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, 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 the girls are deceased, are still missing.

It is believed that many of the murders are 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 July 1, 1971 July 2, 1971 Last seen on her way to visit her aunt. Her body was found in Galveston Bay near Pelican Island the next day.
Colette Wilson 13 Alvin, Texas June 17, 1971 November 26, 1971 Disappeared on County Road 99 and Highway 6 after she was dropped off by her band director. Her body was found five months later near the Addicks Reservoir, near the body of Gloria Gonzales.
Rhonda Johnson 14 Webster, Texas August 4, 1971 January 3, 1972 Last seen walking with Sharon Shaw along Seawall Boulevard in Galveston. Her skeletal remains were found in a marsh near Clear Lake.
Sharon Shaw 14 Webster, Texas August 4, 1971 January 3, 1972 Last seen walking with Rhonda Johnson along Seawall Boulevard in Galveston. Her skull was found in Clear Lake, and the rest of her remains were recovered in a marsh nearby, alongside those of Rhonda Richardson.
Gloria Gonzales 19 Houston, Texas October 28, 1971 November 23, 1971 Last seen near her apartment on Jacquelyn Street in Houston. Her severed remains were found near Addicks Reservoir in the same area as Colette Wilson.
Alison Craven 12 Houston, Texas November 9, 1971 February 25, 1972 Her mother reported her missing after finding Alison had disappeared from their apartment near I-45. After finding partial remains early on, they recovered the rest of her body in a Pearland field 3 months later, 10 miles away from her home.
Debbie Ackerman 15 Galveston, Texas November 15, 1971 November 17, 1971 Last seen accepting a ride near an island ice cream shop with Maria Johnson. Her body was found bound and partially nude in Turner's Bayou along with her friend, Maria.
Maria Johnson 15 Galveston, Texas November 15, 1971 November 17, 1971 Last seen accepting a ride near an island ice cream shop with Debbie Ackerman. Her body was found bound and partially nude in Turner's Bayou along with her friend, Debbie.
Kimberly Pitchford 16 Houston, Texas January 3, 1973 January 5, 1973 Last seen at Dobie High School while she was there for a driving test. Her body was found in a ditch two days later.
Suzanne Bowers 12 Galveston, Texas May 21, 1977 March 25, 1979 Last seen walking between the 4000 block of Avenue S to the 3100 block of Avenue P at 10:45 a.m. Her skeletal remains were found two years later in Alta Loma, Texas.
Brooks Bracewell 12 Dickinson, Texas September 6, 1974 April 3, 1981 Last seen with Georgia Geer at the U-Totem convenience store off of FM 517 and I-45. Her remains were identified along with Georgia Geer's in an Alvin, Texas ditch.
Georgia Geer 14 Dickinson, Texas September 6, 1974 April 3, 1981 Last seen with Brooks Bracewell at the U-Totem convenience store off of FM 517 and I-45. In 1976, some of her remains were found by police, but due to neglect, weren't identified as hers until a new detective took over the case in '81 and re-examined the ditch where they were originally found.
Sondra Ramber 14 Sante Fe, Texas October 26, 1983 Last seen at her home in Santa Fe, Texas. She was determined to be missing due to the fact that the front door was left open, food was in the oven, and her purse and coat were still in the house. Her case is believed to be linked to the string of murders and disappearances in the area, but she is still yet to be found.
Hiede Villarreal-Fye 23 League City, Texas October 10, 1983 April 4, 1984 Last seen at a convenience store located off of West Main Street and Hobbs in League City, Texas. Her remains were found in the 3000 block of Calder Road after a dog brought her skull to a nearby house.
Laura Miller 16 League City, Texas September 10, 1984 February 3, 1986 Last seen at the same convenience store Heidi Villarreal-Fye was last seen at a year earlier, using a pay phone to call her boyfriend. Her remains were found 60 ft away from where police had found Heide Villarreal-Fye the year before. The murders of Laura and Heide and five other women and girls, including two unidentified female murder victims, gave infamy to Calder Road and the fields surrounding it.
Shelley Sikes 19 Texas City, Texas May 24, 1986 Last seen leaving her job as a waitress at Gaido's beach-front restaurant in Galveston. Her car was found the next day, stuck in mud, blood-stained, and abandoned on the side of an I-45 access road, south of the Galveston causeway. Her family believes police found a white blouse that belonged to her after one of her convicted kidnappers, Gerald Peter Zwarst, drew them a map of where to find her body, but she still has never been found.
Suzanne Rene Richerson 22 Galveston, Texas October 7, 1988 Last seen at her job as a night clerk at the Casa Del Mar Condominiums at approximately 6 a.m. Other than witnesses hearing a female screaming, and a lone shoe found in the parking lot, she has never been seen or heard from again.
Lynette Bibbs 14 Houston, Texas February 1, 1996 February 3, 1996 Last seen at a teen club with her friend, Tamara Fisher, and a 22-year-old male companion who claims to have dropped them off at a motel on Old Spanish Trail in Houston. Her body was found by Tamara's off the side of a dirt road near Cleveland, Texas.
Tamara Fisher 15 Houston, Texas February 1, 1996 February 3, 1996 Last seen at a teen club with her friend, Lynette Bibbs, and a 22-year old companion. Her body was found by Lynette's off the side of a dirt road near Cleveland, Texas. They had both been shot to death, but police suspect by different people.
Laura Smither 12 Friendswood, Texas April 3, 1997 April 20, 1997 After telling her mother she was going on a 20-minute jog, Laura was last seen running down the same street that her home sat on. 17 days later, her body was found in a retention pond in Pasadena, Texas.
Jessica Cain 17 La Marque, Texas August 17, 1997 March 18, 2016 Last seen at the Bennigan's restaurant near Baybrook Mall in Clear Lake, dining with friends at around 1:30 a.m. Her father's truck, which she had been driving that night, was found abandoned along I-45 South. 19 years later, her remains were finally found in a field off of East Orem Road, next to Hobby Airport.
Tot Harriman 57 League City, Texas July 12, 2001 After mapping a route between League City and Corpus Christi, Texas on a mission to search for a new home, Tot was last seen driving her 1995 Lincoln Continental along Highway 35. Neither she, nor her car, have been found.
Sarah Trusty 23 Algoa, Texas July 12, 2002 July 27, 2002 After leaving her Algoa, Texas home during the evening hours of the day, she was last seen riding her bike near the Algoa Baptist Church. The next day, her bike was found in the foyer of the church. Fourteen days later, her body was found in the Texas City Dike by fisherman.
Teressa Vanegas 16 Dickinson, Texas October 31, 2006 November 3, 2006 Last seen walking near the Green Caye Subdivision on Halloween night. Three days later, her body was found strangled, raped, and cut in a field across from Dickinson High School.
Krystal Baker 13 Texas City, Texas March 5, 1996 March 5, 1996 After leaving her grandmother's house during a fight they were having, Krystal was last seen using a phone at a local convenience store to apologize and ask family to come and get her. Two hours later, her body was found raped, strangled, and dumped over the I-10 Trinity River bridge.
Jane Doe 25 February 2, 1986 Discovered in a field in the 3000 block of Calder Road alongside Laura Miller.
Janet Doe 31 September 8, 1991 Discovered in a field in the 3000 block of Calder Road.

[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 December 1, 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 August 11, 2017.
  10. ^ a b The Killing Fields – 48 Hours – CBS News
  11. ^ "Man convicted in Texas City girl's 1996 slaying". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved December 1, 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.