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Murder By the Lake

In the summer of 1982, the city of Waco was confronted with the most vicious, horrific crime it had ever seen:

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three teenagers were savagely stabbed to death, left to die bathed in their own blood right there in a park by a lake on the edge of town not tucked away deep in a woods, but rather right there in the middle of things. The kids really didn’t have enemies, and there was no apparent reason for the crime.

This case became one of the most confounding in Texas criminal history because it involved a whole host of interesting officials. There was the first PD detective, who eventually left the force to go to work in the jail and helped “work” on inmates to confess to this crime. Well it had to be “solved” now didn’t it? In fact, there seemed to be a “whole bunch” of Texas officials that may, when time cleared the air, have gotten many things wrong including the dreaded execution of a wrong man.

Cracking this case first centered on three suspects, and currently there is still one man in jail who initially confessed but has now recanted that confession. Along the time line to now, DNA came in to play, but seemingly not enough of it, or maybe just enough to keep uncertainty alive. There was a copy-cat murder of the mother of one of the suspect who had been working on her own to compile files of evidence that might free her son. She was bound with a gag and found stabbed to death in her apartment. The pool of blood thing again.

Problems spilled over into the District Attorney’s office where people later had ethics questions. More investigators were brought on board, one in particular was “reeled-in” by those in power. A New York journalist even made it his life to move to Texas and try to work for justice in this case. Time has now passed, some people connected to the case have died, others can’t remember anything, and even some refused to be interviewed. Rumors still abound, one of which centered around a man, now dead, once in a certain type of position of trust who was supposedly driving through the park that night. The specifics of this case can best be summed up in the words of the journalist Frederic Dannen who has spent a great portion of his life working on it:

“I”d interviewed mafiosi and hung with the triads in Hong Kong, but the first time in my career I felt I’d put myself in harm’s way was being a Jewish boy from New York investigating Texas law enforcement.”

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4 thoughts on “Murder By the Lake

  1. It makes you wonder how much goes on behind the scenes when officials are involved…The latest atrocity we had here in Brisbane, Australia was a chef who found an interesting use for the wife he murdered…

    • Yes it does make you wonder, like everything else, there are good officials and bad ones too, sometimes they want to “solve” the crime at all costs, a sad thing indeed!

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