“Fighting the Devil”
~ A True Story of Consuming Passion, Deadly, Poison, and Murder
By Jeannie Walker
In the midst of
Doctors were mystified as to what had caused this otherwise healthy forty-nine-year-old man to become so deathly ill. The rancher did not smoke or drink and exercised daily. On the rancher's last stay in the hospital toxicology tests showed 4,895 mcg of arsenic in his system. Even while he was a patient in the hospital the arsenic level in the rancher’s system continued to climb. The dying man told his friends and everyone within earshot that his wife and bookkeeper were killing him. The man's wife said her husband was hallucinating from the drugs the doctors were giving him. The millionaire rancher became a virtual prisoner when hospital personnel strapped him down to his hospital bed with restraints on his hands and feet. The man's wife and bookkeeper were constantly at the hospital and at his bedside, keeping visitors at bay. In the last days of his life, the millionaire would scream out that the two women were killing him and beg for someone to help him. On June 12, 1990, the rancher died a horrific and very painful death while still strapped down to the hospital bed with leather restraints on his hands and feet and tubes in every orifice. Immediately after the rancher's death, a doctor called the police anonymously to report the arsenic poisoning death. An autopsy later proved the rancher died from extreme arsenic poisoning. The Death Certificate read: Patient was given arsenic over a period of time until lethal amounts finally killed him.
The widow was the sole beneficiary on his $350,000 Life Insurance Policy and his Estate.
It was later learned a teenager had visited the rancher's home just before the rancher died. The youngster had become violently ill after he drank cranberry juice that was in the rancher's refrigerator. Toxicology tests later revealed the teenager had arsenic poison in his system.
During the investigation, the widow's answers and statements raised the hairs on the back of the investigator's neck. Her story did not wash at all. Neighbors, friends and relatives of the dead man believed they knew the widow to be a loving wife. But, the police saw the widow in a different light. They believed the marriage had grown stale and a divorce was in the offing. They had an idea that the man's wealth gave the widow a taste for a more exciting lifestyle and she needed him out of the way to retain that lifestyle. They saw the widow as a person who may have wanted to dispose of her husband and may have used at least one accomplice or more to help her achieve that goal.
A troubling thought lingered in the minds of the investigators: If the widow was not responsible for the arsenic poisoning of her husband, then who was? The Sheriff and Texas Ranger believed they knew the answer, but would have to prove it. They were going to live with this homicide investigation both night and day. It was a murder case the Sheriff would work on and live with until his untimely death from lung cancer.
Two years after the rancher's death a bottle of arsenic was discovered in a storage locker. The storage locker had been rented several months before the rancher's death by the rancher's bookkeeper, under an assumed name. And, people connected to the rancher, who knew about his business dealings suddenly began showing up dead.
The millionaire’s murder might not have been discovered. But, the local police were tipped off by an anonymous call about the suspicious death. The murder case would become the jurisdiction of
The Texas Rangers were called in to help with the homicide investigation. This wasn't a typical murder or an ordinary homicide investigation. It wasn't an open and shut case like a homicide where the victim was shot or stabbed to death. This was a murder the perpetrator had planned on getting away with. It was going to be a hard case to investigate and prove. A death caused by arsenic poisoning could easily mimic or appear to be a natural death caused by some unknown disease. In essence, murder by arsenic could be a perfect murder.
With the case at a standstill, the millionaire's ex-wife and mother of his only children became a sleuth to help solve the murder. No one could have foretold the strange twists and unexpected results.