222 Chapters
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13: INDEPENDENT ACTIONS

Gary M. Lavergne University of North Texas Press ePub

13
Independent Actions

I

In a short time, nearly all of Austin's police force had reported for duty. Some of the officers went directly to the campus. Others, including Officers George Shepard, Phillip Conner, Harold Moe, and Milton Shoquist, went to police headquarters first. There, the team was given tear gas and a walkie talkie and told to report to the campus area. Since the officers were in possession of communications equipment and tear gas, when they reached 21st and Speedway, Sergeant Marvin Ferrell, who had been directing officers to their assignments, sent them to the UT Security Office a few blocks north of the Tower at 24th and San Jacinto. There Houston McCoy asked them if they had any additional shotguns. They did not. He also asked if they had any directions or a plan. They did not. At the office, UT's Security Chief Allen R. Hamilton directed one of his men, Sgt. A. Y. Barr, to lead the APD team to the Tower.

From the university police station, the band of officers walked through the campus to an area directly east of the Tower. From that position there appeared to be only one way to get to the Tower—a dash over an open area. McCoy wondered aloud if there was a safer way for six men to get to the Main Building. William Wilcox, a university employee, knew of a maze of tunnels connecting the buildings to allow for relative ease when maintaining the campus infrastructure—telephone, power lines and water lines. Through the tunnel connecting the Computation Center to the Main Building, Wilcox guided McCoy's team.1

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Medium 9781574414974

2. The Broomstick Murders

Gary M. Lavergne University of North Texas Press ePub

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

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Thirteen—“We will assassinate everyone!”

William T. Harper University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter Thirteen

“We will assassinate everyone!”

—Fred Carrasco, hostage-taker

With their intelligence-gathering system in place, the

Command Post returned to the task of formulating a plan for entering the library with an attack team, if necessary. No thought, scheme, nor concept, was rejected out of hand, no matter how far out of the box it might seem to be. Some ideas had what TDC

Director Estelle called a “Buck Rogers” quality about them.1 Under even the best-case scenarios, they knew an assault would no doubt be a blood bath. The aim was to hit hard, hit fast, with as much firepower as they could muster, and with the element of surprise.

It would have to be a massive, shocking blow, stunning the gunmen and traumatizing them before they could get off any rounds aimed at their captives.

Everyone in the Command Post knew there was no way they could hit hard enough and fast enough to save all the hostages. It was just a matter of reducing the losses, of lowering the body count. How many hostage lives could they afford to lose in order to save how many others? How many body bags would they need?

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Medium 9781574410297

8: The Glass-Paneled Door

Gary M. Lavergne University of North Texas Press PDF

returned with a vengeance to turn the fallen rain into steam rising from the streets and sidewalks. A light southerly wind, not strong enough to bring relief, accompanied the heat and humidity When

Whitman left his home for the last time, at or slightly after 11 :00

A.M., the temperature had climbed to the upper nineties. Vacationers and students on semester break flocked to Barton Creel" where cold spring-fed water supplied bathers with a momentary refuge from the heat. But most Austinites could afford no such luxury and instead wearily prepared for another one of "those" days. It was hot-damn hot. I

The drive to the university would not have taken more than twenty to twenty-five minutes. Whitman entered the UT campus through a security checkpoint on 21 st Street near the corner of Speedway Avenue, the northern extension of Congress Avenue, between

11:25 and 11:30 A.M. He approached the little white outpost manned by [ack O. Rodman, a UT Security Officer there to relieve the regular security guard during a lunch break. Whitman retrieved his wallet, holding ninety-six dollars remaining from the checks he had cashed earlier in the morning, and presented a Carrier Identification Card to gain admission to the campus. The guard would have been familiar with the ID which was issued to individuals with a frequent need to transport heavy or bulky materials onto the campus. Whitman had been issued such a card as part of his lab assistant duties in Dr.

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6: AFTER MUCH THOUGHT

Gary M. Lavergne University of North Texas Press ePub

6
After Much Thought

I

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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17: Why Did He Do It?

Gary M. Lavergne University of North Texas Press PDF

Why Did He Do It?

-----------------Em

the eleven fact-finding members was reviewed by twenty-one other blue-ribbon physicians from throughout the United States. 1 The

Connally Commission (for want of a better name) established four investigative objectives:

1

To determine the events and circumstances which surrounded the actions of Charles J. Whitman on .August

1, 1966.

2. To explore the findings and to make such additional examinations as might be indicated by the factual information which is available.

3. To prepare the material for its maximal utilization in evaluating the problem for our society,

4. To make recommendations aimed at the detection and prevention of circumstances which might lead to similar incidents."

The commission looked carefully at Whitman's background, health, and overall behavior throughout his life. His elementary, high-school and university transcripts were analyzed. Teachers, classmates, family, and old and recent friends were interviewed.

The conclusions reached by the commission reinforced what nlany of Whitman's associates already knew about him and also exposed the nice facade he had developed around himself. Its portrait of Charles Whitman was that of an "intelligent, intense and driven" young man, but someone who had been encased in internal and external predicaments causing personal turmoil." The internal goal of outdoing his father in all areas, not just education, had become an unhealthy obsession, a source of anxiety he inflicted upon himself. The separation of his parents, which had been out of his control, only exacerbated his internal struggles. Margaret's move to

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1: TWO VERY DIFFERENT UPBRINGINGS

Gary M. Lavergne University of North Texas Press ePub

1
Two Very Different Upbringings

I

During the post-World War II era, middle class workers populated the community of Lake Worth, Florida, a seaside community along the Atlantic Coast. Hard-working entrepreneurs penetrated markets, cultivated clients, and grew rich while economic Darwinism and American free enterprise eliminated the weak. Lake Worth's population doubled from 7,408 in 1940 to 15,315 in 1955.1 Charles Adolphus “C. A.” Whitman flourished in such an environment. He became a successful plumbing contractor as well as an accomplished, affluent and admired businessman. It had not always been that way.

C. A. Whitman knew his mother, but he spent much of his childhood in the Bethesda Orphanage in Savannah, Georgia. He overcame a lack of formal education by sheer determination and by out-working his competitors. His ruddy, round face and neatly cut slicked-to-the-side hair complimented a stocky, solid body. His appearance suggested he had “paid his dues.” Self-made and proud of it, he used his money to buy what he wanted, unapologetically. Some acquaintances, however, found his pride to be monumental egotism; he provided very well for his family—and never let them forget it.2

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Medium 9781574412048

Chapter 16: “A Shocking and Lamentable Sequel”

David Johnson University of North Texas Press PDF

chapter 16

“A Shocking and Lamentable Sequel”

As 1877 drew to a close, those involved in the feud continued to make news. Caleb Hall, having liberated himself from the jail at

Menard, was seen in Mason County in early September.1 A. G. Roberts, accused by Barler of starting the feud, was now serving as a deputy sheriff in Burnet County. In late September, he and J. J. Strickland were in San Antonio “bearing papers for the conveyance of Isbell, charged with murder in Arkansas, to the authorities of that State.”2

In Burnet, the men who had helped free Ringo and Cooley proved equally capable of liberating themselves. On September 23 James

Polk Mason and Ed Brown escaped from the Burnet jail. Some believed that the guard allowed the men to escape.3 John Baird was also in the news, having reportedly been arrested in Shackelford County by the Rangers.4 The man proved to be one Crusoe Beard who was wanted in another county.5 John C. Sparks reported in October:

On Oct. 11th Sergt. T. M. Sparks with 17 Privates

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2: THE SOLDIER AND THE TEACHER

Gary M. Lavergne University of North Texas Press ePub

2
The Soldier and the Teacher

I

After basic training, Charlie was stationed at what was then one of the most troubled spots in the world—Guantanamo Naval Base, Cuba—beginning on 9 December 1959. At least one of his marine buddies believed that, above and beyond being in the marines, being at Guantanamo Bay placed a strain on Charlie.1 Most likely, Charlie's desperation to free himself from his father's support and control made everything else secondary—even Cuba's drift toward Communism. Yet he had entered another life of regimentation; he 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.

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12: THE GENERAL

Gary M. Lavergne University of North Texas Press ePub

12
The General

I

The heat—they remembered the heat. Virtually all of the wounded knew that the best way to avoid another shot from Charles Whitman was to lie still and play dead, but for many the heat became unbearable. Onlookers pitied the wounded as much for the pain caused by hot pavement as for the wounds. Claire Wilson had no choice but to lie still for more than an hour as the sun beat down on her until she could be rescued. Instinctively she picked up one leg and moved it from side to side. Witnesses mentally pleaded for her to put that leg down and 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.1

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 21st Streets. “I couldn't get to the man,” said Cooney.2

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Medium 9781574413052

Chapter 9 Desperate-Looking Character

Rick Miller University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter

9

Desperate-Looking

Character

A

lthough 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

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10: Houston

Gary M. Lavergne University of North Texas Press PDF

Houston

--------------------....-,Im

Only seconds befo re confronting Charles

Whitman, Houston McCoy had to dodge friendly fire from police and civilians, but he stilI had flashing thoughts of his wife

Ruth and sons Stefan and Kristofer. Ruth would not find out about Houston's hero ics un til he got home late in the afternoon of I August 1966. Photos courtesy of Ruth

McCqy.

gested agrarian roots and hard work as a boy and young man.

McCoy hailed from Menard, Texas, a hamlet about 150 miles west of Austin near no large or even mid-size city. "If you find yourself in Menard, it's probably 'cause you want to come here," mused one resident. In 1958, Houston graduated from Menard High

School, home of the YellowJackets, and was named "Best All-Around

Boy." He spent his young adulthood attempting to leave his hometown. He enrolled in Lamar Tech (now Lamar University) in

Beaumont and attended classes there for a short time before serving a three-year hitch in the United States Army which included an assignment to Germany, where he met and then married a native

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Medium 9781574412048

Chapter 6: “Rance and Co.’s Band of Freebooters”

David Johnson University of North Texas Press PDF

chapter 6

“Rance and Co.’s Band of Freebooters”

On July 12 the summer term of District Court opened in Mason

County. Although no one realized it at the time, the summer session was a pivotal moment in the feud. Three separate murder cases and the Baccus cattle theft case were all on the books to be heard. All of these cases were critical to ending mob law, and trouble was anticipated by legal authorities not involved with the mob. Dan Roberts recalled that he received a note from the judge instructing him not to turn Johnson over to any sheriff, undoubtedly to prevent another lynching. When the time came, Roberts brought Johnson into Mason under heavy guard.1

From the mob’s perspective the charges against Charley Johnson for his role in the Baccus case were clearly important. They anticipated a conviction based upon the very evidence they had used in deciding to lynch the Baccuses. In this they were doomed to disappointment. Both Johnson and John Martin, if the latter were ever brought to trial, were acquitted. It was a clear indication that the charges against Baccus and his men could not have been sustained and served to tarnish the mob’s reputation in the minds of some as having lynched innocent men. Johnson was also called before the grand jury in an attempt to identify mob members involved in the

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Twenty-one—“I’m the executioner.”

William T. Harper University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter Twenty-one

July 31, 1974 • Day Eight

“I’m the executioner.”

—Fred Carrasco, hostage-taker

Week One of the Eleven Days in Hell would end at one o’clock as this eighth day and second week of horror began for the hostages.

Federico Carrasco was contacted on Wednesday morning five minutes after his eight o’clock deadline for complying with the demand for bulletproof vests.

He was called about what Ruben Montemayor called the “final offer” that Director Estelle had handed him at seven-fifteen that morning.

According to Ron Taylor, Carrasco “appeared to be sleepy or groggy”1 and he made no mention of his previous threat to blow up his hostages. The only thing he seemed to be interested in was ordering breakfast—pastry, donuts, cupcakes, orange juice, prune juice, jelly, toast and, of course, the daily newspapers.

Contact between the library and the warden’s office resumed at nine o’clock. The hostages requested clean clothes, a deck of cards, a portable radio, batteries, trash bags, ice, a jar of instant tea, lemon, sugar, coffee creamer, and coffee cups. Taylor, based

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14: THE WHITE HEADBAND

Gary M. Lavergne University of North Texas Press ePub

14
The White Headband

Telling the story takes longer than it took to do it. I'm not talking about minutes; I'm talking about seconds.

—Houston McCoy

I

After Ramiro Martinez knocked down the dolly Whitman had wedged outside the door, the men on the twenty-eighth floor stared at the windows and listened carefully. They could hear shots coming from the northwest corner, but each of them knew that at any moment someone could appear at the window. Each of Martinez's raps on the door produced noises that the others thought would surely get the attention of the sniper. Every “bang” caused McCoy, Crum and Day to grasp their rifles a little tighter and to look a little closer. “God damn! He's making a lot of noise,” McCoy thought. 1 Each of them had seen what the sniper was capable of doing. Outside the Tower they had seen bodies shot from incredibly long distances; inside they had seen what Whitman had done at close range: Edna, Mark, Marguerite, Mary, and Mike.

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