Ranger History - From the Case Files of The Texas Rangers
Over the past 50 years, the Texas Rangers have investigated thousands of crimes from murder to kidnapping to political corruption. They have served as peace keepers during strikes and riots, apprehended fugitives, and protected governors. The cases depicted in this exhibit are examples of the variety of crimes the Rangers investigate.
Texarkana Phantom Killer
Between February 22 and May 3, 1946, a serial killer preyed on the residents of Texarkana, killing five people and assaulting three others. Three young couples were attacked while parking at lover's lane near Spring Lake Park. The fourth couple was attacked in their farm home ten mile northeast of Texarkana in Arkansas. Although the first couple survived the attack, they could not identify the masked assailant. Since evidence was routinely obliterated by morbid curiosity seekers, leaving police few leads, the media dubbed the perpetrator the "Phantom Killer." With a killer on the loose, fearful residents stayed home after dark, and businesses with normal evening hours closed down at sundown.
Example of a Tire Track Plaster Case
Some officials had suspicions about the killer's identity, but there
was never enough evidence to make an arrest. Despite the best efforts
of the Rangers and local authorities, the "Phantom Killer" case
Texas Ranger destroying a Black Jack
Success for the Rangers often came when they or other authorities infiltrated clubs under a false identity. Some of the more notable raids occurred at Top O' The Hill in Arlington, Hi-Lite Club in Sherman, and the Balinese Room in Galveston. Galveston was a particular hot spot for gambling because of the involvement of local organized crime. Rangers rotated service in Galveston for one or two week shifts from the mid-1950s until 1960. Although the gambling problem did not disappear completely, the Rangers helped to greatly diminish it.
Lone Star Steel Strike
At midnight on October 16, 1968, twenty-five hundred members of the United Steelworkers of America walked out of the Lone Star Steel plant, beginning a vicious strike over employee benefits and working conditions, which lasted 210 days. The plant, located six miles south of Dangerfield in East Texas, was founded during the 1940s as part of the war effort. By 1968, the plant manufactured shell casings for the government during the Vietnam War. The Rangers previously worked a strike over employee grievances at the plant in 1957.
Rusk State Hospital
At 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 16, 1955, eighty-one inmates of the Maximum Security Unit of the Rusk State Hospital took over Wards 6 and &, attacked three trustees and two attendants, and took the unit physician, the assistant supervisor, and the hospital superintendent hostage. Ben Riley, spokesman for the inmates, articulated their demands for better counseling, organized exercise periods, an end to inmate beatings, and that all inmates have the same rights enjoyed by the white inmates regarding meals, bathing, and freedom of movement.
DPS Director Col. Homer Garrison personally dispatched Texas Ranger Captain
Bob Crowder of Company B to the scene. Upon arriving Crowder quickly assessed
the situation and agreed to Riley's demand to talk with a representative
of the state. Crowder warned Riley that he would enter the compound armed
with his .45s since he was unwilling to become their next hostage. During
the next twenty minutes, Crowder reasoned with the inmates and assured
them that they would get a fair hearing concerning their grievances. He
then ordered them to release their hostages and surrender their weapons.
Riley and the other inmates dropped their assorted weapons in a pile near
the Rangers, bringing a dangerous situation to a peaceful resolution.
Siege at Huntsville
At 1:00 p.m. on July 24, 1974, inmates Fred Carrasco, Rudolfo Dominguez, and Ignacio Cuevas took over the education and library facility at Huntsville "Walls" Unit. Although the initial hostage count was seventy inmates and eleven citizens, Carrasco soon traded hostages for handcuffs and a television, reducing the hostage count to eleven civilians and four inmates. For the next ten days, Jim Estelle, Director of the Texas Department of Corrections, negotiated with Carrasco. Rangers and other law enforcement officers were called in to assist TDC officials.
One of three helmets demanded by Fred Carrasco
On Friday, August 2, Carrasco released a hostage to inform officials of his escape plans. The inmates constructed a movable shield of chalk boards, peg board, and library books to get them safely from the library to the waiting armored car. The next day, Texas Ranger Captains Pete Rogers and G. W. Burks led the attempt to intercept Carrasco's "Trojan horse." When the vehicle stalled while turning a corner on the entrance ramp, the assault team demanded surrender, then turned fire hoses on the escape vehicle. Inmates opened fire which was answered by the assault team. When the gunfire ceased, Carrasco lay dead of a self-inflicted gunshot, Dominguez was killed resisting surrender, and Cuevas was taken into custody uninjured. Two hostages were killed and one critically wounded.
On August 26, 1999, the 25th anniversary of the siege, the renovated
educational facility was renamed and dedicated in honor of the two hostages
who lost their lives in the siege.
Houston Family Kidnapping
On the night of October 13, 1971, Euless, Texas Police Sgt. Bill Harvell stopped Huron Ted Walters on a routine traffic stop. When Walters pulled a gun on the officer, Harvell opened fire. Walters sped away and Harvell gave chase. After abandoning his car, Walters disappeared into a pasture, taking a sawed off shotgun and two boxes of ammunition with him. The ten-hour manhunt that followed was unsuccessful.
At about 7:30 a.m., October 14, Hoyt Houston of Bedford, Texas, went out to his garage where he was confronted by Walters, who had been sleeping in a boat. Walters took Houston, his wife, and their five year-old daughter hostage, but the Houston's oldest daughter escaped to get help. Keeping the Bedford police at bay, Walters forced the family into their car, directing Mrs. Houston to drive while he kept his loaded shot gun aimed at her husband. Police were able to stop the car with a roadblock in Southlake, Texas, near Grapevine.
While police attempted to negotiate the safe release of the Houston family,
Company B Texas Ranger Tom Arnold took aim through the scope of his rifle.
When Arnold noticed Walter's attention waiver momentarily as police on
either side of the car distracted him, Arnold fired his rifle, instantly
killing Walters. With his vision obscured by the shattering of the rear
window of the car, Arnold immediately dropped his rifle, ran to the car,
and fired three more rounds into Walter's body through the rear side window.
The Houston family exited the car upon hearing the first shot fired. They
Kara-Leigh Whitehead Kidnapping
On January 14, 1987, Denise Johnson, maid for the Whitehead family, was kidnapped in Horseshoe Bay, Texas, northeast of Austin. Eight days later at 4:30 a.m., the Whiteheads received a call saying their two-year-old daughter Kara-Leigh had been kidnapped. The kidnapper, later identified as Brent Albery Beeler, a 23 year-old parolee from Houston, demanded a car and $30,000 in $20 bills. Texas Rangers and FBI agents were quickly called in to assist the local authorities. Phone lines were tapped, surveillance teams posted, and arrangements made for the ransom drop.
Shortly before 9:30 p.m., Mr. Whitehead received instructions to bring the car and money to the house across the street. Rangers Stan Guffey and John Aycock removed the back seat of the car and hid on the floor to prevent the kidnapper from escaping with the child. Upon entering the car, Beeler moved the briefcase of money to the back seat at which time he noticed the Rangers. According to protocol, Guffey identified himself before firing, giving Beeler time to fire at the Ranger. In the ensuing gunfight, Beeler fatally shot Guffey in the head. Ranger Aycock pulled Kara-Leigh to safety behind him as he fired at Beeler, who was killed as he tried to escape.
The body of Denise Johnson was later found in the boathouse
behind the residence in which Beeler had been hiding. A tragic footnote
to the case -- the Whitehead family was killed in plane crash in 1992.
Sgt. Stanley Guffey
Ranger History Topics
Hall of Fame & Museum