Texas Justice - Bought and Paid For Review
By Mona Sizer
Great True Crime Stories
Is justice in America truly "blind?" This is the question Mona D. Sizer asks her readers to ponder in her taught summary of four famous crimes, "Texas Justice - Bought and Paid For." The Romans devised the goddess Justicia, the now familiar blindfolded icon holding the "scales of justice." "She cannot see the faces of those she judges. On her scale she weighs evidence only." Unfortunately, Justicia is but an ideal. Justice in human society must be administered by people. While Western culture strives for the ideal of Justicia through the establishment of the "rule of law" and the jury system, the mere mortals administering the justice system cannot guarantee perfect success. In "Texas Justice" Sizer examines four Texas crimes in which it appears Justicia was blasphemed.
Devotees of the true crime genre are often forced to read long rambling pulp that appears to have been rushed to the publisher directly from a box of index cards, before the public's attention moves on to the latest heinous crime. Sizer devotes an average of 55 pages to each of four crimes that are all old news. Oldies but goodies, these crimes richly deserve the "never forget" sloganeering of other famous atrocities. Sizer does an admirable job of pursuing that cause by tying them all together under the theme of justice unblinded.
John and Luther Blanton disappeared in 1936 while poaching for a couple of wild ducks near a pond that lay just over the fence from their small family farm inside the behemoth King Ranch. The attitude of the King Ranch was eerily reminiscent of contemporary groups like Montana's Freemen or other "separatist" groups. The King Ranch was and is larger than the state of Delaware, and those who ran it in 1936 apparently felt it was a sovereign nation. Myrtle Blanton doggedly pursued justice while trying to find out the fate of her husband and son, who remain unburied to this day. Did the local sheriff and even the vaunted Texas Rangers know who buttered their bred?
Five-time world champion equestrian Joan Robinson dazzled the staid sport by riding her gray mare wearing a gray riding outfit exactly matching her steed's coat. "When Joan Robinson rides Beloved Belinda, it is one of the most achingly beautiful sights in the world," wrote one newspaperman in the 1950s. The papers would have a field day only a few years later in 1969 when reporting on the mysterious death of the Houston socialite. When multimillionaire Ash Robinson could not get the DA to convict the son-in-law he believed responsible for the death of his only child, Joan's husband Dr. John Hill was murdered by a hit man. Shortly afterwards, Beloved Belinda was struck down by lightning. Of the four cases covered in Sizer's book, this is the most epic.
Twelve-year-old Andrea Wilborn, like her mother Priscilla Davis, was a trusting girl with a big heart. She surely never comprehended the evil of her estranged stepfather even as he shot her in that heart from point blank range after letting him in the house only a few moments before. The 1976 murders in Fort Worth of Andrea and Priscilla's friend Stan Farr remain "unsolved." Priscilla and friend Bev Bass both survived the rampage, and running in opposite directions across the grounds of the massive estate each repeatedly identified multimillionaire T. Cullen Davis as their assailant to every citizen and law enforcement official they encountered during the first traumatic moments after their escape. Nevertheless, the richest man ever tried for murder, T. Cullen Davis, was acquitted by a jury that believed Priscilla was the "Whore of Babylon."
Peggy Railey is worse than dead. Since 1987 she has lived in a permanent vegetative state in a nursing home near her elderly parents' home in Tyler Texas. "The pretty little girl, the brilliant music student, the loving and supportive mother of two well-behaved and charming children was propped up on the pillows, her bloated body grotesquely twisted, saliva forming at the corner of her mouth, and occasionally emitting an inhuman howl." Circumstantial evidence suggests that Peggy's husband Walker Railey, senior minister of the First United Methodist Church in Dallas, strangled her in front of their five-year-old son Ryan. In 1993 Walker was extradited from his life of leisure in California, returned to Dallas, tried and promptly acquitted of the attempted murder of his wife.
Fortunately for mankind, the occurrence of psychotic serial killers who hunt and kill for the sake of killing is relatively rare. But how many of your acquaintances are sociopaths who could kill as easily as breathe if the need arose? It is impossible for you to know. John Hill, T. Cullen Davis and Walker Railey were all successful men and fully functional within society. One day they needed to kill someone. So they did, or tried. Either because of the intelligence invested in premeditating a perfect crime, or because of their wealth or positions of power, they all escaped the justice their victims deserved.
Mona D. Sizer has given us a well-researched summary of four cases where justice went wrong. Photos are sprinkled throughout and she includes a small epilogue or "where are they now" at the conclusion of each chapter to give each case a fresh immediacy. "Texas Justice - Bought and Paid For" makes a valuable companion for four nights reading. "Justice is blindfolded. She holds the scales for the weight of the evidence. If a rich man slips gold onto her scales, she is perhaps none the wiser."