County of Offense
Throwing the Book at Texas
Extensive Criminal Activity since 1973
Known Gang Affiliations
Date of Offense
If Texas Monthly were a high school football team, its Texas crime coverage would be Dallas Carter in 1988: a hard-hitting, talented powerhouse of unstoppable reportage. Texas Monthly only taps the best writers for its feature pieces—and scrubs that copy like a Turkish bathhouse.
This year they’ve covered Clara Harris, cartel crime, the fajita bandit, an armored car robber, the Austin bomber, sex scandals and more. And that’s just this year. About a dozen regular writers including Charley Locke, Doyin Oyeniyi, Leif Reigstad, Abby Johnston and others keep Texans up to date on the latest in Lone Star crime.
As a Houstonian, I really appreciate high-quality, timely Texas crime reportage wherever I can find it. I mean, let’s face it, Houston is to crime what Tyler is to roses. The car-jackings. The home invasions. The murders for hire. Call it our gift to the world. Hence the rise of local true crime podcasts like Beer, Blood and the Bayou and Murder City.
There’s this whole criminal world going on around us all the time, not just in Houston, of course, but everywhere. And it's mesmerizing when someone lifts the veil and gives us an inside look.
True crime is especially interesting when you have some everyday connection with the people, places or events in the story. One time my wife got into a fender-bender with a lady in the parking lot of an upscale mid-rise apartment. My wife screamed at the woman’s carelessness and went a little road ragey on her. The other party turned out to be Ana Lilia Trujillo, the train wreck of a bruja who killed her boyfriend with a shoe.
Sometimes I just enjoy the pure schadenfreude of a criminal dumpster fire—like this 2014 story about a couple of asshats who tried stealing an undercover Haltom City police car. With a detective in it.
So my recent interest in true crime, which really started when I wrote a book about murder in 2016, has renewed my enthusiasm for Texas Monthly. These guys have been down in the trenches trying to habeas the corpus for decades. Check out the compilation Texas True Crime by the editors of Texas Monthly back in 2007. The book covers a number of interesting cases ranging from a Dallas jewel thief to a bar owner who allegedly fed waitresses to the alligators. Then there is Texas Crime Chronicles, and the TM crime stories available on Audible. If these juicy stories don’t convince you the magazine is a crime writing juggernaut, I don’t know what will.
And then there’s Skip Hollandsworth.
Hollandsworth is a master craftsman of Texas true crime. A TCU graduate, he established himself as a man of letters early in life. He was a sports reporter up in Dallas, joining Texas Monthly in 1989. He’s had a long and distinguished career full of truly deserved accolades and accomplishments—check out this Slate/Longform piece from way back in the day on some of his true crime work. And he’s done a heckuva lot since then. A number of his articles have been made into films.
More recently, Hollandsworth co-wrote the 2011 movie Bernie, which I absolutely loved, with H-Town bad ass Richard Linklater. If you haven’t seen it, it’s fantastic: about Bernie Tiede, a beloved Carthage funeral-director-turned-murderer. Well, it's fantastic except the guy who said he wouldn’t trust people from San Augustine to fix his car. And the bit where they make fun of the region’s predilection for squirrel hunting. You, sirs, can keep your judgmental opinions to yourself—those are my people.
Grander still was Hollandsworth’s 2016 New York Times Bestselling book The Midnight Assassin: Panic, Scandal and the Hunt for America’s First Serial Killer. An engaging and original true crime book, The Midnight Assassin tells the story of a series of unsolved murders that took place in a much more rural Austin during the 1880s. Still an unsolved series of crimes, Hollandsworth tackles the phenomenon with precision, context, tact and a flavorful sense of the Austin of its day.
So with a guy like him on board, Hell yeah Texas Monthly is going to do true crime right.
The magazine also has a recurring feature called “Meanwhile, in Lufkin…” that highlights activity from the police blotter in this small East Texas town. Of course, they could have just named it “Meanwhile, Allow Rural East Texans to Amuse You With Their Life Problems While Your Smug Urban Ass Reads Your iPhone X and Waits for Your Friend to Meet You at Garage.” Still, the feature’s elitist nature aside, it IS funny and those are real-life Lufkin police calls comin’ at ya. And, you know, Lufkin.
Long-time true crime aficionados stay plugged in. But if you haven’t been reading the National Magazine of Texas lately, and you appreciate solid true crime reporting and storytelling, I urge you to reconnect. Because crazy shit is going down all around us in this place we call home.