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Johnny J. E. MEADOWS

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Serial killer?
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 1 - 4
Date of murders: 1968 / 1971
Date of arrest: December 1971
Date of birth: 1937
Victims profile: Gloria Green / Linda Cougat / Dorothy Smith / Ruth Maynard
Method of murder: Strangulation / Shooting
Location: Odessa, Texas, USA
Status: In 1972, Meadows pled guilty to murdering Gloria Green and was sentenced to 99 years in prison
 
 
 
 
 
 

Between October 1968 and June 1971, a series of sadistic murders terrorized the female population of Odessa, Texas, and surrounding towns. 

Today, despite conviction of a suspect, controversy still surrounds the case and several of the murders are officially unsolved. The murder spree began October 19, 1968, when an Odessa barmaid -Linda Cougat vanished from a local laundromat. Two months would pass before her violated body was discovered in a field northwest of town, hands bound behind her back with one of her own nylon stockings, the other wrapped tightly around her throat.

On November 5, 1968, motel owner Dorothy Smith was found shot to death in her apartment at Monahans, Texas, her hands bound with television cable.

Eula Miller was the next to die, found nude in her Odessa flat on July 16, 1970, a victim of multiple stab wounds. Nancy Miller was abducted from her home in Kermit on September 16, while her children slept peacefully in an adjoining room. Her skeletal remains would be discovered on an oil lease south of town, in June 1971. 

The first victim of 1971 was Ruth Maynard, wife of an Odessa policeman. Reported missing on January 9, she was found February 15, a few miles from the site where Linda Cougat was dumped by her slayer in 1968. 

On June 17, after Gloria Green disappeared from her secretarial job in Kermit, Texas lawmen realized they had a crisis on their hands. The case was broken in December, when Texan Johnny Meadows was jailed in Aztec, New Mexico, on unrelated charges. Meadows started telling tales of murder, and Ector County Sheriff A.M. Gambrel flew in from Texas to interrogate the suspect. Cash changed hands, $2,000 paid from Gambrel's pocket to the suspect's wife, and Meadows gave directions to a vacant lot in South Odessa, where investigators found the skeletal remains of Gloria Green beneath a rotting mattress. 

In 1972, Meadows pled guilty to murdering Gloria Green and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. Deputies announced that he had also signed confessions in the deaths of Linda Cougat, Dorothy Smith, and Ruth Maynard. Charges were filed in the Cougat and Maynard cases, but both indictments were dismissed in the summer of 1973. 

Ten years later, when Meadows made his first bid for parole, ex-Sheriff Gambrell testified in opposition to the killer's release. Gambrell warned the parole board that Meadows would "kill within forty-eight hours of the time he's paroled." Meadows's application was predictably denied. (In 1984, prolific author J.R. Nash examined the Odessa case in Open Files, declaring it "unsolved." Ignoring the conviction and confessions of incarcerated slayer Johnny Meadows, Nash attributes fourteen murders to the "Texas Strangler," roping in some obviously unrelated homicides from Dallas to increase the body-count. 

Meadows victims Cougat and Maynardl are included in the list of women slaughtered by "the most murderous sex fiend in modern Texas history.")

Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans

 
 

782 F.2d 489

Johnny J.E. MEADOWS, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
O.L. McCOTTER, Director, Texas Department of Corrections,
Respondent-Appellee.

No. 85-1127

United States Court of Appeals,
Fifth Circuit.

Feb. 10, 1986.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

Before GEE, RANDALL, and DAVIS, Circuit Judges.

PER CURIAM:

On this appeal, we again consider the dismissal of appellant Johnny Meadows' petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Convicted of murder in 1972 and sentenced to life imprisonment, Meadows has since expended much energy in seeking to overturn his conviction. On a previous appeal, we affirmed the denial of habeas corpus relief in part, but vacated in part and remanded the case to district court with instructions to determine whether Meadows was coerced into confessing the crime and whether the alleged coercion could have tainted his guilty plea. Meadows v. Estelle, 746 F.2d 810 (5th Cir.1984). On remand, Judge Mahon found nothing improper with either the confession or the guilty plea and again dismissed Meadows' petition. We now affirm the district court's judgment.

Meadows was indicted for the murder of Mrs. Gloria Sue Green in February 1982. Although he was arrested in Ector County, Texas, the case was soon transferred to Tarrant County. Shortly after the transfer, Meadows called the sheriff of Ector County, expressing a desire to talk. Two Ector County officers went to Fort Worth; upon meeting them, Meadows waived the right of having his attorney, Jerry Loftin, present. Loftin unknowingly interrupted the meeting, however, and spoke with his client privately for about twenty minutes. Despite Loftin's entreaties to avoid signing anything, Meadows promptly signed a confession. Two days later, he pled guilty to murder with premeditation and received a life sentence.

In seeking habeas corpus relief, Meadows now asserts that the confession was coerced and that the circumstances of the coercion necessarily forced him to plead guilty. The district court rejected these contentions, however, in making the following findings of fact: (1) Meadows initiated contact with Ector County officers; (2) he knew he did not have to see the officers; and (3) he nevertheless rejected his attorney's advice by knowingly and voluntarily signing the confession. Because no coercion was found, the guilty plea made two days later was deemed untainted.

Jurek v. Estelle, 623 F.2d 929 (5th Cir.1980) (en banc), provides the standard of review in considering a district court's denial of habeas corpus relief sought on the ground of a confession's involuntariness. Jurek instructs us not to "overturn specific findings of fact made by the district court unless they are clearly erroneous." Id. at 932. We must, however, scrutinize the entire record and make an independent determination of the ultimate issue of voluntariness. Id. at 931, quoting Beckwith v. United States, 425 U.S. 341, 348, 96 S.Ct. 1612, 48 L.Ed.2d 1 (1976). In performing this duty, we may substitute our own judgment even absent a conclusion of clearly erroneous rulings. Id. at 932.

Applying these standards, we conclude that the specific findings of fact were not clearly erroneous and that the record as a whole supports the district court's conclusions. While dispute exists over who initiated communication between Meadows and Ector County officers, Judge Mahon credited the testimony of the Ector County sheriff that Meadows called him; we find no reason to believe otherwise. The record also shows that Meadows knowingly rejected Loftin's assistance and signed the confession. Loftin himself noted no signs of physical or mental coercion. He was satisfied, moreover, that Meadows understood the consequences of his actions. In short, substantial evidence in the record supports the determination of a voluntary confession.

Meadows also asserts the absence of a full and meaningful hearing because of the ten-year span separating these events and his habeas corpus hearing. The record, however, belies this assertion. The transcript of the evidentiary hearing contains 1137 pages. This voluminous record, moreover, clearly shows that Judge Mahon went to great lengths to admit the evidence Meadows wished to admit. Because Meadows clearly had a fair chance to present his case, his assertion is meritless. We see no cause to grant a writ of habeas corpus; the district court's judgment is therefore

AFFIRMED.

 
 

SEX: M RACE: W TYPE: T MOTIVE: Sex.

MO: Lust killer of adult females

DISPOSITION: 99 years on guilty plea to one count, 1972.

 
 


Johnny J. E. Meadows