Elderly woman’s brutal murder stuns tight-knit Texas City neighborhood

Gus Luther Hammond Jr. (right) and his attorney, Andrew Z. Baker, as the verdict is read in the Galveston County Courthouse. (Photo by Vaden Smith/The Galveston Daily News)

Delia Smith wasn’t the type of woman who hid in her house and avoided her neighbors. So when they went a whole day without seeing her, […]

Texas City love triangle shattered in 1960s shootout

Charlene Lewis (The Galveston Daily News)

Love can drive a man to distraction. But can it make him a murderer?

Richard Villareal’s attorneys insisted it could. He was a man whose life was wrapped up in a woman, entangled in a web he could not escape. His lawyers painted the picture of a pitiable […]

The body in the Fort San Jacinto bunker

Battery Croghan, Fort San Jacinto, Galveston, Texas (Creative Commons/Flickr/Patrick Feller)

Several hours after the hot sun melted into the horizon on Aug. 21, 1960, three 13-year-old boys ran along a narrow strip of sand on Galveston’s far East End. They were supposed to be fishing, but a torrential summer downpour drove them toward a […]

A crime of passion and the ‘rape of justice’

Thomas Pittman (right) and his lawyer, L.J. Krueger. (Photo by Linda Westerlage/The Galveston Daily News)

Shirley Ann Lester was ready to celebrate one year of freedom from her husband, Thomas Michael Pittman III, when he called and asked to see her on Oct. 19, 1963. She agreed, even though she had no intention of […]

From stolen freedom to death row

Butch Ainsworth, Ronnie Roper, and Buster Harris hoped to get as far as Mexico, where they could enjoy the freedom they gained in their daring escape from the Galveston County jail on Nov. 21, 1969.

They made it as far as Flatonia, Texas.

In the early morning hours of Nov. 22, the fugitives stopped to […]

Fugitives escape Galveston County blockade, take more hostages

Deputies look at blood stains at Irene Alexander’s home in Dickinson (The Galveston Daily News)

Five escaped prisoners and their two hostages peeled out of the Galveston County jail parking lot shortly before 5 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 21, 1969, with George Earl Howard behind the wheel. Ringleader Butch Ainsworth, who was awaiting trial […]

Reign of terror: Five Galveston inmates terrorize county in 1969 jailbreak

At about 3:30 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 21, 1969, Deputy Tony Socias Jr. was making his rounds at the Galveston County jail. When he reached the third floor, he noticed water filling the hallway. He rushed to cell 3G, where the flood appeared to be seeping under the bars. In the middle of the cell, […]