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Vertigo58

A Murder In Texas

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Does anyone remember this 1981 true story/film and does anyone know what ever became of the doctor? If I recall the film leaves you hanging. The film also took a peek at River Oaks society. Sam Elliott as the Dr., Katherine Ross the mistress, Farrah Fawcett the wife.

There must be many people out there that knew the real people? Wonder if the mansion is still there? Photo anyone? Comments?

A Murder In Texas

True story of plastic surgeon who was suspected of causing the death of his first wife, the daughter of a wealthy member of Houston society. The doctor then marries his mistress, whom he had been keeping during his marriage. His former father-in-law, convinced that his daughter was murdered determines to see the doctor punished.

Edited by Vertigo58

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blood and money was the tommy thompson book on the same incident. i believe it is on kirby still.

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The house is still there, but it's a little difficult to see because of the thick hedge around it. It is on the Northeast corner of Kirby and Brentwood.

Edited by Dan the Man

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The house is still there, but it's a little difficult to see because of the thick hedge around it. It is on the Northeast corner of Kirby and Brentwood.

Now, I'm going to have to be a stereotypical tourist and check it out. I should really have placed this thread on "Historical Houston" I guess? I couldnt find a photo on Google either.

I cannot beleive more members haven't responded. Maybe the age group is younger than I realize. Oh well thanks for the great response.

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Does anyone remember this 1981 true story/film and does anyone know what ever became of the doctor? <<Vertigo58

I saw the movie and read the book. Dr. Hill was shot to death on the front steps of his River Oaks Mansion while still involved in the legal entanglements concerning his wife's death. He had poisoned her, and her father, oilman Ash Robinson was pushing to get him indicted. He was killed by a supposed robber who conveniently shot him as he opened the door. The house is still there, (I look at it every time I drive by it) LOL, and also down the street is Ash Robinsons house on Kirby. The book Murder In Texas, was actually written with the assistance of Dr. Hill's second wife Ann Kurth, who after a time came to believe that he was trying to kill her also.

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Does anyone remember this 1981 true story/film and does anyone know what ever became of the doctor? <<Vertigo58

Murder in Texas was written by Ann Kurth Hill, who was Dr. John Hill's second wife. It's a completely self-serving version of the events and it over-inflates Ann Kurth's position in the saga. She came along and married Hill after his first wife Joan Hill died, or was murdered. It was never decided.

Hill was brought to trial on charges of causing his wife Joan's death by neglecting her health problems. Ann Kurth caused a mistrial when she tried to testify for the state that Hill also tried to kill her. Prosecutors were surprised by that because it was the first time they'd ever heard it. She'd never told it to prosecutors or to the the grand jury. Then Hill himself was murdered before he could be retried, and that's the second half of the Hill saga. Prosecutors always suspected that Joan Hill's father Ash Robinson paid to have him killed but they couldn't prove it.

Kurth's book is just awful, which makes it perfect fodder for the TV movie it became.

If you want the full true and unvarnished story of Dr John Hill and his wife's death, find a copy of Blood and Money by Tommy Thompson. Beyond the story it tells, Thompson's clipped style of writing, and his book's huge success, are credited with launching the modern genre of realistic crime reporting. All of a sudden every crime reporter in the country started emulating that style. We take it for granted now.

Edited by FilioScotia
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Joan Hill (not a great photo)

Joan_Hill.jpg

Plastic surgeon Dr. John Hill's wife Joan was big in the local "horsey set". She died suddenly in 1969, and her father, oilman Ash Robinson, was convinced that Hill killed her by poisoning her. Robinson pressured prosecutors to indict him, but there was no evidence of murder. They finally indicted Hill on the rarely used charge of "murder by omission"; which meant he was accused of killing her by not getting treatment in time to save her.

By the time the trial began two years later, Hill had remarried and divorced Ann Kurth, the exwife of a well known lawyer whose name still adorns a well known local law firm. She also thought Hill killed Joan, so she agreed to testify against him.

She was also a drama queen who went out of control on the witness stand. Prosecutors wanted to establish that Hill was prone to violence, and Kurth was testifying about their frequent fights. When she suddenly blurted out that Hill tried to choke her one night, and told her that he killed Joan, the defense called for a mistrial and got it. It seems that she'd never thought to mention that incident in any of her pretrial testimony to the grand jury or in her meetings with prosecutors.

The retrial was set for the next year, during which time Hill married again. One night in 1972 he answered the door at his house in River Oaks and was shot dead. Police suspected Ash Robinson was behind it but they could never find enough evidence to take to a grand jury.

They tracked down two women, Marcia McKittrick, a prostitute who drove the getaway car, and Lilla Paulus, an acquaintance of Ash Robinson, and even proved that Paulus hired the gunman. But they could never connect the dots and connect Robinson to the shooting. Old Ash covered his tracks very very well.

Just about everybody connected with this case is dead now, including the shooter, Bobby Vandiver. He was caught in east Texas, but shot and killed by police before he could be brought to trial.

Ash Robinson died in Florida in 1987. Here's a link to a longer and well written backgrounder on this story from the Laredo Times in 1999. http://lmtonline.com/news/archive/0319/pagea6.pdf

Edited by FilioScotia

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Joan Hill kept her horses at the Cyandy Stables which were on S. Gessner close to the bayou. Back then this was beyond the city limits and, more or less out in the country. Houston was a much different place then. The pace was much slower, the city much smaller, and there was still plenty of greenspace even in the inner city.

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Kurth's book is just awful, which makes it perfect fodder for the TV movie it became. <<FilioScotia

I have to agree with you that it was awful and probably written strictly to get Kurth some cash. The Thompson book was very good and was the first of the two I had read on the subject. The whole thing was quite a story, as any scandal might be, and I am sure the citizens of River Oaks had a lot to say about it behind closed doors. Funny how things always seem more interesting when it happens to someone well known, as though they were above reproach unlike the rest of us.

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One night in 1972 he answered the door at his house in River Oaks and was shot dead.

Actually, Bobby Vandiver had already broken into the front door when Hills son

answered the door. He and Hills mother had been waiting for the Hills to return

from a trip from the west coast. Bobby Vandiver knocked on the door, and the

son answered it, and he forced his way into the house where he tied the two up.

Then the Hills drove up, and the wife went up to the door first. Vandiver tried to

pull her into the house, but then John Hill came up behind her and got her away

some how. She then ran off across the yard to a neighbors. He then got into a

skuffle with Bobby Vandiver and Vandiver won by shooting him about three times

I think before Hill went down. Anyway, Vandiver was the one that actually

answered the door.

The Hills were on the outside fixing to come in the house.

One thing I often wonder about... I wonder what happened to John Hills

music room he was so nuts over. It was supposed to be one wang doodler

of a music room. Louis Erath built all the speakers, etc.. Was supposed to be miles

of wiring. The furnishings were supposed to be pretty up town too.. Kinda like

being at a baby music hall or something..

As far as I'm concerned, "Blood and Money" is the only book worth reading about

it. The rest are all later copycats, or ways to cash in by certain participants

of the tale..

Blood and Money gives a pretty good glimpse of what life in Houston was like

in the 50's 60's, if you had a Texas size bank account. It mentions various

people, places, ect.

MK

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One thing I often wonder about... I wonder what happened to John Hills

music room he was so nuts over. It was supposed to be one wang doodler

of a music room. Lous Erath built all the speakers, etc.. Was supposed to be miles

of wiring. The furnishings were supposed to be pretty up town too.. Kinda like

being at a baby music hall or something..<<nm5k

Wasn't that music 'room' actually supposed to have been an addition to the house? If you look at the house from the Kirby side, you can see what looks like an addition toward the back and I always thought that might be the music room. The house is on a pretty small lot and sits at an odd angle to the street so it's hard to tell.

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Louis Erath built all the speakers, etc.

(apologies for going off-topic)

A friend just bought a pair of Erath speakers, and I did a little research for him. As a Houstonian, Erath probably deserves his own HAIF thread - he's considered to be a genius in the audiophile world.

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In 1985 I was driving through Montrose (I lived there) when I saw someone putting an old kitchen table on the curb. I think the table is from the 30s or 40s and has a white enameled metal top and a wooden base. It was in perfect shape except the paint was peeling badly.

I grabbed the table and took it home to scrape off the paint and re-paint it. The table had one drawer in the middle and when I took the drawer out it was lined with an old Houston Chronicle from the 1960s. There was an article in that section on Joan Hill and her equestrienne exploits. It was strange to read that article knowing where her future was heading in a few short years. I believe her favorite horse was called "Beloved Belinda".

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I found these quotes with Google:

Five-time world champion equestrian Joan Robinson dazzled the staid sport by riding her gray mare wearing a gray riding outfit exactly matching her steed's coat. "When Joan Robinson rides Beloved Belinda, it is one of the most achingly beautiful sights in the world," wrote one newspaperman in the 1950s.

A newspaperman wrote, "When Joan Robinson rides Beloved Belinda it is a poem, a waltz, it is the sculpture of Rodin and the painting of Cezanne. My goosepimples get goosepimples."

Edited by isuredid

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A newspaperman wrote, "When Joan Robinson rides Beloved Belinda it is a poem, a waltz, it is the sculpture of Rodin and the painting of Cezanne. My goosepimples get goosepimples."

It has been so long since I saw the film but,

Do you guys recall at the very end of the made for TV movie. Some character (or couple) in the movie are on a vacation somewhere in Mexico (I think) and they glance at some man wearing dark glasses and speaking to another person and they lock eyes, then the mysterious man turns away?

Is this not to assume or suggest that Dr J Hill was presumed to have had an imposter buried in his grave and he snuck out of the US to assume another identiy?

Serious though, this contradicts the book or is that also in the book? Gotta know... :ph34r: The film just leaves one hanging...

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A newspaperman wrote, "When Joan Robinson rides Beloved Belinda it is a poem, a waltz, it is the sculpture of Rodin and the painting of Cezanne. My goosepimples get goosepimples."

It has been so long since I saw the film but,

Do you guys recall at the very end of the made for TV movie. Some character (or couple) in the movie are on a vacation somewhere in Mexico (I think) and they glance at some man wearing dark glasses and speaking to another person and they lock eyes, then the mysterious man turns away?

Is this not to assume or suggest that Dr J Hill was presumed to have had an imposter buried in his grave and he snuck out of the US to assume another identiy?

Serious though, this contradicts the book or is that also in the book? Gotta know... :ph34r: The film just leaves one hanging...

I remember that. In the true spirit of Ken Lay, Elvis and other conspiracies, many thought he had someone killed and buried in his grave. Him being a prominent plastic surgeon used his contacts in Mexico to change his appearance and his identity.

I guess he lives on a tropical island with Lay, Elvis, Emilia Earhardt and the Roswell alien.

isuredid, your right Houston was a different place then. Pin Oak Stables were right off Fournace I think in the middle of what is now the Gallariea Area.

joe

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Wasn't that music 'room' actually supposed to have been an addition to the house?

I believe -- but I'm not a hundred percent certain -- that the famous "music room" was built as a second floor to Hill's detached multi-car garage.

As for the precise sequence of events on the night Hill was shot and killed at his home, my thanks to nm5k for setting me straight on all those details. The result was the same though. Hill was dead dead dead.

Edited by FilioScotia

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Wasn't that music 'room' actually supposed to have been an addition to the house?

I believe -- but I'm not a hundred percent certain -- that the famous "music room" was built as a second floor to Hill's detached several-car garage.

As for the precise sequence of events on the night Hill was shot and killed at his home, my thanks to nm5k for setting me straight on all that. The result was the same though. Hill was dead dead dead.

All great responses everyone, now I can remove him from my "All time Super Rats" list. Not to shift topics but now Scott Peterson is at the top of the list. Joey Buttafucco 2nd, etc.

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Pin Oak Stables were right off Fournace I think in the middle of what is now the Gallariea Area.

joe

Pin Oak Stables was where Home Depot is now at 610 and 59. I can still see it in my mind's eye. My mom used to work at the Community Chest (United Way) and some of her friends who still worked there would give her tickets sometimes. I remember getting to and from the grandstands was usually a muddy affair. They later moved the "Pin Oak Charity Horse Show" to the Astrohall, but it wasn't the same and didn't last. I'm not sure it would have lasted anyway. It belonged to another time.

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