Texas Slave Ranch

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Texas Slave Ranch refers to a ranch near Mountain Home, Texas where workers were abducted and forced to work without pay. On April 6, 1984, more than 30 federal, state and local lawmen raided a 3,500-acre (14 km2) ranch near the Texas Hill Country town of Mountain Home. The officers were responding to reports that workers on the ranch were kidnapped from Interstate 10,[1] forced to work and that at least one worker had died and was cremated on the premises.[2] Among the items seized in the search were human bone fragments and audiotapes of torture sessions in which a cattle prod can be heard as it is used to shock the victim. The ranchers were arrested and charged with aggravated kidnapping and the case became widely known as “the Texas Slave Ranch.”

The 1986 trial lasted three months, made national news, featured the celebrated Texas defense attorney Richard “Racehorse” Haynes and resulted in the conviction of ranchers Walter Wesley Ellebracht, 55, Walter Ellebracht Jr., 33, and ranch foreman Carlton Robert Caldwell, 21, on charges of conspiracy to commit aggravated kidnapping but acquitted of murder in the death of Anthony Bates, an Alabama man who worked on the ranch in 1984.

There was little physical evidence linking anyone in the death of Bates because a body was never found on the ranch and though multiple possible murder weapons were present it was impossible to determine what might have been used to slay Bates without a body.

Prosecutor Ronald Sutton sought life sentences for the three defendants. Walter Ellebracht Sr. received probation, Walter Jr. remained free while his 15-year sentence was appealed and Caldwell served less than three years of his 14-year sentence.

In Popular Culture[edit]

In 2006, Glen Stephens directed the film Hoboken Hollow which is loosely based on the events that occurred at the Texas Slave Ranch. The film stars Jason Connery, C. Thomas Howell, Dennis Hopper and Michael Madsen. A book [3] has been written taking a critical eye to the events that occurred on the ranch.

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