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Bad Boy from Rosebud

The Murderous Life of Kenneth Allen McDuff

Gary M. Lavergne

Publication Year: 1999

In October of 1989, the State of Texas set Kenneth Allen McDuff, the Broomstick Murderer, free on parole. By choosing to murder again, McDuff became the architect of an extraordinarily intolerant atmosphere in Texas. The spasm of prison construction and parole reforms—collectively called the “McDuff Rules”—resulted from an enormous display of anger vented towards a system that allowed McDuff to kill, and kill again. Bad Boy from Rosebud is a chilling account of the life of one of the most heartless and brutal serial killers in American history. Gary M. Lavergne goes beyond horror into an analysis of the unbelievable subculture in which McDuff lived. Equally compelling are the lives of remarkable law enforcement officers determined to bring McDuff to justice, and their seven-year search for his victims. “Texas still feels the pain inflicted by Kenneth Allen McDuff, despite the relentless efforts of law enforcement officials to solve his crimes and bind up its wounds. Bad Boy from Rosebud is an impeccably researched, compellingly detailed account of the crimes and the long search for justice. Gary Lavergne takes us directly to the scenes of the crimes, deep inside the mind of a killer, and in the process learns not only whom McDuff killed and how—but why. This is classic crime reporting.”—Dan Rather, CBS News

Published by: University of North Texas Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-v


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pp. vii

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Author’s Notes and Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

Because of the utterly bizarre stories and characters in this book, I am concerned that some episodes will be misread as insensitive or irreverent attempts at dark humor. With the exception of occasional playful banter between police officers, this book is incredible—not funny. I firmly believe in the necessity of historians keeping their personal passion out of their writing...

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Prologue: ROSEBUD

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pp. 1-9

The rolling hills of central Texas cradle a hamlet called Rosebud. It lies in the Blackland Prairie. With the luck of ample rain, the dark, rich soil supports a diversity of crops. But the land can be unforgiving as well. During periods of drought the waves of brown grain, chest-high dead cornstalks, or emaciated cotton plants prove that nature rules and serve...

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1 They Was Just Pranks

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pp. 11-24

On the eastern edge of Rosebud, Linden Street heads south from Main Street toward a baseball field carved out of surrounding farmland. Small wooden houses, old but well kept, and shaded by large pecan trees, line the streets. On the east side of Linden, only the second building from Main, stands what once was the Rosebud Laundromat. ...

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2 The Broomstick Murders

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pp. 25-38

The summer of 1966 was hideously hot even by Texas standards. It was also a period of great sadness. August began with the largest mass murder in American history—the University of Texas Tower shootings in Austin by Charles Whitman. After murdering his wife and mother during the night and spending the next morning preparing...

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3 A Prisoner of the State

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pp. 39-54

On August 9, 1966, after Kenneth McDuff had committed the Broomstick Murders and was back in jail, the State of Texas revoked his parole.1 Sheriff Brady Pamplin established, at least to his own satisfaction, that Kenneth and his brother Lonnie had actively engaged in the destruction of evidence. Jo Ann, Kenneth’s date, told Pamplin that the brothers had taken something behind a barn at Lonnie’s home. ...

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4 Freed to Kill Again

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pp. 55-68

Furman v Georgia was not the only significant development affecting the prison life of Kenneth McDuff in 1972. That year, a disgruntled Texas prison inmate named David Ruiz, who was serving a twenty-five-year sentence for armed robbery, initiated a handwritten lawsuit alleging a variety of violations of his civil rights in the prison system. ...

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5 Parole

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pp. 69-78

At the time of the Broomstick Murders, Bill Miller was a law enforcement officer in the Fort Worth area. He remembers vividly the horrible deaths of Robert, Marcus, and Louise at the hands of Kenneth McDuff. Later, he had firsthand experience with the McDuffs when he assisted in the investigation of Lonnie’s murder. One day in October 1989...

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6 An Absence of Beauty

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pp. 79-91

Interstate Highway 35, the major artery for Central Texas, connects San Antonio, Austin, Belton, Temple, and Waco. Around Austin, the highway runs along the Balcones Fault, separating alluvial bottoms and agricultural lands to the east, from the rocky sediments of the Hill Country ranches to the west. In his biography of Lyndon Johnson...

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7 Going to College

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pp. 92-106

At the beginning of 1991, McDuff reported to his Temple parole officer that he was working in a warehouse in the Dallas area as a forklift operator. Six days later he asked to transfer his parole supervision to the Dallas District. But less than two weeks after that he reported to his Temple parole officer that he was back in Temple living with...

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8 Every Woman’s Nightmare

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pp. 107-124

Unlike other Louisiana parishes, Evangeline Parish reflects the cultural and geographic diversity of the entire state. On the southern end, Cajun Catholics and other Louisiana French descendants inhabit a fertile prairie. Farmers take advantage of the high water table to flood fields for the planting and harvesting of rice. ...

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9 The Cut

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pp. 125-140

Living her adult life in a culture with an absence of beauty took its toll on Brenda Kay Thompson. She looked much older than her age—thirtyseven. At 5’5” tall and weighing only 115 pounds, she was a small woman. Her drawn and hollow-looking face made her look emaciated, almost skeletal. What were once beautiful brown eyes were instead sunken...

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10 The Car Wash

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pp. 141-160

Every Christmas season miles of multi-colored lights illuminate Congress Avenue in downtown Austin. From the Colorado River, which Austinites insist on calling Town Lake, to the State Capitol, the bulbs form a colorful tunnel, and at times motorists have trouble seeing traffic signals. But it does not matter; Austin drivers have little respect...

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11 Cowboy

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pp. 161-177

Before December of 1991, the people of Austin, Texas, did not consider going to a yogurt shop, or washing their car, a dangerous activity— and for good reason. The overall crime rate for Austin had fallen by two percent from 1990 to 1991, and although the murder rate rose by seven percent, the actual number of victims rose from only fortysix to forty-nine. ...

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12 The Convenience Store

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pp. 178-193

Officially, Kenneth McDuff completed graduation requirements from TSTI in late February, 1992. The certificate he “earned” was mailed to J. A. and Addie. For most students, graduation means an opportunity to seek employment and build a future. For Kenneth McDuff, it probably meant an end to his state-supported lifestyle of sex and drugs. ...

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13 The Boys

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pp. 194-215

The three men sometimes call themselves “The Boys.” Two of them are brothers and the third might as well be. Deputy United States Marshals Mike and Parnell McNamara are the sons of Thomas Parnell (“T. P.”) McNamara. T. P. ran the United States Marshal’s Office in Waco for thirty-seven years, a record that is now out of reach because...

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14 “Don’t Hurt Junior”

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pp. 216-229

Two years after Sonya Urubek became part of the Reed Case, she testified about the different methods used by investigators in approaching the abduction. Specifically, Don Martin methodically checked out the many leads received, placing no particular emphasis on any one. Sonya was so convinced that the McDuff lead was a good one that she thought ...

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15 Searching for a Monster

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pp. 230-243

ATF Special Agent Charles Meyer is a tall, lean man with an angular face and sleek, Clint Eastwood eyes. He is as good an interrogator as anyone who has ever questioned a suspect. He is so good in fact, that a frustrated Austin defense attorney once lamented in open court that “Chuck Meyer always seemed to be there when somebody needed a little...

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16 Heartbreaking Stupidity

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pp. 244-260

The Bell County Sheriff’s Department could hardly have been more generous with Tim Steglich’s time. For months he did little more than assist the many other law enforcement agencies engaged in the pursuit of Kenneth Allen McDuff. Many leads eventually led to Belton and Temple, and policemen like Tim and Mad Dog Owens provided...

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17 “As Nice As I Could Be”

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pp. 261-278

The Bell County Sheriff’s Office is not far from Bloom’s Motel. It just seemed like a long trip late in the afternoon of April 20, as Tim Steglich drove Hank to make a statement. At 5:25 P.M., Tim read Hank his Miranda warning. Tim tried to get in touch with a number of officers but could find no one. He did not want to leave Hank alone so he asked Deputy...

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18 Guns and Condoms

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pp. 279-297

To this day Mike and Parnell McNamara and Bill Johnston grope for words to express how completely saddened they were by their trip to where Colleen had been killed, and by what they heard Hank Worley say that night. But rage quickly replaced sadness; and their faces of stone returned. Almost every night for the next couple of weeks, they roamed...

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19 The Northrup Trial

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pp. 298-314

On May 18, 1992, a Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) Internal Affairs Investigator named John Moriarty called APD Detective Sonya Urubek at her office. Moriarty told her that he was compiling a timeline of Kenneth McDuff’s known whereabouts from the time he first entered prison in 1965 to the present. ...

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20 The Reed Trial

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pp. 315-329

Only a few days after Kenneth McDuff had been arrested in Kansas City, the Travis County District Attorney’s Office began to gather circumstantial evidence to establish that Colleen Reed was dead. Under a 1974 law, such evidence could be gathered in cases where a victim’s body was not found. Such laws are necessary. ...

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pp. 331-349

“This will not be over for any of us until we find Colleen,” said John Moriarty of TDCJ, seven years after she had disappeared. He spoke for every investigator involved in the Colleen Reed Case. They all tell of thinking of Colleen every time they found themselves in the Blackland Prairie, and wondering if they were near her. ...

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Notes on Sources

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pp. 351-353

In the course of writing this book, I amassed approximately 19,000 pages of information and conducted dozens of interviews. It would be pedantic to list all of the sources of information already cited in the endnotes. This is to describe the largest and richest of those sources. ...


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pp. 355-366

E-ISBN-13: 9781574414974
Print-ISBN-13: 9781574410723

Page Count: 384
Illustrations: 63 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 1999