death row dodger

Ken­neth Allen McDuff was a re­morse­less killing ma­chine, de­void of any flicker of hu­man­ity, whose only gift to so­ci­ety was his own death

Real Crime - - Contents - Words Joanna El­ph­ick

How vile Broom­stick triple­mur­derer Ken­neth McDuff was freed to kill again and again

Com­monly con­sid­ered to be ‘ the poster child for cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment in Texas’, Ken­neth McDuff some­how man­aged to be sen­tenced to death, paroled, re- ar­rested for fur­ther mur­ders and re­turned to death row, be­fore fi­nally be­ing ex­e­cuted in 1998. His pro­lific his­tory of crime is a deeply de­press­ing one, but it is the in­ep­ti­tude of the state of Texas dur­ing his vi­o­lent ca­reer that truly beg­gars be­lief. Mis­takes were made and lessons were even­tu­ally learned, but far too late and at the ex­pense of many in­no­cent lives.

The Bad Boy of Rose­bud

Ken­neth Allen McDuff was a vi­cious bully with a vi­o­lent tem­per. His father was hard­work­ing but weak and in­ef­fec­tual, and his mother was a dom­i­neer­ing woman who ruled over her hus­band with a fist of iron while dot­ing on her pre­cious baby boy. Such fam­ily dy­nam­ics of­ten end in dis­as­ter, and this par­tic­u­lar per­fect storm was no dif­fer­ent.

The McDuff house­hold lived in the Texan heart of the Black­land Prairies in a lit­tle farm­ing com­mu­nity called Rose­bud. It was a safe place to raise a fam­ily, full of de­cent church- go­ing peo­ple, and John Allen and his wife Ad­die soon set­tled in. It was an idyl­lic life for the chil­dren, who had the free­dom to play out in the fields while their par­ents both brought in a reg­u­lar wage and kept a smart two- storey house to live in.

How­ever, home was not as sta­ble as it out­wardly ap­peared. Ad­die McDuff was a highly un­pre­dictable woman who wasn’t above tak­ing on any­one who stood in her way. The ‘ Pis­tol- Pack­ing Mama McDuff ’, as she was com­monly known, be­came par­tic­u­larly volatile when any of her neigh­bours dared to be­smirch her beloved sons, Ken­neth and Lon­nie. In her some­what warped view, the boys could do no wrong and she wasn’t afraid to put peo­ple straight.

As a re­sult, the pair nat­u­rally be­lieved that they could do what­ever they wanted with lit­tle or no fear of reprisals. They could be rude, vi­cious and cruel and then wait for ‘ Mama’ to clear things up. It seemed to Ken­neth McDuff that he was un­touch­able. Rules were for ev­ery­body else but not for the McDuff boys, and their father bowed his head and silently con­firmed their opin­ion.

Ken­neth McDuff was a thief from an early age, steal­ing money from the purses he found at his mother’s laun­dro­mat. Nat­u­rally, his mother de­fended the boy, claim­ing there must have been a mis­take, but things just kept go­ing miss­ing. Al­though his IQ was low, at 92, his sub­stan­tial size meant that he could in­tim­i­date those around him into do­ing his bid­ding and, when he stole from his class­mates, Ad­die would storm in and start yelling. How­ever, after an­other boy even­tu­ally had enough and re­tal­i­ated with a cou­ple of punches to the head, Ken­neth McDuff de­cided that he’d had his fill of school and went to work with his father at the fam­ily con­crete busi­ness. It was at this point, in 1964, that his petty thiev­ery de­vel­oped into a se­ries of lo­cal bur­glar­ies that would sig­nify the be­gin­ning of his adult crim­i­nal ca­reer.

It soon be­came ap­par­ent that McDuff didn’t

when his new friend de­clared he knew ‘ where peo­ple park and we can kill ‘ em’, he thought it was just an­other ad­ven­ture

like work­ing alone. For all his loud- mouthed bravado and swag­ger, he needed an ac­com­plice to bully into ac­com­pa­ny­ing him on his wild, il­le­gal ad­ven­tures. Whether he was too scared to go it alone, or, more likely, he wanted some­one to wit­ness his un­pleas­ant an­tics, the need for an au­di­ence would even­tu­ally back­fire and lead him to death row. But at this point the young, im­pres­sion­able boys he ca­joled into help­ing him merely kept look­out and car­ried the goods while he stole ev­ery­thing from shot­gun am­mu­ni­tion to ice cream bars.

It was only a mat­ter of time be­fore the po­lice caught up with him, and in 1965 he was charged with 14 counts of bur­glary and theft. The mul­ti­ple sen­tences to­talled 52 years but were to run con­cur­rently, so he ul­ti­mately got a mere four- year stint in jail at the most.

Free to Kill

McDuff made pa­role just nine months and two weeks later. Hav­ing saun­tered back into Rose­bud with a worse at­ti­tude than he’d had be­fore they took him away, Ken­neth McDuff picked up where he left off, work­ing at his father’s con­crete fac­tory. It was here that he met Roy Dale Green, an eas­ily im­pressed, quiet boy who fol­lowed

McDuff around like a rock star’s groupie. On

Satur­day 6 Au­gust

1966, when McDuff an­nounced that he was go­ing out to ‘ find girls’ and that Green could come too, the im­pres­sion­able, dim- wit­ted kid was thrilled to be in­vited along. It would prove to be the worst de­ci­sion he ever made in his short life.

McDuff had filled Green’s head with hor­ri­ble sto­ries of rape and mur­der that the boy had con­sid­ered noth­ing more than tall tales, but, sadly, he had also found them cool and ex­cit­ing. So, when his new friend de­clared that he knew “where peo­ple park and we can kill ‘ em”, he thought it was just an­other ad­ven­ture. It wasn’t.

Robert Brand and his cousin Mar­cus Dun­nam had parked up with Robert’s girl­friend, Edna Louise Sul­li­van, and were chat­ting away when McDuff or­dered the kids out of their car at gun­point. Green played along since he thought the whole thing was noth­ing more than a big joke, de­signed to scare the kids and maybe steal their money. McDuff

was clearly call­ing the shots, which Green later pointed out, stat­ing, “He told the kids in the car to get out or he would shoot them”. All three teenagers were or­dered into the boot of the car, and McDuff started the en­gine. Mean­while he told Green “to get in his car and fol­low him”. Like a fool, Green obeyed, and the two cars drove around un­til McDuff found a suit­able field.

After they had parked up, Green was told to take Edna Louise out of their car and into the boot of McDuff ’s car. At this point Green be­came scared. Sud­denly it didn’t look like a game any­more and McDuff clearly had every in­ten­tion of killing the two boys, be­cause, he claimed, they had both seen his face.

Dur­ing McDuff ’s trial, Green’s ac­count of what took place was both chill­ing and deeply dis­turb­ing. If the boy was to be be­lieved, his ‘ cool friend’ was in fact a cal­cu­lat­ing mon­ster. “He stuck the gun into the trunk where the boys were and started shoot­ing… He shot six times. He shot one twice in the head, and he shot the other boy four times in the head.”

How­ever, more was to come. Hav­ing mur­dered the two boys, McDuff and Green wiped the car clean of fin­ger­prints and then pro­ceeded to drive around with the ter­ri­fied girl in the boot. Even­tu­ally McDuff found a quiet spot and forced Edna Louise out of the boot and into the back­seat, where he raped her. He then or­dered Green to “have a go”. Al­though he claimed to have been “dy­ing of fright” Green did as he was told and then watched as McDuff raped the girl again, then sex­u­ally as­saulted her with an old broom­stick han­dle that he dis­cov­ered in the back of the car.

After the or­deal was over, she was dragged out of the car and mur­dered. Green de­scribed her fi­nal mo­ments in graphic de­tail: “He started chok­ing her with the piece of broom­stick. He mashed down hard, and she started wav­ing her arms and kick­ing her legs. He told me to grab her legs and I didn’t want to, and he said, ‘ It’s gotta be done’, and I grabbed her legs, and held them for a sec­ond or so, then let them go.” Green later re­called that as she died, “it sounded like air es­cap­ing out of a bal­loon or air hose.”

After the event Green was told to keep his mouth shut, but within 24 hours he had con­fessed ev­ery­thing and was placed in jail, where he cried, “My God, I’ve got to tell some­body about it. I can’t sleep. I can’t think. I can’t do noth­ing.” The weak- willed kid had gone along with what he ini­tially thought was just a cruel joke that had mu­tated into a liv­ing night­mare, and now he wanted noth­ing to do with his one- time friend. But McDuff had a dif­fer­ent story to tell – and it made Green the mon­strous per­pe­tra­tor. Who would the courts be­lieve?

De­spite an im­pres­sive cam­paign to prove that Green was the pri­mary killer, the courts were un­con­vinced and McDuff was handed down three death sen­tences, while Green re­ceived a 25- year sen­tence and was sub­se­quently re­leased after serv­ing 13 years be­hind bars.

Rose­bud’s col­lec­tive sigh of re­lief was short­lived. For a few crit­i­cal years in US ju­di­cial his­tory, the right of a jury to im­pose the death sen­tence on a de­fen­dant was deemed un­con­sti­tu­tional, and McDuff ’s date with the elec­tric chair was re­duced to a life sen­tence. Un­for­tu­nately, his good luck was only just be­gin­ning to kick in.

Re­leased Once More

McDuff ’s re­peated re­quests for pa­role were fi­nally granted on 11 Oc­to­ber 1989. He had served less than 21 years for the ‘ broom­stick mur­ders’.

Three days later, the body of a pros­ti­tute by the name of Sarafia Parker was dis­cov­ered in a field in Tem­ple. A wit­ness later tes­ti­fied that he had seen Sarafia in a truck owned by McDuff and, al­though noth­ing was ever proven, McDuff was cer­tainly in Tem­ple at the time, re­port­ing to his pa­role of­fi­cer.

A fur­ther in­ci­dent with a group of young AfricanAmer­i­cans, in which McDuff pulled a hunt­ing knife, re­sulted in him re­turn­ing to prison a year after he had been re­leased. He would not re­main be­hind bars for long. Due to prison over­crowd­ing, two months later he walked free again. Ken­neth McDuff ’s luck was still in, and he chose to spend that good fortune cheat­ing drug deal­ers and threat­en­ing pros­ti­tutes along­side his lat­est side­kick, Alva Hank Wor­ley. Like Green, he was an­other weak- minded sim­ple­ton.

Drug- ad­dled pros­ti­tute Brenda Kay Thomp­son was last seen alive, bound and clearly in distress in the back of McDuff ’s truck. When a Spe­cial Oper­a­tions team tried to flag him down, the cold- blooded mur­derer ca­reered through the of­fi­cers and dis­ap­peared.

A few days later, a lo­cal pros­ti­tute by the name of Re­ge­nia DeAnn Moore was ab­ducted by McDuff less than 100 me­tres away from where he had picked up Thomp­son. Ken­neth McDuff was more con­vinced than ever that he was ut­terly un­stop­pable and, sadly, he ap­peared to be cor­rect.

On 29 De­cem­ber 1991 Colleen Reed was stand­ing at a car wash booth when McDuff grabbed her by the throat and

McDuff’s date with the elec­tric chair was re­duced to a life sen­tence. Un­for­tu­nately, his good luck was only

just be­gin­ning to kick in

dragged her back to his Ford Thun­der­bird. Alva Hank Wor­ley later claimed that he had had no idea of McDuff ’s plans to kid­nap a woman, but this was highly un­likely, and in any case, he ad­mit­ted to help­ing his friend get the ter­ri­fied woman in the back of the car. McDuff drove away at break­neck speed but soon or­dered Wor­ley to drive so that he could get in the back with Colleen. What fol­lowed was a dev­as­tat­ingly bru­tal se­ries of rapes in­ter­spersed with mo­ments of ex­cru­ci­at­ing tor­ture. McDuff re­peat­edly burnt Colleen’s vagina with a lit cig­a­rette be­fore or­der­ing Wor­ley to have sex with her. “I did rape her”, he later ad­mit­ted, but claimed that this was to pro­tect the girl from McDuff, who clearly in­tended to kill her once she had been “used up”.

Even­tu­ally, McDuff de­cided to fin­ish Colleen off. Dur­ing the trial, Wor­ley gave a de­tailed de­scrip­tion of her last mo­ments: “He hit her so hard I heard a loud pop or crack. I started back­ing away from him. It sounded like a big tree break­ing… she fell back­wards to­ward the weeds, and her head bounced off of the ground. She did not move at all.” McDuff had bro­ken her neck with one vi­cious punch.

As be­fore, McDuff later claimed that it was Wor­ley who had wanted to abduct a woman, and he had merely wanted to score some drugs.

A few weeks later, on 24 Fe­bru­ary, Va­len­cia Kay Joshua, a pros­ti­tute from Waco, went miss­ing. She had last been seen alive knock­ing on McDuff ’s front door. Her corpse was dis­cov­ered the fol­low­ing month. The mon­ster had struck again, but he was not done yet. On 1 March 1992 preg­nant Melissa Northrup was work­ing the grave­yard shift at a con­ve­nience store in Waco when she had the mis­for­tune to come across Ken­neth McDuff. When her hus­band phoned the shop to check up on her, he got no re­ply and knew that some­thing must be wrong. Panic quickly set in when he ar­rived at the store to find a cus­tomer wait­ing, Melissa’s purse un­der the counter, her car in the car park but no sign of her any­where. The po­lice were alerted, but McDuff was al­ready on In­ter­state High­way 35, head­ing out to­wards Dal­las

County. No one knows ex­actly what bar­barous tor­ture the killer put Melissa through, but one thing is known: hav­ing parked the car in a small area known as Com­bine, Ken­neth McDuff frog­marched the preg­nant woman across some farm­land be­fore ty­ing her hands and feet with her socks and shoelaces. Her poor, bro­ken body was later dis­cov­ered in a nearby flooded gravel pit.

Back Where He Be­longs

Ken­neth McDuff ’s lucky streak was not go­ing to last for­ever, but the blow that started the be­gin­ning of the end for this seem­ingly un­touch­able killer was struck by a highly un­ex­pected char­ac­ter – his mother.

Shortly after Melissa’s abduction, Ad­die McDuff made a bizarre phone call to the po­lice claim­ing that her son had gone miss­ing and was al­most cer­tainly dead. This struck the of­fi­cers as rather odd, since the un­re­li­able McDuff had of­ten dis­ap­peared for days at a time. It seemed to­tally out of char­ac­ter for Ad­die to sud­denly as­sume that her adult son was dead just be­cause he hadn’t been heard from for a few days. It was highly sus­pi­cious, and the po­lice de­cided to keep a close eye on Ad­die’s house. What­ever she was up to, she had un­wit­tingly alerted the po­lice that he had gone un­der­ground and they wanted to know why. In­ves­ti­ga­tors dis­cov­ered a blood­stained hat, a cloth with uniden­ti­fied stains, hair that clearly didn’t be­long to Ken­neth McDuff him­self and a piece of pa­per with an ad­dress and the name ‘ Bev­erly’ scrib­bled on it. Maybe this woman knew where McDuff was.

Mean­while, foren­sic ex­perts were ex­am­in­ing his car, os­ten­si­bly to help find him, while other of­fi­cers were des­per­ately look­ing for Melissa. Fur­ther afield, the po­lice were also search­ing for Colleen.

Al­though the po­lice were all in­ves­ti­gat­ing dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions, Austin po­lice of­fi­cer Sonya Urubek felt that there was a con­nec­tion be­tween the kid­nap­pings and the

miss­ing McDuff, which she in­tended to prove. The more she dis­cov­ered about the na­ture of Ken­neth McDuff, the more con­vinced she be­came and, grad­u­ally, of­fi­cers from each case joined her on the quest to hunt him down.

Al­though McDuff seemed to have van­ished off the face of the earth, a new man by the name of Richard Dale Fowler, who looked re­mark­ably like Ken­neth McDuff, showed up at the Kansas City Dis­posal Ser­vices ask­ing for a job. He was of­fered a slot col­lect­ing rub­bish and quickly found him­self an apart­ment, where he promptly started re­gal­ing the other board­ers with tales of sex­ual de­prav­ity and thiev­ery. No­body liked him but, just as be­fore, they didn’t be­lieve him ei­ther.

The po­lice be­gan to round up any known ac­com­plices of McDuff, know­ing his propen­sity to show off and ‘ per­form’ in front of an au­di­ence. After in­ter­view­ing ‘ Bev­erly’, the woman on the scrap of pa­per, they were pointed in the di­rec­tion of Alva Hank Wor­ley, who was ob­vi­ously hid­ing some­thing. All the in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cers had to do was get him to talk, and it didn’t take them too long. His words were fright­en­ingly sim­i­lar to those of Roy Dale Green all those years ago: “McDuff is the one who took that girl from the car wash in Austin… her screams were so loud they hurt my ears. And fi­nally she could not scream any­more.”

An ar­rest war­rant was speed­ily ac­quired, but McDuff was still a miss­ing per­son. How­ever, when an episode of Amer­ica’s Most Wanted aired that week, show­ing the Colleen Reed abduction and a mugshot of McDuff, a Kansas City Dis­posal em­ployee no­ticed the sim­i­lar­ity be­tween his new co- worker and the chill­ing im­age on the screen. He phoned in just to be on the safe side, and the mul­ti­ple- killer was fi­nally ap­pre­hended.

Ken­neth Allen McDuff had been com­mit­ting mur­ders across Texas, creat­ing a ju­ris­dic­tional night­mare, but even­tu­ally two sep­a­rate tri­als were ar­ranged, one for the Colleen Reed mur­der, the other for Melissa Northrup. The ev­i­dence was over­whelm­ing – after all, McDuff couldn’t keep his mouth shut for long and had spent most of his life brag­ging about the heinous crimes he had com­mit­ted. Phys­i­cal ev­i­dence in the form of vic­tims’ hair and blood­stains con­firmed his sto­ries. Ul­ti­mately, his need to prove him­self in front of sim­ple- minded ac­com­plices led him to death row once and for all. McDuff ’s lucky streak had fi­nally run out, and this time there was no last- minute re­prieve. He was ex­e­cuted by lethal in­jec­tion on 17 Novem­ber 1998, 30 years after his ini­tial place­ment on death row.

After the ex­e­cu­tion, the state of Texas vowed that it would never al­low a crim­i­nal to ben­e­fit from such le­nient pa­role pro­to­cols ever again. A mas­sive over­haul of the prison ser­vice was un­der­taken, in­sti­gat­ing a crack­down on pa­role of­fers, a ma­jor prison- build­ing ini­tia­tive and im­proved mon­i­tor­ing of dan­ger­ous and vi­o­lent parolees. They are col­lec­tively known as the ‘ McDuff Rules’.

The state of Texas is of­ten ha­rangued over its use of cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment, but when asked to com­ment on the sub­ject, Texas Board of Par­dons and Paroles Chair­man Vic­tor Ro­driguez has been quoted as say­ing, “If there’s a rea­son, Ken­neth McDuff is the rea­son. He’s a poster child for cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment in Texas.”

McDuff is the one who took that girl... her screams were so loud they hurt my ears. And

fi­nally she could not scream any­more

Roy Dale green wanted to hang out with the big boys in or­der to scare the lo­cals and pick up girls by act­ing tough. He could never have guessed how badly a night out with McDuff would end be­low The charm­ing ham­let of Rose­bud in the heart of the Black­land Prairies, where the city hall acts as the mu­nic­i­pal court, po­lice sta­tion and gen­eral hub of the com­mu­nity

above- left Alva Hank Wor­ley was, just like Roy Dale Green, a weak- willed, eas­ily led fool who idolised and feared McDuffbe­low Ken­neth McDuff’s 1966 Dodge Coronet was used to spirit away Edna Louise Sul­li­van dur­ing the hor­rific ‘ broom­stick mur­ders’. She had been sep­a­rated from her two com­pan­ions and stuffed in the boot

above The mo­tion signed by Judge By­ron Matthews re­gard­ing the in­volve­ment of Roy Dale Green in the ‘ broom­stick mur­ders’. His com­pli­ance would be used by McDuff in his de­fence, but would not be be­lieved by the jury

above Ken­neth’s mother, Ad­die McDuff, took the stand on 3 Fe­bru­ary 1993, claim­ing, “I just can’t be­lieve Ken­neth could do such a thing.” His father was not so sure

be­low Also known as ‘ Peck­er­wood Hill’, Cap­tain Joe Byrd Ceme­tery has the du­bi­ous hon­our of be­ing Ken­neth McDuff’s fi­nal rest­ing place. His death row num­ber, 999055, adorns the grave­stone rather than his name. No one came to claim his re­mains

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.