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A Murder In Texas

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I had a friend in high school whose family moved from River Oaks to protect their children. Her mother was a witness in one of the trials and had been friends with Joan Hill. I think they lived across or down the street from the Hills. Evidently, they were getting death threats against their children.

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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.

I realize that I am 2.5 years late in answering this but the Pin Oak Charity horse show did continue and is still in exhistance today. While I agree with the fact that it is hardly the social evenf of the year as it was back then, it is still a wonderful show that raises quite a bit of money for charities. It is held each Spring at the Great South West Equestrian Center in Katy Texas.

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Isn't the Great Southwest Equestrian Center where Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi Swayze had their horses?

Edited by EMME

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Isn't the Great Southwest Equestrian Center where Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi Swayze had their horses?

I could be wrong about this, but I think I remember reading that Swayze and his wife bought, or tried to buy, the Great Southwest Equestrian Center.

I'm sure someone out there can set us straight on that.

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What a fascinating thread telling about the story, buildings, schools, trees, Halloween parties, and a lot more in connection with the death of Joan Olive Robinson Hill. It is like reading through the past of River Oaks, Houston and then ending up in today’s River Oaks, Houston.

I am Dane - born in December 1969 (nine month after Joan Olive Robinson Hill died), lives in Turkey (having lived among other foreign countries two times in the US), and even I am arriving late to this thread, I would like to ask a little and add a little:

I first time heard about the story of Joan Olive Robinson Hill and John Robert Hill, when “Murder in Texas” aired on Danish national television station DR (we only had one television station in Denmark at that time) probably in 1982 (when I was 12 years old). About 20 years later, I saw it again. The book and the movie it is – no doubt – Ann Fairchild Kurth Hill’s defense story – to make her seem like a victim and not like a victimizer (to Joan Olive Robinson Hill, whose husband she had an affair too, which – probably – led him to the killing of his wife).

However, the story in fascinated me then and still does (then because of the society murder story, but today because of the loose end in the murder story as well). Nobody has been convicted for the murder of either Joan Olive Robinson Hill or John Robert Hill, and later their child, Robert, later turns against his grandfather. As a historian, I wonder about the many facts there are missing in this story, and what happened to the people involved in the case.

The story of Joan Olive Robinson Hill is some way similar to the story of “Sunny” Martha Sharp Crawford von Bülow, who married the Danish oilman Claus von Bülow (who was born Claus Borberg, but changed his surname to mother’s maiden surname), who is the cousin of my father’s cousins previous husband. In addition, the story of Sunny von Bülow contains many loose ends, and no conviction for her later death.

Here is the “Robert Ashton Hill vs. Davis Ashton Robinson (11/29/1979)” civil case, which someone asked for:

http://tx.findacase....41856.TX.htm/qx

John Robert Hill was from Edcouch, Texas, and I wonder if he was a child or grandchild of R.R. Hill (http://en.wikipedia..../Edcouch,_Texas) – of course knowing, that Hill is not an unusual surname.

Due to the thread, etc., we all know what happened to these persons:

Joan Olive Robinson Hill (1931- 1969 – probably murdered by John Robert Hill)

John Robert Hill (19xx-1972 – shot dead by Bobby Wayne Vandiver)

Myra Hill (19xx-19xx – mother of John Robert Hill)

Davis Ashton “Ash” Robinson (1898-1985 – father of Joan Olive Robinson Hill)

Rhea Robinson (1901-1987 – mother of Joan Olive Robinson Hill)

Lilla Paulus (19xx-19xx – died of cancer – divorced from Claude Paulus)

Claude Paulus (19xx-19xx – divorced from Lilla Paulus)

Bobby Wayne Vandiver (19xx-19xx – shot dead by a police officer – John Robert Hill’s hit man)

I found out of the whereabouts for “Boot” Robert Ashton Hill.

Robert Ashton Hill obtained his B.A. (Columbus College), J.D. (Catholic University of America)and L.L.M. (American University) and he works as an Assistant Team Leader for the Assistant State Attorney of at the Economic Unit at Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office – for the Assistant State Attorney of Special Prosecution Division (before: Economic Crimes Unit), where he handles major frauds. He also serves, as Chief of Legislative Affairs for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney Office Most interesting is however, that he used to be prosecutor in murder cases and other violent cases:

http://www.montgomer...conomicUnit.asp (work)

http://www.avvo.com/...ll-1547577.html (lawyer license)

Robert Ashton Hill may be this person living in Washington D.C. If so, he is today married to a Denise:

http://dc.blockshopp...ifer_street_nw/

However, little known about the other “major” persons in this story:

Ann Fairchild Kurth Hill (19xx-, John Robert Hill’s second wife – one state she died in 1990 and another state she lives outside Austin)

Connie Hill (19xx-, John Robert Hill’s third wife – no one seems to know her whereabouts)

Effie Brown (about 1903-, the housemaid – no one seems to know her whereabouts)

Marsha McKittrick (19xx-, Bobby Wayne Vandiver’s driver – no one seems to know her whereabouts - the name is not Macia McKittrick)

Mary Jo Wood (19xx- - Lilla Paulus’ daughter, who turned against her mother)

What happened to these people afterwards and where are they today (it could also be nice to get filled in the missing facts - years, etc.)?

Edited by Nikolaj Sadolin

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links are dead

From real to reel

http://www.jimusnr.c...texaspage2.html

The link is no longer dead! It never was. It was under construction. I now have galleries full of interior shots of the house, scenes from the TV movie, and a bunch of pics of the real people. Some are pictures we've all seen, but some seem to be rare. Please take a look...

http://www.jimusnr.com/murderintexasmainpage.html

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links are dead

From real to reel

http://www.jimusnr.c...texaspage2.html

The link is no longer dead! It never was. It was under construction. I now have galleries full of interior shots of the house, scenes from the TV movie, and a bunch of pics of the real people. Some are pictures we've all seen, but some seem to be rare. Please take a look...

http://www.jimusnr.c...asmainpage.html

cool site. thanks.

it is too bad that everyone thinks the murder in texas is the authority on the deaths of joan and john. the best researched book was blood and money by tommy thompson written in 1976. according to amazon, an epilogue has been included (though not by tommy thomspon). i haven't read it in years, but will see if i can dig out my original; otherwise, i will order it from amazon.

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cool site. thanks.

"it is too bad that everyone thinks the murder in texas is the authority on the deaths of joan and john...."

I agree. While the 1981 TV movie is what started my (and I'm sure others) interest in the story, I know that its far from the complete story. I am now adding text to the site since I put the bulk of the photos in place. I mentioned that when they came to look for sources which would be better..the more over-the-top Kurth book lends itself to a TV movie. The Thompson book should have been made into a feature film.

The book "Investigating Murder" came out in 1990 and has some updates. Also the medical examiners biography "Autopsy" goes into detail about the grimmer side of Joan Hill's passing.

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>Lilla Paulus (19xx-19xx – died of cancer – divorced from Claude Paulus)

>Claude Paulus (19xx-19xx – divorced from Lilla Paulus)

I'd have to double check, but this does not sound right to me. Or at least

from what I remember from the book "Blood and Money".

I don't think they got divorced. I think he died due to some illness/

heart attack a bit before she got involved with the Hill affair.

I seem to remember reading that Ash had offered her the job twice.

The first time, he was still alive. And when she told him about it,

he hit the roof, and told her not to have anything to do with it.

Then a bit later he died, and she was a widder woman left to her

own devices.

If was after this period that she was offered the contract a second

time, and being there was no one around to tell her no, she ended up

accepting the job, which she then farmed out to Vandiver for about

$5k or so. As I recall, what she paid Vandiver was a pretty small

chunk out of what she got. So she came out pretty well on the deal,

and Vandiver even gave her back $1500 of the $5000 as a finders fee.

Or as I recall anyway..

I don't recall anything about a divorce between them. Only that he

got sick and died. He was a society bookie, and ran some gambling joint

somewhere around downtown as I recall. They gave the name of the place

in the book, but it's lost in the gray fog at the moment..

Course, I may be all wrong about this, but that "divorce" part just

doesn't ring true to me, and I've read that book a few times over the

years.

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i just ordered blood and money from amazon.

i also remember seeing the name paulus in law school in my administration of estates class. it had been years since i read blood and money, but rememberd the name and wondered if it was the same lady. my law professor said it was. it had something to do with her being named executor and someone wanted her removed because she was in jail. i am pretty sure she lost the case.

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This is a walk down my childhood memory lane.

Literally.

I grew up one block away from the Hill house, on the corner of Brentwood and Chilton, and am Boot's age. I did not know him, really, but he knocked on our door when his mother died. I answered the door and he asked me to pray for his mom. It broke my heart.

I recall Dr. Hill's death having occurred on a Sunday night; we always said that our German shepherd, who regularly stuck his head through our fence's bars on Chilton, saw the murderer toss items into the bushes across the street (on Chilton still). But we were at church! (Maybe it was a Wednesday night? Church on Wednesdays too, in the South, darlin'!)

Thompson made me mad when he described the children who found the briefcase as having gotten their grubby little fingers all over the evidence. I'll have you know that when 11-yr-old Helen and her 8-yr-old little brother John were walking past my house home (4 doors down Brentwood from the Hills) from school and found the briefcase, they had no idea what the thing was doing there. They opened it to see to whom it belonged; it was Hill's. They closed it immediately, and Helen used her gym shorts to avoid getting any more fingerprints on it!! So *there*, Thompson! We neighborhood kids weren't nasty little urchins! Lol! The police then found the gun in the same spot. John would have gone *nuts* had he found the gun. (And some squirrels and birds might have lost their lives before the gun was reported.)

(I am very interested to know who the family was that lived on the street - who moved because their children were being threatened (someone's post a while back)? I knew every child on the two blocks of Brentwood (although, as I said, Boot the very least).)

Regarding the music room, my mother went in at Connie's invitation. She says it was absolutely state-of-the-art, which really only means that there was a lotta stuff my mother didn't recognize, but the interior was enormous and the sound perfectly crystal clear! I think Connie let my mom pick something out (since my mom's not a classical buff) and she played either South Pacific or My Fair Lady, I believe.

Dr. Radelat, the pathologist on the case about whom WestUNative spoke negatively on p. 4 here, was the dad of one of my close friends. Having been a child then myself, I can in no way defend his abilities or confirm the poster's complaints, but I do know he seemed like a very competent man. (Or, WestUNative, were you referring to Helpern, against who Radelat himself railed?)

But more interestingly, my parents had dinner with him a while ago. Somehow, the Hill case came up (my mother probably brought it up! Ha!). Dr. Radelat says now he is absolutely convinced that it was Toxic Shock that was the source of Joan's infection, a syndrome that indeed was simply not commonly diagnosed (or even named?) then.

And to confirm: yes EVERYBODY then thought that Dr. Hill had killed his wife, either by the botulism/whatever in the eclair or at least by neglect ("He's a doctor! He knows about petri dishes and how to do things like that!"), and EVERYBODY thought (nay, *knew*) Ash had had Hill killed. I cannot imagine, though, that Ash had any intention of his beloved grandson's witnessing the death of his father. Horrible. But none of us blamed him very much for [allegedly] avenging his daughter's death.

Note: my family was *not* in the Hill's social circle, despite our living on the same street. But this case swirled all around me, even though very *very* peripherally! (I even went to school with Racehorse Haynes' son through high school! Ha!)

And now I too have to take my copy of the book off the shelf and re-read it!

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Thank you for that very interesting inside glimpse of life surrounding the scene. I am sorry you misunderstood me concerning the post-mortem. I was speaking of Dr. Morse, the part time Pathologist at Sharpstown Hospital, who seems to have botched everything, under the supervision of Dr. Hill. Remember him? "Lost" the brain, brought what was left later to offical Harris County Autopsy in the trunk of his car, oops.

When I worked for doctors in Spring Branch in the early 1960's, several years prior to the Hill events, this same man, Dr. Morse was the Pathologist working at Spring Branch Memorial Hospital on Long Point and part time at several other small hospitals, I believe Bellaire and Sam Houston. Through my personal witnessing and knowledge, he made some glaring and disasterous errors in his tissue evaluations, particularly involving pronouncements of malignant or benign. He was not well thought of by the doctors I knew.

Thus when we heard in 1969 of his far less than professional procedures at Sharpstown Hospital when Joan Hill died, I was not surprised, but very angry to hear he was still employed in this capacity. I do not recall his first name at the moment, but I hope this information clears some things up for you.

Edited by WestUNative

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I'm so very glad to hear that my friend's dad was indeed as good a doctor as I'd always felt and heard that he was.

Thanks for clearing that up.

Morse does indeed sound a man you would not want working on your case!

Glad you liked my recollections. I had always love the detail of the gym shorts holding the evidence, and I'm glad I have a place to pass that on!

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I recall Dr. Hill's death having occurred on a Sunday night; we always said that our German shepherd, who regularly stuck his head through our fence's bars on Chilton, saw the murderer toss items into the bushes across the street (on Chilton still). But we were at church! (Maybe it was a Wednesday night? Church on Wednesdays too, in the South, darlin'!)

It was a Sunday night. Specifically it was Sunday, September 24, 1972

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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.

I met the now-deceased owner of the house in St Petersburgh, Russia in 1997; on a subsequent trip to Houston he and his partner invited me over for drinks and a tour of the house at that time redone.

Much had been moved around according to the book descriptions: a new staircase installed, the horse sculpture at the front door moved to the breakfast room; a tiny swimming pool squeezed into an outside corner; bedrooms on the second and third floor were very luxurious, and the music room had remained the same--way too large for the house and not too impressive even with beautiful furniture, although I'm sure the accoustics were wonderful. Just a large, semi-ornate room which seemed out-of-place. The house is oversized for the lot but nothing detracts from the cachet of "the murder house".

I just had to write something--that was a once in a lifetime occurrence: running into the owner, and seeing the house. Thanks for listening.

PS--we knew the embarrassed sister of Ann Kurth; and had even met her before her 15 min. of notoriety--histrionic. I don't think he tried to kill her although I'm sure there were many who wanted to do so.

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I don't know if anyone is still reading this, but oh well.

My aunt was John Hill's last wife. I'm not sure because we don't talk about this much in the family, but from what I can gather, she saw John murdered. John Hill is dead. Please stop trying to dig up affairs that are long since past. My family dealt with enough issues in the years following the tragedy, and we don't want any more.

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I met the now-deceased owner of the house in St Petersburgh, Russia in 1997; on a subsequent trip to Houston he and his partner invited me over for drinks and a tour of the house at that time redone.

Much had been moved around according to the book descriptions: a new staircase installed, the horse sculpture at the front door moved to the breakfast room; a tiny swimming pool squeezed into an outside corner; bedrooms on the second and third floor were very luxurious, and the music room had remained the same--way too large for the house and not too impressive even with beautiful furniture, although I'm sure the accoustics were wonderful. Just a large, semi-ornate room which seemed out-of-place. The house is oversized for the lot but nothing detracts from the cachet of "the murder house".

I just had to write something--that was a once in a lifetime occurrence: running into the owner, and seeing the house. Thanks for listening.

1561 Kirby was featured prominently on the front page of the Sunday Chronicle's homes for sale section this week. "Music room" and "corner lot" caught my attention. Sure enough, it is the former Hill residence, and it's apparently been for sale since late last year.

HAR link with picture gallery

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The house appears to not be for sale anymore. I tried to look it up on HAR before I got to the bottom post. When you put the address in it says there are no listings (however, HAR does this sometimes). I am starting to wonder if the house is haunted or something, lol. I am mostly kidding about that, but it does seemed to have changed hands a bit over the years since. This post has given me a new mystery to check out. I am a bit of a true-crime junkie. I didn't even know about this story until today. I only looked at this post cause I thought it would be about another Texas murder ( a definite murder) from the 80's. I was not disappointed, though. I am now very intrigued. If I am correct Murder in Texas is the good book to get, then. Going off what I have been reading here (and hoping I am reading right), I do wonder why she was buried way out here. There wasn't even really anything out my way at the time (I live just past Dairy Ashford). This is unless you are talking about another Forest Park West, but this is the only one I can find. If I am right it is interesting that it is just about around the corner from me. Now it is time for Google searches and book hunting.

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I would be leery about reading a book by the ex wife of the person accused anyway. :lol:

Edited by Riomar

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The Hill house at 1561 Kirby Drive is up for sale again..link

Asking price is $2.1 million, down $200K recently. That is an amazingly low price for a central Kirby Dr piece of real estate. To tell you the truth, I would not be surprised if this house doesn't become a tear down. There have been other tear downs on Kirby Dr before.

If you look at the photos, the house looks pretty dated in decor and design.

Let's see.. you have someone who was killed on the front steps/foyer, another owner died in the master bedroom from cancer.. this house seems to have some serious bad karma attached. I don't know if I could live there myself.

"Ash" Robinson is probably buried in Pensacola, FL. That's where his wife Rhea is buried.

It does look like Boot is the only one left of this entire saga, and he's not talking. He's probably doing the best he can to forget this all. What a horrible experience to have growing up.

Edited by dualref

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I had a friend in high school whose family moved from River Oaks to protect their children. Her mother was a witness in one of the trials and had been friends with Joan Hill. I think they lived across or down the street from the Hills. Evidently, they were getting death threats against their children.

I think you must be talking about my family. Did you go to Memorial High School? My mom was very close to Joan and did testify at the trial. A very difficult period for everyone for many reasons.

I know it's been awhile on this thread - I just ran across it as our old house across the street at Kirby and Brentwood is for sale right now and it brought back all these memories.

She was an amazing woman, Joan. Very gracious and inclusive.

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Just discovered this thread. Have read it from beginning to end. Thanks for all the excellent information.

One night in the early 90's, I came home late and turned on the tv. It was a movie, and I almost changed the channel, but I thought I heard someone say the name "Ann Kurth." So I watched and was fascinated and horrified by what I saw. I knew Ann Kurth in the early 60's when she lived in Lufkin. She was married to Marvin (or Melvin) Kurth, and they had two or three young boys. She was a friendly, charming, down-to-earth person, and I always enjoyed her company. She was an excellent cook and a gracious and thoughtful hostess. I did not keep up with her after we moved away from Lufkin in 65. You can imagine the shock I had seeing a movie about her and hearing that story for the first time. I read both books immediately. I called a mutual friend who told me Ann did move to the Austin area, somewhere in the Hill Country, I think. But she had already died of cancer by the time I saw the movie.

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My memory is clearer this morning. Ann was married to Melvin Kurth and they had three young boys when I knew them 1963-1965.

I just wanted to put "in the record" what a nice person she was back in those days.

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Thanks BorninHouston for correcting me about who Ann Kurth was married to. I had always thought she was married to a Houston lawyer named Kurth.

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I am very interested in the land and property records for 1561 Kirby.  I too, am fascinated by this story that has so many elements, only one of which shows Houston during its crazy hey day, which is quite a contrast to the current Houston that appears to have changed into the International, cross-cultural city that I believe it is today.

 

i understand that the house recently changed hands and that a family that had a house closer to downtown on the same street bought it.

 

Tommy Thompson's book was scholarly and really well-written.  What fascinates me is that many of the "characters" in "B&M" are alive and still present.

 

I do want to keep this thread alive because with a city that is considered so relatively new, it is up to us to find those nuggets of history that bring our city alive.

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Keeping this thread "alive". Ha!

I was watching the old Hitchcock movie Vertigo the other night and there was a scene where Jimmy Stewart asks Barbara BelGeddes where you could find someone that knows the gritty history of the city, like "who killed who on the Embarcdero in 1887?". If they had only had HAIF back then!

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i remember seeing joan when i was a little girl, my dad took us to her horse shows. the saddest day for me was march 19,1969. the day she died was also my 13th birthday.i think about her every year and wonder what houston would be like if she still ran river oaks. whatever happened to her things( trophies, pictures)? one thing that i always thought about was if she was ashs real daughter and some woman, did her birth mother ever have any more children? did joan have some brothers and sisters out there? i havent been able to watch behind mansion walls cause i dont have cable and you tube or id website just wont let you watch it. i hope robert hill is happy and doing good in life. he has been put thru so much. read both books and tommys was the best. anns was a total joke. she did a good job of playing a innocent victum. shes probaly in hell with john hill now.

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i remember seeing joan when i was a little girl, my dad took us to her horse shows. the saddest day for me was march 19,1969. the day she died was also my 13th birthday.i think about her every year and wonder what houston would be like if she still ran river oaks. whatever happened to her things( trophies, pictures)? one thing that i always thought about was if she was ashs real daughter and some woman, did her birth mother ever have any more children? did joan have some brothers and sisters out there? i havent been able to watch behind mansion walls cause i dont have cable and you tube or id website just wont let you watch it. i hope robert hill is happy and doing good in life. he has been put thru so much. read both books and tommys was the best. anns was a total joke. she did a good job of playing a innocent victum. shes probaly in hell with john hill now.

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I have always been fascinated with the Hill murder saga. I read the book for the first time in middle school and retread it several times since. I have updated info on the grave marker for Joan Robinson Hill. My husband works for Dignity, the company that owns Forest Park Westhiemer. He works at a different site, but has sent an email to inquire about the bush that is sprouting out of her marker. He seems to think it was intentionally planted, however that is not allowed. I feel that it is not not an insult to such a well poised and locally important woman, but an eyesore for the facility. Hopefully some action will be taken.

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To clarify, I read the book Blood and Money several times, not the other one by Hill's ex wife. And please excuse my typo above, it should read," I feel that it is not only an insult to such a well poised and locally important woman......."

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I am the great niece of Marcia McKittrick and I remember my mother telling me the story as a child. My mother has since passed away.  Ive read all of the posts so far but I still have questions and would like to get facts if at all possible. There seems to be a few versions of the story and I would love to know what the real one is. Please if you have information send me an email. davidamckeehan4@gmail.com thanks

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Get your hands on the book Blood and Money by the late Tommy Thompson. He was a very fine Houston newspaper reporter who turned to writing very good true crime books. Blood and Money is the most detailed and truthful telling of the John Hill saga yet written. You can buy it on Amazon.

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Interesting to note that on the "find a grave" site for Joan, (linked above from Dec '13)  there are several photos of her tombstone.  One, posted in 2002 clearly shows the cedar beside the stone.  Another photo, posted in 2011 shows no sign of the cedar at all. 

 

 

Edited by little frau

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Get your hands on the book Blood and Money by the late Tommy Thompson. He was a very fine Houston newspaper reporter who turned to writing very good true crime books. Blood and Money is the most detailed and truthful telling of the John Hill saga yet written. You can buy it on Amazon.

 

From what I have been told by people who knew Joan Robinson I have to agree with Filio.

 

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And you should NOT under any circumstances read the trash version of the story written by John Hill's second wife Ann Kurth Hill. Murder in Texas is the book that became the TV movie, and it's mostly cheap and tawdry fiction. That's why Hollywood TV moguls just fell all over themselves turning it into a a prime time movie.

 

The late and lamented Thomas "Tommy" Thompson was a very good and prolific Houston newspaper reporter who poured his journalistic talents into writing very erudite and readable non-fiction true-crime stories. Blood and Money is his best, and it is the best and most accurate telling of this crazy and sordid story. Sadly, Thompson left us far too soon. He died of a liver infection in 1982, just weeks after his 49th birthday.

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And you should NOT under any circumstances read the trash version of the story written by John Hill's second wife Ann Kurth Hill. Murder in Texas is the book that became the TV movie, and it's mostly cheap and tawdry fiction. That's why Hollywood TV moguls just fell all over themselves turning it into a a prime time movie.

 

The late and lamented Thomas "Tommy" Thompson was a very good and prolific Houston newspaper reporter who poured his journalistic talents into writing very erudite and readable non-fiction true-crime stories. Blood and Money is his best, and it is the best and most accurate telling of this crazy and sordid story. Sadly, Thompson left us far too soon. He died of a liver infection in 1982, just weeks after his 49th birthday.

 

I took our our copy of Blood and Money off the bookshelf and found that that it was published in 1976, the first year it came out.  It is well worn from being passed around to friends and relatves.  That speaks for its popularity.  My wife commented that she went to high school (San Jacinto) with Thompson's wife, Joyce.

 

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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

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I know Ann Kurth lived here in Austin in the mid 90's because a good friend of mine owned a landscaping company and she hired his company to do a ton of work for her and she continuously made changes at the last minute right before the job was complete. She claimed to be "elated with their work" but she had paid half up front with a check and he made the mistake of holding onto it at her request for a few days and then he just decided to deposit both of the checks together. Right before he and his workers left she told him how pleased she was and gave him the other half also in the form of a check which was common in the 90's, he then deposited them that afternoon and within a few days he received notice from his bank she had put stop payment on both of the checks but the first one she had put the stop on it the very day she handed it to him and let them do two weeks of work knowing the entire time that she had no intention of paying. I've seen his work and its beautiful and he is hired by many people who live in the nicest neighborhoods in Austin and surrounding areas so it wasnt his work she didnt like it was actually being an honest decent person she seems to have an aversion to.

I saw the movie and I noticed so many odd facts that just didnt make any sense such as John Hill staying in the car while Joan went to find the boy and Ann just so happened to be that close to the parking lot where he drove straight up to, running into him at the pool that night while her sons who probably werent even really there at the camp, just her waiting to meet up with John, because why would anybody leave their kids in a hotel room alone at a kids camp and go out to the pool? They should have paid Sam Elliot and the woman who played Ann shock her and after the wreck while she's sitting on the exam table when she says "John you said you killed Joan, say it isnt true, they should have told Sam Elliot to say "well of course I did honey at your insistence, dont you remember hiding the syringe for me at your place where we grew the cultures". I firmly believe they started the affair while she was married and worked at the clinic and then John read in the papers that poor Joan was divorcing for the second time and he saw an opportunity and he took it. I believe Ann got mad and that's why she left that job and when Joan and John started having problems he called Ann again and they met somewhere and started the affair again. He clearly was not a one woman man but nobody ever died until she came into the picture, she taught her lap dog to kill and when he wanted a new master she came up with a story to protect herself because this time it was her head on the chopping block and I'm sure she was trying to prevent prosecution for being an accessory to murder because nobody can possibly be that dumb. If she expects people to believe she didnt know what the cultures that he or they grew in her home were for than shes crazier than I originally thought. Every aspect of Joan's life made the papers and then Ann married him just a few weeks after poor Joan dies, that's just tacky to say the least. I don't know what to believe regarding Ash being blamed for the well deserved murder of John Hill because its obvious Ann knew he was going to kill Joan and possibly at Ann's direction so I half to wonder if either Ash is really innocent or if he did have it done why would he spare Ann? If it weren't for Ann constantly nagging I firmly believe John would have just kept Ann, literally kept her as a kept woman as she had been for a long time. So what suddenly changed that was so drastic that made John kill poor Joan, Ann told him get rid of her or Ill get rid of you once and for all, I can hear that poor excuse for a woman telling him she didnt care how he got Joan out of the picture but to get it done or they were done. That woman is the biggest drama queen Ive ever seen, she's worse than all of the Kardashians combined. The one photo that sticks with me is her sitting on the bench waiting to testify smiling for the cameras as if to say "look at me a man murdered the beautiful and perfect Joan Robinson to be with me". She looked as if she was proud of it!! I also believe she actually thought she would step into Joan's shoes, probably literally tried to wear a few pair that may have been packed away, and be a socialite in Joan's world, as if they would accept someone like her. I'm not a person who judges people by the size of their bank balance and the fact she wasn't wealthy and in the limelight all of the time like Joan was is not why I cant stomach the woman, her lack of morals, lack of judgement, deceitful dishonest nature and I could go on for hours is why I'd love to see her move out of Texas or just as far away from Texas and me as she can get. I've been told she owns a boutique of some kind in downtown Austin which was probably purchased, like everything else she owns, with the money she received in the divorce from John which is ultimately Joan's money no doubt.

Another irritating part of the movie was Ann picking up the phone after John was murdered and hearing classical music, she tried everything possible to keep the story alive. Writing a book, going into a storage facility she claimed John owned about ten years after his murder and trying to publish private documents, it wouldn't surprise me if she was disappointed when he was murdered because then she wouldn't be able to call the police every other day with a new story of how John was supposedly threatening her. Ive often wondered if John had not of been murdered and actually been convicted in the second trial if Ann would have ultimately been convicted once John testified against her. Racehorse Haynes would have brought details to light that turned her "babe in the woods" routine upside down. If he truly did try to kill her which she claims and we all know how credible that it lol lol, well when two people murder someone together the bond will either grow stronger but if the relationship goes south one will try or will succeed in killing the other because then there is no witness/coconspirator to testify against the other. There is a photo of the car she claims he tried to kill her in by wrecking it and chocking her but how often does a person die when the side of the car is crashing along side a guardrail and he wasn't a modest man, remember he handled that poisoned pastry to Joan in front of an entire room of Houston socialites, I believe he would have been bold enough to attempt or succeed in an organized manner. If the facts and accounts of his character, with the exception of Ann's, that have been released to the public are accurate he doesnt seem to be the kind of man to lose control easily or if at all. I'm in law enforcement and a poisoner doesnt deviate from that form of murder. I've learned people will use a gun, knife, axe or anything they can get their hands on but a poisoner does not deviate from their method except possibly the type of poison. I am not a know it all and that is a definite fact but I have been in law enforcement long enough to have learned quite a bit and one thing I am absolutely positive of is Ann Kruth or Nolan, whichever she uses, I can only assume it depends on who and what lie she is telling at that moment, is as guilty as John Hill.

It wouldn't surprise me if a journal surfaced someday written by John Hill himself expressing his regrets for murdering Joan to be with that sorry excuse for a woman. One aspect of this case that has bothered me for many years is I am 100% positive she went by the last name of Nolan at one point and oddly enough there is another movie on Lifetime called "The Girl Next Door" where a young girl named Ann Nolan meets a police officer and they start an affair and he convinces her to murder his wife. It too is based on a true story but the true story is about a liquor story owner and he did have an affair with a younger woman but left her and reconciled with his wife. The young and former mistress was unbalanced to say the least and took it upon herself to kill the wife out of spite and jealousy, it's been proven by diaries and journals that the man and his wife were the happiest they had been in years after the reconciliation but the writers of the movie are known to do their homework and the use of the name Ann Nolan is believed to be a backhanded slap in the face to Ann "Kurth". Two sources confirmed Kurth is actually Nolan.

I will say this much about Ann Nolan/Kurth, she really gets around and seems to cause trouble and stir up drama everywhere this unbalanced, dishonest deprived poor excuse for a woman lands. If I should find this boutique I guarantee all of you Ill come back here and give you all of the details. I would be very curious to see what she looks like in this day and age. She must have been delusional to believe she could actually even begin to compete with the beautiful and truly wonderful woman Joan Olive Robinson was. I despise adding the name "Hill" to her name, my heart just breaks for her when I think about how she must have felt when John left her shortly before Christmas to be with Ann and how scared and confused she must have felt. I think we can all take some comfort in knowing how much she loved her parents and how much they treasured her and knowing they lived right around the corner from her in her time of need when he moved out. I must have a small vindictive streak in me because I can only smile when I think of how horrible Ann felt when he moved out soon after to spend Christmas alone, I can only hope her boys were spending the holidays with their father and sadly I find some peace out of knowing how jealous she must have been lol. I guess I am a bit mean and I say sadly because I'm referring to what kind of person I must be but when my husband left me for another woman for a short time it was the worst time of my life and thats another reason I take this case so personal.

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I hate to break this to you Faith2, but the woman you write about is not the woman who married and divorced Dr. John Hill, and later testified against him in his murder trial. I have no idea who the woman in your posting is, but she's not Ann Kurth Hill. 

 

Dr. Hill's lover and ex-wife was Ann Fairchild Kurth Hill, and she died in Austin in 1990 at the age of 59. She's buried in the small town of Taylor. Here's a link to a photo of her grave, and her obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle.

 

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=18763073

 

And by the way, you shouldn't believe a word of what Ann Kurth wrote in that trashy and self-serving Prescription Murder. The late journalist Tommy Thompson, who wrote Blood and Money, the best history of the Hill murder case, said Kurth's book is mostly fiction. Thompson said Kurth had her eyes fixed on the money, not the truth. 

 

 

 

Edited by FilioScotia

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I tend to agree. Blood and Money is the only book really worth reading about the story.

I never liked the movie, nor the other book too much at all. But also Blood and Money is a good

book as far as getting an image as to what Houston was like in those days. Pretty accurately

descriptive in many ways.

I even went as far as to purchase a second original hard cover version off fleabay a year or

two ago. The only let down was there are no pictures in it, like there is in the paperback version.

But I have both versions, so I guess I can live with it.

I used to have an autographed copy, as my mother knew Thompson, but it runnoft somewhere

over the years..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This thread brings a flood of memories, particularly of dead friends lost to the Aids epidemic who I would have called to say "Remember the Dr John Hill scandal? I just read a post about it and do you remember. . ."

 

I worked at Houston Grand Opera around 1976.  My husband worked at the Ballet.  I remember Connie Hill from that time.  Whoever said nobody talked about the Hill murder got it right.  People whispered about it, but nobody ever said anything out loud.  They had too much respect for Connie.  This is my memory.  What I write may not be facts, so please correct me if I'm wrong.   At that time Connie was a plain, even mousy woman.  But she loved music, and she worked tirelessly in the Houston music world.  I remember her visits to the Opera office.  Only after she would leave, would people fill me in about who she was. My dealings with her were always professional, and she struck me as a kind, genuine woman.  Not the Houston society type of that period.  When I read what I could about the murder, including Tommy Thompson's book,  I thought--  if John Hill was such a jerk, then why did he marry Connie?    That seemed a mystery to me.  As if after the misguided avenues of Hill's life, he finally went straight.  What I remember is that Connie lived in the murder house with the boy!  I mean, how bizarre.  (please correct me if I'm wrong.)  But my memory is this:  she was the kind of woman who acted on principal.  We did nothing wrong.  We will live that way.  This is our home.  I never was in the home, but my dear deceased friends were.  And that is why I would be on the phone to them this very minute.

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I've always thought it was an ego thing and - as we all know - doctors are famous for their world-class egos. John Hill married Connie because she was almost the exact opposite of his first wife, the hard-partying Society Beauty Queen of the Horsey Set Joan Robinson Hill. Joan was always the center of attention in the society pages, with John in the background. With the quiet and reserved Connie he could be the center of attention. It's also probable that Connie shared his love of great music. Just theories, but they're mine, and I'm sticking to them.

Edited by FilioScotia

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I actually have Dr. Hill’s Yamaha piano on sell on offer up. It’s actually very interesting  and well taken care of . All these stories make me weary of the Piano. No reason to be but I’m barely learning about all this .

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19 hours ago, ABee said:

I actually have Dr. Hill’s Yamaha piano on sell on offer up. It’s actually very interesting  and well taken care of . All these stories make me weary of the Piano. No reason to be but I’m barely learning about all this .

 

I was going to ask if you had a link, but I found it:

 

https://offerup.com/item/detail/405793849/?ref=Search

 

Do you have documentation of its provenance? Not sure there are many Houston history buffs (as opposed to pianists) who have the means to drop ten grand on a piano, but such documentation certainly couldn't hurt its sales prospects.

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5 hours ago, mkultra25 said:

 

I was going to ask if you had a link, but I found it:

 

https://offerup.com/item/detail/405793849/?ref=Search

 

Do you have documentation of its provenance? Not sure there are many Houston history buffs (as opposed to pianists) who have the means to drop ten grand on a piano, but such documentation certainly couldn't hurt its sales prospects.

I have the serial number. I have to find a way to look for the actual first purchaser. But so far from what I read on Wikipedia . This Yamaha is actually Miss Joan’s . And Dr. Hill actually purchased 2 more pianos with it to put in a music room that actually seems to have started this whole mess .. Anyway, My brother in law’s mother was a musician her self and had many accomplishments during those times . And after the events I was told that she actually had  purchased it from the estate. She has passed it down to her son who really just has it like an antique. Well kept and clean. 

Edited by ABee

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22 hours ago, ABee said:

I have the serial number. I have to find a way to look for the actual first purchaser. 

 

I'm not sure who may have been a Yamaha dealer here back in the 60s, but my guess would be H&H Music - as far as well-known piano dealers, I don't think Holcombe-Lindquist or Brook Mays were around until the 1970s, although I may be wrong about that. H&H is still around but I don't believe they sell pianos anymore (they are now the same company as Brook Mays, with Brook Mays operating under that name in Dallas and under the H&H banner here in Houston), so it's anyone's guess if they have sales records dating back fifty years. Since you have the serial number, it might be worth reaching out to Brook Mays/H&H corporate to see if anyone there is able to help. 

 

My second suggestion would be the US Yamaha importer/distributor, but I'm not sure who that is/was. I would expect someone at Yamaha corporate to be able to provide further information about where a piano was originally shipped from the factory, given a serial number. 

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