January 21, 2016 by bkl67 Questions??? I Have Plenty!!! Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading...
I almost got ahead of myself! Later that same day, July 19, Salinas receives another call from two brothers that are out fishing at Speegleville Park, they are fishing not too far from where the bodies had been discovered, they have been fishing that area for 20 years and they thought they had noticed some things that were strange or out of place from the countless times they had been fishing in that area. Salinas decided to meet these two brothers out at Speegleville Park and Sargent Robert Fortune went with him. The brothers showed the officers an area that was about a quarter of a mile from where the bodies had been discovered and while they were there they decided to check out where the fence had been cut that was reported earlier, which again wasn’t too far from where they were meeting the brothers. Again, and I know I repeat this over and over, but Salinas’ report on this leaves a lot to be desired. He states there are tress that have been knocked down like as if some one had driven through there, he notes the bark has been knocked off at least one tree, he also states he found blue paint on one of the trees, pieces of a broken parking light and finally some chrome pieces that came off a ford, remind you Gilbert Melendez’ truck was a Ford,. Anyway Salinas does not note if he believes these items he found came off the same or not, that’s left up to speculation but we can see that a vehicle ran through this area and received some damage. Thankfully Salinas calls Special Investigator Dennis Stanley to the scene to take photographs and the information Stanley provides is a little more telling. The first thing that pops out is Stanley states the paint left on the tree is green but maybe more importantly Stanley documents and photographs multiple tire tracks, there was more than one vehicle that went through there, so the items/evidence left behind could have come from more than one vehicle, one would be a Ford, the other is still in question but with the items left one could surmise you would look for a vehicle with front end damage and a head light assembly would have damage, simply put a least one vehicle went through there knocking down trees and doing damage to the front end as it did so. Now would anyone like to guess out of all the vehicles that have been associated or connected to this crime in some way, and remind you many of these vehicles were being sold and/or disappeared before law enforcement got a chance to look at them, which was the only one that we can definitely state and can be proven had front end damage and damage to a head light? If you said Clifford Oliver’s Silver Pontiac you would be correct. Let’s look what the police found in Clifford’s car on the front seat early on the morning of July 14; a towel, two hairbrushes and two screw drivers, very interesting to me. When the police did talk to Clifford and asked him if anything was stolen from his car, he stated his toolbox and tools were stolen out of his trunk. So if this is true the thieves that stole his tools thought hey were stealing his tools but we’ll be nice and let him keep a couple screw drivers and decided to leave a couple on the front seat? I’m having a hard time believing that one. Then we come across Anthony Melendez’ testimony from 1985, I know I’m messing up the whole chronology here but it’s just to difficult sometimes. Anthony states this while he’s on the stand in 198, I grabbed a screw driver off the floorboard and stuck it in my back pocket. The reason he gives is because he didn’t know what David was going to do and they, Tony and David had had a little hassle before and Tony just wanted to protect himself. Again very interesting to say the least. I guess I should add Tony also testifies that he threw this screw driver off the bridge later but then I’m getting too much into the different stories and testimonies that come much later. Let me get back on the proper chronological train of thought. So there we have it Salinas heard about this fence being cut and had checked it out, found some interesting items but hey the ranger had told him the fence had to have been cut sometime the weekend after the murders, the ranger probably seemed to be and honorable guy, I think most of us would hope so. But then that other case came up and maybe everything wasn’t so kosher in Rangerville. To Be Continued………..
Now on to the case that would bring back the questions about that cut fence and this would have been the aggravated assault of the younger Payne brother, I really don’t want to get too much into this case but there are a couple important factors that shouldn’t be overlooked. First off the reason this case was brought to the attention of Detective Salinas was because the apparent perpetrator(s) of this crime told the Payne brothers they had committed the murders and actually gave them details. The perps were James “Blinky” Lucas, Salinas would put in his report “a known homsexual” and his uncle Ralp Finstad (again sorry about the spelling I probably have it wrong without my records in front of me). And the police were able to track down how these two guys came up with at least some of the information they had about the murders. They obtained the information about the girls being violated by a foreign object from a co-worker of Ralph’s, her mother heard it during a card game from the wife of an ex-police officer. But Blinky had given the boys other details like he had thrown the the girls purses up in a tree. Salinas took the the boys to the park to see if they could find the purses, no luck. So it was decided to bring in Lucas and see what he actually knew. And then the strangest thing happened, Lucas informs the detectives he didn’t have anything to do with the murders but if he did he explained to them how he would have done it a, he explains how he would have cut the fence drove through that area and dropped the bodies in the woods in that secluded areas. Well Salinas knows Lucas is telling him he would cut the fence exactly where the fence had been cut and some one had driven through there and remember that blue paint Salinas stated in his report that he had seen on that tree that was knocked down, well Lucas had a blue Datsun. Could this all be coincidence? I don’t know.What peaks my interest in Lucas is something else he told the police. Lucas had taken the Payne brothers to a residence on Rambler to get drugs, the brothers state it was a powder and Ralph told them it was angel dust. On July 13th before he was killed Kenneth Franks was seen on Rambler, the boy that reported it stated he thought Kenneth was going to see his girlfriend, the girl Kenneth was seeing at the time, Michelle Schillings also lived on Rambler but she did not get to see Kenneth that day. They had made plans to see each other that evening but when Jill called Kenneth he changed his plans and called Michelle and told her that some friends from out of town had come to Waco and he wanted to spend time with them, so Michelle and Kenneth decided they would get together the following day. So why was Kenneth Franks on Rambler that day/ Is it possible that James “Blinky’ Lucas and Kenneth Franks had a common drug connection on Rambler. Now for those of you that keep up with my page you will remember I have tried to track this information down. Lucas gave the police the name and address of the place he took the Payne brothers on Rambler. In the Lake Waco Murders file it states Lucas gave them this information later so this information is not in the Lake Waco Murders files. You would hope to find it in the Aggravated assault case files but guess what this information has been redacted. Hey I’ve talked to the Waco Police Department about this, with all the names and addresses mentioned in connection with both of these cases why is this name and address redacted? Well if anyone in law enforcement in Waco has this information they aren’t coming off of it. Much like the killer of Robert Freuh, good luck getting answers to that, I’ve tried. Anyway it makes you wonder whom this person is, I mean he’s apparently selling drugs to kids and apparently very dangerous drugs like PCP (angel dust) so why would law enforcement be protecting him? More answers I just can’t find the answers to!!! So what does this have to do with James Lucas and the Lake Waco Murders? It made me think or wonder is it possible that through this drug connection on Rambler, one shared by Lucas and Kenneth Franks, James Lucas heard details of the murders and Lucas in trouble of his own with the aggravated assault and possibly further legal trouble, since he had made sexual advances toward an underage boy, thought by helping the police it would help him and he gave them information but in doing so he knew being a homosexual a whole new bleak world of gay bashing would come crashing down on him if he came straight out and gave up those same drug connections? And is it possible the reason we are left with so many questions and law enforcement seems not to care is because for whatever reason they are protecting the party or parties that could provide us with the answers? I’ll leave that alone for now and get back to green and white trucks. So that’s pretty much all on James Lucas but it does bring back the cut fence and with anyone with an open mind you would have to consider the idea more than one vehicle was used at some point during this whole crime and of coarse there are questions. The first one is; did the Waco Police at any time try to match the tire tracks photographed by Special Investigator Stanley to the vehicles owned by any of the likely suspects? I don’t see anywhere that they did this and unfortunately this looks like how the case was handled right from the beginning, the Waco Police Department as a whole just didn’t take things further, didn’t take the next logical step. If they got a piece of information or actually a physical piece of evidence if they liked it they would check it out but a lot of stuff they just ignored or bagged and tagged and threw in a room or on a shelf somewhere, never to been seen again. And does anyone really wonder why there are still so many questions? When I started this little tirade I mentioned that there were a couple things the ladies stated in their video that I should commend them on, the first being they realize the importance of the white truck and now the other thing. At some point in their discussion about this truck one of the ladies points out in at least in one of his many statements Gilbert Melendez admits they left the park but he doesn’t know where they went. I would point out this would exactly match what Josephine Scionti told the police Clifford Oliver had told her back in December 1982.. Yes Gilbert was confused about exactly what happened on many occasions and it could be for any number of reasons. But since this was Gilbert’s position in his later statements and he does say he doesn’t know where they went, I would have to ask if he still didn’t know when he was making these statements in 1984 how would he have known how to get back to the crime scene the night after the murders? We know of coarse he didn’t, he and Tony both testified they returned to Koehne park and this was prearranged. Call me crazy but this doesn’t make any sense at all, you planned for David to walk out in the park probably covered in blood not knowing whom might be there and see you? Really But we know they went back to Koehne and they were seen and by whom? Whom testified to seeing the white truck at Koehne Park late that night? Todd Childers and Clifford Oliver and whom was with Todd and Clifford; John Arnett Jr, the Melendez’ younger brother. And what vehicle were these guys in? They were apparently in Todd Childers green Dodge truck. Are we starting to form a picture in our heads? I hope so but maybe we need to get into the statements and testimony of all these people. To Be Continued…..
I don’t have much time tonight but I wanted to get back into this before this train of thought got off track, well it probably has jumped off track already. Anyway there is a major problem with any vehicle that has been mentioned in connection with this crime whether it’s Spence’s Malibu, Gilbert’s truck, Bishop’s truck or Harper’s van, none of the vehicles revealed any physical evidence that could be connected to the case, not any that were tested like Spence’s Malibu, Deeb’s Triumph, Harper’s van, Gilbert’s truck and then we have some vehicles that were never tested; Clifford Oliver’s Pontiac, the Gutierrez brothers’ car, Todd Childers’ truck and that is never going to change. We will never get any evidence from those vehicles, unfortunately all we can hope for is for some one that was in one of those vehicles and is still alive will one day tell us what they know. So what does that leave us with? With nothing else In the end it comes down to the stories of two men; Anthony and Gilbert Melendez. And as we all know the merits of those stories are the subject of contentious debate. Then we have the multiple statements, seven from Gilbert and two from Anthony like this case needed any more versions and variations. I usually don’t delve into the testimony of the brothers, it’s graphic and gut wrenching and I feel I don’t need to drag the victims’ loved ones through those horrors again, I am immeasurably indebted and greatly appreciate the time, effort and support they have afforded me over the past few years. But unfortunately delving into those horrendous details at times can’t be avoided. When I see videos like the ones I am being critical of now or other new articles that pop up here and there and I see some of the same old lies and rumors, it makes me wonder where are these people getting their information. And all these accounts have one common thread, they question Truman Simons and Vic Feazell or the D.A.’s office in general. Which always leads me to the question, if you were the D.A. and you had the final decision on how to proceed with this case what would you have done? You had three choices. I guess I need to qualify this, what would you have done after you got Gilbert’s first confession or maybe even any of the first three he gave in the spring of 1983 and you knew he was lying? Option one; you take the deal off the table, shelve the statements/confessions for now and wait for more evidence or information knowing that day may never come. We know or we should know his was Vic Feazell’s initial reaction. During his own trial for some of the things he did while he was D.A., Vic Feazell was questioned exactly about this; why after he had gotten the confession/statement from Gilbert Melendez in March 1983 why did it take him so long to charge anyone or even ask for a Grand Jury? Vic’s answer was very simple; he was trying to find more evidence or information and he admits after that spring he didn’t get anymore evidence or information, so he had to proceed with what he had. We can also see in this chain of events this is when Vic starts to change his mind about using jailbird testimony, something he had been opposed to from the beginning but in September 1983 he’s asking all the inmates that said they had heard David talking about the murders to make hand written statements, I would remind everyone that it wasn’t just statements from the seven that would later testify, there were about two dozen, the D.A.’s office went through them and decided what ones they felt were the most believable. So if you were the D.A. that could have been one of your options to just wait it out but we already can see how that worked out.. Option number two you can again quash the deal but proceed to bring charges against Gilbert and use his own confession/statement against him. Now with that you would have a very weak case and no matter how elegant of an orator you are, hell you could get James Earl Jones or Morgan Freeman to read Gilbert’s statement to the jury it still would not have the impact as Gilbert getting on the stand and telling the story in his own way as someone being there. And either way you would still be stuck with the lies and inconsistencies in that statement and Gilbert would not have to take the stand. That’s the worst of both worlds in effect the statement is useless and you lose the option to have the jury hear a first hand account. Which would leave us with the third and final option and the one Vic Feazell finally decided on, go a head and make a deal with Gilbert, try to get as much truth out of him as you can, you just need enough to convince the jury he was there, so let him tell his story with some lies and inconsistencies because you know the details he does give up will have an effect on the jury. So if you were the D.A. what choice would you have made, what would have been your final decision? I think Vic Feazell made the right one and I know that decision leaves us with a lot of questions but what else could he have done? We have to remember what kind of people he was dealing with. I know some people will point to the discrepancies in the testimonies of the brothers as evidence or proof they are making up their stories or were coached or fed information or told what to say, I would say the total opposite is true, yes there are parts where they are clearly lying, I believe it is just a simple case of them trying to minimize their involvement and I think when we actually get to the testimony that will be clear to see. To me the discrepancies show that the D.A. allowed them to just tell their story however they felt they wanted to he didn’t drill them for the answers he wanted. I think there is one fact that clearly shows this and again it’s one of the things that leads to heated debate but I also believe a lot of people don’t understand the facts or the timeline and fail to see the truth. In any of Gilbert’s statement and testimony and Anthony’s statements and testimony there is no mention of Gilbert killing anyone and no one not Truman Simons or anyone from the D.A.’s office told him he ever had to admit to doing so. Then when Anthony decided to make his statements he is told he has to admit he actually did some of the stabbing at least to one of the girls. Anthony tried to make a big deal about this and his supporters followed suit, he argued how Simons or the D.A. forced him to admit something he hadn’t done. The only problem with that is by the time Anthony made his statement Gilbert had already made at least one statement where he says Anthony killed one of the girls. So when this demand was put on Anthony it wasn’t because the prosecution was trying to get him to lie and admit to something he didn’t do, they knew he had done so. Again it simply looks like they, Vic Feazell or the D.A.’s office, were tired of playing games with these clowns if you want to make a deal you have to give us this and Anthony complies. And what that clearly shows is the prosecution didn’t try to feed Anthony any information or tell him he had to say this or that, Anthony and Gilbert disagree on which girl Anthony stabbed but the brothers are both allowed to tell their version of events in front of the jury. That’s not Truman Simons, Vic Feazell or Ned Butler concocting a story that’s at least one of the brothers trying to deny anyway he can his own involvement, by his own hand, of taking a life. The testimony of both brothers will bare this out. So I plan to post some of the brothers testimony, I’m still trying to figure the best way to do it. I was thinking maybe just post their full testimony but that is too long; Gilbert’s testimony in Spence’s trial is over 200 pages long, his testimony in Deeb’s trial is about 150 pages long, Anthony’s testimony in David’s trial is about 175 pages long. I would like to just get into their versions of the actually crimes, without some of the other information and all the objections and hopefully be able to do that in a few paragraphs. I think you will be able to see even with all the discrepancies the brothers are in essence telling the same story, telling a story from a person that was there. I would point out we hear a lot about David Spence’s first trial and the problems with it and what some of the members of the jury thought, they didn’t hear from the Melendez brothers. We don’t hear as much from the jurors that sat through the second trial and got to hear Anthony and Gilbert’s story. I would like to post this testimony sometime this week but it looks like I’m going to be rather busy the next few days, so I will try to get to it as soon as I can.
Well, I decided I think the best way to go about this is to go through the testimony little by little, in small doses. I wanted to get through it in a few paragraphs but who am I trying to kid, you could write volumes just on the brothers’ testimony. Before I get started I should address a few issues that I know are bound to come up. First off, the brothers lied, hell just about everybody connected to this case lied about something at one time or another but as the old adage goes a good lie needs to be accompanied by a little bit of the truth. Gilbert Melendez was aware of this and testified as much. During cross examination Gilbert tells Spence’s attorney he mixed in a little bit of the truth with the lies to make it sound good, that’s not verbatim but it’s pretty close. If anyone would like to see it verbatim just let me know and I will look it up and post it. So that leaves us with the major problem on how do my decipher the truth or separate the truth from the lies, unfortunately there isn’t any surefire method chiseled in stone. There are behavioral traits and patterns we can trace, especially when we are dealing with the criminal mind but even with that we are left far short of being 100% accurate. Really in the end it just comes down to your gut feelings and obviously each individual’s gut is going to tell them something different. So there are lies and we have to make what we will from those lies.
Secondly, I doubt most of us have read all of Gilbert Melendez statements, I know I haven’t and I know there is some confusion about the number of statements and/or some of the things that are referred to as statements and if they are are “technically” statements. The most common number thrown out there is seven, and I have to admit I’m still a little confused on the facts here, anyway that number looks to include things, tapes and documents that really aren’t statements per se. Example before Gilbert made his first “statement” on March 26, 1983 he had a conversation with David Spence, he was telling Spence he was going to cooperate and gave David his reasoning for doing so. Unbeknownst to Gilbert and I would guess David this conversation was recorded. After Gilbert lied in his first statements of March and April of 83 the D.A. pulled off the table the immunity deal they had agreed to with Gilbert and with that Gilbert decided he no longer wanted to cooperate and wanted to recant. Fine, the State still could use his statements and not only that they reveal the have the tape of that conversation between Gilbert and David and they make it part of the record and I think that is dated in May of 83, that’s not when the discussion took place, that would have taken place back in the beginning of March, I believe the May date is just when it officially became part of the record or file. Then there was the letter Gilbert wrote to David telling him that He, Gilbert, and David should just take the rap and leave the others out of it, Gilbert wrote it in a way so in case law enforcement got a hold of it they wouldn’t know whom the others were that Gilbert was referring to. Well law enforcement did get a hold of this letter and confronted Gilbert with it and Gilbert spilled the beans and in doing so gave up his brother and Muneer Deeb. I don’t know the exact date all this occurred I know Gilbert always claimed he never gave up his brother until after he was arrested. I assume as I guess most people would that Gilbert is saying he didn’t give up his brother until he was arrested for the Lake Waco Murders which would have been after the Grand Jury handed down the indictments against the four at the end, December 1983. Well Anthony had been arrested before that but that was for the burglary and sexual assault that took place in Corpus Christi, Anthony was picked up or turned himself in for that in August of 1983 and held there until he was charged with the Lake Waco Murders and returned to Waco. So the exact date and details are a little fuzzy and confusing on that. But these to items; the taped conversation and Gilbert’s explanation of the letter are usually bundled together with the other statements. So does that mean these are part of the seven or are there seven other statements, I’m not sure, all I’ve ever seen and actually the only ones that are mentioned during the trials, other than the two things I just alluded to, are four statements; March 26, March 26/27 – apparently the same statement the first just a recording the second a typed and signed transcript of that tape, another confession in early April, I can’t remember the exact date but I can look it up, then we have some document dated May 7 but again that might just be the tape of the conversation from early March between Gilbert and David, I have never seen this document only seen it referenced during the trials and then we have the final 16 page typed up statement of January 10, 1985 and for most part that’s the statement the prosecution is going by during the trials. And then there is the Statement Gilbert gave after David’s trial started in 1984 and Gilbert decided to start coming clean and the State was willing to make another deal with him but not immunity. In that statement he gives a lot more detail and that statement becomes the foundation of the much more in depth statement of January 1985. So to keep things clear in those first few statements in the spring of 83 Gilbert isn’t giving up anything, not his brother or that his truck was used, again as he would testify to he was hedging his bets. Simply put it’s like this, Gilbert returned to Waco in March of 1983 to testify against Spence in the aggravated sexual assault case, while he was there Truman Simons got to him, hey like it or not, right or wrong Truman didn’t go by the book but he got results, no one can deny that. Anyway he goes to Gilbert and tells him hey David Spence is talking about the Lake Waco Murders and he’s brought up your name, who ever talks first is going to get a nice deal the rest of you knuckleheads are getting a one way ticket to Huntsville, wisely Gilbert decides to be the first one to talk, again he states this in his testimony, he wanted to talk before Spence did. And he also explains he didn’t give up the details just in case things didn’t go as Truman said they would and Gilbert could argue he just made everything up. I would point this out that Gilbert stated this in 1985 and that’s exactly what he started doing in 1993 after Deeb got off and things didn’t go as Truman said they would.
Now the reason I bring all that up even before I get to the actual testimony is for those that have seen or heard those early statements you may notice Anthony Melendez’ testimony at times is very similar to those statements Gilbert would later say weren’t true. I know the they are innocent crew will jump on this that this shows Anthony was fed the information he would later testify to, I would caution against this line of thinking there is a difference between feeding some one information and sharing with them information you already have, I know it’s a fine line but we are splitting hairs here. I could see Truman or anybody working the case at the point when Anthony is finally in custody and telling him his brother has giving him up which entices Anthony to cooperate and then sharing Gilbert’s early statements and it’s that he is shown the early statements that tells me they weren’t trying to feed him information and that it was something it sounds like Truman would have done. Hey Anthony your brother gave you up, I’ll show you his statements but he doesn’t show Anthony the statements where Gilbert gave him up and details Anthony’s involvement, no if Anthony wants a deal he will have to explain his involvement in his own words not just go by what Gilbert said and that’s what we get. There are parts of the testimony that are almost spot on identical and then there are other parts that are so different you can’t help but to question it. So I know that will be an issue, those that believe Spence and the brothers are innocent will point to this as one of their reasons; the testimony doesn’t fit or they were fed this information. People, like myself, whom believe they are guilty will say not so fast grease lighting these are lifelong criminals looking for any wiggle room they can find to allow them to wiggle away from any responsibility if the chance presents it self. Honestly it’s probably not that simple, it’s not totally one way or the other, most likely it’s some where in the middle. Some parts the brothers made up, some parts they just plain forget or just didn’t observe from their point of view and then there are parts when they are actually telling the truth. I would advise try to keep an open mind and as I said before follow your gut, what does your gut tell you, if you were sitting in the jury box how would the brothers’ stories impacted you?
I promise to get to their testimony a.s.a.p.!!!
And finally to the testimony of Anthony and Gilbert Melendez. I’m going to start with a little bit of Anthony’s testimony. He states on the day in question, July 13, 182, he left work in Bryan, Texas with his cousin around noon to return to Waco to score some crank (speed, methamphetamine, dope). He estimates he got back to Waco between 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Once back in Waco he heads to the Armadillo Club, which is close to where he is staying with his cousin, to try to score some dope. Anthony states he hung around for about two hours and had a couple beers but didn’t have any luck scoring anything so he decides he is going to check out a couple friends that might be able to hook him up. I have to stop here for a minute, this is exactly why I won’t be able to finish this in a few paragraphs, you can pick apart every sentence of testimony. In this instance, Anthony gives the name of the friend or at least one of the friends he looked up; Tommy Walker. And here’s the thing I see Tommy Walker testified but I have never seen that testimony and this is the only other time I have seen that name associated with this case. But as we will see Anthony states the friends he checked out were not home so he never scored any crack and just gave up looking. Makes me wonder if this was the case what could have Tommy Walker testified to, that he doesn’t know if Anthony or Anthony and David and/or Gilbert stopped by because he wasn’t home, that doesn’t help prove anything for anybody. The only thing I think would be useful and he could testify to is that he did see Anthony that day. And on rather Anthony scored any dope, he testifies he didn’t but Clifford Oliver and Todd Childers both testified when they got up with David later that night he had crank and in a decent enough quantity that he shared it with them and David really wasn’t the sharing kind of guy. Now I guess I could try to look up this Tommy Walker but do you know how many Tommy or Thomas Walkers there are just in Texas alone, I could find a Tommy Walker everyday for the next few years and still not find the one I’m looking for and that’s even if he is still alive. So if anyone can recall what this Tommy Walker testified to, please enlighten me. All I can say is if Tommy testified to seeing Anthony that day that leaves a rain cloud of biblical proportions hanging over the Tony didn’t return to Waco that day parade. But back to the testimony. So Anthony starts walking and is heading down 15th Street when he sees David Spence sitting outside of his mother’s house. David tells Anthony he is going to see Gilbert and asks Anthony if he would like to come along, Anthony states he hadn’t seen his brother in awhile and decides to go with David. They jump in David’s car and stop at the store on the corner to get some beer, Anthony doesn’t give the name of the store but we all know he is talking about the Rainbow Drive-In. And again I need to interrupt the testimony, to me one of the biggest questions that remain is; did any of the victims have any contact with their eventual killers prior to their fateful meeting in the park and did the girls go into the Rainbow Drive-In as Muneer Deeb said they did and if so when? I put forward this, the testimony will bare out a pretty good estimated time when at least Anthony and David went into the Rainbow Drive-In and fortunately we also have a pretty good idea where the girls were approximately at the same time. Jill and Raylene were getting checks cashed at the Piggly Wiggly, the cashier, Joyce Breiten the wife of Ronnie, told the police the girls came in approximately at 5:00 p.m. The address of the Piggly Wiggly was 1711 Herring Avenue, the Address of the Rainbow Drive-In 1423 Herring Avenue, only three blocks away. I would think if the girls were already in the neighborhood this would have been the most logical time for them to have stopped into Deeb’s store, maybe the girls stopped to try and get their checks cashed, if they didn’t stop for some other reason. As the testimony and other statements show at least Jill and Raylene were in the same vicinity and at approximately the same time as their killers, I guess I will leave it at that for now and get back to Anthony’s testimony . So Anthony had just gotten up with David, stopped by “the store on the corner” and gotten beer and according to Anthony this is when they check out a couple of his friends to see if he can get any crank but none of his friends were home so he just blew it off. After this they pick up Gilbert on 18th Street. After they pick up Gilbert they drive around a little bit drinking beer and smoking weed and it’s at this point they start heading to the Lake. Anthony says he believes they are headed to Airport Park because that’s where he usually hangs out when he goes to the lake. At this point the three amigos stop at the hill top store to buy another 12 pack of beer and it is after this they drive into Koehne Park. Again I need to pause the testimony for a little of my own commentary. How David and the Melendez brothers ran into Jill, Raylene and Kenneth is one of the biggest differences in their testimonies, so at least one of them is lying. And I know some will point to this as the brothers having to make up their stories because they are innocent, I would argue the opposite; the brothers were trying to deny any prior knowledge of the events that would unfold later, they had to make up this part to avoid admitting they knew anything had been planned and I believe their further testimony can bring this to light. Some might ask; if Anthony was just going off Gilbert’s early statements why would he have differed so vastly on this crucial point. The only answer I have for that is we can dig only so deep into the criminal mind. So in Anthony’s testimony he states they (David and the brothers) drove through the park , went down around the circle and then they were driving to the other side of the park towards the boat ramp and beach area and this is when the Orange Pinto pulled in and David flagged it down. Wait a minute, you know there are so many questions just with that one statement, ‘David flagged them down”, really? Ok was it just by chance David waved down that one car? You know where I’m leaning on that one. Or did David wave that car down on purpose? If you say yes to the later then the next obvious question is; why, followed by if he recognized that car and the people inside, other than sometime earlier that day when could he have seen Jill Montgomery, Raylene Rice and Kenneth Franks in that Orange Pinto? Anthony continues the blonde hair girl was driving and the boy was in the front passenger seat, they stop and the boy and David talk, the boy leaning over the drivers’s seat to talk to David. And then David pulls the car around and they follow the kids to the circle. That is Anthony’s testimony on how they got up with the kids. Now I think I should switch over to Gilbert’s testimony at this point.
For most part Gilbert’s testimony is in line with Anthony’s on how, when and where they got together. Gilbert is just a little more precise on somethings. He states he got off work about 4:30 p.m. and had been walking for about 30 minutes and David and Anthony picked him up at the corner of 18th Street and Colcord Avenue. This helps us with the timeline a little more than Anthony does and I believe it also shows us that David and Gilbert had some contact and probably had made some plans because David knew to wait until that time of day, after 4:30 p.m. to go pick up Gilbert. Gilbert states he hadn’t seen David for a couple weeks. In his testimony Anthony states he was under the impression David knew where Gilbert was staying at the time. Anyway they pick Gilbert up, he says David and Anthony are already drinking but they stop right there on the corner where they picked him up and went into that store and bought another 12 pack and then they drove around a bit drinking beer and smoking weed. Gilbert said he thought maybe they stopped again somewhere to buy another 12 pack later but wasn’t sure. This would be different than what Anthony states, he testified that they only two 12 packs were bought, one when he first got up with David and then right before they got to Koehne Park, Gilbert’s testimony is they bought 3 or 4 12 packs before they met up with the kids. But Gilbert has them going into Koehne Park and driving through not seeing anyone he knew and they leave and that’s when they go to the hill top store and buy another 12 pack. And in Gilbert’s version they return to Koehne Park and this is when they see the kids, their car is already parked and Jill, Raylene and Kenneth are already out of the car and are by one of the picnic tables. I have to point out with Gilbert saying he didn’t see anyone he knew and then leaving and then coming back Vic Feazell, I guess being kind of a religious man was hoping for a miracle from God in the way of Gilbert telling the truth asked him was he looking for anyone but of coarse Gilbert says no. So that’s Gilbert’s testimony up to the point where they meet the kids and you can see in essence it’s the same story that Anthony told, there are some slight variations but nothing I would really go crazy over, up until they actually run into the kids. And as we can see with Vic’s question, there are hints, well I’m not sure if they should be called hints but just little things in their testimony that point to them knowing much more than they are willing to admit. Now Vic Feazell wasn’t going to push them hard on these areas, he didn’t want to damage his witnesses, so he might ask a question here and there but for most part he would just let it go. In the end the testimony just leaves us wondering, that’s why we need to consider other facts and testimony to maybe find the truth.
One thing that has stuck out to me is, when did the Jill, Raylene and Kenneth get picked up from Koehne Park by whomever? I don’t think it could have been anytime before 7:30 p.m.. We know Mr Franks told Kenneth he had to be home by midnight but this was not the case with the girls. Jill’s mother told the investigators that she was expecting Jill home before or by dark, don’t remember the exact wording, she didn’t give a time but we know it got dark about 9:00 p.m. Raylene’s father didn’t even know Raylene had taken Jill to Waco until the next morning so he wasn’t any help and her mother never talked to any law enforcement officer, so that left Raylene’s younger sister to provide the answer and she states Raylene had told their mother she was planning on being back in Waco about 9:00 p.m. and that she was going to eat dinner with Jill and her mother and should be home about 10:00 p.m., so Mrs. Shaw, Jill’s mother and Renelle, Raylene’s sister are telling us the same thing the girls should have been back in Waxahachie about 9:00 p.m.. It’s more than a hour drive from Waco to Waxahachie, so by the time the kids were being picked up by whomever from Koehne Park shouldn’t the girls have already been on their way? Would they just go along with some one they didn’t know at the last minute? I don’t believe so. So if they had planned on meeting some one why did they wait until it was probably past the time they were planning to leave to do so? I think Mr. Franks provides the answer. I believe Jill and Raylene did have contact with their killers sometime around 5:00 p.m. somewhere in the neighborhood of the store, David’s mother’s house and the Methodist Home, where at least her friend Ginger Yoby had planned on seeing Jill and Jill still had some belongings there she had planned to pick up but no one from the Home saw her there that day and it was at this time the girls made plans to get up with David and whomever later but these plans included bringing Kenneth and Gayle Kelly along. I think “later” would have been sometime after 6:00 p.m. when David either picked up Christine Juhl from work, as Deeb’s partner Karem testified he did or dropped her off to work, Christine testified she worked that night. Meeting sometime after 6:00 would have given the girls plenty of time to do whatever they thought they were going to do and still give them time to get back home in by 9:00. But that’s not what happen, Jill calls Kenneth but he’s not home. Mr. Franks states Jill called between 6:00 and 6:30 and he tells her Kenneth just went to grab some burgers for them for dinner, she can call back a little later. Kenneth not being home when Jill first calls delays the girls. David and the Melendez brothers would not been aware of this and go to the park as planned and when they get there they drive through and don’t see the kids nor Orange Pinto and according to Gilbert decide to leave and get more beer. I have to ask because I’ve never been to Waco, if David and the Melendez brothers were at the hill top store could they have seen the Orange Pinto drive by or even pull into Koehne Park? Either way again going by Gilbert’s testimony they go back to Koehne Park and that’s when they meet up with the kids. So that’s the brothers’ testimony up to the point where they get up with Jill, Raylene and Kenneth. I’m going to stop here for now, there’s a lot to think about in just that small amount of testimony. So we have the weekend to let all this soak in and think about, I hope others will share their thoughts, I’ll be back next week with more.
The question you asked about the store=
If it was the store on Lakeshore Drive (on the hill), the men could have seen the orange pinto drive by on way to the entrance to Koehne Park. Store was a short distance from the park.
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Thank you, Mrs. Thompson!!! You wouldn’t happen to be able to recall what Tommy Walker testified to could you???
I do not remember that name at all. Sorry.
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Trying to get back into the testimony but I need to back track for a moment. Stating anything the brothers said are facts would be a serious stretch and since I’m the one that continues to rant about others bending the facts and truth I need to hold myself to the same standard. The glaring problem with any of the brothers testimony, statements, confessions or whatever is there are so many versions. So it’s kind of like multiple choice when trying to decipher the truth, it becomes more of an interpretation of all the information that’s been put forth and the downfall to that, and I admit I’m as guilty as anyone with this, is if we already have and idea in our head we are going to be drawn to the information and/or statements that fit that idea and make sense to us. Sometimes I need to tell myself slow down Speed Gonzales you’ll miss the real cheese. Also I need to point out that we can’t dissect the brothers’ testimony without getting into their previous statements and picking apart those as well, the defense attorneys at least tried to. And we also have to look at other testimony, statements and information that is out there to even come close to anything resembling the truth or a fact. So having said that I need to backtrack on a few things I posted last week. I will start with where Gilbert was allegedly picked up by David and Anthony and I guess we have to question if they picked him up or if there was another scenario altogether. This is the reason their testimony is so difficult to get into, I feel the headaches coming on already.
Bkl67: I can remember the two brothers testifying. Their mannerisms and body language screamed that they were both trying to remember what they had been coached to say. You must know that I had been “drinking the koolade” at that time so I was trying very hard to believe them. However, deep inside I was thinking, “These guys are full of IT”. Especially Tony. He came across like the “little boy who was a slow learner in school”.
Mrs. Thompson, again thank you for your insights and I know this is one of the things we disagree on. I would argue and hope I can bring to light to some degree the opposite, yes the brothers were full of it, they were lying but they were lying to minimize their involvement, specifically any prior knowledge or planning on their part. Remember they already had their deals in place, deals where they expected to serve only about 10 years, yeah right 10 years for a triple homicide with aggravating circumstances; sexual assault, torture and most likely post mortem injuries inflicted upon the bodies of the victims. Mrs. Thompson it’s a lot easier going in front of a parole board looking for leniency sticking to your story it was just a chance encounter and that is the story you have to tell on the stand. I know I’ve been slow getting into all this but living in a summer resort area this is the busy time of year. I am going to try to get into tonight at some point.
Hoping to get somewhere with this tonight, I left off stating I needed to back track so let me get right to that. I stated both brothers agreed that Gilbert was picked up on 18th Street, that is inaccurate, surely not a fact and other information provided would question if Gilbert was picked up or even walking at all. Here is what the brothers stated in their direct testimony on the subject. In Spence’s trial Gilbert testified only that it was at an intersection but then he states we started down 18th Street, so that implies that’s where he was when he was presumably picked up. But in Deeb’s trial he actually says it was close to 15th and Colcord and he gives us the extra detail that there was a store right there at the corner and they stopped and got beer right there and then they headed down 18th. Funny thing is that is the same location Anthony says he and David bought beer but it was before they picked up Gilbert. Now Anthony doesn’t really give the location where he and David picked up Gilbert, what he says, again this is in his direct testimony, that he was walking down 15th Street, saw David on his (David’s) porch and they ran down to the store on the corner and bought beer, not naming the store. Later, when he is asked what store they went to he states it was the store on the corner of 15th and Colcord just as Gilbert said but Anthony states it was before Gilbert was with them. He does agree with Gilbert that they did get another 12 pack after they picked him up but Anthony says it was the Hill Top store right before they went into Koehne Park. Gilbert also states they went to this store to buy beer but says it was in between their trips to Koehne I have to add that another witness that testified would also mention Colcord and 15th but not so much in a direct manner, I will have to get into later. We see the streets 15th, 18th and Colcord mentioned and without much effort we can find the significance of 15th, the brothers knew David had lived there, they had stayed there with him and Colcord, Anthony tells us that is one of the places he went to score some crank, Tommy Walker lived off the corner of 12th and Colcord. So what was the significance of 18th Street, when you find that you get to the much bigger question and when you can answer that I believe you will start to see how some of the other pieces start to come together. And since this was just brought up, I would offer this when law enforcement or attorneys feed a witness information or a story they usually do so with the intent on using that information during the trial, in this case and this instance; being why would the brothers mention 18th Street, the prosecution didn’t make any attempt to bring to light any significance to this location even though they knew what it was as did the defense and that they didn’t argue this point is even more telling, they knew it didn’t help their case. So what is the significance of 18th Street? Don’t you love when people answer a question with another question, well that’s what I’m about to do! Where did Gilbert live at the time of the murders? Maybe asking where he lived is a little misnomer, meaning that he might have slept and/or stayed, put his head down at another location but he had rented an apartment also, where was that apartment located? It was never nailed down during the trials. Actually we have to go back to the earlier statements of the brothers to get this answer. We often hear about the variations and discrepancies in Gilbert’s multiple statements but we rarely hear about the variations and discrepancies in Anthony’s two statements and his early versions of the events can really open the eyes. These would be versions he would later deny or state weren’t true on the stand. I would have to ask were the brothers’ earlier versions closer to the truth than we have been led to believe?
I just stated that it was never nailed down where this apartment was that Gilbert had rented, actually it is only referred to once during the trials. Where did Gilbert say he was staying at the time of the murders? Of coarse he gave different answers in each trial, in one trial he stated he stayed with his grandmother and in the other trial he said he just bounced around staying with different friends, none which he named. I need to point out another thing about the brothers’ testimony, they don’t give direct responses to many of the questions they are asked, there is an ambiguity to many of their replies, it’s by design it’s intentional on their part, it leaves them some wiggle room, it can leave confusion. That style of delivery is referred to as con talk or jive talk, a con will tell you something and you might think he is really telling you something but then when you think about it you realize he did a lot of talking but he really didn’t tell you anything, I’m pretty sure we all know people like this, the brothers being criminals and liars were well versed in this, give a little but don’t give too much detail, again we see this through out the brothers testimony. I have been reading the brothers testimony over and over again over the last couple weeks and there is one reply Gilbert gives that I’ve read at least 20 times and I still don’t know exactly what he is saying happened, I mentioned this one time but again it is through out their testimony. With that I would question what might look like the brothers not remembering as being that and not the uncertainty of their answers they are doing for their own benefit and they are well aware of this. Luckily as with most lifetime criminals they aren’t the brightest people in the world and they let slip details because they don’t realize the significance that detail can provide. So what did Anthony say about where Gilbert lived at the time. Remember in his direct testimony Anthony states he and David picked up Gilbert and Vic Feazell asked him how did David know where to pick up Gilbert if Gilbert was just walking down the street. Anthony answers he thought David knew where he lived. In typical Vic fashion he allows it to go at that and doesn’t press the matter, he doesn’t want to damage his witnesses, if the defense wants to open that can of worms let them, Vic knows it won’t help their case. And we have one of those little strange quirks in this case the defense didn’t try to drill Gilbert on where this apartment was, again they knew the answer but they did go after Anthony on this issue. They straight out ask him if he knew where Gilbert was staying at the time and of coarse Anthony denies knowing and this is when the defense pull out Anthony’s confessions/statements and the picture starts to become so much clearer.
Before I get into Anthony’s eye opening statements I want to get back to Gilbert’s alleged walk because facts are so hard to come by in this case I like to share them whenever I do find them. Back in 1984 and 1985 when the trials were taking place there wasn’t a thing called the internet, also known as the “information highway”, it had yet to be launched, that would happen in 1993 the same year Muneer “Lucky” Deeb became a free man and I seriously doubt if anyone in those courtrooms could have foreseen the impact the internet would have on our society. Or that a crime buff in far off Maryland that has never been to Waco could get on this information highway and let’s say look up Hillcrest Hospital, Waco Texas, this is where Gilbert stated he was painting that day and started his walk although he couldn’t recall whom he worked for, couldn’t even name any names or names of companies on his paychecks nor whom signed those paychecks. I will do this right now as I post this so I can be as accurate as possible, I chose google maps, I get a nice map of Waco, I see where the hospital is and then I look for 18th and Colcord, wow it looks like it would be a long walk especially after a long day of work, google maps provides me the distance between these two locales, since not everyone is going to drive the exact same route. Google is nice enough to provide me with what they consider are the 3 best options. The distances of those 3 options 8.6 miles, 6.9 miles and 6.6 miles. The average person can walk approximately 4 miles in an hour, I don’t know how that diminishes the longer you walk, so even with taking the shortest route Gilbert would have been walking about a hour and a half in the hot Texas summer after working all day. Really? I didn’t even check out the distance between the hospital and 15th Street and Colcord just by looking at the map I could see if Gilbert walked in that direction he would have just been adding more unneeded distance to his already strenuous workout walk from work. now I know the Melendez brothers weren’t the brightest people in the world but Gilbert couldn’t have been this stupid. He was from Waco he knew his way around he wouldn’t have added all that distance to his walk. So did Gilbert take this hour and a half journey from work? I don’t think so and we can look at Anthony’s statements to provide the answers. This would be one of those times when the stupid criminal gave away a detail he didn’t realize would reveal so much more later and the simple reason for this is Anthony didn’t know what Gilbert was going to say and vice versa, see both brothers would have done this,, give away what they thought were small insignificant details, which standing alone probably would have been but put together- BINGO!!! I want to point out one more thing in to regards where the brothers testified they bought beer; Anthony’s version He and David bought beer at the corner of 15th and Colcord but before Gilbert was with them and then bought beer at the Hill Top store after they picked up Gilbert. Gilbert sates they bought beer after he was picked up once, a little vague, at an intersection and then at the corner of !5th and Colcord, the same place Anthony mentioned. And finally Gilbert states they might have also bought another 12 pack on North 18th Street and then another 12 pack at the Hill Top store. We see the mention of 18th Street again, are we getting the picture? If not let’s go to Anthony’s statements to clear it up.
The current location of Hillcrest hospital is not in the same location as the hospital was when this all happened.
Do you know where it was located back in 1982? That’s one of the many problems going over old cases, so much changes.
I’m rambling so much I’m even losing myself!!! If I remember correctly when I left off on the testimony the defense had asked Anthony if he knew where Gilbert lived and Anthony denied knowing this and now the defense attorneys go for the statements. Before I even get into what Anthony said about where Gilbert lived at the time and how they ended up getting together, there are so many other interesting points Anthony would change during his direct testimony. One that they indeed did score some crank that day, two that he (Anthony) bought a six pack of beer before he got up with his brother and three, just for now, that Anthony didn’t pick up his brother, David and Gilbert picked him up. And where? In Anthony’s two statements we get that little ambiguity we are so use to getting with the brothers answers and of coarse different versions. In his first statement, which would have been the statement he made on June 12, 1984 when he agreed to cooperate and made the deal, Anthony states he bought a six pack of beer at the 7-11 on the corner of 18th Street and Lyle Avenue. Why was Anthony in that area, that’s where Gilbert had rented an apartment. Of coarse Anthony didn’t know the exact address but here is how he described it’s location; on the corner of 17th and Lyle close to the Piggly Wiggly. And yes that would be the same Piggly Wiggly where Jill and Raylene cashed their checks , 1711 Herring Avenue, Gilbert’s apartment was less than a block away. I know, so many possibilities so many questions. I know many of you are thinking you know exactly where I am going with this and honestly I wish I could but unfortunately we just don’t have enough to go on at the present to qualify that as the truth. The one little detail we have about a possible drug deal, which I believe the kids thought that’s what they were getting involved in was what Gayle Kelly told Mike Nicoletti when he first interviewed her on July 20,1982. The person Kenneth was planning on making the drug deal with was some one the kids would have been leery about. I can see the kids meeting up with whomever this person was in public and out in the open like the park or in a store but to go to a recently rented apartment, I don’t know. And then there is the possibility they could have drove to the apartment but never got out of the car, just so many possibilities. And think by the time anyone in law enforcement became aware of this apartment and tried to connect it to the case it was probably rented to another tenant, cleaned and maybe even painted, so much for physical evidence. Anyway Anthony tells us in this first statement it wasn’t he and David picking up Gilbert, it was David and Gilbert picking up Anthony and where was this and again we get the usual Melendez ambiguous a little confusing answer, either he was walking on Lyle toward Gilbert’s apartment or he was at Gilbert’s waiting for Gilbert to come home, Anthony is a little shaky on this detail.
Old hillcrest hospital is blocks away from 18 & lyle
There is still a lack of facts with all this and I’m afraid at this point with the passage of time getting undisputed facts is a monumental challenge, this is what the Melendez brothers’ testimony leaves us that’s why I stated earlier that we have to look to others to help us find the truth. In doing so I believe we can start to see the brothers’ lies and the purpose behind those lies, again this occurs through out their testimony. I am going to skip ahead a moment to give an example. When Anthony testifies about what went on when they first met up with the kids it sounds like it was just one great party. We know that wasn’t the case, the way Anthony puts it David and the brothers were partying with Jill, Raylene and Kenneth for hours, the way he puts it Mr. Franks must have just missed them when he went riding through the park looking for them, of coarse this didn’t happen it’s almost absurd. Now someone wants to say the prosecution fed them this story, why would they do so it would weaken their already shaky timeline and they knew the autopsy could prove this was false, the kids weren’t drinking beers and smoking weed but the State didn’t try to attack this story they knew it wasn’t true, so did the defense but they didn’t try to attack it either, both sides let the lie stand because it doesn’t benefit either party, the only person who thought they would benefit from this version of events was Anthony Melendez and again it is clearly a case of him trying to deny any prior knowledge. His version is hey when we first got up with the kids everything was cool we were just partying with them we drank a few beers, smoked a few doobies, drank some more beer, then the boy asked if we wanted to smoke more weed and went in the Pinto a rolled a few more joints, we smoked those and drank a few more beers then we were started to run low on beer so David suggested we go to the store and get more, that’s Anthony’s story and it’s a load of crap, again his motivations are crystal clear and we will see this again and again.
But getting back to Anthony’s statements versus Anthony’s testimony the defense did try to attack him on a few points, for example let’s take his polar opposite versions on rather they were able to score any crank; statement yes, testimony no. Again Anthony’s wishy washy recollection on this gives us a glimpse of his little criminal mind at work. He probably knew others that had tried to use being wasted out of your mind on drugs as a defense and thought he would give it a try, again trying to diminish his culpability, I was so wasted I didn’t know what I was doing or what I did, so at first he admits he got the crank but when some one much more intelligent explained to him that defense rarely works and usually works against the defendant, he changed his story to he didn’t get any crank. Unfortunately most of us have probably had the misfortune of getting caught drinking under the influence of alcohol, it happens, alcohol and partying are a prevalent part of our society, you do it once it’s a mistake learn your lesson and move on, continually repeat that mistake and it becomes a regret and courts start to see the repeated behavior as being callous. It’s the same thing with drug abuse and even more so because it’s a controlled substance, it’s illegal, jurors and juries in whole have a tendency to look down on such behavior, especially when a junkie gets on the stand and tries to use that as a defense, again it shows a certain callous behavior to get on the stand and say you do these drugs and in Anthony;s case he admits right on the stand he was willing to go hours out of his way to get them and then when you use them you can lose control of your actions. Anthony wisely changed his story and again the Prosecution doesn’t care one way or the other all they need from him is to admit he took part in the murders, he can say he was on drugs or not it doesn’t matter to them and again this wasn’t something the State fed Anthony, this was his own story and he was allowed to tell it anyway he wanted. But that still leaves us with the question did Anthony score any speed that day? As I said before I would love to see Tommy Walker’s testimony but even without that others might be able to shed some light on the hidden truth. Remember earlier I mentioned there was a third person that mentioned something about 15th Street and Colcord, well it was one of my favorite knuckleheads my good ole buddy Clifford Oliver. It’s time to delve back into his testimony to see how even with all his lies he can still enlighten us..
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I know I am bouncing all over the place, there’s so much I want to get to and I’m having a hard time finding the time to write and I want to get to everything. I wanted to get to Clifford Oliver for a moment, another one of Waco’s shady characters very skilled in avoiding the truth. But trying to find facts in any of Clifford’s testimony is an exercise in futility. One of the things I think is important with Clifford’s testimony is you get to see the difference in how the prosecutors handled the witnesses over time. Clifford is clearly not telling the truth, now you might not sense that during his testimony during David Spence’s first trial, the prosecution pretty much just let’s things slide, doesn’t press the witnesses too hard, you also see that with the Melendez brothers, again the D.A. doesn’t want to damage his witnesses, that’s the defenses’ job if they desire to go there. This wasn’t the case during the Grand Jury and remember during the trials that took place in 1984 and 1985 the Grand Jury testimony was still sealed, the defense didn’t have access to it and the juries in those trials never got to hear anything about it. I think anyone that is familiar with the testimony of both Clifford Oliver and Todd Childers in Spence’s first trial gets a sense these two guys are having a hard time detailing the chains of events as they are trying to state what happened, it looks as if they are just trying to account for their time and where abouts. And their stories end up being pretty close in detail to each other, neither one really could establish a concrete timeline, Todd mentioned a couple more stores they apparently stopped at to purchase beer before they were able to buy it at Zippy’s on 25th Street. Todd mentions going to a grocery store first and adds a third 7-11, Clifford just recalls stops at two 7-11’s before making it to Zippy’s. Then we get to where they went after Zippy’s, apparently they went to the girlfriend’s home of one of the other guys that was with them, Cal Frazier. Again during the trial not much detail is given and the D.A. doesn’t drill either guy for details. Both Clifford and Todd say that’s where they went and they are asked where that was, Todd answered it was only 7 or 8 blocks down the road from Zippy’s and Clifford just says it was right down the road from Zippy’s and it was left at that. I guess I should point out at this time when law enforcement, in this case the Sheriff’s office because the Waco P.D. just wasn’t interested in this information at the time, first set up an interview with Clifford Oliver in December 1982 after his girlfriend had called the Crime Stoppers Hotline and told them Clifford had shown her where the murders had occurred and that he said David Spence had told him this, Clifford missed this interview. He decided to go see Cal Frazier instead, no mention of this during the trials but Clifford is surely questioned about it during the Grand Jury. He was asked did he go to Cal’s so they could get their stories straight, Clifford replies, no he just wanted to check with Cal to make sure he didn’t forget anything that happened that night. Despite whatever terminology Clifford chose to use yes he was getting his story straight and yes the prosecutors know he’s lying. At one point Ned Butler tells Clifford he knows someone is lying and Clifford better get it straight. Also during the Grand Jury Vic Feazell tries to get Clifford to nail down exactly where they went to see Cal’s girlfriend and Vic actually gives the girls name, so he obviously knows where she lives. The girls name was Julie Jenkins and Clifford never does come up with where she lived. After many questions from Vic the closest he comes is it was between 25th and 18th Street. One of the things that sticks out about this exchange is Clifford claims he isn’t good at naming the side streets or cross streets, for instance he knew Zippy’s was on the corner of 25th street but he couldn’t name the other street, ok that’s not a big deal, Vic tells him it’s Gorman Avenue. But it’s what Clifford says about where they went next that should raise some red flags. Clifford states they headed to David’s, more precisely David’s mother’s house, a place he has been a number of times and knew where it was, it was on the corner of 15th and Cumberland, but he said it was off Colcord and he thought 15th Street, if you missed it Clifford just contradicted himself just a few sentences earlier he said he knew the numbered streets but wasn’t good with the side streets. Why? The answer I think is quite simple, Clifford was trying to keep his story straight, Clifford is confusing himself, things he should be able to answer without any problem he is having difficulty with because he is so focused on avoiding the answers he doesn’t want to give. To be fair, if we try to trace Clifford’s route, sometime he seems incapable of doing, we could say he went down Gorman Avenue, which ends at 18th Street, taken a left went the few blocks and turned on to Colcord , Cumberland was just a few more blocks down on 18th and was just a few blocks from Colcord. The question is why couldn’t Clifford just say this. I would say because it didn’t happen. I don’t know where Julie Jenkins lived, it would be interesting to find out but I wouldn’t be surprised if she lived somewhere close to Lyle Avenue. Clifford and Todd were making up a reason they were in that neighborhood. They were trying to hide where they actually went, in their testimonies they both state they ended up at David’s, which is true to some degree but when did they actually get to David’s? I know one person that questions that and that would be Christine Juhl, the girlfriend that lived with David, that she questions when Clifford and he friends came to the apartment should raise some eyebrows. I know Christine is not the most reliable person but there are a couple things she has been consistent about over the decades, first that she remembers seeing David and Clifford together at some point that night, she is still not absolutely clear on this. She has also maintained over the years Clifford , his friends and David woke her up the next morning to take her to work to get more beer. Do you honestly think David cared if Christine made it to work that morning? No, he just wanted more beer. And the other thing Christine has been consistent with is she’s not sure if David or David and Clifford and his friends stayed at the apartment that night. So if the party crew didn’t spend the night partying at David and Christine’s apartment where did they go? Let’s take a look back at Gilbert’s early statements, the ones where he didn’t mention that Anthony was involved nor his white truck. In these statements Gilbert says he and David went back to Gilbert’s place drank beer and talked. In Gilbert’s testimony he states he dropped Anthony off somewhere on North 18th Street, so Anthony could walk back to his cousins’ on McFerrin, remind you Gilbert’s place was only one block off 18th. And remember that detail Anthony made in his first statement that I said held some importance; he bought beer at the 7-11 at 18th and Lyle and walked down to his brothers, well here is the significance with that. Remind you Gilbert was never clear where he exactly lived, for most part he was very vague. But when asked where he disposed of the tarps he had used to cover the bodies and the bloody clothes, which bloody clothes we will have to get into later, Gilbert gave his usual ambiguous response; I was driving towards work, I went a little ways and went to the 7-11 and put the bucket that contained the bloody clothes and tarp in the dumpster. Gilbert’s “little ways” was like a block, the 7-11 he stopped at was the one Anthony mentioned at the corner of 18th and Lyle and that would tell us where Gilbert’s place was and probably where those involved got together afterwards. Remember in his first statement Anthony claims he did score some crank, in their testimony both Clifford and Todd claim when they got up with David he had crank and at least Clifford and Cal partook. As I said before so much comes together if you know where Gilbert’s apartment is and connect it to other pieces of the puzzle, like where did Gilbert have to drive to get his truck, Bosqueville or just to 17th and Lyle, think about the difference in the amount in time that would have taken. If Gilbert had dropped off his truck at Calvin Nesbitt’s before the crimes wouldn’t he have taken out the supplies he needed to work before doing so but we see by his own admission his work supplies were still in the truck on the morning of the 14th. And what about that roughly 7 mile distance to and from the job site, do we really believe Gilbert was walking that? I doubt it, he was using his truck. His Lyle Avenue apartment and white truck are the keys and Gilbert knew this and that’s why he was so hesitant to mention either.
Still bouncing around, that’s why it’s so hard to go over the testimony in the proper chronological order, something comes up that you have to delve further into and in a lot of cases that’s not how it happened in court if he happened in court at all. In just this little bit of testimony from the brothers first getting together until they ran into Jill, Raylene and Kenneth we see huge discrepancies in their stories but essentially they are telling the same story. To me it these discrepancies or variations that prove they are telling their own stories and were not fed information nor told what to say, I know many would argue otherwise. I would point out one other thing that clearly shows this probably more than anything else. Much has been made about Gilbert not being able to correctly state what car he and David were in or used the night of the murders in his first statements. I don’t think it should come as a surprise he didn’t mention his own vehicle. Originally he said they were in David’s station wagon, when it was found this was impossible he switched his story and then finally he had to give up his truck when he mistakenly stated David’s car had four doors. What we rarely see mentioned is what Gilbert testified to during the trials. Again he said David’s car but when asked what type of car it was he says it was a Pontiac looking car. When asked what he meant by that he replied it looked like a Pontiac. And Gilbert said this in both the trials he testified in. To say it once OK a little slip but to repeat it when he went to the stand in the second trial, come on the D.A. definitely didn’t tell him to say that. What car they were in is kind of important and seeing that was Gilbert’s response the first time around one would have to think the D.A. would have prepped him better for the second trial, especially if it was information they were feeding Gilbert. And it would have just been one word to remember, Malibu. If Gilbert couldn’t remember that one would have to believe, again if it was information that the prosecution had fed him and wanted him to testify to, they would have tried to make it easy for him, like simply just showing him a picture of David’s Malibu and asking him if that looked like the car he was in that night. That they allow his statement to go unopposed or to be clarified is very telling. I would add Gilbert wasn’t even sure of the color but he did say he thought it was gold, goldish or tan. It just looks like for whatever reason another car is stuck in Gilbert’s mind about that night. A Pontiac and we all know whom had a Pontiac that night; Clifford Oliver. The same Pontiac that was vandalized the same night as the murders and damage to the front end and head light assembly as you would expect to see on the vehicle that ran through the heavy under brush at Speegleville Park. Yes the same Pontiac that had a towel, two hairbrushes and two screw drivers sitting on the front seat. Clifford Oliver the guy that failed to inform law enforcement, only a couple days after the murders, that he had gone to Koehne Park the night of the murders or that he had returned there the next morning with David Spence. it looks like he didn’t even mention he got up with David Spence that night until either David’s girlfriend Christine Juhl or Clifford’s girlfriend Josie Scionti informed law enforcement that was the case. And the same Clifford Oliver that finally admitted to getting jacked up on crank with Spence that night. The coincidences start to add up to much much more.
For the supporters of David Spence, Anthony and Gilbert Melendez I know there are things you can point to in their confessions, statements and testimony that would lead to doubts about their guilt and the lack of any physical evidence further deepens those doubts. In the case of Gilbert Melendez anyone would have to admit it looked as if he was getting his life straight after some mistakes in his past. He had just bought a vehicle and rented an apartment. His claim that he didn’t want to get involved in the on going conflict between Gayle Kelly, Kenneth Franks and Muneer Deeb might be true. But there is one thing that firmly attests to his guilt and that would be the letter he wrote David Spence telling him they should take that rap and keep the others out of it and I remind you Gilbert tried to hide this from the authorities and wrote it in a way they wouldn’t know whom Gilbert was referring to when he said “others”, so the authorities definitely had nothing to do with it’s composition. And that would be my question, whom were the others Gilbert was referring to? When he was confronted by the authorities about this letter he claimed he was referring to Anthony Melendez and Muneer Deeb. Both of them had already been indicted so keeping them out of it would have been impossible at that time. I also believe when Gilbert decided to cooperate again with the state, realizing or being told by his attorneys that the letter alone was enough to bury him, it’s an unsolicited admission of guilt, good luck fighting that in court, Gilbert saw the light.
For Anthony Melendez we can say the case was even weaker against him, the only thing connecting him to the case prior to his decision to plead guilty and cooperate was the previously proven pristine account of Clifford Oliver. When Clifford finally got around to admitting to law enforcement that he had gotten up with David Spence the night of the murders Clifford claimed Spence told him he had been out at the lake with Tony Melendez. Clifford would repeat this to the Grand Jury and it would be enough to indict Anthony Melendez for the Lake Waco Murders. Now at the time of the murders Anthony was a fugitive trying to elude law enforcement for his part in that robbery in Corpus Christi, so it’s not like Anthony was living right. And of all days to return to Waco to score some crank. Some of the more cosmically conscious among us might want to remind us that karma comes back ten fold, I’d rather stick to my previous statement that the coincidences start to add up. Either way Anthony Melendez spent about two decades longer in prison than anyone else convicted of the Lake Waco Murders and pretty much on his own words and the word of two proven liars; his brother Gilbert and Clifford Oliver.
And what about David Spence, can anyone honestly say or honestly believe that he was not involved in this crime in some way? I don’t know if he ever did admit to killing the kids but people inside jail and outside jail said he admitted to raping two girls out at the lake. Some might want to say he was just kidding or joking around like many others said Muneer Deeb liked to do and some might say it was this inappropriate and warped sense of humor that David and Deeb, so dissimilar in all other aspects of their personality, shared in common. I would counter the personality trait David and Deeb had in common was a domineering attitude towards females. And it was this domineering attitude that unraveled a simple, yet no less tragic, plan to take a couple kids out to a secluded park, shoot them and hope to make some money into the blood lust orgy of torture and violence it became. Anthony and Gilbert Melendez knew this about David that’s what caused the brothers to move away from David in November 1981 when he tried to display his domination over Christine Juhl.
In the next small portion of testimony I will get into, and hopefully soon, we come to the part of the brothers’ testimony that is most strikingly similar, it covers the time they spent with the kids before things took a turn for the worse, probably not like anyone had planned.In this sliver of their story, yes the brothers still avoid even hinting of any prior knowledge and try to diminish their roles but their testimony is nearly identical. How could Gilbert recall this almost word for word as Anthony did? No they were not coached, Gilbert couldn’t even come up with Malibu!!! In this part of their testimony the echo of familiarity in details rings of the truth. Anthony and Gilbert are able to paint in vivid color the true nature of David Wayne Spence, a heart of darkness. Both brothers tell us; in his speech, attitude and behavior David Spence acted offensive towards Jill Montgomery. David made lewd comments about Jill’s body and started grabbing her. Jill told David to stop, tried to push him away and told him he couldn’t do that. In response David slapped Jill across the face and proclaimed,”Ain’t no bitch tells me what I can do”, then David pulls off the road and into the woods.
If David pulled off into the woods at the supposed spot shown to me by Truman Simons, he would have to be a magician. The area was very dense with large trees. I always wondered how he could have gotten that Malibu into that space. This area is also where Truman found the bracelet TWO years later he wanted me to say belonged to Jill.????
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Bkl67. I have a random question. First, I don’t recall where Gilbert rented an apartment. However, I do recall a garage apartment just behind the Rainbow Drive-In. At some point David & Christine Juhl lived there. It was in disrepair and they did not stay there very long. Perhaps this was Gilbert’s apartment that was mentioned. It was in the same area as the Rainbow and the Methodist Home.
Hello, Mrs. Thompson, I know what apartment you are thinking about, the small apartment behind the Rainbow Drive-In. Deeb and Kareem helped Christine move into that apartment to get away from David. Eventually Christine allowed David to move in with her. We don’t know the exact dates if we are to believe Christine they moved out on July 10th and moved in the Northwood apartment. Dana Diamond, the girl that informed law enforcement about the insurance policies, moved into the apartment after Christine and David left. If I’m not mistaken it was two small apartments, one upstairs and one down stairs, Dana’s brother lived in the upstairs apartment. From her account she came to Waco from the Houston area sometime in June, 1982, and Christine was staying in the apartment at that time.
Gilbert’s apartment was on Lyle Avenue, one block over and a couple blocks down from the Rainbow Drive-In. Mrs. Thompson I will try to find the exact address, I know it’s around somewhere, I think it was the address Gilbert gave when he was arrested for the Darvin Pack incident, I think it was actually on the 16th block of Lyle Avenue, the address would have been 16?? Lyle Avenue, but was actually on the corner of 17th and Lyle, just as the Rainbow is on the corner of 15th and Herring but is actually on the 14th block; the address 14?? Herring Avenue. The apartment you are talking about was behind the Rainbow Drive-In, Gilbert’s was more like behind the Piggly Wiggly, a couple blocks down the street. And other than Anthony being questioned about it by the defense during their cross examination this apartment is never mentioned. Anthony gave it up in his first statement in June of 84. Gilbert never really gives it up, the only thing he says in his early statements is they went back to his place, it being one of the many things he would change in his testimony. When Gilbert gave his first statements in March and April of 83 law enforcement knew about the place he had on Lyle, again I think it was the address he gave when he was arrested before, so when he says “his place” in those statements the authorities think he is talking about the place on Lyle, Anthony only confirms that in his first statement as the place they got together before the murders. Mrs. Thompson, I know you get tired of hearing this from me but I can’t stress it enough; once the Melendez brothers agreed to testify and admit taking part in the crime that’s all the prosecution needed, it didn’t matter to their case where Gilbert lived or where he said he lived, he could have lived in Japan for all they cared. If the defense wanted to make an issue out of it let them go ahead, it wasn’t going to help their case, so that lie, along with many others were allowed to stand unquestioned. Unfortunately people are sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth when they take the stand but the reality is there is a huge gulf between the whole and complete truth and Justice.
The location was 3115 Pine just blocks away from 17/18th streets and a short walking distance from the Methodist home.
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Rp, I have wanted to reply to your comment for months but I wanted to have a more definitive response, unfortunately I haven’t been able to find one yet. I have to ask you where you came up with this address I can’t find itmentioned anywhere. not in any of the police reports, not in any of the trial testimony. Gilbert never gave any address for any number of places he stayed during 1982. So I want to be clear about what apartment we are talking about. I mentioned the apartment Gilbert rented on Lyle Ave, can’t remember the exact address but it was a Lyle Avenue address like the 1600 block. That address is mention on at least one document, either the transfer title on the truck he bought or the arrest report for the Pack incident, I have been unable to relocate those documents. My indentity was stolen a few months ago and someone hacked into all my accounts and I lost a lot of my records , so I’m kind of back to square one on some things., When I mentioned this apartment Mrs. Thompson asked if I was talkinng about the apartment behind the Rainbow Drive-In, I wasn’t. I thought to clear that up i would get the address of that apartment. But it’s not in any of the records either, even when it is mentioned in the police report it is given the address of the Rainbow Drive-In !534 or whatever Herring and usually referred to the small apartment behind the store. I have asked Christine Juhl if she remembered the address if that apartment had one, she lived there for awhile but she hasn’t responded yet If I could locate Dana Novian I think she would know because she lived there for a few months. Now I don’t think that address would be 3115 Pine just by looking at the map of Waco. So that would leave me any other place Gilbert stayed during that time like his grandmother’s or cousins or other friends he stayed with he never gave any of those addresses. The only thing I can find him ever saying in a way of giving any description about any of the places he stayed was when he stated that his grandmother’s house was going towards Bosqueville. I don’t know if Pine is considered going towards Bosqueville, I guess it depends where you are in Waco. So not having any information on any of the other places Gilbert stayed and never seeing this Pine Avenue address maybe they are connected. I hope you can provide an answer for me. Thank you.
My best friend was murdered (stabbed multiple times) by John David Wilkins on 11/14/84 at age 19. I see his name referenced several times as a potential suspect or somehow involved in the murders. His DNA was also taken as part of the case. I heard rumors at his trial in 1985 that he was involved but have never been able to find much information other than his name appearing briefly in some accounts. Wilkins and Larry Dean Kinder were convicted of murder for stabbing death of John Hart Pundt. They brutally stabbed three teens that night outside the Okey Dokey also referenced above. I have always been curious as to Wilkins connection to the Lake Waco murders.
I recall this subject came up some time ago, maybe last year or earlier this year. Some one asked about Larry Kinder’s possible involvement in the Lake Waco Murders, the only connection I have ever found was his connection to Wilkins in the case you just referred to. If I’m not mistaken your friend that was killed was a college student and he and two of his friends went to the Okey Dokey that night, the Okey Dokey was running some special on beer that night, drink a lot of beer on the cheap. Anyway the three kids got into some hassle with Wilkins and his friends, probably just some drunken stupidity and the boys decided they just wanted to leave but an altercation broke out in the parking lot. One kid was stabbed in the back, he ran inside to get help but by the time he made it back outside the other kid, your friend, had been stabbed to death. This story is on this page somewhere. So that was the only connection I could find in regards to Larry Kinder, of coarse it’s a totally different story with Wilkins or any number of the Wilkins clan in general, there were three or four Wilkins that kept the interest of law enforcement during this time. I don’t have my records and/or notes with me at the moment so I’ll just have to fling it for now, I apologize for any inaccuracies, don’t want to offend anyone. There were a rash of murders in the Waco area from 1982, maybe 1981 until like 1985, many involving young kids, teens or early 20 somethings, the murder of your friend would be near the end of this spree. There were the murders or grandmother and granddaughter Carol Armstrong and Dorothy Collins, of coarse Beth Bramlett, Patrick Rock, a few murders known as the I-35 killings and of coarse the Lake Waco Murders. Other than the murder of your friend, unfortunately these other murders weren’t solved quickly, opening the possibility that some of these cases were connected and that still might be the case with some. The Wilkins name came up a couple times during the early investigation of the Lake Waco Murders. Once was just purely because of the association between the Wilkins and Terry “Tab” Harper. Again I’m sorry if I get the first names wrong, I get them confused. One Wilkins, I think his name was Derwin, nickname “Bubba” was questioned about his association with Harper and in the police report the officer notes Wilkins was visibly nervous/shaking when he was questioned. Around the same time another witness had called the police and told them on the night of the murders this individual had seen a yellow Cadillac at a car wash around 3 a.m., washing blood off the front end, the owner of this car was also an associate of at least one of the Wilkins, I think David. Also one of the Wilkins, again I can’t remember which one was questioned about the Patrick Rock murder, unfortunately I haven’t
been able to find anything on this case, I think it occurred earlier in 1982 or maybe even in 1981 but again at least one of the Wilkins was a person of interest. So it seems as if anytime something came up involving violent crimes the Wilkins name came up and the same thing could be said of Harper. I would say as time went on and some of these murders were solved the likelyhood that any of the Wilkins brood had anything to do with most of them diminished. At one time there was a belief that the person that killed Carol Armstrong and Dorothy Collins could have killed Beth Bramlett, when the killer of those two ladies was finally caught there was a belief he could have still been responsible for some number of the I-35 murders, I think the party responsible for the murder of Armstrong and Collins has admitted to one or two of the I-35 murders, again I can’t remember all the names. Then there was still the hope that he was responsible for the Beth Bramlett murder but a couple years ago I know law enforcement put that on the father of a friend of Beth’s. So all and all it was just a confusing mess and the Wilkins name popped up on the radar on any number of these murders but in the end and I believe this to be true of the Lake Waco Murders case, they just weren’t involved.
Thank you very much. This is certainly more information than I had previously. Your description of the events match my understanding and what was brought out at the Wilkins trial. I just remember there were “rumors” that Wilkins had murdered someone previously but the Wilkins clan had scared the main witness(es) and they had left town. I remembered this when I was reading your posts and one of the suspects left for California. I can certainly empathize with Mrs. Thompson. Hart Pundt was my best friend growing up and I miss him tremendously to this day. I think about him all of the time. His murder impacted so many people. Thank you again for taking the time to respond to my post. Very much appreciated.
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Well we are trying something new, actually it’s what I wanted to do to start with many years ago but it was just too overwhelming. Check out our new forum at Lakewaco82@proboards.com. It’s brand new so I still have a lot of work to do on it, critiques and criticism appreciated and all info, tidbits, questions, insights, opinions, thoughts and theories more than welcome!!!
Go back to your post on August 1, 2019. You were questioning how he could have walked from his job painting at Hillcrest Hospital. I replied that the hospital that you are looking up now is in its new location. The hospitals old location was blocks away from the piggy wiggly, Methodist home and rainbow drive-in. The address is 3115 pine. He very easily could have made this walk.
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RP, thank you for clearing that up for me but of coarse that leads me to more questions. Again I am just going by what I see on a map. Looking at 3115 Pine, I see it is right off Herring and just one block away from Lyle where Gilbert’s apartment was and I guess it can be debated that’s where he was headed after work. Both brothers at one point or another state they met at Colcord, they differ on the exact intersection 15th or 18th. In Anthony’s first statement he says they met at Gilbert’s apartment. The brothers give us enough detail to where they went in the hours leading up to arriving at the park, it’s just their recollections on the exact chain of events don’t match up.So why would Gilbert be walking down Colcord? hat would be going about 8 blocks in the oppisite direction from his apartment. I can’t believe after paiting all day and with the mid summer Texas heat, Gilbert decided to take that extra long walk, which would have added about a mile or more to is walk just because he liked to walk. Is there something I can’t see on a map which would explain this circuitous route or could there be another logical reason?I don’t believe so. It could be argued that Gilbert went this way because he had planned to meet some one and then the next logical conclusion would be whom did he meet which would have been David and Anthony which then could lead some one to see premeditation and hence why Gilbert and Anthony would not want to share this nor be clear about it but I do not believe this to be the case either because that would leave one with the obvious question if they had already prearranged getting together why not just pick Gilbert up from work? Remind you Gilbert didn’t mention Anthony nor his truck in his early statements, those he gave in March and April 1983, he wouldn’t come clean on those details until after Anthony agreed to cooperate and made his first statement in June 1984 after David’s first trial had already begun, then we start to get a clearer picture of what happened. Gilbert did not walk that day he had his truck, which he didn’t want to tell law enforcement about, so he makes up the walking senario but gives enough detail to make it sound feasible. He tells us he was on Colcord but he never tells us exactly why he was there.. We won’t find the answer to that until Anthony decides to talk and informs us the reason they were on Colcord was to try to make a drug buy from Tommy Walker who lived on the corner of Colcord and 12th. Did they make the drug buy? Anthony says no but Clifford Oliver and Todd Childers both testified David had a supply of crank when they got up with him later in the night. I know there are people out there that complain how this case was cobbled together but that’s how you put a case together especially with a circumstantial case, one add one piece of information with another piece of information and you continue this process until you have enough of the picture. And this would be a little piece of information that I feel proves Gilbert was using his truck to go back and forth to work at the time. One of the major problems with this case is whom are you going to believe it seems everyone connected to this case in one way or another is well versed in skirting the truth. But we do have a some things out there that would point to Gilbert using his truck at the time unfortunately the source for this information is the ever unreliable Christine Julh. I know I’ve repeated this countless times but the significance is montumental and for some unknown reason gets lost. After David and the Melendez brothers had their falling out in November 1981, Christine only remembers seeing the brothers with David one other time, she can’t give the exact date but she remembers it was during the time she and David were living together at the Northwood Apartments, she was only there for about 10 days, July 10, 1982 to July 20th or 21st, 1982 and with other information that is available we can narrow that day even further to about 4 or 5 days. Then when have the fact that she stated then testified that the four of them went out to Speegleville Park to shoot guns. Christine testified this was either late June or Early July 1982, since Gilbert didn’t buy the truck until July 3rd 1982 we know it couldn’t have been late June and that Christine has stated she only saw the brothers one time and it was after she had moved into Northwood it couldn’t have been before that which would have been July 10th. We Know David Spence spent the weekend after the murders at Dorothy Miles home, Christine Juhl was not allowed there so it could have been then and We David returned that’s when he and Christine got into a fight and she moved out.So that would leave us a possible time line from July 10 to July 15. I have to point out recently, well over the last few years she has tried to change her story but her new story just doesn’t add up the facts. I would say she is doing this in an attempt to hide exactly how much she knew and exactly when she knew it. But maybe more inportantly it’s something she didn’t say when she testified, there wouldn’t have been any reason for her to do so, the attornies couldn’t have asked her this it would have been asking her to make a conclusion which would be inadmissible, I guess they could have asked her what was the condition of the truck when she was in it. And that’s the important thing what did she notice about the truck when she was in it. Christine told me when she first heard that David and the brothers had used Gilbert’s truck to move the bodies she thought that would have been impossible because the back of Gilbert’s truck were filled with paint cans and tarps. So during the week of the murders Christine Juhl was in that truck and she saw paint cans and tarps, I would say that is pretty strong evidence that Gilbert was using his truck to get back and forth to his painting job around the time of the murders. RP that’s why thinking on the whole walking story and you clearing it up for me only further puts that in doubt. From where I thought the hospital was back then the route made sense I just questioned the time but now I would have to question the route, either way it leaves a lot of doubt that that part of the story is true.
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Lakewaco82@proboards.com Doesn’t work
RP, I know I’m having problems with it and I obviously don’t know what I’m doing but I am trying to work on it. Having said that I haven’t been able to do much with it. I only have been able to list some categories, haven’t been able to post anything of substance. I will try to work on it this week!!!
I apologize if the energy and focus on this case has faded, I understand people have to move on and live their lives but the zeal for the search for truth and justice should never fade.
In regard to Gilbert’s walk, there are and were two hospitals in Waco, Hillcrest and Providence. Both are now a long way from 15th and Colcord. At that time Hillcrest was located at 30th and Herring. Providence was located at 18th and Colcord. If the two were confused, it would not be the first time.
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MF, thank you for that information, Gilbert stated he was working , painting, Hillcrest but as you just pointed out we can’t totally rely on Gilbert’s account. Providence would fit better with Gilbert saying he was on !8th Street and Colcord and this one match one of Anthony’s accounts. I know this is a long shot but I take it you lived in Waco at the time, can you recall which hospital was being painted during the summer of 1982? I can’t believe both hospitals were being painted at the same time.
Sorry, no idea which hospital was being painted.
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Today I listened to the two part podcast Who Killed…? dedicated to the Lake Waco Murders and of coarse I feel the need to add my 2 cents worth. At least I should and do appreciate Mr. Huffman’s effort to keep the case in the public eye, the Lake Waco Murders case with so many unresolved issues deserves nothing less than scouring scrutiny from the public. And I would say it does seem Mr. Huffman kept an open mind about the case and I commend him for that. But there are problems with his podcast, it looks as if all the sources Mr. Huffman relied upon were from the media, mainly news articles, the problem with that is you only get one side of the story, the liberal media is largely anti-death penalty and the importance to them is trying to prove Texas executed an innocent man and that’s how the likes of Fred Dannen got involved. Remind you I am also against the death penalty but this is just not the case where anyone can prove David Wayne Spence was innocent. Yes I would argue this is the case that shows all the down falls of the death penalty but it pretty much has little to do with guilt or innocence. So, Mr. Huffman, I would guess unknowingly followed down this path instead of taking the time to read whatever files on the case he could come up with like police reports and trial testimony and it shows. We hear the same old arguments that we’ve heard and gotten us nowhere for decades. And although I love hearing a new voice in the struggle for the truth I wish that voice would be accompanied with a fresh and new approach. If we only continue to hear the slanted and bias view of one side in time, as has been the case over the last couple decades, we get further and further from the truth. Mr. Huffman’s podcast was better than that crap those two ladies that put out that video last year was but he was running over the same old ground. And what happens is people start to tune out and move on, honestly at times when I was listening to this podcast I found myself losing focus on what he was saying. One moment I can recall and to tell you the truth I wasn’t sure if I heard him correctly but I didn’t want to go back and listen to it again. At one point I think Mr. Huffman claims Vic Feazell was working for Anthony Melendez’ exoneration. That is not true, Mr. Feazell has always stood by the convictions, it’s his ex-wife and her alter ego Harry Storm that have been the driving force to get the convictions overturned. There were other slip ups in this podcast and I will address a few.
Unfortunately Mr. Huffman echoed that beating drum that has been drowning out the truth for so long; Terry “Tab” Harper. In this we see his limited source material and Mr. Huffman opines maybe the Waco police department should have taken a harder and longer look at Harper, repeated the uninformed story of news papers far and wide If he or any of the journalist that decide to write on this case would take the time to read the reports they would see the shear folly of this statement. And since they won’t I will go over it in detail again because it is so obvious people are still missing it. The detectives that handled the original investigation, that would be from July 14th to September 3rd spent an excessive amount of time on Tab Harper and tracking down every source that had mentioned his name. They took more time on this angle than all the other tips and information they obtained, I would say combined but that might be pushing it. Mr. Huffman stated there were many tips that came in and they should be treated with a grain of salt, maybe so but it was their job to follow all the leads that came in and all the leads that Mr. Huffman mentioned did get followed up on as they should have, save one. There was one area I was happy to see Mr. Huffman address. the information Lisa Kader gave but again following his sources he somewhat glosses over it and misses the significance on so many levels, this being at least the one major tip they failed to follow up and in doing so set up the events that would reverberate until the present. Let’s take a look at how the original detectives and officers handled the case from the beginning with an emphasis on how they conducted their investigation into Terry “Tab” Harper.
The bodies of the victims Jill Montgomery, Raylene Rice and Kenneth Franks were discovered during the evening of July 14th, which was a Wednesday. Friday morning July 16th the police started getting calls claiming Harper was responsible for the murders. Law enforcement was well aware of Harper, Detective Salinas years later when asked why he released Harper would state it was a regular thing when something went wrong in town kids would start calling in blaming Harper and so it was with this case. Two narratives started to develop early on, one was that Harper had been seen at Koehne Park and the victims had been seen getting into his van. The second story was there was a teenage girl that had witnessed the murders and Harper had threatened to kill her if she said anything, now that girl was missing. The officers had to attack this problem in 3 ways, they had to get Harper off the street, they needed to talk face to face with their sources and they needed to find the missing girl and I have to add in the beginning they didn’t even know the missing girl’s name. So they pick up Harper and he is brought in front of the Justice of the peace, while awaiting for that proceeding the Justice also receives a call from a known informant implicating Harper in the murders. With this the Waco police department has more than enough to hold Harper on suspicion of murder. They do a short interview with Harper, not gaining much info from him Salinas and Officer Nicoletti decide to go track down the sources and try to find the identity of the girl that is suppose to be an eyewitness to the murders. Harper’s van is brought into what is called the tunnel to be checked for any physical evidence. Salinas and Nicoletti first go talk to the known informant, he tells them he heard the information from his nephew and this nephew had heard this from some of the kids he attended summer school with, where the boy was at the time. Salinas decided to check out the story at the school. Nicoletti was tasked with trying to follow up on the two anonymous calls they had received earlier that morning, he was given a lead on this when one of the anonymous male callers had told him when he called that morning that the police needed to talk to Rusty Escott, To Rusty’s surprise Nicoletti tracked him down pretty easily and when Nicoletti arrived at Rusty’s house Rusty asked how the police had heard about him, Nicoletti told him from an anonymous caller, then Rusty informed Nicoletti he was one of the anonymous callers and the weirdness began.
Salinas didn’t get much from the kids at the summer school and none of the kids he talked to were willing to give the name of the missing girl. Nicoletti had a little bit better luck with Rusty, although most of what he told Nicoletti were lies, he was able to give the name of a girl that Rusty said he had talked to about the murders Wednesday morning before noon and well before it was known Waco had a triple homicide on their hands. Rusty gave the name Rebecca DeMarias. With this information Nicoletti returned to the station to meet up with Salinas and then there was another short interview with Harper, after which he was released. The following day Salinas went to the home of one of the girls that had called the police station on Friday and he had talked to at the school and wouldn’t give up the name. Now Salanis gave her the name Rebecca DeMarias and the girl confirmed Rebecca was the girl they were looking for, now they just had to find her.
Monday July 19th was a pivotal day in the investigation, over the weekend the flow of tips and information had trickled to almost nothing, so it was decided to pull everybody but a small few off the Lake Waco Murders case before they did, at 9:00 every officer that had worked the case up to that time had a meeting. The purpose of that meeting was to make sure all the officers moving off the case shared all the information they had to the few officers that were going to remain on the case, which makes how things transpired over the next couple days a little troubling. There was a name that kept coming up during the early part of the investigation and the officers were trying to track down all of Kenneth Franks friends and known associates which they had done pretty well up to that time but all Kenneth’s friends and associates had mentioned this girl and she was suppose to be very close to Kenneth but none of the officers had contacted her, that girl was of coarse Gayle Kelly and the information the police received shortly after the meeting should have spurned them into action in this direction but they did absolutely nothing. That information can from Lisa Kader, a girl that lived at the Methodist Home on the same unit as Gayle Kelly and the same unit Jill Montgomery had lived on before returning to Waxahachie about three weeks before the murders. Lisa Kader told them that one Muneer Deeb had killed Kenneth Franks over Gayle Kelly, Lisa really didn’t have anymore information than that but she told the police they should go talk to Gayle, this would be the one lead the Waco Police failed to follow up during their original investigation that ran until September 3rd. There might be a reasonable answer why they didn’t follow up this lead immediately, the number of officers working the case had just been drastically cut down to three or four but this was also the day another important event happened that absorbed all their attention and focus, Monday July 19 was also the day they were able to locate Rebecca Demarias and she was alive and well and with that the promising case against Terry “Tab” Harper started to fall apart.
Rebecca had runaway from home and was hanging out with some bikers and during her interrogation she claims it had nothing to do with the murders nor Tab Harper. She is adamant she didn’t witness any murders, see didn’t even see Harper on Tuesday night and she didn’t talk to Rusty Escott on Wednesday morning. Salinas really goes after her, telling her he believes she is lying, he arranges for a polygraph test. Rebecca doesn’t run a clean test but the officer that ran the test wasn’t sure if Rebecca was trying to be deceptive or if she was extremely afraid of something. Salinas decides to give up on Rebecca for now and he and Nicoletti go back to talk to all the sources where they had received this information about Rebecca DeMarias and the problems with this story started to manifest, none of the sources they had talked to had first hand knowledge of anything it was all stuff they got second hand, third hand and so on, it was all hearsay. Salinas went back to Rebecca and asked her if she could provide names of anybody that could corroborate her version of events. Rebecca’s version was it was true she had first heard about the murders from Harper but it was Wednesday night, she figured she didn’t get to the park until 8:45 p.m. or so and Harper arrived later. At that time Harper hadn’t given any details about the murders and actually gave a clue to how he had heard about the murders. Harper had stated he saw a lot of police cars headed toward Speegleville and that three kids had been killed. Rebecca stated that Harper was trying to pick fights and threatened some of her friends that he would do to them what he had done to the kids at Speegleville but no real information on what he had down but this was usual Harper behavior, he was always trying to intimidate the teenagers hanging out at the parks. So this started to put a hole in the theory that Harper had knowledge of the murders prior to anyone else, he had obtained the information just like many others had, simply over the airwaves as the different agencies were sharing information on their radios, anyone with a scanner would have been able to pick up this information and scanners were a common enough household item and regardless of their best efforts to try to keep many details of the crime away from the public there were many leaks within the first week of the investigation. But the belief was Tab Harper was still the best lead Waco police had, as the file containing the Lisa Kader interview sat there untouched.
Ramon Salinas started his Tuesday morning shift going in a different direction from the Harper angle, there had been another name that had come up a number of times in regards to Kenneth Franks and it was reported that Kenneth had stayed at this girls apartment a number of times, this girl was Patti Deis, what Salinas failed to realize was the reason Kenneth had stayed at Patti’s apartment was because Gayle Kelly also had been staying at Patti’s apartment. Anyway Salinas decided to track her down, he first went to her place of employment, the Army Recruiter’s Office but Patti had failed to show up to work that day, Salinas was informed this was actually the second day Patti had missed since the murder of her friend Kenneth Franks. Next Salinas goes to Patti’s apartment, I guess I should add Salinas has a Texas Ranger working with him at this point, just throwing that in there. When they arrive at Patti’s apartment they realize that it has been broken into, there is a window that has been busted out of the door and a sizable amount of blood left where the perpetrator at cut their self breaking the window and the the blood had dripped down and pooled on the sidewalk to the apartment below. Salinas finds the manager to gain entry into the apartment, he enters, nothing seems to be out of place, then he enters the kitchen and all the knives have been laid out in a row and Salinas finds a note to wit “We will see you next time” or “We missed you this time” or “We will get you next time”, you get the picture, a rather ominous message. Salinas calls it in to get someone out there to collect evidence and when he does he is informed that Patti Deis is actually there at the police station reporting the break-in, Salinas tells them to keep her there until he gets there. Now this really doesn’t have anything to with Harper and that part of the case but I mentioned this so people could see and I would say ask what was going on sometimes with this investigation at this point. So Salinas returns to the station not only to find Patti Deis there but also Gayle Kelly and remind you this is only one day after Lisa had come in and reported Deeb had killed Kenneth over Gayle, I think it would be safe to believe the officers or detectives would ask Gayle about this but do they, of coarse not, she is asked about Tab Harper, yes she knows Tab, he and Kenneth were friends, they partied together, Kenneth would say Harper always had good stuff. Gayle was asked about bikers, Gayle answered Kenneth and the bikers didn’t really get along and the only time Kenneth dealt with them was when dealing with Rebecca DeMarias. That name again, Rebecca DeMarias and there had been some scuttlebutt going around that a bike gang was claiming responsibility for the murders and Rebecca was staying with a biker when she ran away, this returned the focus back on her and Harper. One thing Salinas did do at this time that stands out, especially when you consider in the time to come he never followed through with this or try to connect the dots but in his report he states all information that comes in about the break-in of Patti’s apartment should be referred back to the Lake murders, this action clearly shows Salinas thought the two cases were connected but he did nothing to put it together and worse yet seemed to get offended when some one else did. Anyway Salinas goes back to Rebecca, questioning her involvement with the bikers, drugs and Harper, Rebecca still sticks to her story about when and where she saw Harper and heard about the murders, Salinas can’t get anywhere with her and it’s at this point he decides to talk to the people whose name Rebecca had given him to check her story. To his surprise or shock the people that were at the park that Wednesday night Harper arrived talking about the murders overwhelmingly confirm Rebecca’s story. Some had heard Harper mention the murders and Tab had told them he saw all the police cars headed out in that direction and figured that’s how he had heard about it, some said they didn’t hear anything about the murders that night but saw both Rebecca and Harper there, some put Harper’s arrival later than Rebecca;s estimation of around 9;00 p.m., some said as late as 10 or 11, Salinas even talked to the boys Harper had tried to start fights with and he was starting to realize there were a lot of problems with this Harper story and he asks Nicoletti to go back to Rusty Escott to be sure that Rusty is absolutely positive on his facts that he talked to Rebecca on Wednesday morning. Nicoletti does this and Rusty is still sure he talked to her on Wednesday morning. Now the police are stuck with two conflicting stories and leaves their once promising lead in a mess.
At this point in time the investigation is floundering, little to no new information, leads or tips are coming in and the lead that looked so solid only days before was now starting to show cracks, what could Salinas do? He decided to track down and talk to every one that had mentioned Tab Harper, he new most of the accounts were second hand at best, I guess his thinking was all this information coming in about Harper had to originate from somewhere and Salinas wanted to find those original sources. And this is what he did, it took him about a week but he tracked down any and all that had brought up Harper’s name. He tracked down fifth hand accounts to forth hand accounts, third hand accounts to second hand accounts and in the process two undeniable truths came to light; one there was only one source, only one person had actually seen the victims get into Harper’s van and that one source was highly unreliable to put it mildly. That one and only sole source was none other than Rusty Escott, it got to the point one of the individuals Salinas interviewed told him he shouldn’t listen to Rusty because he’s always telling stories and with that Salinas finally did something he hadn’t done up to this point in the investigation. Salinas calls Nicoletti and tells him to go pick up Rusty Escott and bring him to the station, Salinas was going to interview Rusty himself. That’s right Salinas had never talked or even seen Rusty Escott all the information he had gotten on him came via Nicoletti. That was about to change and with it the coarse of the investigation.
Nicoletti does as Salinas has asked and brings Rusty to the station and Salinas begins his fateful interrogation, he lays out all the information he as collected, he tells Rusty about how he broke down Rebecca DeMarias over when she talked to Rusty, he explains when he goes and talked to the other kids that were at the park that night they back up Rebecca’s story but that’s not the reaction he gets whenever he brings up Rusty’s name. Rusty’s first answer is a case crushing and probably a soul crushing admission and things only get worse from there. Rusty now admits he didn’t talk to Rebecca on Wednesday morning it was Thursday morning as Rebecca had been professing all along. With this admission Salinas and law enforcement now had nothing pointing towards Harper knowing anything about the murders before Wednesday night when any number of people could have heard about it. I take it Salinas was quite aggravated by how this was playing out and he asks Rusty are you sure you were even in the park that night, Rusty sticks to his story on this, yes he was there. Salinas continues and you saw the victims get into Harper’s van and again Rusty has to change his story, no he never saw the victims that night, he just saw Harper’s van parked beside the orange Pinto and Harper was standing outside his van talking to some one Rusty could not describe, with this law enforcement no longer has an eyewitness that saw the victims get into Harper’s van. But Salinas still presses Rusty, OK you saw Harper’s van parked beside the victims car, where did you see them parked? Rusty tells Salinas he saw the two vehicles parked by the boat ramp, Salinas knew this wasn’t true all the other people that had seen the Pinto in the park that night had stated the victims drove into the park, drove down to the circle and parked and never moved the car, the car was still there the next day until the police moved it. Salinas now realized he had been on a wild goose chase for most of the past two weeks, since July 19th he has spent so much time and effort tracking down and following up this lead and in the end it was nothing more than another one of Rusty Escott’s stories. The case against Tab Harper collapsed, well it should have but Nicoletti hands Salinas one last Hail Mary.
Before I get into the details of this last Hail Mary to connect Harper to the murders, I would like to take a moment to discuss my view and disappointment with all this Tab Harper stuff. I often say people should keep an open mind with this case and I know people will point to me and say well you are not keeping an open mind about Tab Harper, there is a difference. If you look at the investigation, read the police reports it becomes so clear that Harper had nothing to do with these murders but as Mr. Huffman’s podcast demonstrates the idea that Harper is still a viable suspect to many still persists today and that totally is astonishing to me and I do try to understand and figure why it is. I was happy to see Mr. Huffman did not try the use the often repeated falsehood that there were 6 eyewitnesses that saw Harper at the park that night, so I guess we are making progress. I guess I should mention every time I do see that claim, 6 eyewitnesses, I always challenge the author to name those six witnesses, to date no one has named those witnesses, the reason why ; THEY DON”T EXIST!!!
So how has this story about Tab Harper stayed alive so long and at times gained so much traction? I think part of the reason is because it was the option David Wayne Spence himself tried to sell, hey look at this guy he was just as much a bad guy as I was. This was one of the issues Spence raised in his appeals, that his first attorney Russ Hunt didn’t present the case against Harper during his trial, of coarse the appeals court shot him down on that one. But this was Spence’s defense teams, led by Hunt, whole strategy, what we call the shot gun defense, present to the jury all the people that law enforcement thought were suspects at some point just to muddy the waters enough that the defense can get that one juror confused enough to create doubt and you get a hung jury. This is generally a weak defense, it just shows the defense has nothing to aid in their clients defense other than to point to other people. This is what Russ Hunt did and it didn’t work, surprise surprise. Hunt didn’t bring up the once promising suspect Harper during Spence’s first trial and there has been issue made of that, we could argue the reasons but I think the fiasco Hunt created when he tried to put Catherine Breiten on the stand had more to do with it than anything else, Hunt was warned by the judge not to try that stunt again. So I think maybe that the facts about Harper not being presenting in an open court is one of the reasons the story of his involvement still persist, there have been a number of people that have used this to bend the facts. So that’s one reason, another reason is the information itself and where you find it; the police reports. I’m not sure how many people have read the police reports or have read police reports in general, they can be difficult to read for a few reasons. I will focus on the police reports pertaining to this case of coarse but this could be said of police reports in general. With this case and in particular with the information on Harper, you have to look at the reports of two officers, Salinas and Nicoletti, and maybe to some degree reports of a few other officers but for most part the information on Harper are in the reports of Salinas and Nicoletti, so you have to read these two officers reports and you have to read their reports for multiple days, July 16th through I think it was July 28th when Salinas finally had his interview with Rusty Escott. Then there is that one report in early August that details the last Hail Mary that I mentioned earlier and I will get to that shortly. So to glean all the information on Harper one would have to read all these reports. And when you read these reports they don’t exclusively contain information about Harper they contain all the information and what the officers did that day and sometimes days, when they were too busy to write daily reports. So the information on Harper contained in these reports may only be a sentence, a paragraph or two or three in a much longer report, that can be difficult reading. The other factor I think people have a hard time understanding about reading police reports, is most the time the officers don’t write a conclusion, hey they know what their conclusion is, in their mind the information itself provides the conclusion, so their reports aren’t neatly wrapped up with in conclusion…. but the answers are in the reports. And why I chose to get into all this now is because again I believe the wording or lack thereof has been one of the reasons the Harper story has lived on. Not with the Rusty Escott and Rebecca DeMarias angle, the reports are crystal clear on that one. But the same can not be said about the report dealing with the last “Hail Mary”. If you read the last paragraph or last couple sentences, actually the last word, and it would be the last report to mention Harper, it sounds like Salinas is leaving the door open that Harper is still a viable suspect but that’s not the case. If you read the information preceding this last paragraph and/or sentence you can figure out the chain of events, again it is not clearly written out nor does Salinas make a conclusion but it is simple and anybody that can add 2 and 2 would be able to figure this out and for those of you that can’t add two and two together I will help. It’s just how Salinas ended what would be the last word on Harper has left a door open to many, can’t blame Salinas he was a law officer he wasn’t trying to write a mystery. This last word was a day and just like with Rusty and Rebecca it came down to when two girls saw Harper in Midway Park, Wednesday or Thursday. Salinas ends his investigation into Harper with the sentence, paraphrasing here other than the last word, June Wilson called back and she was sure it was Wednesday. As in that was the day she saw Harper at the park and just as if Rebecca had talked to Harper on Wednesday this would point towards Harper having information about the murders before the bodies were discovered, leaving the door open in many peoples’ minds that Harper was still a viable suspect and is guilty. That is just not the case and all the other information in the report leading up to this sentence bears this out, again it’s just that Salinas doesn’t wrap it up in a nice little bow for everyone, I will try.
Now getting into Nicoletti’s Hail Mary and just to keep things in the proper context a little backtracking to see how they got to here in their investigation. Nicoletti was following up another lead, one that had resurfaced on July 23rd after the second break-in of Patti Deis’ apartment. That day both girls, Gayle Kelly and Patti, had told Nicoletti that prior to the second break-in they had been followed by three black men in a blue Duster. Nicoletti recalled that Salinas had interviewed a black man that was in a blue Duster at Koehne Park the night of the murders; Ronald Robinson. Robinson had been the only person to report that he saw the orange Pinto come into the park around 1:30 A.M. that night and a male got out and jump into another car that pulled in right behind the Pinto and then they took off, shortly afterwards Robert Frueh pulled in and parked beside the Pinto, Robinson would change his story when the police talked to him a second time later but there were other problems with this story not least of which were the people Robinson claimed were with him that night. In Robinson’s first statement he says he and his friend John Kent, supposedly the owner of the blue Duster, were at the Oakey Dokey, while there they meet a girl that was highly intoxicated. At closing time Robinson and Kent decide they will give the girl a ride home, only there is a problem the girl passes out and they don’t know her address and this is when they decide to go to Koehne park and wait for the girl to regain consciousness. I guess when the girl woke up she wasn’t happy to find herself in the situation she had put herself in and the guys ended up just dropping her off somewhere, not taking her home unable to provide the girls’s address to the police nor could Robinson recall the girl’s name. In trying to verify Robinson’s story no one had been able to identify this girl or even locate John Kent. When Gayle and Patti brought up the black guys in the blue Duster Nicoletti decided he would take another crack at it and this led him back to the Oakey Dokey and while he’s there a gentleman tells him he had talked to a girl that lived in the same apartment complex as he did and she had told him that her time was short and she wouldn’t be around much longer and that she had told him she had talked to Tab Harper about the murders on July 14th well before it came out in the news, Nicoletti took down the girl’s name and address.
Since the purpose of the post is to demonstrate the difficulty in culling information from police reports, I think it would be a good time to discuss the difference, task and problems in just copying police reports and writing a narrative, which I’m doing now and one would do if they are writing a book as Stowers and Simons did. As I stated earlier police reports can be very difficult to read and again as a said earlier this is because the officers aren’t trying to write a book, they are just trying to point blank convey information. And a lot of times that information doesn’t come to them in one nice little story. They might get a little information on something one day and not hear anything on that for a few days later or they are too busy to keep up their reports on a daily basis and will fill and mix information they received days before with information they received the same day they are writing the report, you can see how that can cause confusion. When you write a narrative you want to make it easier to read, you want the story or picture that develops to be clear. You take information from one report and then you might take information from another report written days later but you put it in the proper chronological order has it happened making it easier to understand but in doing so you are changing, no matter how small, the reports unless you are copying every report word by word verbatim. To bring all the information together from different reports from different officers you will have to fill in the gaps in the reports, you try to keep it as minimal as possible but you do do it, I do it I can’t deny that, but the smallest word or how you describe something differently than how it’s described in a report, change the wording using your own wording different from that which is in the reports can inadvertently change the information which you can never do. The upmost principle you can not fail to uphold no matter the words you chose, wisely or otherwise, you always have to stay true to the facts and the spirit of the information that is there not just the information you want. I bring this up now because it is the perfect time to show this in practice.
Nicoletti’s encounter at the Oakey Dokey that night never appears in any of his reports, I don’t know why. I guess he was too busy trying to track down the people Robinson said were in the park with him that night or he was waiting until he made contact with the girl, which he never did. What we do know is he left his card in her door. So how do we know about Nicoletti’s visit to the Oakey Dokey that night. We find it in a report Salinas wrote about a week later after both the guy that told Nicoletti the story and the girl that Nicoletti had left his card with called the police station 6 days later within a short time of each other, Salinas handled it from there not Nicoletti. I find it strange and beyond coincidence that the two called so close together on the same day, it’s not in the report but I guess the subject came up between the girl and guy, they did live in the same apartment complex and according to Salinas’ report she asked why they had left their card in her door, it would seem to me the girl might have mentioned something to the guy about the card being in her door and he informed her about what he had told Nicoletti and now both of them were calling back to tell their side of the story. And of coarse their stories differed greatly, again I would guess this story was probably alcohol fueled when first shared, the question was what was more alcohol fueled her lips or his ears? It really didn’t matter the guy’s version was still a second hand account, the girl was the one that apparently had the conversation with Harper and she was able to provide a lot of detail and one detail in particular that would finally get Tab Harper off the hook for the Lake Waco Murders for good.
Wednesday July 14, 1982 probably is the most tumultuous date for anyone connected to the Lake Waco Murders case, of coarse it was the date the bodies of victims Jill Montgomery, Raylene Rice and Kenneth Franks were discovered, Christine Juhl would testify; on that day her boss and friend Muneer Deeb came to work that morning and told me Gayle’s boyfriend had been killed and he was happy they finally got him; Rusty Escott would tell anyone that would listen, including the Waco Police, that was the day he talked to Rebecca DeMarias before noon and she told him about the murders, now that scenario was about to play out again just with different players and Wednesday, referring to that same date, would be the last word in the Waco Police Department’s reports pertaining to their investigation into Terry “Tab” Harper. Nineteen days later, August 2nd, approximately at 9:00 a.m. Detective Salinas received a call from the gentleman that had encountered Nicoletti around midnight of July 27th at the Oakey Dokey he would repeat his story to Salinas. After Salinas had interviewed Rusty Escott on July 28th he knew they didn’t have a case against Harper and he had his fill wasting his time chasing down second hand stories that led to nowhere but shortly after he had taken this call Salinas got another call and it was from the girl the first caller had told him about, Salinas make the same mistake and waste time he had done before running around chasing down a lie, he was going to get to the bottom of this story right here and now. The name of the girl that the first caller had given was Nell Priest and she called to ask why the police had left their card in her door. Salinas doesn’t write in his report exactly when Nell call just that it was shortly after the first call and that he told Nell he wanted her to come to the station so they could talk, Nell said she could come in later, in Salinas’ report he writes he interviewed Nell Priest at 12:45 p.m.. Salinas shared the information he had received that she had gotten information from Tab Harper on July 14th, Nell stated she didn’t have any information about the murders, she knew Harper, apparently pretty well. She told Salinas Harper hangs out at Midway Park on Fridays and Saturdays and sometimes on Sundays he goes to Koehne Park, he hangs out with this guy Mark Boatman, Boatman was Harper’s sister’s boyfriend. Nell had had a conversation with Harper about two weeks before the murders in the parking lot of Jack’s Stereos and at that time Harper had told her he was ready to go back to jail but he really wanted to hurt some one before he did. Salinas asked Nell about being threatened by Harper, again Nell stated this never happened, then she tells Salinas about an incident she had with Harper about a year before and probably the source of the story of her being threatened by him. One day Nell was in the park drinking beers, she had to go to the restroom and as she was making her way to the facilities Harper ran up behind her, grabbed her, picked her up off the ground and wouldn’t let her go, so she busted a beer bottle over his head, they fell to the ground and then Harper pulled out a knife and told her he should kill her for what she did but Nell said he didn’t put the knife to my neck or anything and she didn’t feel threatened it was just Tab Harper acting like his crazy self. Getting to the days in question, the week of the murders, Nell stated she wasn’t sure which day she ran into Harper had Midway, Nell was a dog owner and she regularly took her dogs to the park to run around and it was on one of these occasions when she ran into Harper but she wasn’t sure if it was Wednesday July 14th or Thursday July 15th. Salinas asked about the time frame, Nell responded she usually got home about 3:00 p.m. and she would pick up her dogs and head to the park, so it was shortly after 3:00 p.m. when she got to the park. Salinas asked her if there were any other people there when she ran into Harper, she said there was but she couldn’t name anyone other than her friend that had gone to the park with her, June Wilson. Salinas asked how they could get in touch with June Wilson, Nell tells him June has come to the station with her. Wrapping up the interview Nell Priest gives the detail that is the most important detail obtain in this interviewed, she remember it was her friend June Wilson that called her THURSDAY morning and asked her if she had heard about the murders.
Done with Nell Priest now Salinas interviews June Wilson. Yes she had gone to Midway Park with Nell Priest but just like Nell she couldn’t remember if it was Wednesday or Thursday. Salinas asks June about calling Nell and asking her if she heard about the murders, again June agrees with Nell on this very important point. Then June tells her version of events, June was running late so she followed Nell driving her own car, her time line matched Nell’s both girls arriving at the park after 3:00 p.m.. And when they get there they run into Harper and differing from Nell’s story June says Harper was giving descriptive details about the murders saying how he had stabbed the kids and slashed the nipple off one of the girls breast. June stated the things Harper was saying made her feel sick she felt like she was going to throw up, she just wanted to get away from there. Salinas asked her was there any other people there, the only person she could name that she saw there was Mark Boatman, which when checked out was found to be impossible both Boatman’s time card and boss verify he was at work at that time. Wrapping up this interview Salinas asked her again if she could recall what day it was that this happened and again June replies she wasn’t sure if it was Wednesday or Thursday and with that Salinas ends the interview telling her to think about it and when she is sure what day it was to call him back. June would call back the next day when Salinas was out, the officer that took the call wrote the message and left it on Salinas’ desk it read; June Wilson called in to say it was Wednesday. Nothing was done about this revelation and that Salinas or anyone from the Waco police for that matter didn’t do anything with this information has left the door open for people to make a lot hay over this over the years. People although Salinas did not elaborate on this in his report and it does look going by what he wrote he still believed this could possibly still point towards Harper as the killer, in the end that one important detail that both girls agreed on was the deciding and undisputed fact; that Thursday morning call June made to Nell asking Nell if she had heard about the murders. Simply put if the two girls went to the park and ran into Harper on Wednesday as June was finally saying but really had never been sure about why would she be calling Nell on Thursday morning asking her if she had heard about it, Nell was with June in the park when this happened whatever day it was. For those of you that still can’t let it go and say well maybe the girls were wrong on the day the call was made. Well that doesn’t add up either, June is saying, I’m not sure if this is accurate that she first heard from Harper when she went to the park but again even if she did see Harper at the park on Wednesday it was in the afternoon, she couldn’t have called Nell about it Wednesday morning. June Wilson called Nell Priest Thursday morning. The scenario probably played out like this June Wilson hears about the murders sometime Wednesday night, like most people, maybe from the news or maybe she did first hear about it from Harper that night, as many people have stated Harper was at Midway Park that night talking about the murders, maybe she was there that night although she doesn’t say so nor did any of the people the police talked to that were there recall seeing her there. Anyway hearing about the murders the next day she calls her friend Nell, knowing she runs her dogs in the park and probably expressing to her she didn’t think it was a good idea to go out to the park alone because of the murders that just happened and June tells Nell she will go to the park with her, which they do and it’s then that Thursday afternoon after June has called Nell that they run into Harper in the park spouting out details of the murders that were already making their way through the grapevine. Maybe Salinas should have cleared this up in his report but he was very busy at the time,he knew the facts and didn’t realize they would still be questioned decades later.
Unfortunately over the years Terry “Tab” Harper has become a more viable suspect in the public eye, in part because of his own violent behavior after the Lake Waco Murders, mainly the October 1994 incident when he stabbed an elderly couple, killing the man and then pulling a gun on himself taking his life. But the biggest reason that the Tab Harper story won’t go away is due to the fact people won’t stop repeating it filled with all it’s falsehoods and void of facts. The records just don’t support this, for the first two weeks or so of a seven week investigation Harper was the best suspect law enforcement had and the detectives and officers working the case thoroughly exhausted all leads pointing to Harper, they didn’t leave a stone unturned, I wish I could say that about other tips and leads the Waco Police Department received; Muneer Deeb, David Spence but Terry Harper got the full treatment. This comes out in the reports maybe not as clear has we would like it, like reading my posts when I don’t proof read or edit, but the facts and truth are there. And as I always say I keep an open mind, if some one has something to support the opposing view, I would love to hear it but I want it to be supported with facts, I don’t want to hear about what you read in the New York times or some other paper, that has been the problem and that’s the problem with Mr. Huffman’s piece, I admit at least he was more even keel than most but in the end he still repeated the same uninstantiated story, it’s kind of like scribes at monasteries dutifully copying religious text, never questioning the status quo.
Another popular aspect of the case that draws so much attention from the “they are innocent crowd” and Mr. Huffman touched on but again give him credit for not bloviating as so many others have and that would be David Wayne Spence’s last words and his steadfast profession of innocence. This bothers me on so many levels. Hey it’s not uncommon for the condemned to offer a few thoughtful words in their last moments, there are any number of sites on the internet dedicated to famous last words of people before they are executed but the pundits in David Wayne Spence’s corner would like to cantonize his final words as if they were some kind of elegant insightful soul searching proof of innocence, news flash: more often than not psychopaths don’t show remorse, the only time they do is when it can serve their purpose and when one is only a few breathes away from the eternal slumber there aren’t too many purposes or options left, why not throw out a few nice words so a few people can say they saw the good in you, again self serving and no one has got better use of this than David Wayne Spence.
When I started this rant a few days ago I stated I wish I could see a fresh and new approach to this mind, spirit and soul consuming case. We’ve heard David Wayne Spence’s last words what about the other side of the story. And this is where Mr. Huffman hit a nerve, regardless of how slightly so. What about the last words Spence heard from the victims’ families. Mr. Huffman points out they were angry, sure they were, we all would be under the same circumstances. Although I am against the death penalty, we are not going to win that argument by pointing to the anger and bitterness of those that have just had their love ones viciously taken away from them, that’s a fool’s errand. What about Jill Montgomery’s mother’s last words and request to David Spence, many of us had seen her anger on television prior to the execution but the day of, her heart only desired answers, answers Spence refused to give because easing the pain of others didn’t serve his purpose. Jill’s mother last request to him was she just wanted to know Jill’s last words. Think about that, how terrible that must feel, if Spence relented would Jill’s final words comforted her mother, they probably weren’t pleasant Jill was struggling for her life as she was being savagely raped, slashed and stabbed but this is all her mother could ask she was looking for answers. That’s what people like Mr. Huffman and those that keep repeating the half truths and falsehoods keep missing. Yes the families were happy when justice was served to those they were told were responsible for the murders and yes they might have displayed some anger until the final judgement of that justice was carried out but they always had questions, from the beginning they were looking for answers. They’ve been dealing with this, looking for those answers since the day they received those horrible phones calls informing them that their children were never coming home and they still are looking for answers today, why doesn’t anyone tell that story?
When I speak of the victims’ families I have to be very clear on this, Raylene Rice’s family always wanted to keep distant from the case, they didn’t attend the trials, the execution of David Spence, don’t like to give interviews or talk about the case and we all have to respect that. Mr. Franks, Kenneth’s father, had a rather acrimonious relationship with law enforcement, we could debate the reasons but for most part he remained silent after the trials until he passed away. So when I talk about the families I am talking about the family of Jill Montgomery and it’s not like they are out there going hey look at us, they don’t want the attention and they probably would prefer if I didn’t focus the public attention on them. But they have always been in the forefront, for many understandable reasons, and out and open, they have listened to anybody from either side of the spectrum. I know this because I have been lucky to have been able to communicate with the family to some degree and I appreciate the time they have given me, the information they have shared, they have been so gracious, they are a wonderful family, Mrs. Thompson is such an intelligent, honest and sweet lady. And it’s not just been with me, they have found time for anyone that has come to them, again no matter their view point and they have been open with everyone. And as I stated before they have always had questions and have been looking for answers, unfortunately most of us that have contacted the family have ended up leaving them with even more questions than they had before they talked to us and we have provided little in the way of answers. I am as guilty as anyone but the family has been lied to, made promises, some that could never be kept others just broken, again where is this side of the story? When people came with their questions the family listened and offered answers when they could and as the number of questions expanded so did the circle of people asking them and through it all the family made it abundantly clear their only interest was to find the truth. When some started to push for Anthony Melendez’ release, the family was told they should talk to him and hear his story, this they did again only interested in the truth. When Fred Dannen came to Texas from New York to find information for a book he was planning to write, the family aided him anyway they could. He lied to them and made promises to them,. He told them he could prove Spence and the Melendez brothers were innocent, they opened their doors and allowed Dannen to hold a meeting in their house so he could share what he had found, all his lies and fact bending came to nothing. When a petition was going around asking for leniency for Anthony Melendez and for him to be released, I believe some family members signed, something I must say I disagreed with, but they did it because they were not interested in just letting some one rot away and die in prison they never were, they always just wanted the truth And where are all those people that gave them false hope and had their own agendas now? They provided zero answers and just added to the ever growing list of questions. Jill’s family communicated with Anthony Melendez’ family for years giving support and aiding in Anthony’s cause anyway they could. Now the Melendez or Arnett family won’t give them the time of day and the reason why; Jill’s family now have questions Anthony’s family don’t want to answer, why don’t we ever hear this story? People like Bernadette Feazell will go on about how Truman Simons took possession and destroyed Gilbert’s truck after the trials, an act that is totally irrelevant to anything meaningful but people will keep repeating it. Are those same people aware now the Arnetts are trying to deny Gilbert ever had a truck, maybe somebody would or should look into that. And since I am on the subject of the vehicles the Melendez brothers’ family had at the time of the murders, I would like to mention something I have been looking into for the last few months and I was just talking to some one about this the other day. Most of us are well aware there were fibers found on the bodies of the victims and it has been widely circulated that those fibers were the type of fibers one would find used in a shag carpet put in vans, I’m not disputing this one way or the other I did look in the FBI files to find this information but it wasn’t there but on the other hand those reports are so redacted you get very little information from them, yet you would think it the FBI knew what vehicle the fibers came from they would have shared that info with some one before now. I’ve talked to people much more informed on this than I and they seem to agree the fibers came from a van so I will defer to them. Now I know this will lead many to jump up and down TAB HARPER HAD A VAN. please control yourselves. Do you know who else had a van, actually two vans? It is something rarely mentioned in the whole case, that little piece of information is tucked away in the strangest places, I think I found it in Deeb’s supplemental appeal. The cousin and family Anthony worked with, got a ride to Waco that day and lived with owned two vans. But do we ever hear about that? Does any one think maybe that should be looked into further? I do, the make, the model, did the vans have shag carpet? Aren’t these questions worthy of investigation?
There were a couple things Mr. Huffman commented on in his podcast that I would agree with and glad to see some one else is thinking beyond the narrow minded group think that has prevailed and persisted for so long. Paraphrasing here, Mr. Huffman states he has a hard time believing the name calling and rude behavior Kenneth Franks hurled toward Muneer Deeb could be the trigger for Deeb to decide to take the drastic measure of trying to have Kenneth Franks and Gayle Kelly killed and Mr. Huffman also expresses doubt that Deeb’s infatuation with Gayle Kelly would be the emphasis for the murders. I totally agree with Mr. Huffman on both points. First, that Deeb would get so enraged because Kenneth flipped him off and called him Abdul that he would plot his murder I find preposterous. Now the second issue gets a little sticking and more complicated. Yes Deeb was infatuated with Gayle Kelly to some degree but Deeb was infatuated with more than one girl and there was one that stood in the forefront of his twisted mind, an obsession and infatuation that consumed the majority of Deeb’s mind, time, money and desire, everyone would say this about Deeb’s relationship with this girl even Gayle Kelly, that girl was Kebanna Reed. Deeb spent countless hours following and stalking this girl, Deeb gave her money, bought her gifts, paid her bills including her rent add tried to control her social life telling Kebanna he didn’t want her seeing other guys. Deeb would obsessively sit outside of Kebanna and her sister’s apartment late at night until finally she would have him arrested.Yes Deeb spent his money on Gayle and a number of other girls but the amount and extravagance he lavished upon all these other girls combined, including Gayle, pales in comparison against the exorbitant levels he went to with Kebanna Reed. Gayle Kelly even tried to make this point in the defense of her actions to Maria Qasem, Deeb’s partner’s wife, the night of the fiasco at the apartment that so many point to as being the episode that ignited the tragic chain of events that unfolded in the weeks to come, Gayle mentioned to Maria the ring Deeb had bought for Kebanna and showed her the dresses he had bought for her that still remained hung in the closet of the apartment, a fact I would say brings into question whom Deeb had originally rented the apartment for, remind you Kebanna was staying at her sister’s apartment at the time and Deeb was paying that rent and didn’t have any control of the situation. Now Deeb did exhibit violent tendencies towards the girls he became infatuated with, such as Kebanna and Dana Diamond but he directed his wrath towards the girls and their romantic interest as he did when he threatened Dana that if she didn’t break-up with her boyfriend Steve, if Deeb saw them together in her apartment he would blow it up so if he couldn’t have her no one could. So then this brings us to what was the relationship between Gayle Kelly and Kenneth Franks and a need to re-examine what we know about what occurred in the apartment that night and this is where things get sticky. Of coarse we have differing accounts on this, the most common belief was Gayle and Kenneth were very close friends but not romantically involved, this was the view shared by most people including Gayle Kelly herself and even people like Kenneth’s father who told the police Kenneth and Gayle were close friends and spent a lot of time together and Kenneth had wanted to date her when they first met at the Home but Gayle had turned him down but they remained close friends from that time on, Mr. Franks added Jill Montgomery was Kenneth’s true love. Although this was the view held by most people there would be a few people in this circle that believed Gayle and Kenneth were romantically involved, which would usually be easily discounted this being the view of such a small minority but for the significance and their closeness to the epicenter of this drama of two people that held this belief; Christine Juhl and David Spence. And as the relationship between Gayle and Kenneth can be questioned so can what happened in the apartment that night and again we get conflicting stories. Gayle and Christine both would state Deeb caught Gayle and Kenneth together in the apartment, Gayle claims they were just laying on the floor talking, Christine would claim they were doing a little more and that is what set off Deeb. Then we have the most common reported story that was told by all others with knowledge of the episode that Gayle was throwing a party in the apartment and that’s when Deeb decided to kick her out, this would be the story told by Muneer Deed himself, his partner Kareem Qasem, Kebanna Reed, Dana Diamond, Delores Perez and probably most important Maria Qasem. And why is Maria’s the most important account? Other than Deeb’s and Gayle’s conflicting story, she is the only other person to give an I witness account, all the other accounts are from what those people were told or they heard about what happened, second hand and thereby hearsay and Maria’s version might give us a better understanding of Gayle’s relationships and that can also be proved by other facts. Maria Qasem did not spend as much time at the store as her husband and Deeb, she and Kareem had had a baby recently and Maria spent most of her time home taking care of the baby, so in some ways she was a little in the dark of what was going on at the store at the time although she was aware of Deeb’s fondness of wasting his money on what she saw as unworthy girls and she let her opinion be known. But the night in question, which would have been the second evening since Gayle moved into the apartment rented by Deeb. that would be somewhere around June 22nd, Maria worked at the store that evening with her husband because Deeb wanted to spend time with Gayle at the apartment, so Maria agreed to fill in for him. Maria arrives at the store, Deeb leaves to go to the apartment, then shortly afterwards Deeb returns to the store highly agitated. Maria and Kareem ask him what is wrong and according to both Kareem and Maria, Deeb tells them that Gayle was throwing a party in the apartment and there were a bunch of kids over there drinking beer and such and now Deeb was talking about how he wants to throw Gayle out, Maria and Kareem try to get him to calm down, then according to Maria, Deeb says Gayle was kissing this boy and when he questioned her about it Gayle tried to tell him not to worry the boy she was kissing was just her brother. Deeb told Maria he knew the boy Gayle was kissing wasn’t her brother because you don’t kiss your brother like that. With that Maria decided she would go to the apartment to find out what was going on and give Gayle a piece of her mind. When Maria arrives at the apartment she finds that no one is there, she finds Gayle in the parking lot sitting on the hood of a car sitting between two boys, Maria would describe them as one Mexican boy and one white boy, confronting Gayle about the situation in general Maria and Gayle return to the apartment where Gayle expounds on how Deeb is spending so much more on Kebanna pulling the new dresses Deeb had bought for Kebanna out of the closet. Now from other facts, reports and testimony Muneer Deeb knew Kenneth Franks by this point and knew he wasn’t Gayle’s brother and whatever the conflict between the two had started long before then, best detailed by Lou Booker, Jill and Gayle’s supervisor at Fort Fisher where both girls had worked prior to thi,s when she reported in November 1982 that Deeb use to come visit Gayle at work and Booker could recall an incident when Gayle, Deeb and Jill got into a heated conversation about Kenneth Franks at which time Deeb became very agitated. So if it wasn’t Kenneth that Gayle was kissing whom could it be? That’s where Maria’s account gives us a clue if not the undisputed answer with her description of the two boys, Kenneth probably being the white boy what about the Mexican boy. According to many the boy Gayle was seeing at the time and would go on to marry was of Mexican descent, his name Henry Reyes and people such as Delores Perez would testify Deeb was well aware of this and she knew this because she was one of a number of girls that had told Deeb this when he brought up this issue about Gayle Kelly. Still some might question the relationship between Gayle and Kenneth but when you put all the reports, information and facts together the most likely scenario is that Kenneth and Gayle were “just” friends and Gayle was in a romantic relationship with Henry Reyes and Muneer Deeb was aware of this. That Deeb decided he wanted to kill Gayle and Kenneth over their relationship though in the realm of possibilities, there is just not enough in the records to support this as the root cause, the weakness of this being the case only being surpassed in weakness by the idea that the cause was Kenneth’s name calling. I guess a reasonable argument could be made about maybe the combination of both played a factor, sure one than just one event or cause could be likely and I would add that Gayle tried to avoid Deeb after this episode at the apartment and Kenneth and Patti Deis took part in this not allowing Deeb to see or talk to Gayle when he would come around Patti’s apartment looking for her, maybe in the end the combination of all three finally sent Deeb over the edge. Hey I don’t know, I don’t have the answers, I just doubt this is what caused all the mayhem that followed there is too much other information and factors that point in another direction, chief among them the involvement of drugs, a motive law enforcement believed during their investigation.
There was one story consistently being told to Waco Police by the friends and associates of Kenneth Franks and that was Kenneth was into dealing drugs or at least was a wannabe drug dealer and that he owed some one money. Yes many of these reports were probably just rumors but as with all rumors and in this case as we saw with Tab Harper usually rumors originate from a kernel of truth then as that rumor spreads we lose the kernel in the ever expanding story. One very interest but not really surprising thing we see through out the reports and investigation with the dozens of kids the police talked to and reported Kenneth’s drug dealing prowess and problems not one of them could name whom this was that Kenneth was dealing with and had a problem with. When interviewed Gayle Kelly even stated that Kenneth was planning on making a big score but Kenneth wouldn’t tell her whom he was dealing with for her own safety, he gave her clues and Gayle would have known this person but Kenneth never gave her the name. This might not be strange on the surface, kids or people in general not wanting to give names to law enforcement when it came to drug activity. So standing alone this fact probably would not mean much. But when you consider Deeb was handing out weed and pills to the girls from the Methodist Home like it was Halloween candy, he had to get his supply from somewhere, that source remains unknown and remember Deeb had a very small social circle, his distribution of drugs largely went unnoticed, other than the girls from the home the other teenagers around town were unaware of this when asked by the police, I would add unlike the Melendez brothers whom a number of the kids said they knew from selling weed around the high schools, at events like football games. Hey I asked both Christine Juhl and Gayle Kelly if they knew where Deeb got his supply, of coarse both denied knowing anything. Then on top of that we have unemployed David Wayne Spence partying it up all the time smoking weed, popping pills and shooting up crank and whatever else he could get his hands on, how was he affording this and whom was supplying him, again I asked Christine Juhl about this, she was aware David was getting high all the time but didn’t know from whom nor where he was scoring his drugs. I would also point out this is another thing that would have eliminated Tab Harper as the possible killer, many of the kids knew Kenneth and Harper had dealings with each other, partied together, were friends and there didn’t seem there was any problem between the two, among those sharing that view were Gayle Kelly and Rebecca DeMarias. Harper was not the unknown party Kenneth was having the problem with. A few first names were thrown around from time to time, some later retracted by the witness that gave them, some of the names passed around as being the possible subject Kenneth owed money to or had a problem with were Tony, Frank, Robert, Bobby, make of that what you will. I believe it’s this unknown that will provide so many answers, the unknown source of drugs for Kenneth, David and Deeb will give us the connection between the three and that connection will give us the answers to what really happened.
And one final thought on Mr. Huffman’s podcast, on one issue in which he misspoke on the facts, I don’t think he did so in a malicious manner again I believe Mr. Huffman presented the information he obtained open minded and even keeled. But it’s the smallest detail or choice of words that can transform the uninformed into the misinformed and a belief in falsehoods as truth. While mentioning the DNA, again another point I would have to agree on with Mr Huffman with his sentiment that if the DNA evidence could have proved anybody’s innocence surely some defense attorney would be letting everybody know about it. The DNA evidence has never been able to prove anything up to now and as most know the samples that were collected are now useless, we can debate the reason, the cause and whom is responsible but the point would be moot. But this is where Mr. Huffman misspoke, he said samples were collected from everyone they(the police) talked to, that is just not the truth far from it, it was a select few that samples were collected from and that’s where the problem lies. When we take a look at the people that gave samples nearly half have little to no connection to the case other than they were friends or associates of Tab Harper, there’s really nothing else that connects them to the case in anyway. That would include Boatman, he was Harper’s sister’s boyfriend and hung out with Harper occasionally, to be fair Harper did state he was with his sister and her boyfriend the night of the murders. Then we have the Wilkins Brothers, yes they did have a very bad reputation and their names came up anytime the Waco Police were looking for suspects but again other than being associated with Harper there is really nothing to connect them to the case. We really can’t complain about the individuals the police decided to collect samples from but it’s some of the people the police didn’t collect samples from that should raise our ire.
Often we hear the criticism that one party or another investigating the murders got a case of tunnel vision, being stuck into only investigating their one pet lead, Mr. Huffman would repeat this in his podcast and this accusation is usually hurled at Truman Simons, I’m not going to get into the debate of which detectives or officers may have suffered from their narrow scope during the investigation that really doesn’t resolve any issues now. But I do have to point out something, another one of those little facts that most people skip over because it doesn’t help their narrative, although it may seem to be the case if you have read anything about the case over the last 25 years, that Truman Simons and Dennis Baier only followed up on one loose end left dangling by the original investigators, that being the Muneer Deeb/David Spence connection. That wasn’t the case, the tip on Deeb, that coming from Lisa Kader which in turn led to David Spence, was the second loose end Simons and Baier tracked down, it’s just that once they started working on that lead it all came together very fast, which probably would have been the case if the original detectives would have followed it up. That first dangling lead came to nothing but it does show the fundamental flaw in the investigation right from the beginning and that flaw would have disastrous results that has left us where we are today. That lead was one of Kenneth’s friends; Bobby Brem. He was interviewed with a couple other of Kenneth’s friends on July 15th, the day after the bodies were discovered, that same day an officer interviewed Mary Belheimer, counselor of both Jill and Kenneth while they lived at the Methodist Home, and the information she gave raised a red flag on what Bobby had said, well actually what he didn’t say. This had to do with Jill Montgomery, in his interview Bobby acted like he didn’t know Jill, when talking about her he would refer to her in terms like “that girl’ or “the girl” never mentioning her by name, the information Ms. Belheimer provided revealed not only did Bobby know Jill, he liked her very much, wanting to date her and when she ran away she had stayed at his house. When a subject is interviewed and they act like that don’t know a victim or won’t mention their name that can show deception and raises a big red flag, any one in law enforcement would recognized this and the detectives that had interviewed Bobby Brem did and they did follow this up to some degree. Two friends falling out and coming into conflict over a girl, that’s the oldest murder story outside Cain and Able. Since Bobby had failed to mention any of this to them when he was interviewed; his affection towards Jill nor anything about the run away incident they decided to turn to some one else that might have information about this; the girl that had run away with Jill at the time and was there, her name Rhonda Evans. Other than confirming the information Mary Belheimer had given when she talked to the police Rhonda didn’t give much other information, she did give the name of a kid from school that Kenneth dealt weed with but that was it, no further follow up on this lead. When Simons and Baier took over the case and read over the files and police reports they too recognized the red flag that was the interview with Bobby Brem and Simons and Baier noticed the original investigators did follow this up but did not wrap it up. That would be the first lead Simons and Baier would follow up, though they did have the Deeb lead in their sites their plan was to talk to Deeb later that day but the information they got that day caused them to delay that plan. Friday September 10, 1982, the first day Simons and Baier take over the case, their first bit of business is to interview Bobby Brem again. This interview doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere until Truman throws out the question, Hey do you know Muneer Deeb and with this Bobby exposes the critical flaw in the original investigation. Bobby Brem knew Muneer Deeb and he goes on to report how Kenneth and Deeb hated each other and about the animosity that existed between the two. After Bobby finishes telling his story the officers ask him why he never said anything about this when he was originally interviewed, Bobby’s answer no one ever asked him before. And going back over the reports one can see the original investigators while asking for the names and identities of Kenneth’s friends and associates they never asked anyone about any possible enemies. They were given some names of people that Kenneth might have had a problem with but the Waco police did little to nothing in the way of following most of this information. I do have the add this was just the Waco Police department, the Waxahachie police made a concerted effort to identify, track down and follow up any possible subjects Jill Montgomery and Raylene Rice may have had a problem with in their hometown People this is basic police work and that the Waco police failed to do so is astounding and don’t you believe subjects that were reported to be at odds with Kenneth Franks and were not properly investigated would be prime candidates to collect DNA samples from? I have a list of people that should have provided DNA samples and never did.
My first candidates are James and Terry Gutierrez, more so Terry than James, Terry as the extensive criminal record, that could match Tab Harper’s, most of Terry’s run ins with the law are drug related, so we have that angle and he also disappeared shortly after the murders with my favorite suspect Clifford, of coarse much more on this later. So how did the Gutierrez brothers get ensnared into this case, the manager of the popular pool hall Pinocchio’s, frequented by so many of the characters connected to this case informed the police that he hadn’t seen the Gutierrez brothers since the night before the murders, which he thought was strange because they were regular visitors to the pool hall and there had been a foosball tournament there that week and the Gutierrez brothers were enthusiastic foosball players. There is some question as to the night of this tournament either being the night the murders occurred or the night the bodies were discovered but the brothers hadn’t been seen either night. While talking to the manager another employee came forward and told the police that there was a rift between the Gutierrez brothers and Kenneth Franks, it was probably this information that caused the manager to call the police in the first place. The apparent rift was over a car deal gone wrong, Kenneth was planning to buy the Gutierrez brothers’ car but the deal fell through for some reason. The Waco police did follow this up to some degree. First they went to Mr. Franks to ask him if he knew anything about Kenneth planning on buying the car from the Gutierrez brothers. And like so many other explanations Mr. Franks gave something feels off, just doesn’t seem right. In this case Mr. Franks says he was unaware Kenneth was planning to buy any car, the car in question Mr. Franks had allowed to be parked at their residence and he had actually made a video of the car, I wonder if the police ever watched this video and Mr. Franks final recollection was that it was not a Mexican boy that brought the car over but a white boy. Well if that didn’t leave the officers with more questions, anyway they moved on, now to the Gutierrez brothers. It was a short exchange between the Gutierrez brothers and the police, the brothers stated yeah they hung out at the pool hall frequently and yes they knew Kenneth Franks, during the nights in question they stated one night they went to Six Flags in Dallas and the other night they were just driving around, they weren’t sure which night they did what but the police weren’t sure which night the foosball tournament was either, so, so much was cleared up! And that would be all the follow up on that until another incident happened at the end of July. Clifford Oliver had reported his car stolen, when the police got to the bottom of this they found Oliver had made a deal with the Gutierrez brothers to get rid of the car and he would share the insurance money he planned to get with them when he reported the car stolen. While investigating this scheme the officer decided to ask James about the brothers’ own car, James stated that car had been wrecked and they had gotten rid of it, the reporting officer noted he could not find any report on an accident involving that car nor could he locate the car. The officer asked James where he could find his brother Terry, James informed the officer that Terry had taken off to California with Clifford Oliver. Wow, am I the only one that thinks the Gutierrez brothers, well at least Terry, needed to be looked into further and maybe been asked to provide DNA samples?
Over the years there have been a number of problems with the Lake Waco Murders case that have been analyzed, publicized and politicized to the umpteenth degree while other issues and facts remain elusive and silenced hidden in inconspicuously missing files and redacted reports sitting in some dark corner somewhere like the drunk uncle at Thanksgiving dinner you hide in the corner hoping no one will notice or worse yet bust open with truths no one wants to hear. So it is with the Lake Waco Murder case and why? The answer is simple. When Brian Pardo became David Wayne Spence’s first champion in 1996 the first thing he realized he needed to do was get publicity for the case keep it in the public eye, that’s how Fred Dannen got involved in turn Bob Herbert wrote his pieces in the New York papers and so on and so on. Finally Pardo concluded there just wasn’t enough nor did the facts support his once strongly held belief that we was 100% sure David Wayne Spence was innocent and disappeared from the battle leaving the publicity machine in the hands of his acolytes such as Fred Dannen and Bernadette Feazell with their own agendas; money and revenge, the unholy tag team that can bury any truth beyond the depths of discovery. So misinformation, fact bending and straight out lies dominated what we’ve been told about the case until many take it to be the truth. That’s why we keep hearing the same old baseless story about Terry “Tab Harper as we just heard from that most recent podcast. How many times have we heard about the bite mark evidence being junk science, I would say that’s true but it has already been adjudicated repeatedly, two major legal obstacles remain and are essentially unmovable. Though often reported, falsely I remind you, that the bite mark evidence was the only evidence against David Spence the reality is that is technically not true, as the appeal courts clearly state in their decisions on the issue, the bite mark evidence does not stand alone, the courts have to be mindful of the testimony of witnesses whose testimony has not been impeached and take everything that was presented to the jury as a whole for it is not the purpose nor within the power of the Appellate Court to replace the jury. And secondly the defense’s own expert testified the bite mark evidence could not prove David Spence’s guilt but it could not eliminate him either. The jury heard both sides and chose what they believed to hold more weight which is their sworn duty and not done in error and the appellate courts cannot undo that. But we will keep hearing stories about the bite mark evidence being junk science just like we keep hearing about Tab Harper. We keep hearing about the testimony of the jail birds, Hey I think it was a bad idea to use it, it’s so unreliable and usually leads to the mess we now have but it was allowed at the time and again the courts have decided on this, won’t get into the details of their findings it’s just a waste of time. Then we have my favorite of all, the vehicles or more precisely Gilbert Melendez’ multiple versions of what vehicle they were in or used that night.
Gilbert’s guessing game on the cars used that night has been told and retold as much as any modern day fable but how often in these often told tales do we hear what Gilbert first said when asked what car he was in when he testified in both trials? His original answer both times was he thought he was in a Pontiac and we all know who had a Pontiac; Clifford Oliver. Gilbert’s testimony just as any single piece of information in a circumstantial case, because this would be circumstantial evidence can’t stand alone. Fortunately, well I guess depending on how you look at it but the Waco Police never did look into it, we have other interesting pieces of information that put together might not make a complete picture, they do leave us with a lot of intriguing questions that should warrant further review. Remember it was Clifford’s vandalized car that Mr. Franks found at Midway Park in the early morning hours of July 14th that set off alarm bells and got the investigation started. Clifford Oliver would be driving that car off the impound lot as Mr. Franks was finally filling out a missing persons report at the police station officially opening the investigation at 9:00 a.m. that morning. Rolling off the lot with any physical evidence failed to be detected at the time due to the fact the investigation hadn’t started yet. All we are left with are the items found in the car noted in the reports of the responding officers but even then the items listed found on the front seat stir intrigue; two hair brushes, a towel and a screw driver. Yes all three are common enough items one could find in a car but put together in this case, I don’t know. The first two items I believe any reader can put their Sherlock Holmes caps on and deduce how they could be connected to the case. But it’s the third item that might be the most telling, well if you put it together with another little piece of information. Just as Gilbert’s changing stories have received a ton of publicity so has his brother’s maybe the only difference is Anthony didn’t have as many different versions but we’ve heard them all to some point. What we usually don’t get to hear is some of his most interesting testimony. So let’s take a look at what Anthony states first happened after they picked up the kids and pulled into the woods, remind you Anthony had seen David Spence’s unpredictable violent behavior before when David chased him out of the house wielding a hatchet back in November 1981. In his testimony Tony states David and Jill were fighting in the car and seeing David so worked up and agitated Anthony decides everybody should just get out of the car, unsure and somewhat afraid of what David was going to do he picked up a screw driver that was laying in the floor just in case he had to defend himself. Again circumstantial but another little piece and put together with others you would think somebody might have wanted to check into it and there is even more. The check Clifford used to pay to get his car back that morning bounced and he returned two days later to take care of that, that would have been Friday July 16th. At that time the Waco Police were still interested in talking to anyone that had been out at the lake the night of the murders and still unsure where the murders had actually happened and the victims’ car and bodies being found in different parks around the lake anybody that was at any of the parks around the lake that night were of interest. Since Clifford’s car had been found at Midway Park he could not deny he was there and when he returned to take care of the bounced check Lt. Marvin Horton interviewed Clifford. And this is where we start to run into big problems with Clifford Oliver. Although he would testify he told Horton he and his friends left Midway Park and went to Koehne Park that night and then they went to David Spence’s and David told him he had been out at the lake with Tony, there is nothing about this in Horton’s report. Yes there is a chance Horton just forgot to put this in his report but I find that highly unlikely. That Lt Horton, in charge of the biggest case in the history of Waco up to that time just let information like this just slip from his mind. That he and the department in general were trying to find and talk to anybody that was at the lake that night and when names were coming in the police were checking their files to see if they had anything on any of these individuals as there names came in and Clifford gives them two names and neither are checked. Anthony Melendez was a fugitive at the time, wanted for a robbery and sexual assault where the other two culprits had already been convicted and stated Anthony was the one that pulled a knife out on the teenage daughter and raped her and we are to believe Clifford gave Horton Anthony’s name and Horton did nothing. If Clifford had mentioned this to Horton everybody would have known and been on the look out for Anthony Melendez his picture would have been everywhere, on every news cast, news paper and bulletin board from post offices to grocery stores. That none of this happened has to lead us to one conclusion Clifford Oliver did not tell any of this to Horton nor the fact that he and David returned to Koehne Park the following morning, he lied and this lying would come out during the Grand Jury and that testimony was sealed for years kept away from inquiring eyes. Horton didn’t write anything in his reports on the Lake Waco Murders case about his interview with Clifford Oliver because Clifford did not give him any information Horton thought was pertinent to that case. Hey I have talked to Clifford Oliver and he still can’t keep his stories straight. By his lying Clifford Oliver was able to get himself off the hook and get out of town before anyone else would connect his name to the murders. But there were two people that would eventually connect Clifford Oliver to the murders but by that time the Waco Police were not interested. As with so many things in this case there is a little uncertainty when Clifford Oliver’s name was first brought to the attention of any law enforcement agency. We do have the indisputable fact that Josie Scionti called the crime stoppers hot line in December of 1982 reporting that Clifford Oliver had shown her, her sister and brother in-law where the murders took place, again Waco Police did nothing with this information. Luckily this information was passed on to Truman Simons and the Sheriff’s Office took it from there. Clifford was back in Waco at the time after finishing his basic training in the Navy and even though Clifford Oliver bailed on their first scheduled interview, he was interviewed once before he returned to the Navy. So it looks like Josie was probably the first person to mention Clifford’s name in connection to the murders. But we have another account which dating becomes more difficult, this would come from Christine Juhl, she states at some point early on after Truman Simons had called her and asked her to return to Waco so they could talk which would have been September 15, 1982 when she was informed that Simons and Baier were looking at her ex-boyfriend with whom she lived with at the time at the murders, David Spence, she stated if they were looking at David they should also be looking at Clifford Oliver because she knew they were together that night. This I would think is a seriously damning piece of information, the question becomes when did Christine give it. Unfortunately Christine is just as unreliable as Clifford Oliver. I have talked to Christine numerous times and like Clifford she can’t keep her stories straight either. To be fair I don’t believe Christine had anything to do with the murders, I do believe at some point shortly after the murders she knew what happened and decided to get out of there without saying anything to anybody, can’t blame her there she was probably afraid for her life, so the question becomes when did she finally decide to start sharing some of the information she had. In her account it was shortly after she was first contacted but the records and reports don’t support this. And although Truman Simons’ account in the book Careless Whispers is bias at best again the reports are more in line with what he says, Christine did not cooperate when they first met, she asking more questions than she answered like she was pumping them for the information they had. Christine’s time with David Wayne Spence was a nightmare but and maybe because of that her life decisions and behavior were a little strange right afterwards. And again we can’t positively without a doubt prove which version is more accurate. What chain of events we have records on more than likely support Truman’s account. Christine gets mad with me when I say this. It’s like this, there is little in the reports on Clifford Oliver during the original investigation just that his car was found that morning vandalized at Midway Park and then when he tried to report that same car stolen at the end of July. We don’t hear any thing about him again until Josie makes her call until December, which would point to Christine’s admission being after that. Truman Simons’ says Christine was not cooperative early on and there is nothing that supports she was. The first thing we get as evidence of her cooperation is after she is arrested in the Spring of 1983 for shoplifting, she hates being in jail and wants to get out and this looks like when she started to cooperate. Her 8 page typed up statement that would be the basis for her later testimony was produced at this time. This looks like the first time she mentions Clifford Oliver and then there is another document that would support this timeline. Again after Simons had interviewed Clifford at the Sheriff’s office in late December 1982 Clifford returned to the Navy where he was when Christine made her statement and after she made her statement the Navy was contacted and it would be Naval Intelligence that would interview Clifford Oliver and it would be this report that would be the basis of his later testimony. So it’s looks like Clifford Oliver didn’t tell the truth about anything until after other people brought up his name and then he tried to weave his story around the information they had on him.
There is another piece of information out there which brings into question what vehicle was used that night but again when this was first mentioned leaves it’s veracity questionable. During the first trials, Spence’s two trials and Deeb’s first trial, this was never mentioned by anyone or questioned by anyone, again other than Gilbert saying he thought he was in a Pontiac before changing it to David’s car, no one would testified to this at the time, not one defense attorney tried to bring this into question which if true I find hard to believe. In the same Deeb supplemental appeal where the information about Anthony Melendez’ cousins owning two vans, Deeb and his attorney try to argue that David Wayne Spence’s car was not in running order the night of the murders and therefor could not have been used. An interesting claim but why would this be the first time we would hear this, surely you would think the defense in any of the trials up to that point would have argued this point, including Deeb’s original appeal. Deeb and his court appointed attorney would argue this in this supplemental appeal. In their argument Deeb states he wanted to present this at his first trial and he wanted to call two witnesses to corroborate, one; J.D. Leverich, sorry I probably have the last name wrong, the mechanic that David had taken his car to, according to the testimony of Clifford Oliver and Todd Childers this happened the morning after the murders and the car was in running order at that time. But he had passed away before Deeb’s first trial. This mechanic was interviewed at some point but that interview is among the missing files, it would be very interesting to see what he had to say about this. The second witness Deeb wanted to call was Christine Juhl but she refused to testify for the defense. When Christine finally did testify for the state during Deeb’s re-trial she doesn’t say anything about David’s car not being in running order that night, actually she testifies just as Clifford and Childers had done 10 years earlier that they took the car to the mechanic the morning after the murders. When I first started talking to Christine she told me this story that David’s car was not running the night of the murders, now more in line with what Deeb was saying in 1992/93 and according to her the fly wheel was busted . She added that David was with Clifford Oliver in Clifford’s car and that they were together much earlier than anyone stated while on the stand including herself. She was now claiming shortly after she went to work that evening at 6:00 p.m. , she and another employee were standing out in front of the store smoking a cigarette and they saw David and Clifford drive by. After Christine told me this I asked her why she didn’t say any of this when she testified, she replied Vic Feazell and Truman Simons weren’t interested in the truth. I pointed out to her when she testified Vic Feazell was no longer handling the case it was Bill Lane and David Chapman and they weren’t trying to sell the same story as Vic and Truman, I really didn’t get a reply to that. So make of this what you like but that now we have two people that claimed the car wasn’t running and possibly a third account if we can ever find the missing files and see what the mechanic had to say and put together with Christine stating they were in Clifford’s Pontiac and Gilbert’s first replies to the question when asked during his testimony what car he was in, in both cases he says he thought it was a Pontiac and add to that Josie Scionti tells the police Clifford Oliver took her to the place where the murders took place and it was her account that led to the determination where the murders happened, afterwards the Melendez brothers were taken to the area separately and both came within feet of the same area Josie had taken law enforcement. There was a tree there that had some significance in the murders, I think widely reported that Jill Montgomery was able to break away but her attackers caught up with her in the area of this tree. Again there could be some truth to this and again maybe some of the details have gotten mixed up. Gilbert Melendez testified it was the blonde girl, not mentioning a name that made a run for it while David was trying to work up Anthony telling him they all had to take part in the murders. One other thing I find interesting in regards to Clifford Oliver’s connection to this case is one of the guys that was with Clifford that night and in turn with David Spence was John Arnett Jr., the younger half brother of Anthony and Gilbert and remember after Gilbert decided to cooperate the second time, after he lied and immunity was taken off the table he said he lied originally to protect his brother. Of coarse many just assume he meant Anthony but Gilbert never says what brother he was talking about and this family had a history of lying to protect each other. Again I remind you Anthony Melendez was still on the loose and a fugitive of the law at the time of the murders because his mother lied to police after they were told by Tony’s partners in crime that he lived with his mother, she lied and said she hadn’t seen him in over a year, then the family migrated back to Waco and then their extended family helped Anthony evade law enforcement while he lived and worked with them. So what does all this add up to, I don’t know, maybe nothing, I seriously doubt that. At least I think it should have and still should be looked into and none of these guys ; Clifford Oliver nor the guys that were with him and David Spence; John Arnett Jr., Todd Childers and Cal Frazier were asked to provide DNA samples, I believe that was a mistake and they should still now provide samples.
For about the last 25 years we have heard the same thing the same story, ever since Brian Pardo started his publicity campaign in 1996 but how often do we hear about Clifford Oliver, John Arnett Jr., Josie Scionti, Todd Childers, Cal Frazier, Henry Reyes, Tommy Walker and so many others that could shed light on information and facts that have been kept in the dark for so long. So, do we see and understand the effect this has had on the case? Unfortunately I don’t think so. Let’s just take a look at the DNA evidence and how that story has been told since the turn of the century. We often hear about the circuitous journey the DNA samples took from lab to lab until finally the samples weren’t any good, then we had the blame game, it was the fault of the State of Texas though all evidence to the contrary but that has been the purpose of the publicity machine the whole time that the prosecution was wrong, wrong , wrong every step of the way. Let’s calm down for a minute and look at what we know and how that can be of some use from here on out. The lab in California run by Dr. Edward Blake ran the DNA test, this was the lab that did not find any matches from the individuals that had supplied samples. In running the test that lab would have created DNA profiles, the samples might have been destroyed along the way but the profiles should still exist, if they don’t we should find out what happened to them. Having those profiles all that needs to been done is collect new samples and compare them to the old profiles, the profiles don’t change over time. I know his is easier said than done, just the cost alone is a crippling obstacle and then how would you go about collecting the samples, trust me at this point no one is just going to voluntary give samples and you can’t blame them, everyone wants to keep their name as far away from this case as possible. And as Brian Pardo realized decades ago, we have to at least get the information out there, we need to let people hear this side of the story and allow all this information to be properly vetted, all the information should be evaluated and scrutinized but the first step is to make the public aware this information exist and there are possibilities, possibilities I believe many would like to see come to fruition and finally get answers to some of the long lingering questions.
You don’t see the likes of Fred Dannen and Bernadette Feazell offering solutions or ideas how to move on from the set backs this case as suffered, no they just want to cry about how Vic Feazell and Truman Simons are such bad men. And again the reason is simple they want to distract from the facts, they will never call for new samples, the samples they had didn’t match their ringer Terry “Tab” Harper and now they have to worry whom the samples will match and the exposure of their lies. They won’t try to pursue new samples because in all likely hood any matches we could get from any individuals more than likely would only go to further implicate David Spence and the Melendez brothers, maybe not directly but the individual that did match will have a story to tell and I would be very surprised if their story didn’t include David, Anthony and Gilbert. I would put the likely hood of this being the case at 88%. Fred Dannen and Bernadette Feazell can’t have that that messes up their agendas.
Since I started delving into this case way back in the Spring of 1993 from a motel office in Ocean City Maryland I have been asked many times and by many different people if I believe David Wayne Spence, Muneer Mohammed Deeb, Anthony Melendez and Gilbert Melendez are guilty what’s my point. I guess that’s a fair question and my answer is simple; those four can still be guilty and we don’t know the truth as to what really happened, I believe we are far from it. From the beginning this story was told by people with a reason to lie and a history of dishonesty from the convicts, Anthony and Gilbert Melendez, Clifford Oliver to people like Gayle Kelly and Christine Juhl, Do we really believe we were given the truth from that collection of story tellers. Then came along Fred Dannen and Bernadette Feazell weaving their tale, the story changed but not the degree of dishonesty, I would say it soared to new heights. How has it been allowed to stand unopposed for decades and how does it still stand today and maybe into the future? I say it can’t. But that will take an effort of many.
And that is the most troublesome thing about this case, the story that has been told for decades and been accepted by the general public is the story they want to believe. Proving Texas put to death an innocent man, that’s the money shot, Fred Dannen knew this, this is why he jumped at the chance to write a book about it when he first heard the story back in 1997. The sad and ugly truth is that’s it’s the story people want; right a wrong, rectify an injustice, the little man defeats the big bad justice system like it’s some kind of feel good story, the reality is there is nothing feel good about this story, there never will be and most likely the truth is going to be worse than what we have been told. A young man comes to this country wanting to benefit from our liberties, freedom and opportunities but he didn’t respect our laws and customs, aggravated by his inability to fit in he decided to lash out on helpless unsuspecting kids. Unable to carry this out alone he hired some knuckleheads to do the actual dirty work, individuals well versed in criminal and violent behavior. Unknown to Deeb he set loose a psychopath that enjoyed inflicting pain on others. To make matters worse some of the people that took part in the crime to some degree were as young if not younger than the teenage victims. Years later the man that set all these horrendous events in motion gets released from prison and is treated like some kind of hero from the human rights community. Unbelievable but that’s the story the public doesn’t want to hear; a guilty man being released only to commit further crimes. teenagers maybe not taking part in the rapacious acts of their adult companions but maybe just callous enough to discard the bodies of their peers in a isolated and secluded park laying their bodies out to rot away. No people don’t want to hear that story they would rather believe the fairy tales like some Disney Land creation.
We have already seen this in this case, well a case that usually gets connected to this case and sometimes gets more coverage in articles about the Lake Waco Murders than the murders do, of coarse that would be the murder of David Spence’s mother Juanita White. Again I admit my knowledge on this case is limited but you just can’t miss it while looking into the Lake Waco Murders. What I do know is the two men that were originally convicted; Washington and Williams, were released with the aid of Fred Dannen. He and all those that aided him are patting their selves on the back, pumping out their chest and telling anybody who will listen to their story of how they took down the Goliath Justice system, you see that story in all the media year after year. You know what you don’t see or rarely see, I think I saw it mentioned in one line in one article. Both Washington and Williams were arrested again and sent back to prison for crimes they committed after they were released. Imagine that, one was a career criminal, stolen cars and drugs mostly the other was too young to be considered a career criminal but he had already racked up a few charges and they got out and committed more crimes. Like I said you rarely hear that story and again simply because people don’t want to hear that a career and dangerous criminal was unleashed on society to commit more crimes , they don’t want to hear the truth. I guess I could use the Famous line from the popular movie A Few Good Men, ” You can’t handle the truth” but the pop culture reference I find more apropos comes from my favorite book and I will end as it did, ” The Horror, the Horror, the Horror”!!!
Recently I commented on the fact that I see so many things published on the internet repeating the same old lies and misinformation that have been repeated for the last 25 years and of coarse I came across another recent post repeating the cringe worthy falsehood that six eye witnesses testified they saw Tab Harper at the park the night of the murders. As I always do I will ask this latest distributor of misinformation if they can name the six eye witnesses, I have to wait until I’m allowed to make comments. Now I know I won’t get an answer, I never do, for the simple fact they don’t exist, so I won’t be surprised but just once I would like one of these individuals that feel the need to continually repeat this lie just come out and admit they don’t have the answer because they are just repeating something they saw written somewhere else but I won’t hold my breath the machine that is the fiction factory doesn’t work like that, their motto is don’t let the facts stand in the way of their truth. So here is said post
1982 Lake Waco Murders
Thread starterGarAndMo39 Start dateFeb 13, 2020 Tagscold case lake waco murder texas waco
Not a Sheeple!
Feb 13, 2020
This case is technically “solved”; however, many questions remain (not the least of which is: was an innocent men executed?). I was living in Waco for several years; left a couple of months before this happened. I knew Vic Feazell casually- he was having trysts w/ my room mate. My impression of him was/is *smarmy*- not just because he was married & screwing around, but because he literally came across that way- just exuded ego, anything for attention, nasty personality in general. Also, the media makes this case sound like an aberration in Waco, and, honestly, it wasn’t. I sobered up in 1980; in early 1981 an acquaintance from the program & her boyfriend went to Koehne Park to try to score some weed; the boyfriend was shot and killed. It wasn’t at all unusual for people to be shot, stabbed, etc. in Waco- I worked in medicine, and not a weekend went by without shootings & stabbings coming into the E.R. Anyway, will comment more later; hope to hear others’ opinions!
The 1982 Lake Waco Murders refers to the deaths of three teenagers (two females, one male) near Lake Waco in Waco, Texas, in July 1982. The police investigation and criminal trials that followed the murders lasted for more than a decade and resulted in the execution of one man, David Wayne Spence, as well as life prison sentences for two other men allegedly involved in the crime, Anthony and Gilbert Melendez. A fourth suspect, Muneer Mohammad Deeb, was eventually let out after spending several years in prison.
On July 13, 1982, two fishermen discovered the bodies of Jill Montgomery, 17, Raylene Rice, 17, and Kenneth Franks, 18, in Speegleville Park, near Lake Waco. Franks’ body was found propped against a tree, with sunglasses over his eyes. All three victims had been repeatedly stabbed, and both of the women’s throats had been slashed. There was also evidence that the women had been sexually assaulted.
The investigation was initially headed by Lieutenant Marvin Horton of the Waco police department, with assistance from Detective Ramon Salinas and Patrolman Mike Nicoletti. Truman Simons, who was with the Waco police department at the time and had been one of the first respondents on the scene of the crime, also assisted the investigation in an informal capacity.
Initially, the investigation revealed a number of different possible suspects, including James Russell Bishop  and Terry Harper, local residents who had been tied to the area at the time of the crime. However, both men were found to have credible alibis (Harper’s was later proven false when Spence’s attorneys investigated it), and in September of that year, the investigation began to stall and was marked as “suspended.” Simons, who had taken a significant personal interest in the case, requested that he be given permission to continue investigating the case, which he was subsequently granted.
The case languished for nearly a year, until the work of Simons and others had produced enough evidence to again arrest Deeb and three alleged accomplices in the plot. Deeb had had a life insurance policy for one employee at his convenience store who bore a striking resemblance to Jill Montgomery. Simons hypothesized that Deeb had hired David Wayne Spence to murder her, and that Spence and two friends, Anthony and Gilbert Melendez, had seen the victims and mistaken Montgomery for the target. They speculated that the other two victims had been murdered because they were witnesses.
Deeb, Spence, and the Melendez brothers were all indicted late in 1983. District Attorney Vic Feazell, whose office had been instrumental in continuing to pursue new evidence in the case, would manage the prosecution against the accused. Spence and both Melendez brothers were, at the time, already serving prison sentences for various crimes.
The evidence against the men largely consisted of testimony provided by other inmates, who claimed that the defendants had admitted to their involvement in the killings in private discussions, as well as confessions made by Anthony and Gilbert Melendez. Also considered was the confession Deeb had made to the two young women about his involvement in the killings, as well as the life insurance policy he had taken out for his employee. Bite marks on the victims were also presented as evidence of Spence’s involvement.
The trials began in May, with testimony from dental specialists supplementing the evidence that had been provided by the prison witnesses. In June, Anthony Melendez pleaded guilty to the crimes and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Spence’s case was badly damaged by Melendez’ confession, which played a key role in his eventual conviction in July 1984. Unlike Melendez, Spence was sentenced to death for his involvement in the killings.
In 1986, true-crime writer Carlton Stowers published his account of the murders and police investigation surrounding the Lake Waco murders, Careless Whispers. The book focused heavily on Truman Simons’ involvement in producing the evidence which led to the convictions.
Following the convictions of Spence and Deeb, some began to question the substance of the evidence on which the convictions had been based and the methods through which it had been obtained. Forensic odontologist Homer Campbell was proven to have made false assessments at around the same time, and when a blind panel examined the alleged bite marks and a mold of Spence’s teeth, three said that the marks were not even bite marks, and the other two matched them to a Kansas housewife. Three of the seven people who said Spence confessed later stated that Simons had offered them privileges in order to secure their testimony and had fed them info on what to say. Spence’s lawyers also discovered an alternate suspect in Terry Harper, a local thug with a history of knife-related offenses. Six witnesses testified to seeing Harper and his friends in the park on the night of the murder, and others claimed that he had boasted of committing the murders (some even said that he did this even before the crime was made public). Also, one of the victims, Kenneth Franks, was later found to have been an associate of Harper’s in the drug trade. When Harper was interviewed by Spence’s lawyers, he claimed that he was at home watching Dynasty; records showed that Dynasty did not air that night. Brian Pardo, a wealthy Texas businessman, met Spence a few months prior to his execution and, on becoming convinced of his innocence, launched a campaign to delay his death sentence so that a new trial could be commenced. His efforts were unsuccessful, but they brought attention to the case following Spence’s execution.
Bob Herbert wrote a series of articles for The New York Times in 1997, with headlines such as “The Wrong Man” and “The Impossible Crime,” in which he claimed that the case had been “cobbled […] together from the fabricated and often preposterous testimony of inmates who were granted all manner of favors in return.” 
1982 Lake Waco murders – Wikipedia
As I have stated many times before this will be how things will proceed in the future we will get stories that are even further from the truth than we are now. Honestly I don’t know the source of this second article I’m about to share but to me it looks like it might have come from the writings of Fred Dannen for his future book on the case, maybe somebody won them in a poker game down in Mexico, Fred Dannen realized he couldn’t cash in on all the lies he was trying to sell and all the pages he wrote worthless so he decided to try to make something out of it and put them up on a hand of poker, he lost, hey he’s a loser what do you expect. Anyway in this article the author tries to retell the fanciful and whimsical story about how the victims and their eventual killers were hanging out having a great time together at the park kicking back drinking a few beers and smoking a few doobies, the kids were having such a good time they didn’t want to go home and when they ran out of beer they decided to jump in the car to go get more, oh doesn’t it sound like such a good time, well let’s get back to reality. I know this is the story Anthony Melendez tried to tell at one time, people he was trying to minimize his culpability; Hey I didn’t know what David Spence was going to do we were all having fun hanging out and partying together. His ploy to hopefully aid in gaining parole in 10 years as the brothers thought they were promised. I would suggest for anyone that has questions about this party in the park, which I would add no one else saw or interested in the truth they should read the autopsy and/or the testimony of the M.E. that performed that autopsy Dr. M.F.G. Gilliland, Dr Gilliland even explains how during an autopsy they can get a minute alcohol reading in the bodies of the victims as they did in this case and how they determine if that reading is caused by consuming alcohol or by decomposition of the body, it’s all so very educational. So we have the account of the accused Anthony Melendez with a history of trying to avoid responsibility for his actions or we have the expertise testimony and science provided by Dr. Gilliland, call me crazy but I’m siding with the doctor on this one. So without further ado I share with you a little piece titled The Case Of The Lonely Loser:
The Case of the Lonely Loser
A Strange Story of a Strange and Lonely Loser
In 1982, David Spence was accused of the rape and murder of two 17-year-old girls and one 18-year-old boy in Waco, Texas. Spence was a loner, and a loser, even by the standards of loners and losers in Waco, Texas. That is saying something. If it was alright to kill innocent losers and loners, however, then Spence would be a story that had no importance, no significance.
But as we know, the death penalty is reserved for heinous crimes that need a certain strain of retribution for justice to be achieved. Because it is a high crime deserving a severe penalty, the murder of innocents is often reserved for the death penalty. Because of the exclusive nature of the death penalty, the conviction needs to be certain, beyond any doubt, now or ever; a penalty that can never be undone needs to never be doubted even for a moment.
Unfortunately, this story of a lonely loser does not meet that special standard, and it is entirely possible that this lonely loser was nothing more, yet executed anyway.
David Spence received the death penalty in two trials for the murders of three young kids. Adolescents Kenneth Franks, Jill Montgomery and Rayleen Rice, all aged 17, were found in a wooded area of Speegleville Park at Lake Waco on July 13, 1982.
Add to this carnage is another element. Add to this awfulness a motive beyond Spence. According to prosecutors, Spence was hired by a local convenience store to kill the three teenagers. This was a murder for hire, according to prosecutors. Muneer Deeb, a convenience store owner, hired Spence to do the murders.
Deeb was also charged but late acquitted.
The Case of the Wrong Carlos
The Story of The Lonely Loser
The story of the Lonely Loser begins on the morning of July 13, 1982. Jill Montgomery and Raylene Rice drove to Waco to pick up and cash Jill’s paycheck from the Fort Fisher Ranger Museum, and to meet their friend Kenneth Franks.
Later that day, the three drove to Koehne Park, located on the banks of Lake Waco.
They were never seen alive again by their loved ones.
Their bodies were found in a wooded area of Speegleville Park, across the lake from Koehne Park, a day later.
It seems that after arriving at the park, Kenneth, Jill, and Raylene encountered Spence and his cohorts, Anthony (Tony) and Gilbert Melendez. All were friendly and out for a good time. It was like a day playing hookie from school. It didn’t matter who you were with, because everyone was released from responsibility and looking to enjoy the freedom, even if it was a short freedom and with new friends.
The six new friends hung out together for some time, drinking beer and smoking marijuana joints. The booze and drugs helped to make new friends bond closely and quickly, and soon, the new friendships seemed like older, more solid relationships. Apprehensions were erased ion the hazy inebriation, and questions that would normally be asked went assumed, warnings normally raised were left unheard. This was a classic case of “fast friends.” Soon it would be much, much more dangerous.
An Unwelcome Advance
After a few hours, in the evening, Spence persuaded the group to go to a convenience store and buy more beer. The party was too fun to end so soon, and for it to continue, more beer was needed. No one wanted to go back to their normality, the escape was too welcome. The new friends were such fun. The idea of not continuing to drink and smoke was out of the question.
So off they went, the new friends. In the car of their new friend, David Spence, these teens were excited by the attention of an older, cool adult. They would score more beer without a problem, as Spence would surely buy for them all.
Turing to Jill, who sat next to to him in the front seat of his car, a late model Ford Pinto, Spence reached over to help her with the seat belt. His hand grazed her breast slightly, and lingered. It was just long enough for Jill to notice it’s deliberate hesitation, and their eyes met in an uncomfortable recognition of the intention. It was unwelcome, and now they both knew it.
After they got to the store, Spence asked what everyone wanted and went into the Store. A few six packs and a pack of smokes, plus chips for Jill and jerky for Raylene was all they needed, plus some hope that everyone would be cool.
While in the store, Jill told Raylene about what Spence had done, and asked her to stay close. With a friend along, maybe Spence would get the hint and forget about anything beyond a party. In retrospect, it seems like a naive hope of a young girl.
Devil In The White City
An offer she couldn’t refuse
After climbing back into the car, Spence showered the kids with the beer, smokes and snacks. Spritis rose again as Spence turned the car back toward the park; the party was back on. En route in his car, Spence attempted to grab Jill’s breast again. this time it was more direct, and his look was more determined. He meant to have something more for his largess. He ment Jill to deliver for him.
When she resisted, they argued heatedly. Spence then warned Kenneth and Jill he was going to “get even” with them “for some dope that he [Kenneth) had burned me for.” Kenneth denied he had “burned” Spence for anything.
Of course this was just talk, angry drunken talk. The beer and pot were talking now, and emotions were now dramatic and intense.
This was a bad situation from the start. The party was spiraling into bad behavior, with dangerous intent toward Jill and Raylene. Spence had claimed he was rebuffed for a romantic advance, and blamed Kenneth for it. On the surface, it was mistaken, petty and jealous. It was just the environment for an outbreak of anger, even violent anger.
It gets worse
Spence turned and drove back into a wooded area in Koehne Park. After everyone got out of the car, he produced a knife and in vile terms ordered Jill and Raylene to undress.
Terrified now, the girls immediately complied. Pulling up their t-shirts, Spence watched and became more easy in his demeanor. He was in control, and he liked it. He was getting his way and he wanted more.
Spence then forced Jill to walk with him to another part of the park. Gilbert Melendez, along for the party and friend of Spence who was drunk and high, ordered Raylene to get into the car.
Gilbert then raped her.
From Bad To Worse
Spence told Anthony to bring Kenneth, forcibly, to where he was with Jill, so that Kenneth could watch him rape Jill. Spence forced Jill to the ground, sat on her legs, and rubbed her breasts with his knife.
He then raped her while Kenneth and Anthony watched. After Spence finished, Anthony traded places with him and raped Jill. Spence marched Kenneth back to the car where he raped Raylene.
The girls were found bound and nude with their throats slashed and all three teens had been repeatedly stabbed. The grisly nature of the killing made for sensational headlines, of course.
Truman Simons (far right) helping carry the body of the teenagers out from the brush in Speegleville Park on July 14, 1982.
Waco Tribune -Herald
A Strange Twist
What was even more head-turning was the bite marks. The victims were bitten by their assailant.
The rape and murder of these two girls is even more horrific in the case facts, as the knife and other instruments were used in deliberate and shocking manner. While these details were most likely emphasized by the prosecution at trial, the most shocking piece of evidence was not seemingly important at all.
You see, the story you have just read is the story the prosecution would like you to believe. The story of the friends, the party the car ride, the advance and the argument all add up to murder in the view of the prosecution. The problem is that it can’t be proven.
In a death penalty case, evidence is important. Unfortunately the evidence in this case should not have been enough to convict Spence of murder. Indeed, it is amazing to think that Spence was ever arrested.
The prosecution could provide no evidence that Spence had ever been at the scene of the murder. There was no DNA evidence, hair, blood, semen or saliva matching Spence anywhere. His car was clean, and he claimed that on the night of the killing his car was broken, unable to drive anywhere.
The lack of any evidence placing Spence at the scene would seem to be reason to doubt the charges that he conducted a messy, bloody violent rape and murder with a knife and his teeth.
It was the bite marks on Montgomery’s body led to Spence’s conviction.
The state testified that the bite marks on one of the victims matched the bite of Spence, a claim that is subjective and unsupported by any clear science. A person’s bite marks are not like fingerprints, and bite marks can vary from day to day and bite to bite.
Nevertheless, with the bite marks and the testimony of two jail house informants who claimed Spence admitted to them he did the deed, Spence was found guilty.
And do not forget that the Waco, Texas police swore up and down that Spence was guilty. Unfortunately, the police have a well established tradition of lying on the stand, and suffering no penalty for doing so. Once again, the public trust in police is abused and innocent people suffer. Only when we reexamine this blind spot in our justice system will we begin to see a positive change in the administration of the law and real justice for all.
His motion to challenge the testimony of police in this case was denied without comment. Police testimony is often the most convincing and least questionable in the minds of jurists, even when it seems likely that errors in police work exist. In this case it seems that there was actual corruption, as well.
A Loser, a snitch and a bite
The prosecution built its case against Mr. Spence around bite marks — a state expert said that bite marks on the body of one of the girls matched Mr. Spence’s teeth — and jailhouse snitches, both of which can be highly unreliable forms of evidence.
The prosecution built its case against Spence around bite marks that a state expert said matched Spence’s teeth and jailhouse snitches.
Two of the six jailhouse witnesses who testified at trial later recanted, saying they were given cigarettes, television and alcohol privileges, and conjugal visits for their testimonies.
In spite of the damaging forensic evidence and testimony linking Spence to the crime, Waco attorney Russell D. Hunt, Sr. was convinced of Spence’s innocence.
“He was convicted on jailbird testimony that was bought and paid for with conjugal visits and such,” Hunt said. “The State was trying somebody who was probably innocent.”
Spence’s post-conviction lawyers had a blind panel study in which five experts said the bite marks could not be matched to Spence’s. Even the original homicide investigator on the case said he had serious doubts about Spence’s guilt and a former Waco police detective involved in the case said he did not think Spence committed the crime.
His last statement before his execution was,
“Yes, I do. First of all, I want you to understand I speak the truth when I say I didn’t kill your kids. Honestly I have not killed anyone. I wish you could get the rage from your hearts and you could see the truth and get rid of the hatred.
HE finished, defeated, saying,” I love you all – (names of children) – Corey, Steve (garbled) – This is very important. I love ya’ll and I miss ya’ll. O.K., now I’m finished.”
Then the executioners began their process of injecting the deadly cocktail into an arm not guilty, into a man wrongly convicted.
David Spence was executed by lethal injection on April 14, 1997
My last post was getting too long but there was another detail I wanted to point out from the original article, again being something I mentioned recently about how the wording or how some one chooses their words and how that can alter or bend the facts, I know some of you must wonder what is he just rambling on about this time, so I thought this would be the perfect example of how someone bent the facts with the words they carefully chose and in doing so change the perception and public’s understanding of the case. I’m going to take just one sentence from that article, but that just goes to show you how the smallest of detail the minimum of words can turn a case and what is believed about that case. In this article in question we can go to the beginning of the third paragraph and read; ” Initially, the investigation revealed a number of different possible suspects, including James Russell Bishop  and Terry Harper, local residents who had been tied to the area at the time of the crime”. From the very first word the fact bending begins; Initially. Just to be clear let’s go to the dictionary, well in this case dictionary.com to get the proper definition of the word, I don’t want you to take my uneducated word on it, so here it is: initial[ ih-nish-uh l ]
of, relating to, or occurring at the beginning; first:
the initial step in a process.
Phonetics. occurring at the beginning of a word or syllable, as the (k) sound of kite, chasm, or quay.
I think it is safe to say initial and/or initially means from the beginning and here is where we have a problem, Tab Harper first became a suspect or the calls about him possibly being involved in the murders started coming in on July 16 two days after the bodies had been discovered, so yes he was a suspect initially or from the beginning and the officers working the case exhausted this lead over the next few weeks until they made the reasonable conclusion there was nothing that connected Harper to the case and he was not involved. The same cannot be said of the other suspect mentioned in that sentence, actually the opposite would be true. James Russell Bishop was never connected to the case in anyway, his name never came up during the original investigation, July 14th through September 3rd, not one person mentioned Bishop in connection to the case in 1982, not initially not from the beginning never. James Russell Bishop’s name never was connected to the case in anyway. So how did Bishop get his name connected to the case and has gone down through the decades following the murders as a suspect. The only reason his name came up was because when he committed his crimes in California on February 21, 1983 the officers working that case in San Diego after Bishop informed them that he was from Waco and had just come to California months before called the Waco police to see if they had a file or any information on him. When the Waco Police saw the similarities in the cases, two teenage girls tied up and raped, they decided to fly out to California to check Bishop out I guess we can agree no harm in checking out what they thought could be a good lead but it should be pointed out that by this time the Waco Police were no longer in charge of the investigation of the Lake Waco Murders, the D.A. office had taken over the case in January to the dismay of the Waco Police and this shows the animosity that existed between the Waco Police Department and Truman Simons and in turn bad blood between the Waco Police Department and the McLennan Sheriff’s Office because they gave aid and support to Simons in working the case against Spence and company, the D.A.’s office because they started to see the merits of Simons’ case and started going in that direction and even the Probation and Parole Office because the Waco Police ignored their calls informing them that David Wayne Spence was possibly involved in the murders. Simply put the original investigators from the Waco Police wanted to find and grasp at anything that could prove Simons was wrong and do nothing to aid in helping his case. That this case was able to proceed at all under these conditions although far from perfect is still somewhat of a miracle. And I want to be crystal clear about this they, the Waco Police, ran off on this trip to California without anything connecting Bishop to the case whatsoever when it wasn’t their case any longer and hadn’t been since the beginning of January but when information came in about the case in the later part of 1982 after they had suspended the case, they didn’t follow up any of those leads because they all pointed to David Wayne Spence. I know I get on Ramon Salinas a lot in regards to this case and I guess I should reserve my frustration with members of the Waco Police department higher up in the chain of command like Lt. Horton and Sgt Fortune. My problem with Salinas is this; back in the mid 90’s after Deeb won his retrial and questions about Harper started making the rounds Salinas defended his decision to release Harper and not charge him with the murders and rightfully so. But when he would be questioned about Spence he would say Spence’s name never came up, which is not true and Salinas still can not admit David Wayne Spence was a viable suspect and should have be checked out. Talk about initially or from the beginning about a week after the murders David’s parole officer calls Salinas and tells him Spence knows something about the murders, remind you at this point Deal, David ‘s parole officer, wasn’t really convinced David had anything to do with the murders that would come later. According to Deal Salinas just wasn’t interested and when Deal started to think David might actually have been involved in the murders he tried to contact Salinas again a number of times but Salinas would not return his calls. Now none of this is in Salinas’ reports and some people may have a problem with that but we do see other times in this case when Salinas fails to mention things in his reports, I would point to the psychic and the other girl that had visions, Salinas only writes that a psychic called gives no details and never mentions the other girl. I would say things he didn’t have faith in he would just try to ignore, that is sloppy police work at least not very professional. And that should be the lesson learned from James Russell Bishop the Waco Police including Salinas, Horton and Fortune would go totally out of their way if they heard something they could discredit Simons with but when they were getting information like the calls from Gene Deal, the September call from Doris Tucker stating she thought Muneer Deeb, David Spence and Christine Juhl had something to do with the murders or the December call from Josie Scionti when she stated Clifford Oliver had taker her, her sister and brother in-law to where the murders happened and that Clifford had told her David Spence had told and shown him, the Waco Police didn’t lift a finger to check any of this out they did absolutely nothing. And people that is the sad legacy of this horrible tragedy, instead of admitting they missed or failed to follow up crucial leads and trying to correct those mistakes the Waco Police decided they would rather become obstacles to the law enforcement officers that were trying to find answers and the truth. James Russell Bishop is just exhibit one of this awful travesty.
Since I always go on about how other sites dealing with this case never answer my questions and delete my post, i.e Bernadette Feazell/Harry Storm, Texas Monthly and countless others that have faded or disappeared over the decades, I have to commend a site when they do respond, a simple response even if not very informative does show the site is trying to be open minded and not jut trying to push their own narrative and/or agenda something this case surely needs more of. And this is the case with the site Crimewatchersnet.com. A few days ago I shared the post they have on their site pertaining to the Lake Waco Murders, this is a rather new site started in February of this year. In these post they published the often repeated falsehood of the 6 eye witnesses that saw Tab Harper at the park the night of the murders and of coarse i had to ask them about this. Here is the response in part; ” Hi @BKL67 ! Wow, thanks for responding to this thread, and for your interest- I can’t wait to hear more about your research! I need to read over these posts again and check out the alleged 6 witnesses- don’t recall hearing about them.” I guess at first glance one would be astounded to hear the person that published this wasn’t aware of the information they were publishing but unfortunately this is how things have been going with this case for decades, people aren’t taking time to read files and reports, fact checking or trying to dig deeper to find new information or information that hasn’t been brought to the attention of the public before, again for decades newspapers, true crime websites, videos and podcast have just been repeating the same story that was created by people with personal agendas I have to say that is not a very productive way to find any new answers or the truth. Hey I am always happy to see new people try to bring attention to the case and keep it in the public eye, I only hope someday in their zeal to share an intriguing crime story they will take the time and make an effort to look for the truth that hasn’t been told and help answer some of the questions that still surround this tragedy. Maybe Crimewatchersnet.com will be that place, at least with open mindedness is a step in the right direction.
July 13, 2020, a pitiful anniversary, 38 years later and still counting. I could just reiterate the multitude of questions that remain but we see where that has gotten us for more than a quarter of a century. Maybe it’s too complex, maybe we’re not focused enough but the answers have to be out there somewhere. So let me focus on some issues and questions I feel would provide many answers. I understand many will disagree with my thinking on this and I’m always open to debate and differing opinions but to me when you put everything together there is one clear conclusion even though it is hidden behind the lies, less than stellar police work and obstructions put forth to deflect from the truth. There were other people involved at least in moving the bodies of the victims. So in that vein a few simple questions.
1) Does moving the bodies of murder victims constitute the criminal offense accessory after the
2) What is the statue of limitations for an accessory after the fact charge in the state of Texas,
when the fact is a triple homicide?
3) When Clifford Oliver’s car was first discovered at Midway Park on the morning of July 14,
1982 Waco PD was able to lift fingerprints from that vehicle. Because Clifford Oliver lied at the
time and didn’t mention he had been with David Spence and at Koehne Park the night of the
murders, he wouldn’t admit to this until Josie Scionti told the police this in December 1982 or
Christine Juhl told the police David and Clifford were together that night during her Interview
in the Spring of 1983, Lt. Horton and the Waco PD had no reason to connect Clifford’s car
with Koehne Park the night of July 13, 1982 when they released it the following morning and
when Horton interviewed Clifford a couple days later. By the time Clifford admitted the truth
Waco PD was no longer working the case. So did anyone go back and check the fingerprints
lifted on July 14th to see if they matched either David Spence, Anthony Melendez or Gilbert
Melendez. Remind you Gilbert’s original answer during both trials when he was asked about
what car he was in he said he thought it was a Pontiac, Clifford’s car was a Pontiac, he would
later correct himself both times. Also Christine Juhl states she saw David in Clifford’s car
earlier that evening and both she and Muneer Deeb have stated David’s car wasn’t in running
order that night. And keep in mind a silver Pontiac was seen at Koehne Park the night of the
murders, I know that’s a little detail that rarely gets mentioned. If David Spence’s or the
Melendez brothers’ prints are on Clifford’s car that would prove they were together in Clifford’s
car well before the timeline they have provided.
3) The same question should be asked about the fingerprints found on Raylene Rice’s car,
again since Clifford Oliver lied about his activities during that time period there was no
connection. But now we know he was lying were his fingerprints and those of the guys with
him, Todd Frazier, John Arnett Jr. and Cal Frazier ever taken and checked against those found
on Raylene’s car?
4) Whatever happened to Clifford’s car, Todd’s truck and I would throw in the Gutierrez’ twins;
James and Terry, car. Clifford tried to report his car stolen but ir was found and the scheme
he had worked up with the Gutierrez twins was revealed. Clifford and Terry Gutierrez then
took off for California. When the police tried to talk to the Gutierrez brothers, remember the
police had been told there was bad blood between the brothers and Kenneth Franks over the
car. Terry had already taken off with Clifford and James told the police the car had been in
an accident and they had gotten rid of it. Waco PD were never able to confirm the accident,
no report of such incident and had not located the car by the time the investigation of the Lake
Waco Murders was suspended. So what happened to all these vehicles?
5) Hell where did everybody go and what do they have to say about things? Clifford Oliver
stayed out of Texas until after Anthony Melendez, the last of the convicted, passed away in
2017. Jess “Todd” Childers apparently goes by another name now. John Arnett Jr won’t talk
and when his family does now they are usually lying. Cal Frazier I have no idea it seems after
he found out the police were interested in talking to Clifford Oliver about the murders Cal just
seemed to disappear. Again remind you Clifford Oliver missed his first scheduled interview,
the reason he gave was that he went over to Cal’s to talk to him about that night to see if he
(Clifford) had forgotten anything. So wouldn’t it be interesting to hear what these guys have to
say now when they are confronted with information that didn’t come up in any of the court
6) We hear a lot about the DNA evidence and the problems that one would except when the
evidence gets passed around like the collection plate at your local church. If test were ever
run, which I believe the lab in California was the only place where test were successfully run,
then there will be DNA profiles, those profiles never change, all you need to do is collect new
samples to compare against those profiles. And since, apparently, the test run found no
matches with the samples provided shouldn’t DNA samples be collected from individuals that
didn’t provide them back then? That would include Clifford Oliver, Todd Childers, John Arnett
Jr., Cal Frazier, James and Terry Gutierrez.
7) If moving bodies of victims does constitute an offense of accessory after the fact and the
statue of limitations hasn’t expired for that offense in the state of Texas, should the state of
Texas reopen the case to review? Do we have substantial incriminating material, although
circumstantial for just cause?
8) Does anyone care to answer any of these questions?
Bkl67…..and here I am just passed another anniversary of the horrendous murder of three teenagers. One of them being my pretty dark haired, brown eyed, niece, Jill Montgomery. 1982 seems hundreds of years in the past, yet Jill is still only 17 and will forever remain 17. You would think that would be a great way to remember her however, what I remember most is 19 STAB WOUNDS into her CHEST, HEART, AND LUNGS. Not 1 but 2 slashes to her THROAT, which took away part of her CHIN. Her LEFT BREAST TORN APART.
All of this type rage was taken out on her 2 teenaged friends also.
Now, for those of you wondering “why Don’t I Let Go and Get On With My Life?” After seeing the devastation I mentioned above, letting go is impossible for me.
PLEASE, to those who know what really took place on July 12-13, 1982~~~~~tell us.
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I would like to see conversations concerning the locations of files for McLennan County during the time period concerning The Lake Waco Triple Murder. (Starting with 1982). We’re they destroyed or just simply disappear????
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One document I find very interesting and would like to share is the grand jury testimony of Clifford Oliver. It mentions names and gives very important information usually overlooked. Also you can clearly see both Vic Feazell and Ned Butler knew Clifford was lying but by the time the actual trials started it was like all of this was just swept under the rug and forgotten. And all the grand jury testimony was sealed until David Spence’s first appeal in 1988. Russ Hunt, David’s attorney at the time of the trials requested to see the grand jury testimony during the first trial but that request was not granted. I biggest question I have after reading this testimony is what other troubles did Clifford Oliver have that Feazell and Butler could help him out with? I’ve looked into it but can’t find anything. Still this document raises many questions and this is just one document and there are literally thousands of documents connected to this case just think all we could learn if we could ever find all the missing files and records.
We often hear about the violent criminal history of Terry “Tab” Harper, conversely we are led to believe David Spence, Anthony Melendez and Gilbert Melendez might have been less than angels but didn’t have histories that would purport a tendency towards the type of violence unleashed upon Jill Montgomery, Raylene Rice and Kenneth Franks the night on July 13, 1982. Obviously, the repetitive abusive treatment of his girlfriend Christine Juhl and the violent behavior he would exhibit later that summer, we know of at least three incidents; Lisa Kader, Cindy “Sunshine” Quick and Darvin Pack, David Wayne Spence had a penchant towards violent behavior. And in talking with Christine Juhl I have found David Spence was not only violent but liked to dominate and enjoyed inflicting pain, that was his way of proving his domination. These would be personality traits one would look for in the perpetrator of these rapes and murders. The trademark or telltale of the Lake Waco Murders are the shallow stab wounds inflicted on Jill Montgomery and Kenneth Franks but not Raylene Rice, there can be debate as to the reason for these wounds and why Jill and Kenneth were tortured like this and not Raylene but what can’t be debated is these wounds were inflicted to cause pain not to kill, none of this shallow wounds were fatal in and of themselves, Jill and Kenneth with proper medical attention could have walked away from these wounds. To be clear I am talking about the shallow stab wounds that were less than a quarter of an inch deep that were around or actually a little left to where the heart would be, it looks like the killer was trying to go around the heart but was a little off target. Jill and Kenneth both had stab wounds like this, I can’t remember the exact number but without going back to the autopsy at the moment I believe they both had 7 or 8 wounds like this. These wounds tell us a number of things, firstmost being the killer or killers had total control of the situation, this would not be the behavior one would expect to find if someone had just snapped out or flipped out on drugs or something. There is a calm and calculation displayed in these wounds, someone just didn’t start aimlessly slashing and stabbing. And this would suggest the killer or killers took their time, I know that is debatable but if you are going to torture someone you probably want your victim to endure the pain as long as possible. Also the rapes of both Jill and Raylene would have taken time and could also be seen as a form of torture but more likely in the mind of the killer another way to display his domination over his victims. So we have a situation where it doesn’t look like those responsible for these atrocious acts weren’t in any kind of a hurry, they took their time about it. Now I know many will point to the Melendez brothers’ testimony would be at odds with this scenario, they stated the whole episode happened faster than they could describe it and they wanted to get out of there as fast as possible. I believe part of their recollection, mainly how long it took is probably flawed, that’s how they want to remember it but I do believe they did want to get out of there but they did return. David Spence stayed while the brothers went to get the vehicle needed to move the bodies and again at least in Anthony’s testimony this is when David used his infamous love stick on the victims. Gilbert testified he remembered seeing David with the stick but he couldn’t remember exactly when, it was another area where his stories changed. Now with Anthony and Gilbert’s version of events many believe they were incapable of committing violent crimes like this. Christine Juhl shares this belief and she personally knew them, they all lived with David Spence at his mother’s house for a few months prior to the months. Christine does add she feels this way about the brothers because of a single incident where the brothers assisted her in getting away from David one time but I have to add they only helped to a point in the end they walked away leaving Christine with David Spence and being tied up and dragged behind a truck. Through the brothers’ histories you see times when they will walk away when things get bad and at other times they take part, there just doesn’t seem to be any concernable pattern. But what about violent behavior, Gilbert had been in prison in the 70’s for attempted murder for shooting someone and at the time of the Lake Waco Murders Anthony was fugitive from the law because of his participation in a robbery where he had pulled out a knife and sexually assaulted a teenage girl, he pretty much got a walk on this charge as part of the deal he made on the Lake Waco Murders, probation which would run while he was in prison for the murders. Call me crazy but I consider attempted murder, robbery and sexually assault violent crimes, so yes the Melendez were capable and had committed violent crimes, maybe not the level of violence we see with the Lake Waco Murders, I don’t think they were aware nor prepared for what they were getting involved in, I doubt most criminals would be and that’s what those telltale wounds tell us, only the coldest heartless soulless unremorseful individual could have been the calm calculating hand inflicting the torture the pain and finally fatal blows. And that brings me back to Terry “Tab” Harper.
There has always been a lot of rumors surrounding the activities of Terry “Tab” Harper, foremost among them being that he was seen in Koehne Park the evening of the murders by many people, this is just not true. Also we hear a lot about Harper’s violent criminal history and as with most rumors there is some truth at the root of said rumor. Everyone is aware of the violent end of Tab Harper where he stabbed an elderly couple, killing the gentleman, and then Tab shooting himself as police were closing inn on him. Violent indeed but that happened in 1994, twelve years after the Lake Waco murders. Anyone would experience many ups and downs that would impact them over more than a decade traversing the long and winding road of life. Most of the names connected to this case had already had a wide variety of indelible experiences prior to the fateful night of July 13, 1982. The victims, the accused, the convicted, witnesses, friends and associates all had colorful lives, a rainbow of experiences would shadow their activities and behavior. Honestly it is this complex web of connections and shared experiences that is the most intriguing aspect of this case. Looking back we can see this was a train wreck waiting to happen, no one expecting the carnage hence no one was capable of stopping it, why? What if Gene Deal, David Spence’s parole, had violated him for failing to comply with the conditions of his parole which David obviously was doing. Or what if Anthony Melendez’ mother had been honest with police when they came looking for Anthony after the Corpus Christi robbery and sexual assault. Anthony would have probably been off the street his name never mentioned in connection with the Lake Waco Murders. And what about Tab Harper? If we are to believe all the rumors why was he even on the streets?
I will take an excerpt from an August 6,1998 Dallas Observer article as an example but there are countless others I could use, this was just the first one I found at the moment. This article mainly deals with Brian Pardo’s involvement in the case but in doing so does mention the favorite target of many of David’s champions; Tab Harper.
“In the weeks that followed the murders, several witnesses reported that a man named Terry Lee “Tab” Harper, who had been arrested 25 times for assorted assault charges, had bragged about killing three people at the lake. Police confirmed that he made his boasts before news of the murders had been broadcast. Harper was brought in for questioning, but he refused to cooperate. Witnesses who had been at the lake that night reported seeing the victims talking to someone in a van matching a description of Harper’s.”
Now I have gone over the rumors of Harper being seen in the park that night ad nauseam. But did anyone else think 25 assorted assaults sounded strange? How many assaults does one have to commit in Texas before someone realizes maybe that person needs to be taken off the street for awhile, a long while? Most likely this is just another well traveled rumor. So what is the truth what are the facts?
Obviously if you want to find the facts of someone’s criminal history you need to read the police records and although Tab Harper was the primary focus and the majority of time was expended tracking down this lead early in the investigation, from July 16th until the end of July, there is very little actual information about him present in those reports. the primary and probably best sources of the little information we can cull from the reports come from two girls that knew Tab Harper to some degree and the details they give us though limited do give us a glimpse into the behavior and personality of Harper during that time period, 1981-1982, and this matches other accounts we see in the reports. The two girls were Rebecca DesMarias and Nell Priest. Rebecca was the girl that had been reported as an eyewitness to the murders and was missing leading to the believe that she might have fallen victim of foul play at the hands of Tab Harper. This all proved to be false, as most of the rumors surrounding Harper did. Rebecca had just eun away from home and had nothing to do with Harper and the murders. She had been present at Midway Park the night of Wednesday July 14th after the bodies of the victims had been discovered and Harper came to Midway and asked her if she had heard about the murders.
One issue that arises about the night of July 14th and what actually happened and when at Midway Park that night is exactly what Harper said, what details did he have at that point and when did he actually arrive at the park. By all accounts given by the kids were present Harper did not arrive until around 9:00p.m., some of the kids thought it was closer to 10:00p.m., Rebecca stated she didn’t get to the park until about 9, she had left her home around 8:45p.m. and Harper arrived after she had. Again by all accounts Harper stated he had seen a lot of police cars headed towards Speegleville Park and that three kids had been stabbed, not very incriminating. So he didn’t have many details about the murders at that time. Even if he did again it would not be shocking or surprising as some have tried to point out. The Lake Waco Murders were very shocking even to the police tasked with investigating them and although they tried to keep details under wraps details and rumors spread immediately, again we clearly see this in the police reports. People like to point at Tab Harper when it comes to someone having details early on but he wasn’t alone, any number of people had details and were sharing them with anyone and everyone. Probably the most grievous account we get in the reports clearly shows how fast and far the details and rumors of this case were spreading. The Payne brothers reported James Lucas and Ralph Finstad had detals of the murders after Lucas or Finstad had allegedly stabbed ther younger Payne brother. Lucas had actually picked up the brothers from Koehne Park, so with this information of coarse the police were interested in talking to Lucas and Finstad. Lucas and Finstad denied any involvement in the murders, then they were asked how was it they had details of the murders, precisely that the girls had been violated with a foreign object. Finstad explained he had heard that from a girl he worked with. With that the police go to the hotel where Finstad worked and talked to the girl Finstad had told them had given him that information. She admitted she had given Finstad this information and when asked how she had gotten that information she replied she heard it from her mother. Apparently her mother was playing bridge with some other ladies at someone’s house when the subject of the murders came up and one of the ladies had mentioned a coke bottle had been used during the assaults on the girls The police track down the ladies that had attended this bridge game, it came to light the one of the ladies was the wife of an ex-officer of DPS and apparently she had gotten the information from him and the other ladies stated it was from her that they had heard it but that lady as well as her husband denied they ever talked about the murders. So just by this account we know information about the murders was spreading to 4rd and 5th and 5th degrees of separation. That anyone in Waco would have any details of the murders was probably closer to the norm than an alarm. One person that apparently hadn’t heard anything about the murders until Thursday July 15th was Nell Priest, the other girl that was the best source of information on Tab Harper.
It was the rumor mill that dragged Nell Priest’s name into the web of the Lake Waco Murders. While Mike Nicoletti was following up a lead he had received early he went to the Oakie Dokie to try to obtain further information and in doing so was told by another patron that he had talked to a girl, Nell Priest, a few days after the murders and this girl had told him this guy Tab Harper had told her about the murders and had threatened her. According to this patron Nell had expressed her days were numbered and that she might not be around much longer. The patron knew Nell lived at the Gemini Apartments and Nicoletti went there to talk to Nell but Nell wasn’t home when Nicoletti arrived so he put a Waco PD card in her door. Apparently Nicoletti hadn’t passed on this info to anyone and a few days later the Patron called the police station and talked to Ramon Salinas. Sometime later Nell Priest called into the station and asked why the police had left their card in her door, I would guess she had probably talked to the patron that had given given Nicoletti her name in between time. Salinas told her they needed to talk to her and asked if she would come in, which she agreed to do. When Nell affived Salinas interviewed her and informed her they had received information that she could provide information about the murders, Nell stated she didn’t have any information about the murders, she didn’t know anything about them. Salinas asked her if she knew Tab Harper, Nell said she did and then Salinas told her the information they had received. Nell cleared things up to some degree. Harper had threatened her but that had happened the year before.at Airport Park. She was out at the park drinking beers with friends, including Tab Harper. At some point she needed to use the restroom and was walking towards the restroom when Harper came up behind her, grabbed her, picking her up off the ground and wouldn’t let her go. When Tab wouldn’t let her go Nell busted a beer bottle over Tab’s head. At this point Harper dropped Nell and then pulled a knife out and told Nell he should kill her for what she had just done. Nell explained that Harper hadn’t held the knife on her lie against her neck or anything and she didn’t feel threatened by him, that was just the way Harper acted. This is exactly the same thing Rebecca DesMarias had said about Tab Harper when she was asked about the night at Midway Park. Rebecca stated Harper always was acting like that being his crazy self. He had tried to start fights with some of her friends but she wasn’t scared or intimidated it was just the way Tab acted. When some of the other kids that were present at midway that night including a couple of the kids Harper had tried to start fights with all said the same thing, Tab was always trying to start fights with them. That was clearly part of Tab Harper’s personality at the time he like to pick on and bully the teenage boys, some just blew it off while it truly intimidated others. One of those that was seriously intimidated was Rusty Escott, yes the same Rusty Escott that started and spread the rumor that Tab Harper that Harper was in Koehne Park the night of the murders. On July 16th after Nicoletti has received the calls naming Tab Harper as the party responsible for the murders and had been told he needed to talk to Rusty Escott and tracked him down, Rusty asked Nicoletti if Tab Harper was ever going to find out that it was he (Escott) that had given Harper’s name to the police, Nicoletti asked Rusty why and Rusty answered he was afraid of Harper and his friends. of coarse more on this later, but first get back to Nell Priest.
So Nell hadn’t been threatened by Tab around the time of the murders, if she had ever been threatened, she didn’t feel she had been. She had run into Harper at Midway Park a couple days after the murders. It was this encounter when Harper apparently shared more details about the murders, specifically he had bitten the nipple off one of the girls’ breasts. Nell didn’t recall hearing Tab talk about the murders, the friend that had met her at the park that day had, that girl had come to the station with Nell that day and had been the girl that had first told Nell about the murders. Her name was June Wilson, Salinas interviewed her and June had heard Tab make these statements. June added it made her sick and she just wanted to leave the park after Harper had given the details of what he had done. Nell Priest didn’t remember any of this, what she did remember was Tab had said he was getting ready to get locked up again and he wanted to hurt someone before he did. Now those that want to point to Harper as the culprit interpret this as he is admitting to the murders and that he knows he’s going to get arrested and sent away. Again this looks like another case where the facts have been bent to match a certain narration. With Nell telling us that Tab told her that he was getting ready to get locked up “again”, it tells us Harper had been locked up before and felt he was headed back but what had he done?
So two days after the murders Tab Harper is at Midway Park divulging graphic details about the murders and telling a friend he is about to get locked up again, in the eyes of many Harper is implicating himself in the murders, I suggest we take a step back. All we have on Tab Harper at this point is he probably has beat up some kids somewhere along the way, that’s a far cry from a triple homicide even though the victims were teenagers, Harper’s preferred target, well at least males, that would fit Kenneth Franks. Again we have to turn to the police reports, this time police reports not associated with the Lake Waco Murders. I sent a request and received some reports a few months ago. Keep in mind when you make these request you can’t just ask for a complete criminal history, I guess they don’t want to make it easy.. I had to break it down to a few years, I wanted what crimes Harper might have committed around the time of the murders, so I requested and received the police reports on Harper for the years 1982 through 1985. I will get around to getting the reports for the years prior to this. So the reports I received might be limited in scope but they are very interesting and I believe very telling.
Tab Harper was arrested on June 12, 1982, one month before the murders. Shortly after midnight Tab Harper and a friend named David Dunkin highly intoxicated walked into the 7-11 located at 1844 Lake Shore Drive. Gary Carter was the clerk working at the time and there were two customers playing video games in the back of the store when Harper and Dunkin strolled in. According to Gary Carter once in the store Harper and Dunkin went to the back of the store where the two customers were playing the video games and started yelling at them, apparently scaring one of the customers and causing him to leave the store. Then Harper grabbed some frozen food out of the freezer and threw it in the microwave and yelled out to Carter asking if 7-11 was going to pay for his food, Carter replied no 7-11 wasn’t going to pay for his food. Somewhere around this time David Dunkin having drank too much and not feeling well decided to go back out ro rhe car and wait for Harper. Apparently then Harper started a fight with the one remaining customer, Carter wasn’t sure if Harper had hit the customer but did see Harper swing at him and added Harper hit something but he just wasn’t sure if it was the customer or something else, then Harper chased this customer out of the store into the parking lot. While Harper was still outside in the parking lot, realizing the situation was getting out of hand Carter called the police. Harper re-enters the store and again according to Carter pulls out a knife and again Harper asks Carter if 7-11 is going to pay for his food. Carter now feeling threatened now replies yes 8-11 is going to pat for Harper’s food and with that Harper decides he wants more groceries. Carter states now Harper grabs a few empty grocery bags and then tells Carter be also wants the cash in the register. Trying to stall Harper until the police arrive Carter tells Harper to go get his groceries first then Carter will give Harper the cash from the register. Harper walks over to the aisles and starts filling the bags he had grabbed. About this time Waco PD pulls into the parking lot, David Dubkin sitting in the car in the parking lot sees the police pull in and walks back into the store and tells harper they need to go, Harper replies he will be out in a minute and Dunkin returns to the car. Two officers from the Waco PD responded to the call; Officers Rhudy and Swinson. When they enter the store Harper is still in the aisles acting like he is just shopping. Gary Carter explains the situation to the officers informing then there is another guy sitting out in the parking lot, referring to Dunkin, who the police saw when they first pulled in. Swinson goes out to the parking lot and approaches the car where he sees Dunkin has vomited ll over himself and the side of the car, figuring Dunkin isn’t much of a flight risk he returns to the store. Rhudy has already confiscated the stuffed grocery bags from Harper and then while searching him the officers two cans of Deviled ham in his boots. Now the police are unsure what they should Harper be charged with.Harper had filled the bags with groceries but he hadn’t left the store, so he really hadn’t stolen anything at that point. He had asked for the cash but hadn’t gotten it nor had forcibly tried to take it and although he had pulled out a pocket knife he really hadn’t used it in anyway. They could get him for shoplifting for the two cans of deviled ham but the cost of those cans were 89 cents a piece for a grand total of $1.78, was that even worth the effort. Finally the officers decided to charge both Harper and Dunkin with public intoxication, take them to the station, place them in a holding cell then go talk to someone in C.I.D. and see what they advise. So Rhudy and Swinson cuff Harper, go out collect Dunkin, have the car towed and proceed to the Waco PD station, place the drunk duo in a holding cell and make their way to C.I.D…
And whom was on duty when Rhudy and Swinson arrived? No other than Detective Ramon Salinas, the same person that would pick up and release Tab Harper on July 16th early on during the investigation of the Lake Waco Murders. Rhudy and Swinson give Salinas the run down of the information they had obtained from Gary Carter. Salinas advises Harper and Dunkin should be charged with aggravated robbery in addition to public intoxication and this being prior to the Lake Waco Murders and Salinas having a light case load at the time, he took over this less than.overwhelming case. Salinas interviews both Harper and Dunkin and officially charges the pair with public intoxication and aggravated robbery. By the time Harper and Dunkin were arraigned the aggravated robbery charge had been dropped against Dunkin, he was returned to the city holding cell until he paid the fine for public intoxication.Harper was arraigned on both charges and his bail was set at $1,500 and he to was returned to the city holding cell and would stay in the custody of the city until he paid his fine for public intoxication, then Harper would be sent over to the county jail. Salinas wrote his report on this case on June 17thm five days after the events had occurred and at that time Harper was still in the custody of the City, Salinas writes that the city will continue to hold Harper until he pays his fine and then send him over to the county, the reports never say when Harper paid this fine nor when he posted his bail so I don’t know exactly when he was finally released from jail. After his arraignment, Harper apparently had sobered up and realized he was in a world of trouble and asked the D.A. or the assistant D.A. if he could talk to Salinas. The A.D.A. passed on the request and Salinas agreed to talk to Harper. During this meeting Harper told Salinas he didn’t want any trouble and that he was innocent, he hadn’t pulled out a knife nor went behind the counter and grab the grocery bags nor asked for the cash out of the register. There is a little discrepancy in the reports of Rhudy and Salinas as to what Harper did with the knife,; Rhudy states Harper stabbed the counter, Salinas states Harper tapped the blade on the counter. Harper explained he knows Carter and he goes to that 7-11 to buy beer after hours and sometimes he gives Carter marijuana in exchange for the beer and Harper had offered Carter marijuana that night and then Cater told Harper he could grab some groceries and handed Harper the bags. Salinas asked Harper if he wants to file a complaint, Harper declines but insists he is telling the truth and tells Salinas he will take a polygraph. Salinas tells Harper he won’t give him a polygraph because Harper was intoxicated at the time in question but Salinas says what he will do is bring Carter in and give him a polygraph and if any irregularities show up Salinas will pass it on to the D.A.. Salinas contacts Carter and asks him him to come to the station to go over some things about the case. When Carter arrives Salinas gets him to write out a statement. Carter produces a four page statement. Afterwards Salinas questions Carter about the information Harper has provided; Carter admits he knows Harper and that he has sold him beer after hours before but Carter denies ever taking marijuana from Harper in exchange for beer. The reports never state if Carter was ever given a polygraph and if so what were the results. The reports on this case end with Harper going to court in December 1982 and agreeing to plead guilty for a five year sentence. He was out of prison by April 1985 which was the next time Harper had problems with the law when he held a loaded gun to his sister’s head. That case went nowhere when the sister decided she didn’t want to press charges and didn’t want to cooperate with law enforcement, the warrant issued for Tab was returned and the case suspended and that would be the only eun in with the law Harper would have in 1985. So in the four years I’ve reviewed Harper was convicted of one charge and it was not an assault and I would say it was more drunken stupidity than violent. Either way it’s a long way from 25 assaults or even a long violent history. But as always a few questions.
Going back to the conversation Nell Priest had with Tab Harper on July 15th, two days after the Lake Waco Murders and a little more than a month after Harper had been arrested for aggravated robbery the obvious question is isn’t it most likely Harper was talking about the crime he had been charged with when he told Nell he was getting ready to get locked up again? And when he told her he wanted to hurt someone before he was sent away again he had a certain person in mind; Gary Carter, the person that had called the police on him? When you remove the often repeated rumors this has to be the only reasonable conclusion, if reality was only that simple.
When Detective Salinas interviewed Gary Carter, Salinas asked Carter if he knew the names of the two customers playing the video games that Harper ran off. Carter said he didn’t know their names, so Salinas told Carter if those customers ever returned to the store get their names and let him know. It doesn’t look as if Carter ever came up with these names. So whom were these guys. I take it that they were guys, just don’t see Harper fighting girls or chasing girls out of the store. And that takes me back to Rusty Escott and his confession to Mike Nicoletti that he was afraid of Tab Harper. When you read police reports and trial testimony over and over and over .you get into the habit of finding questions you wished law enforcement or attorneys would have asked. When Rusty told Nicoletti he was afraid of Harper why didn’t Nicoletti ask if there was a reason had something transpired between the two. That was the first thing that came to mind when I first read the report on this incident at the 7-11. I figured the two guys that Harper had run out of the store must have been teenagers, what adult man would have just allowed some loud rude obnoxious drunk to run them out if a store, you night get your ass beat but you are not just going to run off. So the guys that did runoff must have been young and intimidated and that made me think of Rusty Escott. And that he was worried about Harper finding out he had given Harper’s name in connection with the Lake Waco Murders, I can see Rusty as one of the guys being run off and then hearing about the murders and how Harper had talked to Rebecca DesMarias about the murders, Rusty found a way to cause problems for Harper. This is just my opinion, if anyone has anymore reliable facts or information on this please share.
There are a couple things about these reports that stick out to me. First there isn’t any mention of a probation or parole officer or that Harper was on either on parole or probation, which you would expect to see if Harper had a long violent criminal history. Either the crimes Harper had committed in the past were not serious enough to require parole nor probation or the crimes he had committed in the past had happened so long ago before this crime that the terms of a a month later?ny parole or probation had run it’s term. Maybe whenever the last time Harper was locked up was for a parole or probation violation which would have cleared any further parole or probation. Again I don’t know the facts just one of those things that stuck out to me, you hear about Harper having such a long violent criminal history but he’s hot locked up nor on parole or probation just doesn’t seem to add up.
On June 12th Tab Harper is telling Ramon Salinas he doesn’t want any trouble and tries to explain his actions, including given out marijuana in exchange for alcohol, remind you this was 1982 the time of the escalation of the war on drugs in America, in hope of lessening his culpability. Does this sound like someone that would commit a brutal triple homicide a month alter? Some might say well if he snapped out on drugs he could have done it. But that is why the trademark shallow stab wounds are so important. The person that committed these rapes and murders just didn’t snap out. This killer was in control of both the victims and himself, a confident rampage unconcerned with place and time, totally consumed with the pleasure he achieved while exhibiting the domination he had over his victims and inflicting pain with impunity. This is not the makeup of Terry Lee “Tab” Harper. This clearly comes out in the reports about the 7-11 incident, Harper is too easily distracted, when he asks for the cash Carter simply delays him by telling him to go get his groceries first and Harper complies, he is not in control, his mind isn’t clear he is just a drunken idiot and I would say this is the same thing with the bullying of the teenagers we read about in the Lake Waco Murders police reports, Harper stumbles around trying to cause havoc but never really accomplished anything.
To be fair I guess I still need to obtain the police records on Tab Harper prior to 1982 and I know I have been slow on this. The reason I have been so slow is because I know Tab Harper just didn’t commit nor had anything to do with the Lake Waco Murders. I would hope at some point this will become the general consensus but there are always going to be the die hards and those that have only heard the rumors and that’s all they are left with to believe.. So much time and effort has been spent on Tab Harper and in doing so others with more connections to the case, with questionable stories and incoherent timelines slip under the radar, rarely mentioned and never scrutinized and it becomes more difficult as time goes by.. And most of these people are still alive today and can still be questioned. Yes I am talking about Clifford Oliver, Todd Childers, John Arnett Jr., Cal Frazier Josie Scionti, Diane Scionti, Harold Windham, James Gutierrez and Terry Gutierrez. Any number of this group hold the answers.
When things are slow, as they have for most of the past year, I like to go back and check out the old stuff and see if anything new is out there. It seems there are always sites and podcast popping up discussing the case and sometimes you hear some different stuff, there is a wide spectrum of thoughts and opinions on the :Lake Waco Murders and even though some of the stuff you see is way out there, I believe all views should be heard. I try to talk to as many people as possible, Christine Juhl, Josie Scionti and Lisa Kader still top my list of people I would like to talk to or talk to again, there are others I have talked to but I’m not sure if they are capable of telling the truth, that would include Gayle Kelly and Clifford Oliver, I would like to talk to both again but I don’t know what value could be redeemed, they probably know the truth but they aren’t giving up the secrets. Then we have the people that won’t talk, hello John Arnett Jr, and Todd Childers, you night be trying to hide but we know you are out there and we still want to know about your ride between parks around Lake Waco on the night of July 13, 1982. Well until then we will talk to anyone that has something to say. Does anyone want to chime in?