|Born||March 21, 1946
|Died||November 17, 1998(aged 52)|
Cause of death
|Other names||The Broomstick Murderer
The Broomstick Killer
Span of killings
|August 6, 1966–March 1, 1992|
|For the final time on May 4, 1992|
Early life and background
McDuff's mother, Addie, was known around their small town as "The pistol packin' momma" due to her propensity toward violence and habit of carrying a firearm. She has been characterized as domineering by Christopher Berry-Dee, who authored a short biography of Kenneth McDuff as part of his book Talking with Serial Killers.
McDuff was known to fire at living creatures with a .22 rifle as a young boy as well as to get into fights with boys older than he was. This led to his acquiring a fearsome reputation in Rosebud, and it was not long before he became known to the local Sheriff, Larry Pamplin.
Earlier criminal activities
His criminal record began two years before his first murder conviction. In 1964 McDuff was convicted of 12 counts of burglary and attempted burglary in three Texas counties: Bell, Milam, and Falls. He was sentenced to 12 four-year prison terms, to be served concurrently; however, he was paroled in December 1965.
He was briefly returned to prison after becoming involved in a fight but he was shortly released.
While he was not convicted of any murders at this time, his accomplice in the 1966 triple murder, Roy Dale Green, said that McDuff bragged openly about his criminal record and claimed to have raped and killed two young women.
On August 6, 1966, McDuff and new friend Roy Dale Green, whom he had met around a month earlier through a mutual acquaintance by the name of Richard Boyd, spent the day pouring concrete for John McDuff, Kenneth's father. At approximately 5 p.m., once they had completed their work, McDuff and Green decided to drive to Fort Worth in McDuff's new Dodge Coronet. They bought a six-pack of beer from a 7-11 store and visited a mutual friend, Edith Turner, at around 7 p.m. before buying a hamburger.
Their soon-to-be victims had spent the evening at a drive-in movie, and at 10 p.m. were parked on a baseball field in Everman, Texas, in Tarrant County. The trio consisted of Robert Brand (aged 18), his girlfriend Edna Louise Sullivan (aged 16) and Brand's 16-year-old cousin Mark Dunman.
Green, in a statement he gave to the police when he turned himself in on August 8, stated that he and McDuff parked around 150 yards away from their victims' car. McDuff took his Colt .38-caliber revolver with him. Once they arrived at the vehicle, he ordered the occupants into the trunk of their car. With Green following in McDuff's car, McDuff drove the victims' Ford along a highway and then onto a field. Here he ordered Edna Sullivan out of the trunk of the Ford and instructed Green to put her into the trunk of his Dodge Coronet. At this point, according to Green's statement, McDuff said he would have to "knock 'em off"; he proceeded to fire six shots into the trunk of the Ford in spite of Dunman's and Brand's pleas not to. McDuff then instructed Green to wipe the fingerprints off the Ford. They then drove to another location where first McDuff and then Green, allegedly under duress, raped Sullivan. After he and Green had repeatedly raped Sullivan, McDuff asked Green for something to strangle her with. Green gave him his belt. However, in the end McDuff opted to use a 3-foot-long (0.91 m) piece of broomstick from his car. He choked Sullivan, then he and Green dumped her body in "some" bushes. They purchased some Coca-Cola from a Hillsboro gas station before driving to Green's house to spend the night.
The following day, McDuff buried his revolver beside Green's garage and their mutual acquaintance Richard Boyd allowed McDuff to wash his car at his house. The next day Green confessed to Boyd's parents, who told Green's mother, who convinced him to hand himself in.
McDuff received three death sentences and Green received a 25-year prison sentence. However, McDuff's death sentences were commuted to a life sentence. At that time, a life sentence in Texas meant serving a minimum of 10 years in prison before being paroled. Ultimately Green served 13 years before being paroled. While incarcerated, McDuff was twice sent to the electric chair, but both times received last minute stays of execution.
As a result of overcrowding in Texas prisons, McDuff was paroled on 11 October 1989 to Milam County, Texas. Allegedly McDuff's mother bribed the parole board into releasing him, but his release was also part of a wider series of events. As a result of serious overcrowding in Texas prisons, Governor Bill Clement ordered the Texas parole board to release 750 low risk offenders every week. Even after 60,000 "low-risk" inmates had been paroled, the prison system was still overcrowded. The Texas parole board began releasing inmates hastily. McDuff was one of 20 former death row inmates and 127 murderers to be paroled.
After being released, he got a job at a gas station making $4 an hour and took a class at Texas State Technical College in Waco. Within three days of his release, he began killing again. He killed 31-year-old Sarafia Parker, whose body was discovered on October 14, 1989, in Temple, a town 48 miles south of Waco along the I-35 corridor. However, he was soon returned to prison on a parole violation for making death threats to a black youth in Rosebud.
Addie McDuff paid $1,500, plus an additional $700 for expenses, to two Huntsville attorneys in return for them "evaluating" her son's prospect of release. On December 18, 1990, McDuff was again released from prison.
On October 10, 1991, McDuff picked up a prostitute and drug addict named Brenda Thompson in Waco. He tied her up, but his vehicle was stopped at a Waco Police Department checkpoint. McDuff stopped approximately 50 ft before the checkpoint. This led to one policeman walking toward McDuff's vehicle. On seeing the police officer, Thompson repeatedly kicked at the windshield of McDuff's truck, cracking it several times. McDuff accelerated very quickly and drove at the officers. According to a statement filed by the officers later, three of them had to jump to avoid being hit. The policemen gave chase, but it was night and McDuff eluded them by turning off his lights and traveling the wrong way down one-way streets. Ultimately he parked his truck in a wooded area near US 84. He inflicted a torturous death upon Thompson. Her body was not discovered until 1998.
Five days later, on October 15, 1991, McDuff and a 17-year-old prostitute named Regenia DeAnne Moore were witnessed having an argument at a Waco motel. Shortly thereafter, the pair drove in McDuff's pickup truck to a remote area beside Highway 6, near Waco. McDuff tied her arms and legs with stockings before killing her. She had been missing from home for seven years by the time her body was discovered on September 29, 1998. McDuff is also believed to have murdered Cynthia Renee Gonzalez. Gonzalez, 23, was found dead Sept. 21, 1991, some six days after she was reported missing in Arlington, in a creek bed near CR 313 in heavily wooded terrain one mile west of I-35.
He killed again on December 29, 1991. His victim was Colleen Reed, a Louisiana native. He and an accomplice, Alva Hank Worley, drove to an Austin carwash where Reed was. McDuff kidnapped her in plain sight of eyewitnesses, and he and Worley drove her away. Worley admitted in an April 1992 interview with the Bell County Sheriff's Dept. that he had raped Reed, but stated that he did not participate in her murder.
His next victim was Valencia Joshua, a prostitute and fellow student at Texas State Technical College in Waco. Crucially she was last seen alive knocking on McDuff's door. While a student, McDuff had taken up drug dealing, selling crack cocaine, LSD, methamphetamine and marijuana to fellow students to supplement his student grant. McDuff strangled Joshua on February 24, 1992. Her body was discovered on March 15 at a golf course near their college. McDuff's next victim was Melissa Northrup, a 22-year-old store clerk at a Waco Quik-pak. It was Ms. Northrup's murder that McDuff was actually executed for committing. She was pregnant at the time of her death on March 1. He had also taken $250 from the cash register. During the investigation into Northrup's disappearance (her body was found by a fisherman on April 26, 1992) a college friend of McDuff's told police officers that McDuff, who was already a suspect due to having been seen in the vicinity of the Quik-pak at the time of Northrup's disappearance, had attempted to enlist his help in robbing the store.
A major problem for investigators was that McDuff's post-release victims were spread out across several Texas counties. This made a single coordinated investigation difficult. However, the police learned that McDuff was peddling drugs and had an illegal firearm, both federal offenses. Consequently on March 6, 1992, a local State Attorney issued a warrant for McDuff's arrest. In April 1992 the police made a major breakthrough. Bell County Sheriff's Department investigators had brought in Alva Hank Worley for questioning, on the basis that he was a known acquaintance of McDuff. Worley admitted to his involvement in the kidnapping of Colleen Reed. He was held in a Travis County jail while the police continued their search for McDuff.
McDuff had moved to Kansas City, where he was working at a refuse collection company and living under the assumed name of Richard Fowler. On May 1, 1992, a coworker of his named Gary Smithee watched an American television program entitled America's Most Wanted. Smithee noticed how similar McDuff, who was featured on the program, was to his new coworker. After discussing the matter with another coworker, Smithee telephoned the Kansas City Police. The Kansas City Police searched Fowler's name and found he had been arrested, and fingerprinted, for soliciting prostitutes. Comparing the fingerprints taken from Fowler to those from McDuff showed they were the same. On May 4, 1992, a surveillance team of six officers arrested McDuff as he drove to a landfill south of Kansas City.
McDuff is a possible suspect in the Missouri disappearance of 30-year-old Cheryl Ann Kenney and the abduction of 20-year-old Angela Marie Hammond.
U.S. Marshal Parnell McNamara, who helped instigate the search that led to the arrest, conviction, and execution of Kenneth McDuff, played an instrumental role in uncovering many of McDuff's victims.
Trial and execution
McDuff was indicted on one count of capital murder for the death of Melissa Northrup in McLennan County, Texas, on June 26, 1992. He was found guilty. In Texas, juries determine whether or not an individual convicted of capital murder receives life imprisonment or the death penalty.
On February 18, 1993, the jury, in a special punishment hearing, opted to sentence him to death. His case was automatically taken to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which affirmed the sentence on April 28, 1997.
On April 29, 1998, the original court of sentencing in McLennan County set the execution date as October 21, 1998. However, on July 8, McDuff filed a federal writ of habeas corpus. This had the effect of delaying his execution as his case was considered again.
Finally, on October 15, 1998, the Western District Court denied habeas corpus relief and rescheduled the execution date for November 17, 1998. He filed a Notice of Appeal on October 23, but on October 26 his request for a certificate of appealability was denied by the Western District Court, and he was duly executed on November 17. He gave up Colleen Reed's burial location a couple of weeks before his execution. Before giving up where she was buried, McDuff reasoned that he would not be treated right if he told them the location of her body and that his rights while awaiting execution would be removed. He eventually released where she was buried after officials assured him that his rights would remain. McDuff told them where she was, the Brazos river. Authorities had a difficult and ultimately, unsuccessful time finding the body, so instead they chose to have McDuff be transported to the location. He was successful in locating her, merely telling them to move one blade-length before they discovered and removed her body from its burial place of seven years.
McDuff is buried in the Captain Joe Byrd Cemetery, also known as "Peckerwood Hill," in Huntsville, Texas. Prisoners buried there are those whose family choose not to claim their remains. His headstone contains only his date of execution, 11-17-98, as well as an "X" meaning he was executed by the State of Texas, and the number 99905. His final meal according to death row chef Brian Price was a hamburger fashioned to resemble his request of a steak.
- Table of Contents and Excerpt, Anderson, Crime in Texas
- Cochran, Mike. "McDuff likely to take grisly secrets to grave". Associated Press. Retrieved 2007-07-26.
- "Eternity's gate slowly closing at Peckerwood Hill." Houston Chronicle. August 3, 2012. Retrieved on March 16, 2014.
- Lavergne, Gary M. (1999). Bad Boy from Rosebud. University of North Texas Press. ISBN 9781574410723.
- No Remorse by Bob Stewart
- Talking With Serial Killers (2003), C. Berry-Dee, John Blake Publishing, London
- The Many Faces of Kenneth Allen McDuff. Gary M. Lavergne. Retrieved on 2012-01-
- U.S. Executions Since 1976
- Kenneth McDuff at Find a Grave
- "Murderer Once Freed Dies for Killing Again". Los Angeles Times. November 18, 1998. Retrieved October 10, 2013.
- Cartwright, Gary (August 1992). "Free to Kill". Texas Monthly. Retrieved October 10, 2013.