Texas is America’s second largest state by both population and size, so it’s no surprise it’s produced some of the most terrifying and twisted serial killers the world has ever seen. Robert Ben Rhoades found his victims while traveling through the state as a truck driver, allowing him to torture people in his vehicle before ending their lives, while Charles Albright — the Eyeball Killer — allegedly murdered three women while he was living in Dallas, mutilating their bodies after shooting them to death. Vickie Dawn Johnson — one of Texas’s few known female serial killers — murdered her victims when she was working as a nurse in the small town of Nocona, while Kenneth McDuff killed people all over the vast state, often with the help of an accomplice.
Texas serial killer Ricky Lee Green targeted both men and women, as did Ángel Maturino Reséndiz, a murderer who traveled into the United States from Mexico on trains, earning him the nickname the “Railroad Killer.” Davis Elliott Penton preyed upon children, even killing a boy who was just two months old, while many of David Leonard Wood’s victims were teenage girls he buried in an El Paso desert after ending their lives. Carl Eugene Watts committed many of his murders while he was living in Michigan, but he continued killing after he moved back to his home state of Texas. Faryion Wardrip nearly got away with killing several women in Wichita Falls, Texas, but thanks to DNA evidence and the hard work of a cold case detective, the serial murderer was apprehended more than a decade after he took the lives of at least six victims.
Robert Ben Rhoades
In January 1990, Robert Ben Rhoades — who was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on November 22, 1945 — murdered his first known victims, Candace Walsh, 24, and Douglas Zyskowski, 25, a newlywed couple the long-haul truck driver picked up as hitchhikers while he was traveling through Texas for work. After killing Zyskowski, Rhoades repeatedly raped and tortured Walsh, holding her captive in his vehicle for as long as two weeks before eventually murdered the 24-year-old and dumped her body in Utah, far from where the killer had discarded her husband’s corpse in Sutton County, Texas. In early February 1990, Rhoades — who was dubbed the “Truck Stop Killer” by the press — ended the lives of Regina Kay Walters, 14, and her boyfriend, Ricky Lee Jones, 18, a teenage couple he picked up near their homes in Pasadena, Texas. The serial killer most likely murdered Jones shortly after the 18-year-old got into his vehicle, dumping the teenager’s lifeless body in Mississippi where he was found the following year. Officials believe Rhoades held Walters captive — raping and torturing the 14-year-old for approximately two weeks — before strangling her to death.
On April 1, 1990, the Truck Stop Killer was arrested after an officer from the Arizona Highway Patrol stopped to check on Rhoades — who had parked his semi on the side of the interstate — and found a naked woman in the vehicle, handcuffed and screaming. Following his arrest, investigators searched his home and discovered pictures of Regina Kay Walters, nude and obviously terrified, and later that year on September 29, 1990, the teenager’s remains were discovered in an abandoned barn in Bond County, Illinois. In 1994, the serial killer was given a life sentence for killing Walters, and in 2012, he was sentenced to life in prison after he pleaded guilty to killing Walsh and Zyskowski. Rhoades is currently behind bars at the Menard Correctional Center in Chester, Illinois.
From December 12, 1990, to March 10, 1990, three women were found murdered in Dallas, Texas: Mary Lou Pratt, 33; Susan Peterson, 35; and Shirley Williams, 41. Not only had all three women been shot to death, someone had skillfully removed Pratt, Peterson, and Williams’ eyeballs. Soon after Williams’ body was discovered, multiple people went to law enforcement, claiming they thought a local man, Charles Albright, was responsible for killing the 41-year-old. Albright was arrested on March 22, 1991, and officials learned their suspect had been practicing taxidermy on animals since childhood, so he had the skills needed to remove eyeballs with practically surgical precision.
Albright — who was dubbed the “Eyeball Killer” by the press — was charged with murdering all three women, and on December 18, 1991, he was convicted of killing Williams, but not Pratt and Peterson. The Texas serial killer, who was born in Amarillo on August 10, 1933, was sentenced to life in prison, but he has never confessed to murdering a single victim. Albright is currently in police custody at the West Texas Medical Facility in Lubbock, Texas.
Vickie Dawn Jackson
From December 11, 2000, to February 18, 2001, Vickie Dawn Jackson murdered at least ten people, many of them elderly men and women she cared for while working as a nurse at the Nocona General Hospital in Nocona, Texas. Jackson — who was born on February 13, 1966 — killed her victims by injecting them with mivacurium chloride, a skeletal muscle relaxant commonly used during surgery and artificial ventilation. This Texas serial killer was familiar with many of her victims before they became her patients at the hospital, and Jackson even killed her husband’s grandfather, E.E. Jackson, when the 91-year-old was admitted to the facility with cellulitis and a fever. In addition to murdering 10 people, this Angel of Death attempted to end the lives of several more, including 14-year-old Lydia Weatherread, a young woman Jackson’s son had asked out on a date.
Hospital officials began to suspect Jackson was harming patients, and she was fired in February 2001, after law enforcement officials — investigating an alleged assault perpetrated by the nurse — found a syringe containing mivacurium chloride in the woman’s home. Officials exhumed the bodies of the nurse’s alleged victims, and Jackson — one of Texas’s few known female serial killers — was arrested in July 2002, and charged with multiple counts of murder. Jackson pleaded no contest to the charges, and on October 5, 2006, she was sentenced to life in prison for her crimes. This convicted serial killer is currently behind bars at the Christina Melton Crain Unit in Gatesville, Texas.
Born in Rosedbud, Texas, on March 21, 1946, Kenneth McDuff committed his first known murders on August 6, 1966, when he was just 20 years old, killing Robert Brand, 17; Edna Louise Sullivan, 16; and Mark Dunman, 15. McDuff and his accomplice, Roy Dale Green, 18, shot both of the men dead before raping Sullivan and strangling her to death with a broomstick. However, the following day, Green confessed the killings to police, implicating McDuff. While McDuff — who was dubbed the “Broomstick Murderer” by the media — was given the death penalty for the brutal murders, he was paroled in 1989. Following his release from prison, many people believe McDuff raped and murdered several more victims, including 28-year-old Colleen Reed, a young woman the convicted killer and his accomplice, 34-year-old Alva Hank Worley, abducted in Austin, Texas, on December 29, 1991.
The convicted killer was wanted by police for dealing drugs, and when law enforcement officials questioned Worley about his associate’s whereabouts, he implicated McDuff in Reed’s murder. Police officers linked McDuff to other killings in the area, including the murder of Melissa Northup, 22, whose naked body was discovered in Dallas County on March 1, 1992. McDuff was arrested on May 4, 1992, while living in Kansas City, Missouri, after one of his co-workers watched a TV show featuring the wanted serial killer. McDuff was convicted of Northup’s murder, and on February 18, 1993, McDuff was sentenced to death for killing the 22-year-old. Shortly before he was executed by lethal injection on November 17, 1998, at the age of 52, the Texas serial killer told officials where he had buried Colleen Reed’s body, giving some closure to the young woman’s family.
Ricky Lee Green
Ricky Lee Green committed his first known murder when he stabbed Jeffery Davis, 16, to death, leaving the teenager’s decapitated corpse in a marsh in Fort Worth, Texas, where his body was discovered in April 1985. In October of that same year, Green — who was born on December 27, 1960, in Tarrant County, Texas — used a knife and a hammer to stab and bludgeon 28-year-old Betty Monroe to death after picking her up as a hitchhiker in Fort Worth. The following month, the Texas serial killer murdered Sandra Bailey, 27, after meeting her in a Fort Worth bar. Green killed his final known victim, Steven Fefferman, in September 1986, when he stabbed the 28-year-old advertising executive to death, mutilating the man and cutting off his penis while he was still alive.
After killing Fefferman, Green confessed his crimes to his wife of a nearly a decade, and it wasn’t until after the couple separated years later that the serial killer’s spouse contacted law enforcement, providing them with details about her estranged husband’s murders. Green was arrested for killing Fefferman, and while he was only convicted of one count of murder, investigators believe he may have ended the lives of several other victims. Green was sentenced to death on December 27, 1986, and he was executed via lethal injection on October 9, 1997, in Huntsville, Texas. He was just 36 years old.
David Elliott Penton
While he was stationed at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas, Davis Elliott Penton killed his first victim in 1984, shaking his 2-month-old son to death because the infant wouldn’t stop crying. Penton was discharged from the Army after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter, but he fled the area while he was out on bond. While living in Dallas as a fugitive, Penton — who was born in Columbus, Ohio, on February 9, 1958 — sexually assaulted Christi Lynn Meeks and strangled her to death on January 19, 1985, after abducting the 5-year-old from near her home in Mesquite; her body was discovered months later on April 3, 1985, in Lake Texoma. The following year, Penton sexually assaulted and killed 9-year-old Christie Diane Proctor on February 15, 1986; then, on November 3, 1987, he strangled Roxann Hope Reyes, 3, to death after sexually assaulting the toddler.
The Texas serial killer moved to Ohio, where he abducted, sexually assaulted, and murdered 9-year-old Nydra Ross in March 1988. The young girl’s remains were discovered several months later, and Penton — who was an acquaintance of Ross’s uncle — was arrested for the 9-year-old’s murder on May 10, 1990. Shortly after he was apprehended, Penton confessed to his earlier rapes and murders in Dallas; more than a decade after he was given a life sentence for killing Ross, he was extradited back to Texas where he pleaded guilty to three counts of murder on January 6, 2005. This convicted serial killer is currently behind bars in Ohio State Penitentiary; he is considered a suspect in the murders of at least three other girls.
On May 6, 1986, Faryion Wardrip murdered his friend, 21-year-old Tina Kimbrew, by suffocating her with a pillow in her apartment in Wichita Falls, Texas. Just three days after he ended the young woman’s life, Wardrip called police and confessed to her murder, and he was given 35 years in prison for the killing. However, after serving less than a third of his sentence, Wardrip — who was born on March 6, 1959, in Salem, Indiana — was paroled on December 11, 1997. The convicted killer settled in the city of Olney, Texas, where he got remarried and regularly attended church with his wife. However, less than two years after Wardrip was released from prison, a Wichita Falls detective began investigating the unsolved murders of four young women who had been raped and murdered in the area 1984 and 1985.
The detective’s investigation revealed Wardrip had been an acquaintance of one of the murdered women, 21-year-old Ellen Blau, who was strangled to death in September 1985. The authorities had semen samples that had been collected from the bodies of Terry Lee Sims, 20, and Toni Jean Gibbs, 23, and officials — after collecting Wardrip’s DNA from a used paper cup — identified the convicted murderer as the person who had sexually assaulted both women. After Wardrip was arrested, he confessed to six unsolved murders and was given the death penalty and three life sentences on November 9, 1999. This Texas serial killer is currently on death row awaiting execution.
Carl Eugene Watts
Born on November 7, 1953, in Killeen, Texas, Carl Eugene Watts committed one of his first known murders on October 30, 1974, when he stabbed 19-year-old Gloria Steele to death while he was attending college in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Over the next few years, Watts murdered several more women while living in Michigan, but after he became a suspect in the killings, he moved back to his home state of Texas in early 1981.
However, Watts didn’t stop killing after he arrived in Texas, stabbing 34-year-old Edith Ledet to death on March 27, 1981, in Houston. This Texas serial killer murdered several more women over the course of a year, until he was apprehended on the morning of May 23, 1982, after he broke into the home of Melinda Aguilar and Lori Lister and violently attacked both women. Thankfully, Aguilar and Lister managed to survive their encounters with Watts — who was dubbed the “Sunday Morning Slasher” by the press — and the serial killer confessed to the murders of at least 40 victims. While at one point it seemed Watt may have been eligible for parole in 2006, he died of prostate cancer at 53 years old on September 21, 2007, while in police custody.
Ángel Maturino Reséndiz
Ángel Maturino Reséndiz — who was born in Izúcar de Matamoros, Puebla, Mexico, on August 1, 1959 — murdered several people while he was visiting Texas as an undocumented immigrant, earning him a spot on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list on June 21, 1999. This Texas serial killer was nicknamed the “Railroad Killer” because he traveled into the United States by hopping onto freight trains, and he murdered many of his victims near the railroad tracks. After learning her brother was wanted by police, Reséndiz’s sister convinced him to turn himself in to Texas law enforcement, and he was arrested on July 13, 1999.
On May 24, 2000, the Railroad Killer was convicted of murdering Claudia Benton, 39, a pediatric neurologist he raped, beat, and stabbed to death in her home in West University Place, Texas, on December 17, 1998. While officials suspect he may have murdered as many as 15 victims — using blunt instruments like rocks and pick axes to end their lives — he was only tried and convicted of a single murder. On June 27, 2006, Reséndiz was executed by lethal injection at a correctional facility in Huntsville, Texas; he was 46.
David Leonard Wood
Dubbed the “Desert Killer” by the media, David Leonard Wood murdered his first known victim, Marjorie Knox, after abducting the 14-year-old girl from Chaparral, New Mexico, on February 14, 1987. Over the following months, Wood raped and murdered five more women and girls — all from El Paso, Texas, where the serial killer lived — who ranged in age from 13 to 24. After stabbing his victims to death, Wood buried their corpses in an El Paso desert; as people started discovering the remains of the young women and girls, local law enforcement began to realize they had a serial killer operating in the area.
Wood was known to police because he’d been convicted of rape multiple times, and he became a suspect in the murders after witnesses described seeing a man matching his description with some of the victims shortly before they disappeared. The Desert Killer — who was born on June 20, 1957 — was arrested on October 22, 1987, and more than five years later, he was sentenced to death for his crimes. Wood appealed his convictions, claiming he shouldn’t be executed because he has a mental disability. However, his appeal was denied, and the convicted serial killer is currently in the Polunsky Unit in Livingston, Texas, awaiting execution.
Test Your Knowledge About Terrifying & Twisted Texas Serial Killers!
Which Texas serial killer was not executed by lethal injection?
Carl Eugene Watts died of prostate cancer on September 21, 2007, while in police custody in Michigan.
How did law enforcement find out about Ricky Lee Green's crimes?
After Ricky Lee Green and his wife separated, she contacted police to tell them about the murder her estranged husband had confessed to committing years earlier.
What nickname did the media give to David Leonard Wood?
David Leonard Wood was dubbed the "Desert Killer" by the press because he buried his victims' bodies in a desert in El Paso, Texas.
Which Texas serial murderer was convicted of killing their two-month-old son?
While he was stationed at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas, Davis Elliott Penton killed his first victim in 1984 when he shook his 2-month-old son to death because the infant wouldn't stop crying.
Texas serial killer Carl Eugene Watts was convicted of murder in which state?
Carl Eugene Watts was convicted of murder in Michigan.
Test Your Knowledge About Terrifying & Twisted Texas Serial Killers!
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