDF



“I don’t know why people got so excited;

I was just standing there with my knife.”

—Kenneth McDuff


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

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Five—“I’m scared and sick, just sick.”

William T. Harper University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter Five

“I’m scared and sick, just sick.”

—Betty Branch, wife of hostage, Jack Branch

In the first hour of the takeover, Carrasco instructed the hostage inmates to build a barricade inside the educational complex doorway. File cabinets, tables, and portable shelves were moved in front of the glass doors at the library entrance. Piled on the filing cabinets were boxes of books. Up against the inner side of the filing cabinets was a table, upon which two straight-back, unpadded chairs were placed, facing inward. Those were the chairs for the “honor guard”— the hostages would be seated there with a rope around their shoulders and chair backs, and across their upper legs and under the chair seat. With one wrist handcuffed to a metal filing cabinet, they would sit with their backs to the doors, serving as shields to prevent TDC sharpshooters from firing into the complex and picking off the hostage-holders.

After releasing all the inmates, Carrasco’s search intensified for Correctional Officer (CO) Bobby Heard, the twenty-seven-year-old Sam Houston State

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Chapter 20. Not Upon His Doomed Neck

Rick Miller University of North Texas Press ePub

Chapter 20

Not Upon His Doomed Neck

Bill Longley quickly passed from the pages of Texas newspapers, and his notoriety with him. Other gunmen, such as Hardin and Ben Thompson, stepped to the forefront of the public spotlight, their sort continuing to fascinate those who found glamour and excitement in the larger-than-life exploits of an outlaw, as opposed to the humdrum routine of school, farming, or other similar everyday callings. As with Longley, the notorious Jesse James also capitalized on the press to insure a place in history, although James took great pains to deny his nefarious deeds.

Only eight months after the hanging, however, stories were already being passed around in Dallas that the execution had been a hoax, thus commencing decades of confusion and speculation about the ultimate fate of Bill Longley. “Rich relatives supplied him with a steel corset and neck piece, which prevented the rope from choking him or pulling on his neck at all when the drop fell.” Friends were supposed to have pretended to bury the body, smuggling Longley away and “setting him up in business in California, where he now lives a pious and model young man.”1 Although the story was briefly published in 1879, it did not garner a public response from those who knew better, apparently because it seemed so absurd on its face.

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Chapter 9. Desperate-Looking Character

Rick Miller University of North Texas Press ePub

Chapter 9

Desperate-Looking Character

Although Fuller did not mention it in his account, Longley claimed that after he left Bell County, he went southwest to Mason County, where he moved about under the alias of “William Henry.” He said that he attended a horse race at old Fort Mason, which had been abandoned by the army in 1869, and met James J. Finney, the sheriff of Mason County.1 A former blacksmith,2 Finney was first appointed county sheriff in October 1869 under the military government of Reconstruction, then elected in his own right in November 1872.3

Longley said that Finney suspected his true identity because of descriptions that the lawman had received, but the two talked, drank, and gambled for four or five days. Longley claimed that he was suspicious of the sheriff. By mere chance, according to Longley, when Finney was ready to spring his trap, Longley happened to ride up to Fredericksburg in Gillespie County. He had not been there but a few hours when Finney and another man arrived in town, talked with Longley, and invited him to a saloon to take a drink. In the saloon, Longley said, he carefully avoided getting between the two men and kept the bar counter between them, frustrating their intent to surprise and overwhelm him. He said that he accepted their invitation to meet there again later that night to play cards, but that he instead mounted up and rode southwest some twenty miles to Kerrville in Kerr County.4

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Appendix II

David Johnson University of North Texas Press PDF

Appendix II

A key event of the Mason County War was what correspondent

David Doole termed the “Big Raid” in a letter that was published in the San Antonio Herald of August 14, 1874. This is referred to in the response published in the Burnet Bulletin of September 5, 1874 by

A. G. Roberts. Doole’s letter has not been located to date, but on

August 29, 1874, the San Antonio Daily Express published the following article. From the existing references to Doole’s correspondence, the article appears to have been drawn, with some editorial changes, from that letter. Its significance is demonstrated by the fact that both newspapers considered it important enough to publish the lengthy correspondence.



Mason County Under Arms—A Promised

Revenge and Partial Execution


[Correspondence Fredericksburg Sentinel]

MASON, TEXAS, Aug. 18, 1874

On the ninth of August, 1874, John Clark, Sheriff of Mason county, with a posse of 18 men, went after a set of cow hands of Al. Roberts, who had made a raid into Mason county and driven off 200 head of cattle.

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Chapter 12 I Will Not Be Captured

Rick Miller University of North Texas Press PDF

I Will Not Be Captured


Jim Brow[n] if I ever kill any man in that country it will be eather for killing some of my kinfolks or els it wil be in resisting being captured for if the court knowes its self I will not be captured in that country alive tho I wil come there just when I pleas. I wrode by your house the first Monday night in August 1875. I stoped near the old yard fence and stood for an hour and my mind run back over my whole life and I thought of my childhood and the hapy hours that I had passed in the old cabin home.

Oh what dreadful thoughts pierced my hearts intermost core for a little while but I cursed my weekminded soul and treated myself to a drink of good old brandy and wrode on with a bold heart. It hurt me very bad when I heard that Johnson McKeown had bin hunting me with the intention of betraying me and geting me in to a snair to be killed for I loved him like a brother. Oh the hapy hours that I have passed with Johnson but now they are oer.

Two nights before I passed your house I was at home and my own Dear Father told me never to put my foot in his house again. and Brother Jim quit me and said I was too bad for him and my kinfolks is all so D___D cowardly. they don’t want me to come about them so I stil alone tread the living land destitute of friends but G___d the world and every son of a bitch that don’t like me for I am a wolf and it is my night to howl. I expect to get killed sometime but you may bet your sweet life that I will keep the flys off of the son of a bitch that does it while he is at it.

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Gary M. Lavergne University of North Texas Press ePub

After Much Thought


During the summer of 1966 mass murder frequented the news. Truman Capote's In Cold Blood ushered in a “new journalism,” where real events were reported with fictional techniques. Capote engaged in a prolonged investigation to detail the mass murder of the Clutter family of Holcomb, Kansas, by two wanderers on 15 November 1959. Although first serialized in The New Yorker magazine in 1965, In Cold Blood was still the year's most talked about bestseller in 1966.

Mr. Herbert Clutter, an affluent wheat farmer, employed several farm hands. Floyd Wells, a former employee, later served time in the Kansas State Penitentiary where he became friends with a fellow prisoner named Richard E. Hickock, who made repeated efforts to learn as much about the Clutter family as possible. Specifically, Hickock was interested in finding out if the Clutters had a safe in their home. Wells either suggested or Hickock conjured up a nonexistent safe located in a wall behind Herb Clutter's office desk. Eventually, Hickock was paroled. Shortly afterwards he and a friend named Perry E. Smith headed for the Clutter home, where they expected to steal at least ten thousand dollars. They did not know that Herbert Clutter had a well-known reputation for not carrying cash; anyone in Holcomb could have told the pitiful fools that Herb Clutter paid for everything by check.

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2: The Soldier and the Teacher

Gary M. Lavergne University of North Texas Press PDF


would still have to take orders. He may have been drawn to another form of strict authority after becoming conditioned to taking orders. More likely, a hitch in the marines resulted from an attempt at a dramatic, irrefutable rite of passage into adulthood. No one, not even C. A. Whitman, could seriously argue that a United States

Marine was anything less than a man. For Charlie Whitman, taking orders probably seemed like a small price to pay.

At eighteen, he looked more like a toy soldier than a real one. He stood nearly six feet tall and was not overly muscular, but rather thin and boyish. His long, narrow face and his large smile caused his eyes to squint, and his blond crew-cut accentuated his youthful features. At first, his uniform and his gear looked oversized, but marine life would fill him out considerably. Charlie shortly reached his adult height of six feet, and his weight hovered around 198 pounds. He had been branded with an unsolicited niclmame-"Whit." As a young marine he was easy-going and prone to horseplay. During this first twenty-six-month period of active duty, Charlie underwent numerous routine physical examinations and each found him to be fit."

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