15 Of The Worst Crimes To Ever Occur In Texas

Texas may not be the wild, wild west anymore, but over the years there sure have been a lot of heinous crimes committed in the county's second-largest state. However, crimes committed in Texas haven't always seen justice - from the horrific serial killers who slaughtered dozens of people to the mothers who drowned their own children. Sometimes the killers are caught and sometimes - like in the case of the Texarkana Moonlight Murders - cold-blooded killers continue to run free.

Despite how horrendous many of these Texas crimes are, many have led to significant, positive changes. For instance, the devastating murder of Amber Hagerman led to the creation of the Amber Alert, which continues to help rescue abducted children all across the country, and the murder of James Byrd Jr. led to stricter laws against hate crimes, which help to protect minorities and LGBTQ individuals.

Still, some of the most brutal crimes in the history of the United States happen to have occurred in Texas. Both the Sutherland Springs and Luby's Cafeteria shootings remain two of the deadliest mass shootings in American history. And other crimes, like the time Daniel Athens peed on the Alamo, aren't quite as gruesome as they are wildly disrespectful and bizarre.

  • Andrea Yates Drowned Her Five Children
    Photo: Texas Department Of Criminal Justice / Houston Chronical

    Andrea Yates seemed like a normal mom, but on June 20, 2001, that all changed. After attempting to commit suicide, the Houston-based mother drowned her five children in the bathtub of their suburban home. They were all between the ages of six months and seven years old. 

    Yates was then sentenced to life in prison, which was eventually overturned during an appeal. She was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 2006 after suffering from postpartum psychosis. She was then committed to a Texas mental hospital where she allegedly spends each moment thinking about how she mercilessly drowned her five children.

  • The Eyeball Killer Murdered 3 Women
    Photo: Wikipedia

    A lack of evidence led Charles Albright, or the Texas Eyeball Killer, to only ever be convicted of a single murder - but that doesn't make his alleged crimes any less grisly. The Eyeball Killer had a truly horrifying habit of surgically removing his victim's eyes with eerie precision.

    It all started with the murder of Mary Pratt in December of 1990, when she was shot, killed, and had her eyes surgically removed. The killer than moved on to Susan Peterson, killing her in the exact same way. The third victim, Shirley Williams, was found in March of 1991 – but the circumstances surrounding her murder were a bit different. Her eyes had been removed, but without the same amount of precision. She also had significant facial bruising and a broken nose, while the other victims did not. Additionally, the tip of an X-Acto knife was found in her eye socket and the bullets in her body matched the ones found in Mary Pratt. The killer had used the same weapon.

    The police's main suspect in the murders, Charles Albright, was a taxidermist and just the type of person who'd know how to perfectly remove an eye. He was eventually caught by police after allegedly attempting to murder a fourth victim who narrowly escaped. Many people believe that Albright was wrongly convicted, but he's still serving time in a Lubbock, Texas psychiatric unit.

  • Amber Hangerman Was Abducted And Killed By An Unknown Attacker
    Photo: Fair Use / Wikipedia

    Amber Hangerman Was Abducted And Killed By An Unknown Attacker

    On January 13, 1996, nine-year-old Amber Hagerman was abducted from her home in Arlington, Texas. Hagerman had been riding her bike with her brother and, according to her mother Donna Norris, the pair were only supposed to go around the block. Just eight minutes after Norris took her eyes off of Hagerman, she was gone. Eyewitnesses reported that they had heard Amber screaming while she was being forced into a pickup truck. When Amber's body was eventually recovered from the bottom of a creek, it was revealed that her throat had been slit and she was naked except for a single sock. All of the evidence had been washed away by the stream and the killer was never found. Because of the sheer brutality seen in Hagerman's case, the Amber Alert system for missing children was created.

  • Dean Corll, AKA The Candy Man, Committed 28 Murders
    Photo: US Military / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Dean Corll (AKA the Pied Piper or The Candy Man) was a sadistic pedophile responsible for the murder of at least 28 boys over a span of three years. Some even believe that he may have killed as many as 47, taking car and house keys from each victim as a trophy.

    Corll got his name because his family owned a candy-making business called the Pecan Price. When his mother divorced and started her own candy company, he became the vice president; however, his mother had allegedly fired him for making sexual advances toward male employees. The candy shop also happened to be right across the street from a school, making it a prime place for him to find young victims.

    Corll's sole targets were males between the ages of 13 and 20, whom he would lure into his apartment with the help of two teenage accomplices. One of those accomplices was 12-year-old David Brooks, whom he had met in 1967. Once he lured the boys into his apartment, he'd strap them to a plywood torture board in his bedroom and rape, beat, and torture them. Sometimes this would go on for days before he'd eventually strangle or shoot them. The bodies were then tied in plastic sheets and thrown in one of three mass graves Corll had carved out for his victims. In a final, cruel trick, before killing them, he'd make the boys write letters to their parents explaining their absence, which caused police to assume the victims had simply run away.

  • The Texarkana Moonlight Murders Were Never Solved
    Photo: The Town That Dreaded Sundown / MGM

    The Texarkana Moonlight Murders Were Never Solved

    The Texarkana Moonlight Murders rocked the entire nation in 1946 because they were so disturbing and bizarre. In fact, the murders remain some of the most infamous unsolved crimes in American history, and the Phantom Killer inspired not one, but two films.

    The murders themselves are something straight out of a horror movie. The first occurred on February 22, 1946, when Jimmy Hollis and Mary Jeanne Larey were parked in their car in a secluded area of a park at which time they were attacked and Hollis was severely beaten while Larey was violently molested. The attacker was described as wearing a white mask with holes cut out around the eyes and mouth.

    Though Hollis and Larey both survived, the next couple wasn't as lucky. Richard Griffin and Polly Ann Moore, who parked in a similar area but closer to the main road, were brutally shot in the back of the head, execution-style.

    Next came Betty Jo Booker, a saxophonist, and her friend Paul Martin, who had been giving her a ride home after performing at a local club. Martin was shot several times in the head and Booker's body was found two miles away, sexually assaulted and shot to death.

    Then there were Virgil and Katie Starks, who were hanging out at home when the Phantom Killer shattered their windows with gunshots and killed Virgil. Katie was then shot twice in the face before being able to call the police. She narrowly escaped, but hadn't been able to see the killer because of the blood pouring from her facial wounds into her eyes.

    After this incident, the killer never struck again and was never identified.

  • The Waco Siege Left 80 People Dead
    Photo: Wikipedia

    The Waco Siege Left 80 People Dead

    The notorious Waco siege occurred over a 51-day standoff that came to a screeching halt on April 19, 1993. The siege took a turn for the worse when 80 agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms raided a Mount Carmel compound owned by a religious sect known as the Branch Davidians, who were known to be violating federal arms regulations. Four ATF agents and six members of the religious group were killed in a wild shoot off before a cease-fire was arranged and nearly 900 law enforcement officials swarmed the compound in an effort to rescue the children that were being held hostage there.

    Early on in the negotiations, they had released around two dozen of the children in exchange for food and supplies. Still, many of the children (who were likely the offspring of leader David Koresh and numerous women) remained inside. The rescue team employed some rather aggressive tactics to get them to surrender, including playing extremely loud music and crushing the Davidian's cars. The siege eventually ended when several fires broke out in the compound and gunfire was heard inside. Only nine Davidians survived the siege while 80 were found dead inside, including 20 children, many with gunshot wounds similar to the one Koresh was found with, which suggested a mass murder-suicide.