Texas Killing Fields (location)

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The Texas Killing Fields is an area bordering the Calder Oil Field, which is a 25-acre patch of land situated a mile from Interstate Highway 45.[1]

Since the early 1970s, some 30 bodies of murder victims have been found within the Killing Fields area. These were mainly the bodies of girls or young women.[2] Furthermore, many young girls have disappeared from this area. Their bodies, if they are deceased, are still missing.

It is believed that many of the murders were the work of serial killers. Many of the victims were aged 10–25 years, and many shared similar physical features. A few of them had similar hairstyles.[3] Despite exhaustive efforts by the League City, Texas, police, along with the assistance of the FBI, very few of these murders have been solved.

The fields have been described as "a perfect place [for] killing somebody and getting away with it."[2] After visiting some of the sites of recovered bodies in League City, Ami Canaan Mann, director of the film, Texas Killing Fields, commented, "You could actually see the refineries that are in the south end of League City. You could see the I-45. But if you yelled, no one would necessarily hear you. And if you ran, there wouldn't necessarily be anywhere to go."[4]

Victims[edit]

Victim Age Residence Last seen Discovered Comment
Brenda Jones 14 Galveston, Texas 1 July 1971 2 July 1971 Last seen on her way to visit her aunt.
Colette Wilson 13 Alvin, Texas 17 June 1971 Disappeared at County Road 99 and Hwy 6. Body found at Addicks reservoir near Gloria Gonzales' body
Rhonda Johnson Webster, Texas 4 August 1971 3 January 1972 Discovered near Clear Lake, deceased.
Sharon Shaw Webster, Texas 4 August 1971 3 January 1972 Discovered near Clear Lake, deceased.
Gloria Gonzales 19 Houston, Texas 28 October 1971
Alison Craven 12 Houston, Texas 9 November 1971 9 March 1972
Debbie Ackerman 15 Galveston, Texas 11 November 1971 13 November 1971 Last seen outside an ice cream store with Maria Johnson.
Maria Johnson 15 Galveston, Texas 11 November 1971 13 November 1971 Last seen outside an ice cream store with Debbie Ackerman.
Kimberly Pitchford 16 Houston, Texas 3 January 1973 Last seen at school.
Suzanne Bowers 12 Galveston, Texas 21 May 1977 25 March 1979 Discovered in Alta Loma, Texas.
Brooks Bracewell 12 Dickinson, Texas 3 April 1981 Last seen with Georgia Geer at a convenience store.
Georgia Geer 14 Dickinson, Texas 3 April 1981 Last seen with Brooks Bracewell at a convenience store.
Sandra Ramber 14 Sante Fe, Texas 26 October 1983 Still missing.
Hiede Villareal-Faye 23 League City, Texas 10 October 1983 April 1984 Last seen at a convenience store.
Laura Miller 16 League City, Texas 10 September 1984 3 February 1986 Last seen at a convenience store.
Shelley Sikes 19 Texas City, Texas 24 May 1986 Car found abandoned on I-45. Still missing.
Suzanne Rene Richardson 22 Galveston, Texas 7 October 1988 Still missing.
Lynette Bibbs 14 Houston, Texas 1 February 1996 Last seen with Tamara Fisher.
Tamara Fisher 15 Houston, Texas
Laura Smither 12 Friendswood, Texas 3 April 1997 20 April 1997 Last seen jogging.
Jessica Cain 17 La Marque, Texas 17 August 1997 18 March 2016 Her abandoned truck was found on I-45.
Tot Harriman 57 League City, Texas 12 July 2001 Last seen driving. Still missing.
Sarah Trusty 23 Algoa, Texas 12 July 2002 26 July 2002 Last seen biking.
Teressa Vanegas 16 Dickinson, Texas 31 October 2006 3 November 2006 Last seen leaving the Green Caye subdivision.
Krystal Baker 13 Texas City, Texas 5 March 1996 Last seen at a convenience store.
Jane Doe 3 February 1986
Janet Doe 8 September 1991

[5]

Suspects[edit]

One suspect was convicted murderer Edward Harold Bell, who was 72 years old in November 2011. Bell claimed in a 1998 letter to police that he had murdered 11 girls in Galveston County. Although he was a longtime suspect, prosecutors said they did not have enough evidence to prosecute him.[6][7]

William Lewis Reece, a 58-year-old Texas man, has been named a suspect in four of the murders and charged with three of them. He has been charged in the murders of Tiffany Johnston, 19, Jessica Cain, 17, and Laura Smither, 12. He is suspected but not charged in the death of Kelli Cox, 20. He was serving a 60-year sentence for kidnapping when he led police to the remains of Cain and Cox in 2015.[8][9]

The Krystal Jean Baker case[edit]

In April 2012, 16 years after Krystal Jean Baker's beaten, raped and strangled body was found, Kevin Edison Smith was arrested and convicted of murdering her.[1]

In 2009, Smith had been arrested on a drug charge in Louisiana. At about the same time, a detective tested Baker's dress for DNA. A match was confirmed, using advanced technology that was not available at the time of Krystal's disappearance.[10] A jury deliberated for about 30 minutes and found Smith guilty. He was sentenced to life in prison.[11]

Film adaptation[edit]

A film adaptation of the deadly events that occurred along the I-45 highway was released on September 9, 2011, with the title Texas Killing Fields.

It was directed by Ami Canaan Mann and starred Sam Worthington and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. The film is loosely based on the murders while depicting a fictional portrayal of the struggle that local police faced while attempting to solve the murders. The film focuses on the lead police detectives, Capt. Brian Goetschius and Mike Land, who dedicated their careers to solving the mysteries of I-45. The filmmakers hired officers Goetschius and Land as consultants while making the movie.[12]

Screenwriter and Federal Agent Donald Ferrarone said he drew information from an interview with a kidnapping victim and the family of one of the murder victims.[13][14]

Janet Miller, mother of victim Laura Miller, said in an interview with the Dallas Morning News that she was angry at first about the film, stating "I was upset because no one notified me. The parents should know what's going on."

Tim Miller, the father of Laura Miller, said he saw the film for what the filmmakers intended — to raise awareness about the crimes and to generate new tips.

In an interview with CBS News for 48 Hours, actor Sam Worthington said, "People — you never know — might just go and see the movie and go, 'Oh, I remember when someone went down in the fields, and I remember a certain car and a certain person seemed a bit dodgy.' Maybe a family can then know what happened to their daughter."[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b The mystery of the Texas Killing Fields... And how one man may hold the answer to the 30 young women found murdered there | Mail Online
  2. ^ a b The real-life mystery of Texas' killing fields – CBS News
  3. ^ "The Killing Fields": Disappearance of Texas girl still haunts 48 Hours reporter – Crimesider – CBS News
  4. ^ Extra: "Texas Killing Fields" director on real-life cases – 48 Hours – CBS News
  5. ^ "Can you help solve these cases?". CBSNews. Archived from the original on May 23, 2017. 
  6. ^ Police: No corroboration for killing confession – The Galveston County Daily News : News
  7. ^ "Serial killer Edward Harold Bell's chilling confessions: 'I murdered 11 teenage girls' - Daily Mail Online". Mail Online. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  8. ^ Experts: William Reece fits serial killer profile - ABC News
  9. ^ "56-year-old rapist charged with the murder of teenage girl in 1997 thanks to advances in DNA testing - Daily Mail Online". Mail Online. Retrieved 11 August 2017. 
  10. ^ a b The Killing Fields – 48 Hours – CBS News
  11. ^ "Man convicted in Texas City girl's 1996 slaying". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  12. ^ Horswell, Cindy (October 20, 2011). "Detectives hope 'Killing Fields' film help solve 60 murders". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved May 23, 2017. 
  13. ^ Horswell, Cindy (February 28, 2010). "Victims' kin skeptical on film on Galveston Co. killings". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved May 23, 2017. 
  14. ^ "'Killing Fields' movie based on slain, missing Texas girls". Dallas News. October 21, 2011. Retrieved May 23, 2017.