We live in a charming, friendly state where most people wouldn’t even hurt a fly. However, these famous murders in Texas remind us that evil does indeed exist in the world, and it sometimes lurks not too far from our own homes. Here are 7 of the most famous, grisly homicides in Texas that we will never forget:
1) Amber Hagerman
On January 13, 1996, Amber rode her bicycle to an abandoned grocery store with her brother in their hometown of Arlington. Her brother rode home while Amber stayed behind for a while, but he never saw her again. A neighbor witnessed Amber get taken by a man who pulled up in a pick up truck, and unfortunately, a man walking his dog found her body at the bottom of a creek bed four days later. Despite ongoing investigations and relentless determination by police, no one has ever found the murderer. Amber's case garnered the attention of people worldwide and made officials realize they needed some sort of system to warn their communities and police departments about missing persons. Thus, the Amber alert was created.
2) James Byrd Jr
The highly controversial and gruesome death of James Byrd Jr prompted the passage of a Texas hate crimes law, and later the enactment of the Matthew Shepard Act. He was dragged to death by three men, Shawn Berry, Lawrence Russell Brewer, and John King. Byrd remained conscious through most of the traumatizing experience, but was killed when his body hit a culvert which severed his right arm and head. Two of the perpetrators were well-known white supremacists, and the case of James Byrd Jr was one of the most famous and horrendous hate crimes in history. Two of the murderers were sentenced to death, and one is serving a life sentence in a prison in Rosharon, Texas.
3) The Yogurt Shop Murders
On December 6, 1991, four young women were found murdered after a fire had been put out at a popular yogurt shop in Austin called I Can't Believe It's Yogurt! The women were Amy Ayers, Jennifer Harbison, her sister Sarah, and Eliza Thomas. After years of investigating, police still haven't found the perpetrator(s). Two of the main suspects in the case were released in 2009 due to lack of evidence.
4) Luby's Mass Shooting
On October 16, 1991, George Hennard crashed his pickup truck into the front of a Luby's in Killeen, Texas, and then immediately shot and killed 22 people. He also wounded 27 others - one mortally - before he shot and killed himself. It is still the deadliest non-school shooting in America, and the third deadliest mass shooting in the U.S.
5) The UT Tower Shooting
An engineering student at the University of Texas named Charles Whitman murdered his wife and mother in their homes on August 1, 1966, and then brought numerous guns to the University of Texas at Austin campus where he shot and killed 14 people and wounded 32 others over a 90 minute period. He killed three people inside the clock tower itself, and fatally shot 11 others after firing from the 28th floor observation deck of the Main building. He was eventually shot and killed by Austin police officer Houston McCoy.
6) 2009 Fort Hood Shooting
On November 5, 2009, Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S. Army major and psychiatrist, shot and killed 13 people and wounded over 30 others. Hasan was sentenced to death on August 28, 2013.
7) The Phantom Killer
An unidentified serial killer that locals dubbed "The Phantom Killer" attacked eight people in Texarkana over the course of 10 weeks, 5 of whom were killed. While there were several prime suspects in the case, the murders have never been solved to this day.
What other homicides that took place in Texas have left a permanent mark on your brain?