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Vengeance Is Mine
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summary
The 1912 Boyce-Sneed feud in West Texas began with a torrid sex scandal at the core of a love triangle, featuring Lena Snyder Sneed, the high-spirited, headstrong wife; Al Boyce, Jr., Lena’s reckless, romantic lover; and John Beal Sneed, Lena’s arrogant, grim, and vindictive husband, who responded to Lena’s plea for a divorce by having her locked up in an insane asylum on grounds of “moral insanity.” The chase was on after Al rescued Lena from the asylum and the lovers fled to Canada. That’s when the killings began. No one who knew the vengeful John Beal Sneed doubted for a moment that he would go after his wife’s lover with lethal intent. Frustrated by Al’s escape to Canada, Sneed assassinated Al’s aged and unarmed father, Colonel Albert Boyce, a wealthy Amarillo banker and former manager of the huge XIT Ranch in the Panhandle during the late nineteenth century, who had been defending his son against Sneed’s legal machinations. Newspaper headlines predicted the upcoming murder trial would be the “greatest legal battle ever fought in Texas Courts.” Sneed’s well-paid legal team first earned him a mistrial. While awaiting his second trial, Sneed ambushed and killed Al Boyce, Jr., who had foolishly returned to Amarillo and was shot in the back, with witnesses present, while walking the main street. Sneed was acquitted in his second trial for killing the father, and later acquitted for the killing of son Al Boyce, Jr., as well—his legal team skillfully invoking the self-help justice of the unwritten law defending one’s marital home. Bill Neal, attorney and writer, tells the full story of this sordid affair with special analysis of the trial tactics that were so carefully crafted to resonate with the jurors of this era and ensure Sneed’s acquittal.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
  2. pp. iii-v
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. List of Illustrations
  2. p. x
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. xi-xii
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  1. Preface
  2. pp. xiii-xvi
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  1. Prologue
  2. pp. xvii-xviii
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  1. The Three Families: Settling in Antebellum Texas
  2. pp. 1-22
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  1. A Secret Too Big to Keep: “Let the Old Men Settle It”
  2. pp. 23-28
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  1. A Man with a Plan: Escape, Flight, and Pursuit
  2. pp. 29-43
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  1. The Gathering Storm: The Killings Begin
  2. pp. 44-55
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  1. To the Courts: From Guns to Gavels
  2. pp. 56-70
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  1. “The Greatest Legal Battle Ever”: The 1912 Fort Worth Murder Trial of John Beal Sneed
  2. pp. 71-112
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  1. Protecting a Home or Protecting a Killer?: The Conclusion of the 1912 John Beal Sneed Murder Trial
  2. pp. 113-139
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  1. The Waiting Game: Ambush at the Death Cottage
  2. pp. 140-162
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  1. “Because This Is Texas”: The Second Fort Worth Murder Trial of John Beal Sneed
  2. pp. 163-191
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  1. “Making ’em Believe in Ghosts”: The Beech Epting Murder Trial
  2. pp. 192-207
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  1. “No Trial for the Dead”: The Vernon Murder Trial of John Beal Sneed
  2. pp. 208-225
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  1. The John Beal Sneed Wars Continue: Combat in the Courts, Firefights in the Streets
  2. pp. 226-242
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  1. Epilogue
  2. pp. 243-258
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  1. Appendix One
  2. pp. 259-266
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  1. Appendix Two
  2. pp. 267-272
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  1. Endnotes
  2. pp. 273-292
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  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 293-297
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 299-306
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