Graveyard Shift

12 Shocking Murder Cases in the Texas Killing Fields  

Jacob Shelton
23.4k views 12 items

For many readers who live outside the Lone Star State, the question that’s running through your head is probably, “What are the Texas killing fields?” They’re exactly what they sound like: a 25-acre stretch of land just off of Interstate 45 that’s known for being the prime place to dump the bodies of young women. Since the early '70s, more than 30 bodies of young women from the ages of 12 to 19 have been discovered in the fields, but only a few of their murders have ever been solved. Many people believe that the crimes are the work of a Texas serial killer, and despite a few career criminals coming forward to claim responsibility for the shocking true crimes, no one has ever been able to put all the pieces of this gruesome puzzle together.

One of the reasons for the lack of coherency in the Texas killing field cases is that there’s one missing link between all the crimes: multiple causes of death seem to point to a variety of murderers all ditching their victims' corpses into the old oil field and hoping for the best. Because so many of the murders linked to the late '70s and early '80s are so similar, it’s possible that there was a serial killer operating in the area at the time, but there are just as many clues pointing to multiple murderers using the killing fields as a common dumping ground. Read about these murders in the Texas killing fields and see if you can connect the dots.  

Colette Wilson
Colette Wilson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 12 Shocking Murder Cases in the Texas Killing Fields
Photo:  Dhanix/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

The first known victim of the I-45 Killer to be found in the killing fields, Colette Wilson was a 13-year-old girl who went missing from her bus stop in June 1971. Her remains were discovered five months later, and it was apparent that she died from a gunshot wound to the head. The discovery of Collette's body would begin decades of horrific discoveries on this desolate stretch of highway. 

Debbie Ackerman and Maria Johnson
Debbie Ackerman and Maria John... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 12 Shocking Murder Cases in the Texas Killing Fields
Photo:  Mark/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

In 1971, these two reportedly outdoorsy gals disappeared while hitchhiking, only to have their bodies discovered in the killing fields. One man, Edward Harold Bell, a convicted sex offender and murderer, claims to have killed Debbie and Maria (along with many of the other girls found in the fields), but he claims that he was "brainwashed" into committing the crimes. 

In letters written from a maximum security cell in Huntsville 17 years after the crime, Bell describes killing the girls: "I was 'Brainwashed' into killing Deby (sic) Ackerman and Maria Johnson in November 1971."

He then goes on to describe how he shot them and the place where their bodies were discovered. 

Brooks Bracewell and Georgia Geer
Brooks Bracewell and Georgia G... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 12 Shocking Murder Cases in the Texas Killing Fields
Photo:  Shinichi Sugiyama/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Georgia and Brooks vanished from a school bus stop in 1974 after their fellow students heard them discussing their plan to skip school that day. These two girls, aged 14 and 12, were the victims of some of the most brutal violence to occur in the killing fields. When their bodies were discovered two years later, it was obvious that they had been bludgeoned to death before being shot for good measure. 

Krystal Baker
Krystal Baker is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 12 Shocking Murder Cases in the Texas Killing Fields
Photo:  Leaflet/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

 

Krystal Baker was just 13 years old when she was beaten, raped, and strangled to death before being tossed out on the side of the road in South Texas. It took 26 years before police were able to connect Kevin Edison Smith, the man who committed the gruesome crime, to Baker with DNA samples that matched stains found on the dress and underwear that Krystal was wearing on the day her body was found.