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A Murder In Texas


Vertigo58

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Yes...........that's the Wright Morrow Esate that's no longer with us. That was a beautiful colonial/Hollywood regency style home. Hollywood regency refers to that 1930's/1940's style of architecture and interior design that was partly created by William Haines, Joan Crawford's BFF.

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My wife, also an alumni of West Briar (Weenie Briar), grew up at 2514 Brentweeod, in the house to the east of the Hills. In fact, they just sold the Brentwood house last Friday. Her father, Dr. Finkelstein, was a friend of the Hill's. My wife used to play the hills piano in their upstairs music room and swim in their pool.

Since the hills, the house has had a few owners. My understanding is it was sold to a nice gentleman who lived there for 20 or so years until he died of illness. He bequethed it to his live in significant other who lived there until recently. Now, according to my brother in law, a new family with kids has moved in. The mother is reported to be quite striking.

Edited by pshaddock
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  • 4 weeks later...

I won the movie Murder in Texas off of Ebay recently. I don't blame the people on this message board who complained about the inaccuracies in the movie. (If you knew the people or lived through those times, you always want things to be as accurate as possible.) That being said, I thought the movie held up through the years and was very well-acted and entertaining. I remember seeing it as a kid when it premiered on NBC and finding its depiction of upscale Houston fascinating. I think, of all the characters, Joan Robinson Hill and Ash Robinson came off as the most sympathetic. Farrah Fawcett and Andy Griffith did a superb job of giving those people depth and humanity. Sam Elliott was chilling as John Hill. Katharine Ross was fetching but dull as Ann Kurth. Fawcett makes Joan such a vibrant and likeable person that the movie isn't the same in the second half when she is gone.

Which house on MacGregor did they film at? I tried looking it up on Zillow and it doesn't look anything like the house in the movie.

I'm not from Houston and never visited, but this is a great message board.

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The Hills lived down the street from us in Southgate, prior to living in River Oaks. As an 8 year old kid, I remember them as very nice people. My parents were friends with them, and remember them as very nice people.

I remember Joan Robinson as very outgoing and confident...she seemed to always have a smile on her face. I remember John Hill as a nice man, clean-cut man.

The movie, as I recall painted him as kaniving (sp?) and her as overly dependent on him, neither which seemed to be true.

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Well, like I said, I don't blame anyone for having problems with the movie if they had a personal connection to this tragedy. Even though I think it's a good film, I still watched it with a grain of salt knowing that things were not being dramatized as accurately as possible.

According to Zillow, the Hill house was recently sold. Here is the link to it:

http://www.zillow.com/HomeDetails.htm?zprop=27845096

The Hills lived down the street from us in Southgate, prior to living in River Oaks. As an 8 year old kid, I remember them as very nice people. My parents were friends with them, and remember them as very nice people.

I remember Joan Robinson as very outgoing and confident...she seemed to always have a smile on her face. I remember John Hill as a nice man, clean-cut man.

The movie, as I recall painted him as kaniving (sp?) and her as overly dependent on him, neither which seemed to be true.

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I recall listening to a local talk radio program shortly after Ash Robinson died wherein the host or a guest played a tape recording of a telephone conversation between himself and Robinson which took place the day after Hill was killed. I wish I could remember which show and who taped the phone call, but I don't, damnit. I do recall that Robinson sounded tired, stressed and fearful. The only thing I actually recall Robinson saying was, "I've got troubles," in response to "how are you doing Ash?"

I remember the guy who owned the recording said he made it without Robinson's knowledge and that he felt it showed that Robinson was not responsible for Hill's death.

Anyone else recall this?

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  • 3 weeks later...

Although not an insider, I remember it all very well. If you want to know the general popular feeling around town, I can tell you outright that I never spoke to anyone who did not absolutely believe John Hill murdered Joan and that Ash Robinson had him axed. When the news broke about the shooting of John Hill, everyone cheered and the word of the day was, "Way to go Ash!" Afterwards for a very long time, the fear was Ash wouldn't get away with it. We read every news story about the trial and there was much celebrating when Mr. Robinson was not punished.

Now, all this may seem exceedingly harsh to you gentle (cough) readers, but you cannot imagine the outrage at Joan's death and the terrible circumstances surrounding it. In the first place, there was no excuse for a medical doctor to deny his wife treatment when she was so direly ill over an extended period. With all the proven power and excellence of the Texas Medical Center at the time, he finally shuttled her off to a tiny, suburban hospital with a very bad reputation then and miles and miles away from home. Further Dr. Hill was not well thought of by many in their society and downright abhored by some.

I did have some personal/professional association with the Pathologist referred to in the books and his utter bumbling of the situation when Joan died. I take my life in my hands here, but I will only say that many years after I personally witnessed him make a major life and death error and could not respect his professionalism.

These incidents were the shock, horror and scandal of the era, but followed up by the other River Oaks debacle with Candace Mossler. Ah, but that's another story which turned the town on its ear due to the injustice.

Post Script - small asides. My daughter attended West Briar in the late 1970's, really good school then. When she was in elementary school at St. Mark's, a little girlfriend of hers lived next door to Lilla Paulus, the woman in charge of finding the hit man for Ash Robinson. She resided in a very swank, large home in the Braes Heights area south of Bellaire. Go figure.

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Post Script - small asides. My daughter attended West Briar in the late 1970's, really good school then. When she was in elementary school at St. Mark's, a little girlfriend of hers lived next door to Lilla Paulus, the woman in charge of finding the hit man for Ash Robinson. She resided in a very swank, large home in the Braes Heights area south of Bellaire. Go figure.

She was set fairly well by her bookie husband Claude Paulus. Not totally loaded, but she wasn't hurting for money.

He was still alive when she was first asked about knocking off Hill. He heard about it, and totally hit the roof..

He told her not to get involved.. I guess she didn't listen. He died a bit later, and I guess no one was left to tell

her what to do.. Or not to do.. I never really made up my mind if Hill killed his wife.. Good chance of it, but

it's hard to really prove. But I'm fairly certain that Ash knocked off Hill via Paulus, etc...

Who else would waste their time? Once he got it in his mind that John killed Joan, he was totally obsessed.

And had the money to take it anywhere he wanted to. It didn't take Ash long to decide that John did it..

He pretty much came to that conclusion the morning of Joans funeral. It was all downhill from there.

I wonder if Paulus is still alive. I hadn't heard one way or the other.. She may well be gone by now..

MK

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She was set fairly well by her bookie husband Claude Paulus. Not totally loaded, but she wasn't hurting for money. I wonder if Paulus is still alive. I hadn't heard one way or the other.. She may well be gone by now..

She is dead. Don't know the year but she died of cancer in prison. Here's a full summary of the Hill/Robinson saga KHOU did three years ago.

"Dr. John Hill, a Houston plastic surgeon, married Ann Fairchild Kurth in 1969, less than three months after his first wife, socialite Joan Robinson Hill, died of a mysterious, massive infection.

Hill was charged with killing her by intentionally failing to give her proper medical care. He was gunned down at his River Oaks home after his first trial ended in a mistrial as a result of Kurth's testimony. In his book, "Blood and Money ," the late Tommy Thompson, a former Houston newspaper reporter, implied that Joan Hill's father, wealthy oilman Ash Robinson, hired the gunman who killed Dr. Hill.

Kurth, whose marriage to Hill lasted less than a year, testified in his 1971 trial that he had confessed to her he had killed Joan Hill "with a needle.' Kurth said Hill tried to kill her three weeks after their marriage. Kurth theorized Hill probably caused Joan Hill's death by feeding her pastries contaminated with human fecal bacteria and also maintained that John Hill could still be alive and living in Mexico.

Hill, she said, could have used plastic surgery to create a double who was the man killed outside of Hill's River Oaks home Sept. 24, 1972. However, Dr. Joseph Jachimczyk, the Harris County medical examiner, has repeatedly said the man on whom he performed an autopsy was Hill.

Dr. Hill was slain after he and his third wife, Connie, returned from a medical convention to find his mother and son bound and gagged in the hallway.

In 1975, a jury convicted Lilla Paulus of arranging the contract killing, allegedly acting for Robinson, who was said to be bent on revenge. Robinson, however, was never charged.

Paulus died in prison of cancer. The reputed triggerman, ex-convict Bobby Wayne Vandiver, was shot to death by a Longview officer before he could be tried.

Robinson and his wife eventually moved to Pensacola, Fla., and he died in 1985."

Now we know. No info available on Mrs. Ash Robinson, but it's probable that she's also dead by now. If so, then Robert Ashton Hill, the son of Dr. Hill and his first wife Joan, is almost the only person in that saga who is still alive. As has already been mentioned, he lives somewhere on the east coast where he lives a quiet life as a prosecuting attorney and refuses to talk about that part of his life.

The only other person involved in Hill's murder who may still be living is Marcia McKittrick, who drove the getaway car for Bobby Vandiver, the convicted triggerman. McKittrick got a short prison sentence for her involvement, did her time, and has apparently disappeared from the pages of history. I've heard nothing about her since the 70s.

Edited by FilioScotia
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Thanks to everyone for sharing the pictures. I don't recall ever seeing pix of the Hill's before. They were indeed a beautiful couple. isuredid, how did you come to have those clippings of her?

The clippings are from the Houston Chronicle morgue (that's what they call it) collection on microfilm at the library. The photo of Joan and John taken at the last party they attended I just stumbled across in an old Houston Business Journal (also at the Library).

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  • 3 weeks later...
If I'm reading the edge that got cut off here correctly, Ash Robinson's house was at 1029 Kirby. I've admired that distinctive, low-slung mod for years, but I never knew he'd lived there. HCAD says it was built in 1960 and remodeled in 2000 - anyone know if the remodeling substantially changed its appearance, or does it still look the way it did in the 60s?

I first read Blood and Money around 1991 and drove by the houses. The major remodel on Ash's house was just beginning and there were workers in front of the house. It was a redwood MidCentury modern that looked very much like a William Floyd design. 1 and 1/2 stories, low slope roof (not flat), lots of clerestory windows. Pretty fabulous. You could see through the clerestories and through the glass at the back of the house and see the trees in the backyard from the street. HCAD is definately wrong about the year built...it was a late 40's/early 50's design (the book also indicates that time period). The year on hcad for remodeling probably means they did more stuff to it in 2000, but the major alterations were around 1991ish. So, basically, it looks absolutely nothing like it did when Ash was there.

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  • 4 weeks later...

The home on Kirby where Dr. Hill was murdered was on the market about a year and a half ago. The music room still looked just as it was described in the book, Blood and Money. There was also a photo of the entry hall, where he was murdered. I wish I had thought to save the photos. Joan Hill is buried at Forest Park Westheimer. I drive past her grave when I visit my in-laws. Her grave has a bush growing in the middle of it which almost covers her headstone. It is sad to think that someone that was such a pillar in our community has no one to care for her grave. I know I'm off the subject but.....

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The home on Kirby where Dr. Hill was murdered was on the market about a year and a half ago. The music room still looked just as it was described in the book, Blood and Money. There was also a photo of the entry hall, where he was murdered. I wish I had thought to save the photos. Joan Hill is buried at Forest Park Westheimer. I drive past her grave when I visit my in-laws. Her grave has a bush growing in the middle of it which almost covers her headstone. It is sad to think that someone that was such a pillar in our community has no one to care for her grave. I know I'm off the subject but.....

Your not off subject. That was great commentary. In fact Forest Lawn or most cemetaries should be responsibe for removing any wild growth or weeds. The Forest Park on the Near East End usually cleans quite well. Your right though it would seem someone, somewhere even a distant relative should check on the marker on occassion. Maybe the rich see it differently?

As eerie as this story unfolded, now it makes me wonder if she is actually in that spot? More mysteries or rumours to start.... :ph34r::lol:

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Your not off subject. That was great commentary. In fact Forest Lawn or most cemetaries should be responsibe for removing any wild growth or weeds. The Forest Park on the Near East End usually cleans quite well. Your right though it would seem someone, somewhere even a distant relative should check on the marker on occassion. Maybe the rich see it differently?

As eerie as this story unfolded, now it makes me wonder if she is actually in that spot? More mysteries or rumours to start.... :ph34r::lol:

Thanks!

I wouldn't have put it past her father to have her moved, especially after the docter was murdered. He had the power and money to have her moved in the dead of night. I read somewhere he was mad as hell that her head stone read "Joan Hill".

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Forest Lawn or most cemetaries should be responsibe for removing any wild growth or weeds. The Forest Park on the Near East End usually cleans quite well.

Forest Park Westheimer and Forest Park Lawndale are owned and managed by the same company, and both are what you would call "high end" cemeteries. They're "perpetual care" facilities, which means the grounds and graves are well maintained at all times. Families don't have to come tend to their loved ones' graves. Ongoing care for a grave is included in the price you pay for the gravesite, and believe me it is steep.

I'm a little bit surprised to read here that "a bush" is growing out of Joan Hill's grave (?) Then again, I guess I shouldn't be surprised, because it is possible the bush was placed there by her parents. I've read that it's fairly common for families to put growing plants on and around graves to symbolize life growing out of a place of death and grief. Maybe the bush just needs a little pruning.

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I think that bush has been there a good while, as it's getting fairly large.

Offhand, I think it probably just sprouted up there on it's own, but who

knows for sure... I am kind of surprised they leave it there, but I guess

no one complains about it.

You see pictures of two head stones. One a big one, and the other a

flat marker. I think the flat marker is the one that John Hill bought,

and I think it's the one that Ash didn't like. He thought it was cheap..

He often complained about it.

I'm betting that he is the one that later bought the upright larger marker.

I'm not sure if both still exist at the same site, or if the older marker was

replaced by the new one. Judging by the same dates of the pix, I think both

still are in use at the same grave.

As far as moving the grave... I kind of doubt it.. I think she's still in that

one. I kind of doubt Ash would have bought the new marker if he was

going to move her somewhere else.

The grave has been opened at least twice though since she was buried.

First, soon after the burial when John Hill was supposed to have been looking

for a lost ring, and the second time for the second autopsy.

MK

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?p...emPhotos=Y&

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I think that bush has been there a good while, as it's getting fairly large. Offhand, I think it probably just sprouted up there on it's own, but who knows for sure... I am kind of surprised they leave it there, but I guess no one complains about it.

That's not a bush. It's a cedar tree. A Thuja Arborvitae shrub, to be precise. And it didn't get there by accident. It was planted there.

Judging from its height, compared to the gravestone, I'm guessing it was put there sometime in the past ten or fifteen years.

My next door neighbor put one just like it in his front yard 20 years ago, when it was still short enough for his and my kids to play leap frog over it. Today it's more than 20 feet tall and still growing. (a miracle, considering what it's been through)

They're durable as all get-out, and very long lived. Barring something unforeseeable, that shrub will grow into a very tall tree and it'll still be there a hundred years from now.

Edited by FilioScotia
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I was thinking that when looking at it, but wasn't sure if it was a cedar or not.

Doesn't seem like the best place to plant it.. Too close to the marker...

Eventually it will be hard to read the marker for the tree covering it.

I've got some property up near Lake Eufaula in OK. Have quite a few red cedars

up there, but they look a bit different than the ones in that pix.

I've got two in particular near the front that are huge. Very tall and fat.

Probably been there a while. But have quite a number throughout the property.

They are mixed in with the hardwoods. Up there, they consider the cedar

encroachment a nuisance. In the old days, you had enough natural fires that

many of the cedars were kept in check. But now, with the limited burning,

they really take over. They get to be a fire hazard.

I took a still of one of them from some video I took not long ago.

It's kind of hard to tell, but it might be 50 ft tall + or -.

http://home.comcast.net/~nm5k/redcedar.jpg

It looks taller in person, than in that pix I think... it's big..

I had a lot of those that got trashed from the big ice storm last

winter. Many fell over, or the trunks broke in the middle and crumpled

over. But as you can see, the big ones came through ok.

I was up there about 3 weeks ago cutting some of those down.

Most were laying sideways almost yanked out of the ground. I cut them

loose, and will eventually trim them down to use as fence posts, etc.

Still have plenty more to go.. :( I'm going to go up again in 2-3 weeks

about when the trees should start turning color. Best time of the year

up there. Have quite a few oaks etc also, and those go orange and red

pretty soon.

When I cut those, I make loads of cedar chips, shavings, etc from the

chainsaw.. I've seen people put that stuff in little packets and use in

drawers, etc to scare bugs off.. Adds cedar smell too..

I might start sacking that stuff up and bring it back with me.

MK

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Trees, how did we get on tree subject?

Somewhere way at the beginning of this topic someone mentioned children.

How many did the have? and where and about how old are they? Seems they surely would have wanted to get to the bottom of things and clear anyones name once and for all. :wacko:

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I was thinking that when looking at it, but wasn't sure if it was a cedar or not. Doesn't seem like the best place to plant it.. Too close to the marker...Eventually it will be hard to read the marker for the tree covering it. It looks taller in person, than in that pix I think... it's big.

Hey Vertigo -- you know how a conversation wanders around all over the countryside. That's what's happening here, with a discussion of Joan Robinson Hill, her husband, everything even remotely connected to her death and her story, even the shrub that's growing on her grave.

Joan and John Hill had one son. Robert Hill is now 46 years old, and he lives on the east coast where he's a prosecuting attorney. He won't talk about the murder case, nor will he reveal where he lives because he wants privacy.

Here's that link to a 1999 story about the Hill saga in the Laredo Times.

http://lmtonline.com/news/archive/0319/pagea6.pdf

Back on the subject of trees, it occurs to me that people who plant things on graves usually pick very small things. That shrub was probably a small seedling no bigger than your finger when it was put there.

If so, it could have been planted just after Joan's funeral in 1969. We may be looking at 38 years of growth here. If it's not cut down, a hundred years from now this tree will be huge -- 50 feet tall or even taller -- and the lowest branches will be high enough to stand under.

Edited by FilioScotia
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I just wonder how or why other visitors haven't complained about it? Is it possible her marker is just away from others and that's why no one cares to complain? Seems the longer this sucker goes unattended to it will damage others close by it it hasnt already?

Oy vey!

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Actually, I'm still not totally convinced it was actually planted there on purpose..

It could well have been though.. What makes me wonder, is that often cedars like to

sprout up in cleared places. Thats why you often see them sprout up along cleared

fencelines, etc..

Anway, it could have well been planted there on purpose, but it could have also been

been planted by accident say when the grave was opened. Say if the backhoe had dug

around cedar trees around another plot, and happened to pick up a seedling or something..

I'd have to see if any other cedars like that are on the property. I sort of doubt it was there

when they put in the bigger upright marker, being it's so close to it.

If there are other cedars like that on the property, it might have just sprouted up. But

if there are no others in the area, it may well have been planted.

It is quite possible it was planted soon after the large marker was installed.. Maybe

even by Ash, if he's the one that had the second marker installed. Could have been a

visitor too I suppose.. I'm not sure if they allow people to plant trees there or not..

I know a lot of people buried in there. One of my brothers was buried there in 2004.

There is a good chance I'll end up planted there... :/

One note... As I recall, a large part of that place is flat markers only. So it should be

fairly easy to find the Hill plot if one wanted to, as I don't recall there being an awful

lot of upright marker plots there. Only special areas.. Also, it looks to be near one of

the property lines, as you can see the buildings next door. Maybe the west side..

BTW, I didn't realize until recently that Chatsworth farm was on old riceville road.

I had always assumed the west side more like near Alief or whatever..

Turns out, I've been to Chatsworth farm, as I used to know two girls that kept

horses at the stables that were there after Chatsworth farm. Thats the only place

I've ever rode a horse.. And the horse nearly knocked me off by running me into

a tree branch.. No John Wayne in the saddle am I... :( I'm one of them "windshield"

cowboys like George W. Bush.. lol

MK

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If it is a Arborvitae then it was planted there, The tree in your pic grows naturaly in Texas.

Yep, if it's a species not seen naturally in this area, it was probably planted.

Probably why it looked a bit different to me than the red cedars that are fairly

natural to TX, OK, etc..

I've got a friend that has some property out in Fayette county and he has

some red cedars there. They are pretty much the same "eastern red cedar" species

that they have up in OK. They are actually a type of Juniper, but I couldn't tell you

much more than that.. I'm not that up on the various tree species..

MK

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The shrub is a Cedar Green Giant or Arborvitae. My neighbor has 2 of them in his front yard. They can grow 3 to five feet per year if not trimmed. They can reach a height of 30 to 50 ft at maturity. There are quite a few of these planted at Forest Park cemetary on Lawndale. They are usually planted one on either side of the head stone.

Edited by EastEnd Susan
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The shrub is a Cedar Green Giant or Arborvitae. My neighbor has 2 of them in his front yard. They can grow 3 to five feet per year if not trimmed. They can reach a height of 30 to 50 ft at maturity. There are quite a few of these planted at Forest Park cemetary on Lawndale. They are usually planted one on either side of the head stone.

Heck, someone may as well place ornaments on them during holiday season. :wacko: Interesting to think of the birds that have made it home. Birds love low bushes or trees this size.

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  • 1 month later...

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/life/s...ty/5262246.html

Yesterday the current owners of the home on Kirby held a society Halloween celebration. Three people came dressed up in Joan costumes (including carrying tainted pastries).

Eek.

Houston society certainly knows how to eat their own...

"Habitat for Humanity benefit raises the dead three times over

Three "Joan Robinson Hills" showed up Friday night at Laura and John Spalding's River Oaks mansion, the very house where in 1969 the horsewoman/socialite was allegedly poisoned by her husband, Dr. John Hill.

(He was shot to death at the front door of the house after a mistrial in the case in which he was accused of feeding her tainted pastries.)

Debra Grierson stepped out as the fashionable equestrian in classic Herm

Edited by TheBloggess
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http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/life/s...ty/5262246.html

Yesterday the current owners of the home on Kirby held a society Halloween celebration. Three people came dressed up in Joan costumes (including carrying tainted pastries).

Eek.

Houston society certainly knows how to eat their own...

"Habitat for Humanity benefit raises the dead three times over

Three "Joan Robinson Hills" showed up Friday night at Laura and John Spalding's River Oaks mansion, the very house where in 1969 the horsewoman/socialite was allegedly poisoned by her husband, Dr. John Hill.

(He was shot to death at the front door of the house after a mistrial in the case in which he was accused of feeding her tainted pastries.)

Debra Grierson stepped out as the fashionable equestrian in classic Herm

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but doesn't it make you wonder where the idea came from? Surely it wasn't Haif? Just seems coincidental. and yes, clearly an exercise in bad taste. :blink:

This story doesn't surprise me at all.

As a reporter who has covered Houston goings-on for more than 40 years, who has met and interviewed people at all levels of Houston society, in politics, business, and private life, I can testify that that some of the most trashy people you will ever meet wear thousand dollar suits, drive Jaguars, Beamers and Mercedeses, and live in multi-million dollar mansions in Memorial and River Oaks.

Wealth only buys a wealthy lifestyle. It cannot buy "class."

Wealth is a wonderful measure of a person's true character. That's because

wealth gives people a shield that protects them from the consequences of "being themselves", and letting their true personalities and beliefs shine forth in all their true beauty, or true ugliness. That's why many rich people are racist bigots. They don't care what you think of them, because they don't have to care.

There are, thankfully, many rich people who are fine, decent, and caring folks, and they'd be fine and decent people even if they weren't rich.

Edited by FilioScotia
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  • 4 weeks later...

I have just read all the info and responses concerning the Robinson Hill Saga. I have always been interested in this story since I first read the Tommy Thompson book. What I would like to know is if anyone has new accurate info on the characters? Such as the date and place of death of Davis Ashton "Ash" Robinson and where he is buried; same for his wife, Rhea Robinson. Also more info on their grandson, Robert Ashton Hill. Also where is Dr. John Hill buried? Also has there been any recent books published about the subject? When did Tommy Thompson die and how?

Sounds like a good story for the show, Power, Privilege, and Justice! Thanking anyone in advance for their response to this inquiry.

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I have just read all the info and responses concerning the Robinson Hill Saga. I have always been interested in this story since I first read the Tommy Thompson book. What I would like to know is if anyone has new accurate info on the characters? Such as the date and place of death of Davis Ashton "Ash" Robinson and where he is buried; same for his wife, Rhea Robinson. Also more info on their grandson, Robert Ashton Hill. Also where is Dr. John Hill buried? Also has there been any recent books published about the subject? When did Tommy Thompson die and how?

Sounds like a good story for the show, Power, Privilege, and Justice! Thanking anyone in advance for their response to this inquiry.

I would go to the very beginning or middle of this topic and PM some of those that contributed some great insite into this story. Some people knew close acquaintances or relatives. That to me is more reliable than any book or film. I would hope so anyone, good luck in your quest. :)

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  • 2 months later...
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 stumbled across this thread and thought I would drop $0.02 into the bucket.

The primary witness against Lilla Paulus was her daughter, Mary Jo. Lilla was one of the last of the old-timey madams here in Houston. She ran a string of cathouses down in Galveston on the old Post Office street. Sweet, loving mother that she was, she turned her daughter out at about age 12 and MJ spent several summers turning tricks in one of her mother's places.

I went to high school with MJ and knew her fairly well. She was a very nice girl. You'd have never known her secret life (at least I didn't). When I discovered Thompson's book and read it for the first time, I nearly died from astonishment when I read MJ's role in all this.

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I knew an old Houston cop who claimed John Hill's murder was a robbery gone wrong. Ash Robinson went to Lilla Paulas, who had a lot of underworld contacts in Houston, to get some dirt on Hill that would help send him up in the re-trial of Joan Hill's death. McKittrict was living with Lilla at the time and got the idea that Hill would be a good robbery target. She and Vandiver planned to rob Hill when he got back from Las Vegas because they knew he would have some money on him. It turned on them when Hill tussled with Vandiver and they shot him.

Mary Wood testified against her mother out of spite. Wood was thought to be the daughter of the notorious Houston gambler/racketeer Claude Paulus who had once been married to Lilla and when he died Mary stood to get his estate. But Lilla testified in the civil trial that Claude was not Mary's father and the dough went to Claude's son. Mary settled the score with mom at the Hill trial.

I think a lot of the talk about Lilla Paulas being a madam is exaggerated. She wasn't an angel but she wasn't a madam, either, at least not from what I understand. Louetta Machin was a madam and so was Eliva LaSoya who ran a roadhouse out on Old Highway 90. Claude Paulus ran an illegal gambling club downtown, anyone know the location?

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I knew an old Houston cop who claimed John Hill's murder was a robbery gone wrong.

Claude Paulus ran an illegal gambling club downtown, anyone know the location?

Robbery gone wrong is very, very likely. Makes all sense in the world.

Surley someone or org would know the answer to your question about the gambling joint. Thank you for the valuable info.

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In the book, Vandiver claims he didn't really intend to go through

with it and kill John Hill.

That was the "plan", but he claims he was going to just rob him,

and to heck with Lilla, and Ash..

But... he then claims that Hill fought him so hard when he opened

the door that he didn't have any choice but to shoot.

So the police theory seems to be pretty close to correct.

Heck, most of the detectives actually kind of liked Vandiver, and

didn't really think he was a hard core killer per say..

He was basically a weak person who got sucked into it for $$$.

At the time, his girlfriend up in the Dallas area was having childbirth/

medical problems, and he needed the money pretty bad to help pay

for it. He wanted money a lot more than he wanted to shoot John Hill.

He claimed if Hill hadn't fought him, he wouldn't have shot him.

Just my 2c worth anyway...

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  • 3 weeks later...

From today's New York Times 3/22/08:

Rhea Robinson, the mother of a socialite whose death was dramatized in the Tommy Thompson best seller ''Blood and Money,'' died in a hospital here Sunday. She was 86 years old.

Mrs. Robinson's husband was the Houston oilman Davis Ashton Robinson. Their daughter, Joan Robinson Hill, died of an unidentified infection at the age of 38 in March 1969, and her husband, Dr. John Hill, a plastic surgeon, was charged with murdering her by withholding medical care. In September 1972, while awaiting his second trial on those charges - the first had ended in a mistrial - Dr. Hill was shot to death at his Houston home.

In a civil suit filed by Dr. Hill's third wife, his mother and a son of his, Mr. Robinson was accused of hiring the killers as a way of avenging his daughter's death. A jury declined to award damages.

Mr. Robinson died in 1985.

Please see beginning of this topic. The Kirby adress is listed, we were just commenting on the films use of another location for shots of the real house. The original home is still there on Kirby. Lets not get confused sorry, scusi mi'. :P

Lets try to find out how to get the movie. Worth seeing.

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From today's New York Times 3/22/08:

Rhea Robinson, the mother of a socialite whose death was dramatized in the Tommy Thompson best seller ''Blood and Money,'' died in a hospital here Sunday. She was 86 years old.

Mrs. Robinson's husband was the Houston oilman Davis Ashton Robinson. Their daughter, Joan Robinson Hill, died of an unidentified infection at the age of 38 in March 1969, and her husband, Dr. John Hill, a plastic surgeon, was charged with murdering her by withholding medical care. In September 1972, while awaiting his second trial on those charges - the first had ended in a mistrial - Dr. Hill was shot to death at his Houston home.

In a civil suit filed by Dr. Hill's third wife, his mother and a son of his, Mr. Robinson was accused of hiring the killers as a way of avenging his daughter's death. A jury declined to award damages.

Mr. Robinson died in 1985.

You need to check again. That article was not from 03/22/08, but from June 23, 1987. If Rhea Robinson just died 3/22/08 she would have been about 107 years old.

Edited by isuredid
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Claude Paulus' club was called the Redman's Club, per the book. The book says it was "downtown" - but see Joe Meyer III's postings on this page suggesting that it may (later?) have been "off Norfolk and Kirby."

On Norfolk off Kirby? There's only one place that could have been. A small club about a block off Norfolk and Kirby that's now called The Mucky Duck.

Oh if those walls could talk. :o

Edited by FilioScotia
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  • 2 weeks later...
On Norfolk off Kirby? There's only one place that could have been. A small club about a block off Norfolk and Kirby that's now called The Mucky Duck.

Oh if those walls could talk. :o

Yikes, I thought I was the only person "obsessed" with this crime. It was the first true crime story that got me interested in forensics, medicine, etc. But my question is what happened to Ann Kurth? She said that after only three weeks of being married to John Hill that he "confessed" that he killed Joan? Under what circumstances? I saw the movie "Murder in Texas", read her book, "Prescription, Murder" and was under the impression that she believes that John Hill was still alive after he was supposedly killed after carrying a large sum of cash to pay his lawyer. Well, that's the way the movie ended, anyway ... drama queen, maybe? I don't know but that's what has kept me interested in this case. I was in Houston in 1993 and went past Ash Robinson's house (it was painted white???) and the Hills' mansion on Kirby & Brentwood ~ even took pictures. They should open it up as a museum and charge money to see the 'music room' because in both books (Tommy Thompson's "Blood & Money" and Ann Kurth's book) they talk about it as if it were a palace. When I saw the house it didn't have a detached garage ... the garage was on the 'Brentwood' side of the address. The house wasn't as big as most of the River Oaks mansions (speaking of 'River Oaks mansions', does anyone know where 'Terms of Endearment' was filmed??? They speak of 'River Oaks' in the film ... I know it's off topic ~ just wondering).

From what was reported, it seems like John Hill wanted his wife to die. Whether he caused it or not is still speculation (can you tell I work for lawyers???). But, if Joan Hill (by the way, whomever found those photos, thank you. She was a beautiful woman ...) was really so sick and her husband was a doctor, he would have done whatever it took to make her well ... he took her to 'Sharpstown' hospital??? When he had access to the best of the best in the nation for health care???? He was definitely guilty of not giving her the best treatment or negligence ... but how did she get so sick? She was supposedly a very healthy woman? How did she get as sick as she did enough to DIE??? John Hill certainly had motive and opportunity. The one thing in the book that really made me mad was that when Ann Kurth was cross-examined about the incident of John Hill growing bacteria, that they questioned her knowledge of a 'petri dish'. She was a nurse, wasn't she? And after taking biology in high school, I EVEN know what a petri dish is. So it's not something that is uncommon for the common person to know ...

Would be very happy to talk to anyone PM about this case. It still fascinates me.

Kiekie

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