The Mysterious Disappearance of William and Margaret Patterson

The 1957 disappearance of Margaret and William Patterson is one of El Paso’s most famous mysteries.

The disappearance of William and Margaret Patterson has been a mystery to El Paso for 50 years. It has inspired urban legends, wild stories of espionage and even tales of UFO abductions.

Their old house in the 3000 block of Piedmont was known by generations of El Pasoans as the “haunted house.” Over the years, several theories emerged to explain what happened to them: They were kidnapped, they met with foul play, they left everything behind to start a new life elsewhere, they were spies or they were abducted by space aliens.

The Pattersons were last seen around March 5, 1957, by a neighbor named Jeri Cash, who had gone to their house to give Margaret some Girl Scout Cookies.

Cecil Ward, a friend of the Pattersons, reported the couple missing Aug. 15, 1957, a shocking five months later.

They were gone for five months before anyone noticed. In that amount of time, anything could have happened. Clues or leads that might have been available soon after their disappearance probably quickly dried up.

William and Margaret Patterson, 52 and 42 years old when they vanished, left behind a large house, their business, their money, and even their beloved cat, Tommy. The house was found in disarray, with dishes unwashed, underwear and a pair of Mrs. Patterson’s stockings on a bed, and other indications the Pattersons did not know they were leaving for a long time. There was no sign of a struggle.

The home of William and Margaret Patterson in the 3000 block of Piedmont was known by generations of El Pasoans for being haunted.

Their disappearance was front page news in El Paso, and even around Texas. In their quest to find the couple, El Paso law enforcement officials sought help from the FBI, Los Angeles Police Department and Mexican authorities. It is still an open case.

“I think they were spies,” El Paso County Sheriff Leo Samaniego told the El Paso Times in 2005. “The way they got up and just walked away and left everything behind. The Russians, or whoever sent them, probably told them to drop everything and go back. Some people said they had seen Patterson take photographs of Fort Bliss and of military shipments on the trains that came here.”

FBI Special Agent Art Werge told the El Paso Times he couldn’t find any information in the agency’s files that indicate whether the Pattersons ever came under surveillance for suspected espionage.

Even Luther Patterson, William Patterson’s father, wasn’t sure what to make of his son’s disappearance.

“I always knew Pat and Margaret would take off like this some day, but I figured it to be four or five years away. … They’re not dead. … My boy has done things like this before. … He made his living doing sleight-of-hand tricks,” Luther Patterson told the El Paso Times in the 1960s.

But several years later, after receiving no word from his son, Luther Patterson told authorities he believed William and Margaret were dead.

Other theories about the Patterson’s were that the couple got themselves into financial trouble and fled the country. Another theory was that William Patterson had killed Margaret and fled the country. Or that Margaret Patterson found out about William and his mistress (reportedly a woman named Estefana Morin) and killed him. Then she fled the country.

Cash, the last known person to see the Pattersons alive, told police, “I took some (Girl Scout) cookies to Mrs. Patterson, and she seemed very upset,” Cash told the El Paso Times in a March 18, 2013, article. “It was the only time I had talked to her. The couple tended to keep to themselves. The husband seemed unhappy that I was in the house, and I left soon after leaving the cookies with her. She was a tiny (petite) woman, and he always came across as mean and unfriendly.”

According to Cecil Ward, a few nights before their disappearance, the Pattersons invited him and his wife over for dinner. After the meal, Ward and William Patterson went out to the garage to have a beer and work on William’s boat.

Cecil Ward later told the police that neither of the Pattersons mentioned any plans to travel or leave the area. Cecil Ward added that he and William Patterson had plans to get together later that week.

After their disappearance, Cecil Ward would recall several strange incidents involving a man named Doyle Kirkland. On the morning of March 6, 1957, one day after Cecil Ward had had dinner at the Patterson’s home, he told police he opened his auto business and discovered that William Patterson’s Cadillac was sitting in the driveway. Kirkland came into the auto shop later in the day and told Cecil Ward that William Patterson had asked him to bring the car to him for a tune-up.

Kirkland managed Duffy Photo Service, a rival business to William Patterson’s photo shop. Though Doyle and William had competing businesses, they were reported to be friendly.

When asked why he had the Pattersons’ car, Kirkland reportedly told Cecil Ward that he and William had worked on his boat the previous night, and that the Pattersons were “going on a little vacation.”

With no real leads, the investigation stalled. Then, on March 15, 1958, Herbert Roth, the Pattersons’ accountant, reportedly received a telegram. It was sent from the Western Union office in Dallas, where it had been placed from a telephone call near the Love Field Airport. The telegram was type written, with a signed signature of “W.H. Patterson,” which was odd since William’s middle name was Durrell.

The telegram instructed Roth to split up the business between himself and Art Moreno, an employee of Patterson, and Doyle Kirkland. It also instructed Roth to hire Kirkland as the new store manager to replace William Patterson at the photo company.

While the telegram’s odd requests certainly cast suspicion on Doyle Kirkland, no further evidence linked him to the Pattersons’ disappearance. By the 1960s, Kirkland had left El Paso for parts unknown. The police were unable to trace him.

As time passed, there were regular sightings of the Pattersons. Several people claimed to spot them outside of Mexico City, years after they vanished.

El Paso sheriff Bob Bailey tracked down some hotel workers in Valle del Bravo, and after showing them some photographs, they identified the Pattersons as a couple who had stayed with them for several months in 1957. However, no hotel records or signatures in the guest book could be linked to the Pattersons.

William and Margaret Patterson were officially declared dead on March 27, 1964.

According to a 2005 El Paso Times article, “the case was cold and stayed that way for the next 20 years. In 1984, though, a man named Reynaldo Nangaray came forward with new, startling information.”

Nangaray had been an employee of Pattersons’ and he told a detective that he had found blood in the garage, and a piece of a human scalp on the propeller of the Pattersons’ boat shortly after the couple disappeared in 1957.

Nangaray admitted to having cleaned up at the scene. He also claimed that he had seen a man carrying bloody sheets out of the house and throwing them into the trunk of a car. He had not gotten a clear look at the man, but it was not William Patterson. When asked why he waited so long to come forward, Nangaray said that he had been an undocumented immigrant in 1957, and feared being deported.

Two years after coming forward, Nangaray was killed in an auto accident. None of his information was ever confirmed.

According to one newspaper story I read, the house is still there and occupied. The owner said he has never had any supernatural experiences in the house.

In the end, we’ll never know what happened to William and Margaret Patterson. Any living witness is most likely dead by now. Their case remains just as mysterious now as it was 60 years ago.

Who Was the Missing Blonde From Room 636?

Room 636 at the Gunter Hotel was believed to be the scene of a gruesome crime in February 1965.

This is one of my hometown’s most famous unsolved mysteries. It is a bizarre and strange tale that has become a bit of an urban legend and favorite of ghost hunters.

The Bloody Room
On February 2, 1965, around 5 p.m., a maid named Maria Luisa Guerra arrived to clean Room 636 of the Gunter Hotel in downtown San Antonio, Texas. She opened the door and immediately saw an Anglo man standing by a blood soaked bed. There was blood all over the room.
“I screamed as loud as I could,” Guerra told the San Antonio Express-News in 1965.
Guerra said the man, around 25 years of age, lifted a large package off the floor. She said he put his finger to his mouth to indicate that she be quiet. Then he walked past her with the large brown package, which Guerra described as one foot high and 20-inches wide. He apparently left the hotel and escaped into the rainy evening.
Police were called around 6:30 p.m. and Homicide Detective Steve Salas said, “there was blood all over the room. And the bathroom was a mess of blood.”
Police found bloody footprints in the bathroom and several cigar butts. One of the cigar butts had lipstick on it. The lipstick matched a smudge on a tissue found near the bed.
Police officers also found a pair of bloody women’s nylon hose and a .22 caliber shell was found on the bed. Another .22 caliber shell was found embedded in a wall by the dresser.
Also near the dresser was a chair soaked with blood, which police said might indicate a shot was fired from the bed toward the dresser.

Police look for clues of a mysterious woman at the Gunter Hotel.

A new suitcase was also found containing a new shirt, a package of imported cheese and a can of sardines. Four empty wine bottles were found on the floor.
“Police theorized that a woman’s body might have been dissected in the room,” according to a front page article in the San Antonio Express-News, February 3, 1965.
*A woman with small feet and blood Type A negative who smoked cigars was shot and dissected in the room.
*Her slayer methodically cut her into pieces in the bed, running to the bathroom to clean the dismembered limbs and drain the blood.
*The slayer then bundled the butchered body in a brown paper packed and escaped with it out the hotel.
“There is very little doubt a murder occurred here,” said police inspector Joe Hester.
Dr. Ruben Santos, the county medical examiner at the time, said the blood was human blood. “No one could have lost that amount of blood and have walked away from the room,” Santos told the Express-News.
Santos also cited three possibilities— that a body was dissected or that an abortion was performed or that there was a miscarriage.

Witnesses reported seeing the suspect eating lunch with a tall blonde woman a day before the bloody room was discovered.

The Suspect Commits Suicide
Inspector Joe Hester said the man seen with the package in the room gave a fictitious name, “Albert Knox,” and a fictitious Ohio address in the hotel’s register. He had checked into the hotel alone on February 2.
Police were able to identify the suspect by the new suitcase left behind in the room, as well as the cheese, sardines and wine which were purchased from nearby Schilo’s Delicatessen. His real name was Walter A. Emerick, a 38-year-old petty criminal who lived with his mother in San Antonio.
Employees from Schilo’s said Emerick was a regular customer, and that on February 1, he was seen dining with a tall, slim blonde haired woman.
On February 10, 1965, police tracked down Emerick to Room 536 at the St. Anthony Hotel a few blocks away from the Gunter. As police entered his room, Emerick shot himself and died, taking answers to the mystery with him to his grave.

During the subsequent investigation, it was discovered that Emerick had tried to rent Room 636 at the St. Anthony Hotel, but had to settle for Room 536. Emerick had also purchased a meat grinder the previous week at a downtown department store. He had also left a trail of forged checks in his wake in the days leading up to the bloody crime scene in Room 636 at the Gunter.

The Aftermath
To this day, no one has ever identified a female matching the description given to police of the tall blonde woman seen with Emerick at the delicatessen. Strangely, no one matching that description was ever reported missing.
Some speculate that Emerick had impregnated a woman, a botched abortion ensued, and he had to get rid of her body. Others have speculated that Emerick’s “blonde” was not a woman at all, but a man, and that Emerick killed him to keep secret their tryst. Pure speculation.
Ironically, even with all the blood found in Room 636, there is no concrete physical evidence of a murder. According to the district attorney at the time, the only charge that would have been brought against Emerick would have been malicious mischief over $50 (the hotel spent over one-hundred dollars to clean up the mess he left in the room).

Walter A. Emerick committed suicide before the police could get answers out of him

Chasing Phantoms: Man who stole Texas boy’s identity may have been a violent fugitive

Unidentified man who stole a deceased child’s identity who died in Texas 1945.

On July 30, 2002, Joseph Newton Chandler III, an elderly man from Eastlake, Ohio, committed suicide with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

An autopsy discovered the presence of colon cancer in his body, which likely motivated his decision to kill himself. He also had $82,000 in his bank account when he died.

As courts officials attempted to work out the man’s estate and track down his surviving relatives, they made a shocking discovery. The real Joseph Newton Chandler III had lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma with his parents. They died in a car wreck in Sherman, Texas in 1945.

The unidentified man stole Chandler’s identity in September 1978 in Rapid City, South Dakota, after applying for a Social Security card and moved to the Cleveland, Ohio area shortly after.

U.S. Marshall Pete Elliott told Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter John Caniglia that he believed the man was a violent fugitive on the run from the law.

“This is like chasing a ghost,” Elliott said. “He lived the perfect life of someone on the run. He had no friends. He never got in trouble. He just lived so very quietly. He knew exactly what he was doing.”

He was said to be intelligent and worked as an electrical designer and draftsman for a chemical company headquartered in Wickliffe, Ohio. The company laid him off in 1997.

The man known as Joseph Chandler, at a costume party in 1992.

Neighbors and people who interacted with him described him as being a hermit who only left his home to go to work and eat. Coworkers said he rarely talked to anyone and appeared to have few or no friends.

“He really was very smart,” Elliot told the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2014. “He was a strange guy. He listened to static, white noise for hours. He once drove to the East Coast to go to an L.L.Bean store in Maine.

“Once he pulled into the parking lot, he noticed that there weren’t any parking spaces. He got upset, and he drove all the way back to Ohio without going inside.”

Many theories were formed about who this man really was. Crime buffs began to speculate that “Chandler” might have been the Zodiac Killer since he bore a resemblance to the suspect’s composite sketch and possibly lived in northern California during that time period.

The man also bore a resemblance to Stephen Craig Campbell, a fugitive who had been wanted for attempted murder since 1982 and was never caught. But Campbell was 6-foot-2, while the unidentified John Doe was 5-foot-7, and this theory has been widely discounted.

Around 9 months ago, a forensic genealogist announced that DNA samples taken from the unidentified man linked the mystery man to the last name Nicholas or Nichols.

No one yet knows the real story behind the man who stole the identity of Joseph Newton Chandler III.

But if If he changed his identity in 1970s, and had ties in Texas, Oklahoma or South Dakota, and presumably left his old life in roughly the same period, finding the Nicholas/ Nichols families from where he allegedly came from might solve the mystery.

The Case of the Disappearing Diamond and the Disco Duck

On June 4, 1968, a man walked into San Antonio’s Witte Museum in broad daylight carrying an aluminum lawn chair and a hammer. When a security guard went on break, the man walked up to a prominent display case containing the world’s largest emerald-cut canary diamond, the $365,000 McFarlin Diamond.

The thief smashed the display case and snatched the 49.73 carat diamond from its red velvet display. At the sound of the alarm, the man ran and used the aluminum lawn chair to block the exit gate of the McFarlin room,  keeping the security guards from chasing after him. The thief hurried past a few visitors and ·sped away in a waiting car.

The $365,000 McFarlin diamond, a 49.73 carat emerald-cut canary diamond, was stolen from the Witte Museum in June 1968. The diamond would be worth an estimated $2.45 million today

A nationwide search began for the jewel thief and his accomplish. Along with the McFarlin Diamond, the thief also stole several smaller emeralds. Trustees of the Witle Museum offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to recovery of the gem, which had once belonged to the Maharajah of Mahratta of India. The diamond eventually found its way to New York, where it was purchased by E. B. McFarlin of San Antonio in 1956. The McFarlin family gave the 49-carat stone to the Witte two years later, where it was prominently displayed as the McFarlin Diamond.

The name McFarlin would be familiar to many San Antonians because of the McFarlin Tennis Center near downtown, which was created in part by donations from its namesake family. The McFarlin family were old oil money from Oklahoma. Many members of the McFarlin family settled in San Antonio, donating money to institutions like Trinity University and the San Antonio School District.

Some extended members of the McFarlin family were said to be quite eccentric, especially one named Harry. According to an employee at Mad Michael’s, a popular San Antonio club in the 1960s and 1970s, Harry had a pet duck he took everywhere with him. Harry would drive around San Antonio in his Rolls Royce with the duck in the front seat along with him.

Harry would also bring the duck into the club and leave it on top of the bar while Harry hit the dance floor. The employees at Mad Michael’s were also told to leave Harry and his duck alone. Some said that Harry and his pet duck were the inspiration for the 1970s hit song, “Disco Duck.”

San Antonio’s E.B. McFarlin, oilman and owner of the $365,000 diamond.

But back to the case of the missing diamond. San Antonio Police Detective Larry Parnell, one of three San Antonio policemen assigned full-time to the case, said a fingerprint from the lawn chair,  an artist’s sketch and one recovered emerald were the only clues police had in the robbery. But the case eventually stalled and went cold.

Then around 10 months later on March 24, 1969, two men were arrested in connection with stealing $300,000 worth of rare coins from a Kingsville businessman at gunpoint. The men were J.B. Wright and Cecil Yancey Evans, both 48 and both of Gal­veston.  They were charged with taking the coin collection from the home of R.C. Bennett. The arrest was made in a Galveston motel at dawn on March 25. Kingsville police chief Paul Hulsey said he and Texas Ranger Glen Krueger “just followed their trail.”

Cecil Yancey Evans pled guilty to stealing the McFarlin Diamond from the Witte Museum. But he never revealed who his accomplices were.

Wright was a drifter, but Evans reportedly came from a very wealthy and socially prominent family from the Rio Grande Valley. He was a former star football player at Texas A&I University. He also played professional football with the Philadelphia Eagles. On a hunch, Krueger said he asked Evans if he knew of the McFarlin jewel, “taken from the Witte Museum last June.” Krueger said Evans admitted he did it.

“I took the McFarlin diamond.” Evans said flatly in U. S. District Court February 14, 1969. The paunchy, balding Evans also stated he transported the diamond from Texas to Phoenix, Arizona, after snatching it from the Witte Museum. He said he was supposed to be paid $25,000, but only received $6,000 for the diamond.

Evans did not reveal to authorities who drove the getaway car, who his accomplices were, whether the diamond heist was his idea, or whether he was hired to do the job by someone else. According to Kingsville Assistant District Attorney John Stafford, Evans said he “feared for his life.” Evans refused to finger any accomplices in the crimes. “He has been pretty cooperative with us up to that point,” Stafford said.

Some law enforcement officers speculated that Evans was working for the Italian Mob or Lebanese gangsters when he stole the McFarlin Diamond. But no evidence or link could be substantiated.

Witte Museum Director William A. Burns expressed doubt that 49.73 carat diamond was still in the country. “The pale yellow diamond probably still is one piece, but my intuitive feeling is that it has’flown out-of the continental limits of the United States ” Burns also speculated that the McFarlin Diamond could have been cut into smaller pieces (greatly reducing its value) and sold on the black market.

Evans plead guilty to stealing the McFarlin diamond and was sentenced on April, 1969, to a 10-year federal term. He was also sentenced to an additional two years in prison for the theft of the coins belonging to R.C. Bennet. Wright was not named in the charges surrounding the McFarlin diamond.

According to an article in Texas Monthly Magazine in 1974, Evans allegedly told authorities he was will­ing to tell where the diamond was, “but not unless the feds or the state grant him favors.” Apparently no deal was ever struck and the McFarlin Diamond has never been seen again. Evans served his time and died in 1997.


Jane Elkins, slave, hung in 1853 for a murder she might be innocent of

Jane Elkins was a slave who was convicted of murder in 1853 and became the first woman hanged in Texas.

Jane Elkins, a slave convicted of murder, was hanged on May 27, 1853, in Dallas. She was the first woman legally executed in the state.
There might have been other women executed before Jane, but historians were not there to write it down. Most people don’t know about Jane.

According to information from her trial notes, she was convicted of killing her employer, a man named Wisdom. In some accounts his name is John Wisdom, in others he is referred to as Andrew Wisdom. He lived in Farmers Branch, a very small community near Dallas. In the 1850s, the population of Dallas was less than 2,000 people.

It is not clear who Jane’s owners were. Sometime during 1853, Jane was loaned out to Wisdom. He was a widower. Jane was supposed to take care of his home and watch over his children. One night, Wisdom laid down to sleep. While Wisdom slept, someone split his head open with an ax. His children were left unharmed.

After 160 years, we know little about the case. We know Jane pled “not guilty.” The trial was conducted by Judge John. H. Reagan, who would go on to become a U.S. Congressman. Reagan apparently felt no need for Jane to have a lawyer during her trial.

On May 16, 1853, Jane was convicted of Wisdom’s murder. The trial notes record that she had “nothing to say.”
“We the jury find the defendant guilty of murder in the first degree. We further find that the defendant is a slave of the value of seven hundred dollars and that the owner of the defendant has done nothing to evade or defeat the execution of the law upon said defendant,” said the jury foreman R. Cameron on May 16, 1853. Two weeks later, Jane Elkins was hanged.

Some historians debate whether Jane Elkins was guilty at all, hypothesizing that fear of slave uprisings led to Jane’s wrongful conviction.
“In the previous decade, the cotton industry in North Texas Backlands had caused slavery to spread rapidly, and there had been regular alarms about real or feared slave uprisings. So the brutal murder of a white person immediately focused attention on any nearby slave— in this case, Jane,” wrote author Sherrie S. McLeroy in her book, “Texas Women First: Leading Ladies of Lone Star History.”

For many years, Jane Elkins story was lost to history. Historians did not even acknowledge she was the first woman legally executed in Texas.
For years, the dubious distinction of being the first woman hanged in Texas went to Josefa “Chipita” Rodriguez, who was convicted of murder and hanged in San Patricio County in 1863. Joseph’s case also is filled with controversy.

For many years, Josefa “Chipita” Rodriguez was thought to be the first woman hanged in Texas for murder.

Josefa moved from Mexico to Texas with her father when she was a young girl. Even when she was young, she was known for taking in travellers and providing them with a warm meal and a place to sleep. Years after her father’s death, she maintained this reputation. That is, until one of her guests was found dead with an axe in his head. Josefa was immediately blamed. Six hundred dollars worth of gold was found down the river from his body, giving the court enough evidence to believe that she had committed the crime to obtain his gold.
Despite her old age and frail body, Josefa was found guilty and hanged, becoming the first and only woman to be legally hanged in Texas in that time period. Her hired man – and suspected illegitimate son – was later put under scrutiny and assumed guilty of the murder, which led many to believe that Josefa let herself be convicted to protect her son.


Mysterious disappearance at the King Ranch in 1936

Luther Blanton, left, and his son John, disappeared while hunting on the King Ranch in 1936.

The fabled King Ranch, long a symbol of wealth, power and the cowboy way of life in Texas, was once the scene of a sensational case that grabbed newspaper headlines across the country.

It was Thursday, November 18, 1936, during the rough and tumble years of the Great Depression, when Luther Blanton, 57, and his son, John, 24, walked 500 yards from their farm and squeezed through a barbed-wire fence to go duck-hunting on the vast King Ranch, hoping to bring home a duck for supper.

The King Ranch is located in south Texas. It was founded in the 1850s by Richard King and Capt. Mifflin Kenedy. In 1936, it was the biggest ranch in the United States, totaling 1.25 million acres, covering nearly 1,300 square miles, an area the size of Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio combined.  King Ranch had 125,000 head of cattle and 500 employees.

Luther and John Blanton, who both eked out livings as beet farmers, were said to be expert hunters. They had set off that afternoon wearing denim overalls and carried two shotguns and three shells. They had no known enemies, but were known in the area to be trespassers and poachers, who had had run-ins with King Ranch game wardens and armed fence riders.

Just before dusk, Myrtle Blanton, the wife of Luther, said she heard the sound of three shots ring out from the direction of the King Ranch. The gunshots had also startled her daughter-in-law Gladys. Myrtle Blanton later told law officers she thought that her husband and son had killed some birds. When they didn’t return home by dark, she became worried. Luther Blanton had told his wife they would be home by six o’clock.

The next day, Myrtle Blanton went to the nearby town of Raymondville to see if they had been arrested for trespassing. But they were nowhere to be found. After two days, Luther and John Blanton still had not returned home. According to the book, “Justice Bought and Paid For” by Mona D. Sizer, Myrtle Blanton tried desperately to find her husband and son.

Myrtle Blanton with her daughter-in-law, Gladys in 1936.

Myrtle Blanton went to a local judge to try and get law officers to go onto the ranch. When that failed, Myrtle Blanton tried to organize her own small search party to go onto the ranch, even going so far as confronting King Ranch game warden Bob Miller. But they were blocked from entering the ranch by armed King ranch hands.

Angered, armed local civilians from the area organized an even larger group to force their way onto the King Ranch around the area where the Blantons were known to have gone hunting.  Texas Rangers arrived on the scene, “more to keep the peace between citizenry and the ranch than to find the Blantons or their killers.”

The Texas Rangers also sent Capt. William McMurray, to investigate. McMurray began questioning locals from Raymondville, as well as employees of the King Ranch. He also searched the King Ranch property for any sign of Luther or John Blanton.

On November 21, The Valley Morning Star, a daily newspaper out of nearby Cameron County, ran a front page story with the headline, “Willacy Hunters Feared Murdered.” The next day, through wire services, the same story was picked up by the Houston Post, the San Antonio Express, the Austin Statesman, and Corpus Christi Caller.

As the investigation into the Blantons disappearance continued, tracks were eventually found at a lagoon on the ranch, which matched the size and types of boots worn by the Blantons. A shotgun shell and cigarette stubs were found nearby.

McMurray, the Texas Rangers captain, told journalists, that “Two men, one a Mexican, the other a game warden, have I been arrested and jailed for investigation in the (Blanton) case Neither of their names nor where they were held was revealed.” [The Paris (Texas) News, November 1936]

Myrtle Blanton came to believe that her husband and son were killed for trespassing on King Ranch. McMurray, agreed. “The men were killed near the lagoon or taken away and killed,” he told LIFE Magazine in December 1936.

Another revelation that arose during McMurray’s investigation was that in addition to the Blantons, two local farm hands, Reyes Ramirez and Jesus Rivera,  also went missing at the King Ranch under similar circumstances prior to the Blantons’ case.

Mexican Consul Santiago Suarez told The Brownsville (Texas) Herald he received a communication from his government which discloses that the Mexican embassy in Washington D.C. requesting the American government to investigate the disappearance on the King ranch of Jesus Rivera, Mexican citizen who disappeared on the ranch along with his hunting companion, Reyes Ramirez.

“I feel confident that a federal government investigation of the case will be made ” Suarez said on Jan. 12, 1937, in The Brownsville Herald.

Texas Rangers Capt. William McMurray, who investigated the Blanton case, told LIFE Magazine, “the Blantons were killed and carried off the ranch or carried off the ranch and killed.”

Still, the local sheriff in Willacy County and local authorities seemed reluctant to investigate any further. The case only deepened the distrust and jealously between citizens and the King Ranch.

“Plain Texans hate the King Ranch, and its owners the Klebergs. The Klebergs refuse to let hunters onto their game-abounding land, refuse to let highways go through their vast acres and are politically a law unto themselves,” according to a LIFE Magazine article, December 14, 1936.

Robert Justus Kleberg Jr., the boss of King Ranch in 1936, told LIFE Magazine, “It looks pretty hard to hold us responsible for people who crawl through our fence. We can’t provide hunting for everybody. The whole thing is newspaper buildup.”

The case went cold and publicity slowly dried up over the missing Blantons. The Texas Rangers continued to chase down leads all over Texas, but nothing ever panned out.

Around a year later in 1937, a man named Luis LaMadrid began investigating the Blanton case. LaMadrid is a curious figure in the case. In some newspaper articles, he is identified as a Willacy County deputy constable. In other accounts, he is identified as a Texas Ranger or private investigator hired by Myrtle Blanton. One book even identified him as an imposter.

Who ever he was, by mid-1937 LaMadrid had announced to the public that he had solved the case. He said he was told by the Mexican ranch hands who worked the King Rand the Blantons were murdered. He was even told where to find the Blanton bodies. However, LaMadrid was suddenly  arrested on a charge of illegally carrying a gun by a Texas Ranger and a Texas Game Warden.

“Everyone down there in the valley knows what, happened to the Blantons,” Lamadrid told The Waxahachie Daily Light in July 14, 1937. “Of course, they don’t say now. That would ruin my case.”

A map showing the exact location of the bodies had been drawn by LaMadrid so that his information would not be lost if he were victim of a “silence playing,” stated the The Waxahachie Daily Light.

Waxahachie is a small-town near Dallas.

“They printed it. and it seems to me that the ones who killed the Blantons have probably had the bodies moved,” Lamadrid said. LaMadrid was so fearful that he too might be harmed or even murdered, he eventually left the area, ending his involvement in the case.

The Waxahachie Daily Light article from July 1937, also went on to state that “Bad feelings between cowpunchers of the huge King Ranch, and Willacy county farmers smoulder­ed. Many residents have singled out their “No. 1 suspect” in the Blanton case. When he walks the streets of Raymondville, friends surround him and people turn and stare solemnly without expression as he passes.”

But the article didn’t name who the suspect was. Myrtle Blanton died never finding out the truth about her husband Luther and son, John. What really happened to the Blantons? We will probably never know all the facts.


An article from the Chicago Tribune in 1936.

LIFE Magazine article 1936 “The Battle of the Fence” 

“A Willacy County Mystery,” The Raymondville Chronicle, Jan. 11, 2017 

“Texas Justice, Bought and Paid For,” By Mona D. Sizer, (Plano Press, 2001)

Texas Lutheran student strangled before found in burned apartment

In 2002, Mikiko Kasahara, 21,  was a foreign exchange student from Japan attending Texas Lutheran University. Mikiko had just finished final exams for the fall 2002 semester and held a party at her apartment on a Friday night for some of her close friends.

The following morning on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2002, a fire was reported in Mikiko’s apartment. When emergency responders arrived, they found Mikiko’s severely burned body in the bedroom of her burned apartment. She had been strangled and was dead before the blaze, an autopsy showed.

Travis County (Texas) Deputy Medical Examiner Elizabeth Peacock ruled that Kasahara “died as a result of homicidal violence including, but not limited to strangulation.” 

Along with a broken bone in her larynx, Mikiko also suffered a pelvis injury accompanied by significant hemorrhaging. Forensics specialists couldn’t determine the source of the injury because Kasahara’s body was so badly burned, according to the report. Even though Mikiko had hosted a party at her apartment the night before, the autopsy found no drugs or alcohol in her system.

Police investigators said fellow students were unable to provide much assistance in the investigation. One of her instructors at the university said that Mikiko was “well-liked, a nice person, and she was always surrounded by friends.”

Sequin Police officials described Mikiko as “one of those quiet persons that didn’t really associate with people outside of the school. She trusted a lot of people. She was a student, minding her own business, living in the security of her home and someone violated that by going in inside and killing her.”

Seguin is home to Texas Lutheran University, and is located around 45 minutes from San Antonio or Austin. Texas Lutheran University is a small school with around 1,300 undergraduate students.

Mikiko enrolled at Texas Lutheran University in the summer of 2000 as a student in the university’s English as a Second Language program. She began taking classes as a full-time student in January 2002. She was named to the Provost’s List for academic excellence last spring.

Several years ago, police officials said they had a person on interest. This person was interviewed several times. It is unclear if this person is still a suspect.

Earlier this year, the Texas Rangers re-publicized Mikiko’s case in hopes of generating leads. Since the murder was committed 15 years ago, no arrests have been made.

Recent Houston Chronicle article 

Texas Rangers cold case details

Who was “Orange Socks” Jane Doe?

In the pages of Texas crime, she is known simply as “Orange Socks.” She was found deceased and completely nude, except for a pair of orange socks on her feet. For years, everyone from law enforcement agencies to internet detectives have tried to find out who the girl was.

“Orange Socks” was a female between 15 and 30 that was found nude, except for a matching pair of orange socks, which led to her nickname.

On Halloween night, 1979, the body of a young woman was found in a concrete culvert near Interstate 35 outside of Georgetown, about 30 miles north of Austin. She had been the victim of a sexual assault, and had apparently died the same day her body was discovered.

What is known is that she was Anglo, around 5-feet-9, 158 pounds. She had hazel eyes, long brown hair with a reddish tint. She was around 15 and 30 years-old.

She was wearing a silver ring on her right hand and she had pierced ears. At the scene of the crime, there were two matchbooks and a key belonging to a motel in Henrietta, Oklahoma. Some have speculated she traveled down to Georgetown from the north and had recently arrived in the area.

According to Roberto Bayardo, the Travis County medical examiner in 1979, her legs were unshaven and she appeared to have been in an unkempt condition. At the scene of the crime was a towel that was used in place of a sanitary napkin. Bayardo also said she suffered from salpingitis, an inflammation of the fallopian tubes, due to gonorrhea.

Some believe that her appearance and health are evidence that she may have been a prostitute or runaway. However, she had no cavities in her teeth and no indication of any dental work. X-rays showed she never suffered any broken bones. Her fingernails were covered with red polish.

Bayardo concluded she died of manual strangulation. Her neck was extensively bruised. There were also scratches and bruises on her lower back, indicating she had been dragged through grass before she was dumped in the culvert. She had landed face down in the ditch where a slight trickle of water pooled, laying on her right side.

Notorious serial killer Henry Lee Lucas confessed to killing her in 1982. He said she was a hitchhiker and that he had picked her up, killed her and then left her body along Interstate 35. In 1984, Lucas was convicted of her murder and given the death sentence.

In a strange twist, it’s now believed that Lucas probably didn’t have anything to do with killing Orange Socks. Lucas claimed to have killed some 600 people, but later recanted them all.

Lucas contradicted himself several times while confessing to Orange Socks’ murder. There’s even evidence presented by Lucas’ own lawyer suggesting he wasn’t even in Texas at the time of the Orange Socks’ homicide.

Serial killer Henry Lee Lucas confessed to killing “Orange Socks” Jane Doe, but his confession was later put into question.

“Lucas made a lot of false confessions. I know that in my own mind, he committed at least three murders. Orange Socks just wasn’t one of them,” said Don Higginbotham, Lucas’ lawyer.

In 1998, then-Gov. George W. Bush commuted Lucas’ death sentence to life in prison. Lucas died in prison in 2001.

Orange Socks is buried in Georgetown’s IOOF Cemetery, next to a woman who died on her 99th birthday and an infant who died on the day of his birth. The gray granite tombstone simply says: “Unidentified Woman. 1979.”

Many law enforcement officers and web sleuths still hope to discover who she was, that Orange Socks will get her real name back some day.

The grave of the unidentified girl known as “Orange Socks” in Georgetown, Texas.


A recent article about Orange Socks from the Austin American Statesman 

A 2004 article about Orange Socks from the Houston Chronicle