Friday FabOoolousness – The “Kiss and Kill Murder”

The time was 1961, and the place was Odessa, Texas.  High school football was king, and still is today.

In the ‘60s, teenagers lived for their weekly pep-rallies and frequent trips to Tommy’s Drive-In for their ice-cold cherry cokes.

Teens also spared no expense in driving up and down the strip, or cruisin’ as it was called.  After all, gas was cheap back then.

Teenage girls appeared innocent with their ponytails, bobby-socks, and penny-loafer shoes.

Not seventeen year old Betty Williams.

Elizabeth J. Williams lived with devout Christian parents.  Her father prohibited her from normal teenage activities such as dating and seeing movies, especially anything with Elvis Presley.

What sometimes happens with overly protective parents? Betty defied the rules.

She was flirtatious, and sometimes aggressive with the boys.  She mocked teachers and other girls, and didn’t shy away from making inappropriate comments.  She would wear tight clothing revealing more than she should, and she just didn’t care – outwardly, anyway.

Betty dreamed of leaving Odessa and becoming an actress, but her reputation stood in the way of her dreams.  She was overlooked during the casting of Our Town as “Emily” because she wasn’t innocent enough, but not being cast in Winterset really upset Betty.

Mack Herring was cast in Winterset, as “Garth” – the killer.  Mack played football at Odessa High School, and was Betty’s ex-boyfriend, many times removed.

The two teens had a tumultuous relationship.  They fought constantly, but couldn’t stay away from each other.  Publicly though, Mack refused to be seen with Betty.

After losing Mack and the play, Betty did the unthinkable.  She asked to die.  According to friends, she asked quite a few girls in class to kill her.  The girls of course didn’t take her seriously; Betty was an actress.

Late at night on March 21, 1961, Betty rode with Mack to a stock pond outside Odessa wearing only her pink pajamas.  Being a perfect gentleman, Mack helped Betty down out of his jeep and wrapped his red and white letter jacket around her to keep her warm.  The two walked together to the pond, where she asked for a kiss.

The two teens kissed, and Betty knelt down in front of Mack on the ground where he had removed the rocks and pebbles for her.

Mack picked up the 12-guage shot-gun that he had brought with them, held it to her head, and pulled the trigger after Betty said, “Now.”

From “Washed in the Blood” p. 84, 2004, Bristol Publishing Company

After a few days, Mack led the police out to the scene of the crime.  He immediately pointed to the stock pond where he had placed Betty’s body, remembering the exact location because he had centered himself between two mesquite trees before putting her into the water.

Mack never denied planning the murder or killing Betty.

Needless to say, murder charges were brought against Mack and his trial began in February, 1962.  Although he wasn’t the star athlete, the trial gave him celebrity status.  High school girls, known as “Mack’s Girls” filled the courtroom to support him.

The media soon named the shooting, “The Kiss and Kill Murder.”

The trial took place in Winkler County, since the stock pond was physically located within Winkler’s county lines.  Former Odessa District Attorney, Warren Burnett served as Mack’s defense attorney, while Andrews’ County District Attorney, Dan Sullivan represented the state.

In opening statements, Burnett clearly indicated that he had no intentions of disputing the murderous plot, or the fact that his client shot and killed Betty Williams.  He did, however, shock the courtroom when he announced that the court must first prove Mack’s sanity at the time of the murder.

Burnett continued to rock the courtroom when he introduced an apparent suicide letter written by Betty:

“I want everyone to know that what I am about to do no way implicates anyone else.  I say this to make sure that no blame falls on anyone other than myself.

“I have depressing problems that concern, for the most part, myself.  I am waging a war within myself, a war to find the true me and I fear that I am losing the battle.

“So rather than admit defeat I am going to beat a quick retreat into the no man’s land of death. As I have only the will and not the fortitude necessary, a friend of mine, seeing how great is my torment, has graciously consented to look after the details.

“His name is Mack Herring and I pray that he will not have to suffer for what he is doing for my sake. I take upon myself all the blame, for it lies on me alone.” – Betty Williams (Washed in the Blood, p 102-103).

Burnett called other classmates of Betty’s to the stand to testify that she also approached them for assistance in her death.  His star witness, psychiatrist Dr. Marvin Grice, testified that after Betty repeatedly asked Mack to kill her, Mack lost his ability to reason and agreed.

On Saturday, February 25, 1962, the jury found Mack Herring innocent by reason of temporary insanity.  The result was the same later that year when Mack’s sanity was tried again, this time in Beaumont, Texas by the Texas Supreme Court.

No one really won in this case. Betty was gone, and Mack’s life would never be the same again.  While Mack was looked at as a star during his trial, the celebrity faded and he slowly became a pariah.

Betty is still known around town as the “Ghost of Odessa High School” where she lingers around the school’s theatre.  She’s also known as “The Original Drama Mama.”

For more about the tragic story of Betty Williams, read Washed in the Blood, a novel written by her cousin, Shelton Williams.

Shelton “Shelly” Williams attended the high school across town at the time of his cousin’s murder.  He was actually a classmate of my mother’s and my aunt’s, which is one reason why I’m so intrigued by this story.   Washed in the Blood is a fabOoolous read, and I highly recommend to anyone that loves true-crime stories.

It was rumored that Hollywood, including actress Moira Kelly (Twin Peaks, Cutting Edge, and One Tree Hill), was interested in adapting Betty’s story to a screen play.  I’m not sure where the project is today, but I can only hope to see it come to fruition one day.

Were you familiar with the “Kiss and Kill Murder”?  Did you know of any particular person during your high school years that resembled misunderstood youth similar to Betty?  Do you think Mack was indeed temporarily insane?  What true-crime story has affected you?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now, to lighten the mood, check out Lyn Midnight’s post – The Blog of Fame: Google Brain Farts.  Oh, how search engines amaze…

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78 Responses to Friday FabOoolousness – The “Kiss and Kill Murder”

  1. Great post.Even though I’m a (exan, I hadn’t heard that story (then again, my hometown is a good 15 hrs away from Odessa!) I’m going to have to pick up the book!

  2. Wow, what a story! I’ve never heard it before. What a great movie it would make!

  3. Catie Rhodes says:

    Great post, girl! I never heard of this until you mentioned it in a comment on my blog. I am so glad you did this post. It is compellingly written.

    As for the crime…what an odd deal. I can’t imagine killing another person who wasn’t trying to hurt me. I have to wonder what ended up becoming of Mack. Surely, he moved far, far away from Texas.

    I am looking at the book online. I just might buy it. LOL

    • Thanks, Catie!

      My mom, dad, and aunt went to Tech, and my mom ran into Mack working at a shoe store in Lubbock. After that, I’m pretty sure he returned to Odessa. I don’t know where he is today….but I bet he’s still there.

  4. Texanne says:

    Looks like the parents are supposed to take the blame for Betty’s misbehavior and possibly her death. I’m sure they got a lot of reaction back in those days. But now we know that depression is primarily a chemical imbalance and that it can be treated with medication. Poor Betty. Poor Odessa. And for sure, poor Mack.

    Still, I wonder if anybody gets through high school without knowing a classmate who kills himself. High school is a brutal trial for most kids–and they’re the lucky ones.

    • I don’t necessarily blame the Williams, parents were definitely more strict back then. I blame society – society made her feel like an outsider, and she’d be perfectly normal today.

      Now that you mention it, I wonder too. A classmate of mine killed himself. Troubled souls…

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Stacy Green says:

    Super post! This is the first I’ve heard of this. Very well written.

    I’m not sure I’d say Mack was insane. I don’t care how many times someone asked, I could never kill them. It’s hard for me to buy, but then again, if he cared for her, who knows. The human psyche is a fascinating thing.

    I’m always in the hunt for a well written true crime book, so thanks for that!

    • Thanks, Stacy! It’s a tragic story all around. I have always heard that Mack’s case was the first “innocent by reason of temporary insanity” in the state of Texas, but I couldn’t find anything to back that up. Now, isn’t that interesting? Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Jess Witkins says:

    Creepy. I’d never heard of this case, what do your mom and aunt think? I don’t know if I believe he was insane. It does show just how much has changed in the way of reporting things like this though. If a student was repeatedly asking people for assistance in killing her, I would think, and hope, it would be reported to a teacher and action would have to be taken. Was she an only child? I’m curious how her siblings would have dealt with the loss of their sister and such protective parents.

    • Here’s another true story for you, Jess – answering your question about what my mom thinks….

      In college, in a town 2 hours north of Odessa, my mom walked into a shoe store. The attendant asked her if he could help – it was Mack. She turned and left the store.

      I’d like to think that someone today would report such a request to the authorities, even if it’s a teacher, but I can’t say that they would with certainty. Kids are just that – kids. There is no predicting what they will do.

  7. Can’t believe I’ve never heard this story, although it took place when I was 2000 miles away in college.

  8. andrewmocete says:

    I agree with Jess. Today Betty’s request would’ve been taken a lot more seriously.

    It’s amazing TWO juries found Mack not guilty. I wonder if it was hard to swallow that a regular guy, not a “real” killer, ended Betty’s life. Because if they did convict him, they’re kind of saying that any of them are capable of murder. Maybe somewhere in their subconscious they didn’t want to believe that.

    • Stacy Green says:

      Not only that, but society lines were more drawn then. It was hard to believe one of the good boys could be capable of such stuff.

      • I think Stacy nailed it – how could one of the football players be guilty of maliciously murdering the girl that was nothing but trouble? Even though she wasn’t by today’s standards. But in ’61? Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Gene Lempp says:

    Wow, Tiffany, what an intense and wonderfully presented story! Nicely done :)

  10. I’m going to buy that book and give it to my crazy sister, who doesn’t let my niece watch TV. Great story though…I had never heard about it.

  11. Pooh says:

    Cool niece. Great read!!
    Pooh

  12. Julie Glover says:

    After reading this and Catie Rhodes’s post about an Austin serial killer, I’m starting to wonder about people in my state. I swear Texas is a wonderful place!

    Fascinating story, Tiffany. This does sound like it would make an excellent movie!

    And, totally off topic, I love Reddy’s painting.

    • Hey, Julie! You know us Texans….we beat to our own drum, don’t we? You never quite know what to expect, but overall we’re a GREAT people! I spent most of our Friday shopping for new fish, but I can’t wait to read Catie’s post about Austin. She has one of my favorite blogs and I can’t wait to read her books! Thank you for stopping by and I hope you visit Reddy’s site! I think I may have linked the photo? Maybe not, but the site is in the caption.

  13. Intriguing story. It’s hard to know what was in Mack’s head. Maybe he sincerely thought he was doing a friend a favor, maybe he just wanted to have a new ‘experience.’ Either way what a tragedy for both teens.

    As it happens there is a local story about a tragic young woman by name of Naomi Wise in Randolph County. My high school actually put on a play about her murder by the river where she was said to have died. It was very well done.

    From the website I found:

    Come all you good people, I’d have you draw near,
    A sorrowful story you quickly shall hear;
    A story I’ll tell you about ‘Omi Wise,
    How she was deluded by Lewis’ lies.

    He promised to marry and use me quite well,
    But conduct contrary I sadly must tell,
    He promised to meet me at Adams’ Springs,
    He promised me marriage and many fine things.

    The wretch then did choke her, as we understand,
    And threw her in the river, below the mill dam.
    Be it murder or treason, Oh! what a great crime
    To murder poor ‘Omi and leave her behind.

    The link to the full story:

    http://allredfamily.com/naomiwise.htm

  14. I read Catie’s post about that Texas serial killer too, Tiffany. What’s with the Texas murders, eh? Makes all of us crazy Californians wonder….hmmm… Really, I found this such a sad tale, and one that brings up ethical questions of murder, suicide, and euthanasia. Did you see the movie Million Dollar Baby? After one reads your post or watches that movie, one has to then ask what would I do in that situation, you know?

    • Hi, Patti! I promise, not all of us Texans are crazy! Well, maybe just a bit….I haven’t seen Million Dollar Baby. I know that Hilary Swank won the Academy Award for her performance; I should check it out. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  15. EllieAnn says:

    Wow. Assisted suicide. What a story! And very well told.

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  17. Creepy story! I’d never heard of that one, how sad. Stories like this always hold morbid curiosity for people. They can also be good inspiration for fictional characters.

  18. Linda says:

    Hi, Tiffany. Today would have been Betty’s 68th birthday. I attended my 40-year high school reunion the weekend most of these folks commented on your post. After a tour of Odessa High School, our tour guide reminded us of the legend of “the ghost of Betty.” I’d learned of “Washed In The Blood” last summer, but only ordered it after the reunion. A very interesting and quick read. I was curious, so I headed to Sunset Memorial Gardens, where Betty was buried…it wasn’t difficult to find her grave. Next to her is a double plot for her parents. Her dad is buried there, but there is no death date for her mother. Last I heard, Mrs. Williams is still living in the house Betty used to sneak out of…as she did the last night of her life.

    • Hi, Linda. It’s always nice to meet a fellow West Texan. I appreciate you sharing what you know about Betty and the Williams family. I’m sure it was interesting to hear what the tour guide had to say about “the ghost of Betty.” Thank you for stopping by and for the blog subscription.

  19. John says:

    I worked at the local TV station in Odessa when Betty Williams died. I didn’t know most of the players as I graduated from OHS in 1958. However, as I recall, the news people at the station rushed to the police station downtown when they got word a murderer had been arrested and was being held. I will never forget when they got back to the station and explained that when they got to the room where prisoners were first charged and there was no one there. They asked about the guy who was arrested and were told he was in the hallway. They rushed through the door and saw only a teenager sitting by himself with no restraints. It was Mack Herring. Mack did sell ladies shoes for years in Lubbock. Eventually he moved back to Odessa and is reportably still there. His judgement of temporary insanity was not the first for someone in Texas. It was the first that a person was judged temporarily insane before being convicted of a crime. He was found temporarily insane at a second trial in Beaumont becase the trial records from the Kermit court had difficulty being transcribed and contained too many errors, thus the second trial.

    • John, thank you for stopping by and sharing your memories and facts about the case. My mom actually walked into the shoe store where Mack worked in Lubbock while attending college, and turned around and left when she saw him. It poses a very interesting question – is one ever really free, even when found not-guilty?

  20. Jyme says:

    I graduated from Odessa High School, class of 1961. In checking into my reunion website, I noted related subjects “Ghost of OHS” and gave it a click. Shocking when I read the Betty Williams/Mack Herring story. I hadn’t thought of that subject in a long time. Although neither of them were my close friends, I certainly knew who they were and heard different things going on.

    And I could never forget the shocked look on faces of some of Mack’s close friends, standing out in OHS hallway, on what I guess was the morning after. I know exactly where that pond is, too. Later my family moved to Kermit, and every time I drove by it–I thought of that!

    From what I heard at the time (don’t know the accuracy), the police told him to show them where she was–and he did. Then they said to go get her body–and he did.

    I’d seen examples of Mack doing for other people anything they wanted him to do. Like the teacher who adjusted window blinds THE WHOLE CLASS PERIOD (along with Mack’s dedicated assistance) because boys in the back of the class taunted her saying the light was still in their eyes! And Mack still decicatedly climbing the ladder and adjusting the blinds!

    Or the time, in an English class, Mack tried to help me write a poem. That was the assignment, but I just didn’t write poetry and told the teacher that when she called on me to read mine. He sat behind me in that class, and he was actually more upset about the repremand I received, than I was. Kept tapping me on the back, saying “just write anything, just write anything”. Even tried to write a little something, and give it to me to read for my poem.

    I always thought “poor Mack, he really wants to help others, but just missing something there in judgement.” And Betty, I knew who she was but we did not know each other or have any direct contact.

    As a Registered Nurse, now, comments or threats like any of Betty’s would (and certainly should) get you at least a 72-hour psychiatric holdover and evaluation. Maybe that came about because of some sad cases like hers.

    Really brought up at lot of memories!!!!!

  21. Jyme says:

    Thanks for the story.

    • Thank you for stopping by and sharing your memories, Jyme!

      • kay Miller says:

        I really do not know how I happened upon this website about Betty Williams, but I did. My sister, Mary and I were just discussing this yesterday. We were both graduates of OHS in ’61 and ’62 and of course knew all about the happenings of this murder. I did notice one person named Jyme who wrote to you and I remember a girl by that name who lived at Goldsmith where alot of us OHS students lived. Also another person who said his father had just attended the 50th reunion at OHS and I did also with my husband. the murder of Betty Williams was discussed and talked about at the reunion. It did bring back memories. Not so good ones of that time. I would hope it the person name of Jyme and lived at Goldsmith would reply back I would like to get in contact with her. We were friends and have not heard from her since high school. All the comments were very interesting and hope to see more….Kay

  22. David says:

    I’m glad I found this post. My father was a classmate of Betty’s, and he just came from his 50th high school reunion last weekend. He told the story of how Odessa High is haunted by Betty’s ghost, and how she was obsessed with death, and perhaps would have been a Goth if she were in high school today.

    He obviously remembered Betty. It was a huge deal for her classmates, but had never talked about it. Very touching. It seems to me she must have been a very passionate and intelligent person. I’m going to try to find the book. Agree that I would see the movie if it were to be made.

  23. Allison says:

    this is awesome i always wondered about Betty’s story you see I currently am attending OHS and Betty is still frequently mentioned any little misshap and kids say “Its Betty” so i am very glad to hear her story thank you very much

  24. Jannifer (Hudgens) Lively says:

    The girl I replaced at TG&Y (the local 5 & 10 in Odessa) was Betty Williams. It was a part-time after-school and weekend job (my first). I don’t remember if she told me why she was quitting, but she spent her last and my first day at work showing me what to do.

    She was bubbly, talkative, and so pretty. I don’t remember her being dressed in any way provocatively but rather in a pastel dress with a full crinoline, which all the girls wore back then. She was so friendly to the customers . . . and it was genuine.

    I also knew Mack. We took ballroom group dance lessons at the same time in Odessa at Montello’s Dance Studio. He was so shy, hardly spoke at all, and stayed off to the side away from everyone as much as possible. . . It was easy to ignore him

    But then . . . after he took Betty’s life, he became the center of attention at OHS. . . students gathered around him, and him with a big grin on his face. It drove me nuts back then and it still does when I think about it.

    Based on the little I knew about each of them from firsthand encounters back then, I feel that Betty would have actually done something with her life had she been allowed to escape that stifling dusty little West Texas town. But Mack . . . not so much.

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  26. ahtwice says:

    The author of the book was a professor of mine in college. Quite chilling to hear him talk about the event. His book is a real good read

  27. Tony s Myers says:

    I worked at the Odessa American newspaper and I have some unique information that I gave to Shelly Williams that was never used about Mack Herring

  28. Jade Martinez says:

    As a former graduate of Odessa High (2009) and an avid ghost hunter, I’ve thoroughly researched this story. It’s one that I’ve heard all my life, and one that has always intrigued me. When I was a sophomore at OHS I had the privilege of attending a small meeting with a guest speaker- Shelly Williams. Our theatre teacher had somehow managed to get him to speak about Betty and the screenplay that was being written at the time. He gave us so much information about the story, Betty herself, and the attempts at getting a movie to come of this tragedy. At this point he told us that Miora Kelly (One Tree Hill) was in line to act as Betty if the movie was filmed. I have not heard anything about the movie since then, so, sadly, I assume it must have fallen though. I hope I am wrong! I’d love to see the story come to life through an accurate movie. By the way, the book is a great read. I’d recommend it for crime buffs and history lovers like myself.

  29. Billy M. Brown says:

    I was in junior high school when this happened, 8th grade to be exact. Mack Herring’s younger brother, Jack was a year below me and Betty’s sister, Patricia was a classmate. I remember it was all very creepy to a junior high kid. I used to see Mack driving around in a Jeep after the incident.
    I later got to know Mack when I was a student at Odessa College around 1966. He was in my P.E. class. I remember feeling a little uncomfortable,but I found him to be very nice and friendly. We played on the same intramural softball team. He was an excellent pitcher and I was the catcher.
    Years later, I found that Mack was still in Odessa working as a self employed electrician. He flew under the radar. He did several jobs for me at my home and also did a lot for my parents. I had long gotten over my creepy feelings. After the book came out, Mack disappeared.
    I know that the events ruined his life. He was very intelligent and friendly and I know he was suffering. I just felt that he could have/would have done more with his life had this not have happened.
    I am not trying to put a spin on this, it was a tragedy, There were no winners and although Mack was not convicted, he bore the consequences. It bankrupted his family, and he never achieved any measure of security or peace of mind.

  30. Puzzled says:

    Mack was old enough to know right from wrong and should have been convicted. Other people have been put to death or are carrying out life sentences for the same thing he did. Money talks.

  31. Thanks for your comments re my book, “Washed in the Blood.” The Bristol edition is out of print and there are two later editions out by Zone Press. It’s available on amazon.com under Shelton L. Williams. I don’t recall getting “unique information, ” but then I did 22 years of research on the book. A movie is still in the works, but these things go oh so slowly. We want a movie to give Betty her chance to be seen on film. Thanks, Tiffany, for writing about the story to begin with.

    Shelly

    PS Betty’s mom moved out of the house on Henderson in 1963 and out of Odessa around 1967.

  32. DENISE says:

    Iam curious to know the adress where Betty and her parents lived? I actualy live on Henderson st. just a curiousity……

  33. mark says:

    Its a good book I read it when I went to school to Odessa high and yes it true Betty does haunt the school its crazy they still have the yr book from when she went there…

  34. Giovannie says:

    It’s so fascinating to read what had actually happened, I am a former ohs student, and we’ve heard so many different stories. Some said she was the “pregnant cheerleader,” and “didn’t want the baby,” others said, she was killed Infront of the FieldHouse, because her boyfriend was sickened by her. Another rumor, was that a janitor took his own life(on ohs school grounds), because he was being taunted by bettys ghost, and she would refuse to leave him alone, And there’s just many other rumored stories…. I guess my mind is at ease, instead of wondering, which story to believe. Thanks, this is great!!!

  35. Tiffany – Thanks for sending me the link to this. I guess it was about a year ago on the Facebook Page – I Remember Odessa When (or something similar) that this story was brought up. I spent 30 years of my life living in Odessa or Houston and actually graduated from OHS in the late 80′s. At the time I had never heard of Betty or Mack but I do remember one time being in the theatre and some really strange stuff happening that sent chills up my spine. Of course it’s an old school and strange things were always happening but I can’t remember anyone every mentioning a ghost there, but then again it was a few years ago. :)

    Wonderful post though, thanks for sharing.

  36. Fascinating story, Tiffany. I’d never heard it before. I don’t think Mack would have gotten away with the insanity defense today. It’s so sad that two young lives were ruined like that.

    • I don’t really think he would have either, Rhonda. But who knows? He was a football player in Odessa, Texas…

      The story is very sad. If you’re looking for a good true-crime read, I highly suggest picking up a copy of Washed in Blood. The author is not only Betty’s cousin, but a GREAT guy. :)

  37. Flo,PAPA says:

    Betty and I were in same grade and in PE together.Now when I look back on her darkness, gloomy, depressed state I understand she was depressed.She constantly talked about death,wrote poems about death,did drawings about death, witchcraft, etc.it went and was a obessession with her.She was one of those people if you spent 5 minutes with her you would be down in the dump. The play was “Death Takes a Holiday” which since has been banned in any Texas School, both were in the play. Enid Woodward was the speech teacher that was doing the play, she ws the ex-wife to the man that played Wyatt Erap Series. This was her first year at out high school and she got the blame for a lot because of the play.Betty did come from strict Christian Home which most of us back then were all reaised that way.She did a lot of slipping out her window at night with different guys and Mac was one of them.Knowing her she was problem going to start telling that they were messing around which would have destroyed him with the “guy thing” and both of their reputation wise, if not a lot of other things as far as that stuff went back in the 50s. Our school was in total slience for weeks after that happened,many things were cancelled at the school due to this.The student were sad and no one was there to help us deal with the emotions attached. Several items stated above are not totally correct and the same in the book. Mac has lived and retired in Odessa for years,married, had a family,but his life has always been very guarded.It has been beyond my mind set as to why she was able to twist his mind to do something like that and none of us will ever know.The Attorney is the one that became famous due to this case, made a lot of money being a lawyer after this trial.All people connected to this case have suffered years of pain and suffering. No one talks about the young man in our classes that was in the same category as Roy Orbinson who OD sniffing glue from bottles, spent many trips to Rusk Hospital,unbeilavable talent,handsome, people loved him, this also happened during this same time frame when he died.People at that time did not know how to deal with his addiction problem but he was brought up in the Christian, Strict Household like the majority of us, how did this happen to him and no one saw the warning signs of his pending death.Roy Orbinson married our 9th grade classmate, Cauldette when he was out of school, already well known in the music world,her parents would not allow her to date an older man so she saw him on the sly and they ran off getting married when she was not quite 15…so I guess you can say the kids out of the 50s were wild, wooly, daring, and determined to do what they wanted to do no matter who the parents were, who the teachers were, or who all it involved…this is called life and life comes with a lot of saddness many times.BUT, we can take our experiences and learn from them and these experiencese enrich our lives to be better.

  38. Dr. Ron (Ronny) Meek says:

    I was a junior at Permian High School when this happened and I remember it well. After I returned from 4 years in the US Air orce I attended Odessa College at night. I sat right behind Mack in class. He was quiet, polite, friendly, well groomed, nice looking, and certainly did not fit the image I had of him in my mind. His father and my father both owned electrical and refrigeration companies that did work together and they were friends. I remeber my faterh being totally shocked when it happened, and Mark’s father told him he spent his entire life savings pay his son’ slegal expenses. I left Odessa , and earned A doctorate Degree i 1975 from East Texas State University. I have never heard of Mack since. After 50 years the story is still imprinted on my mind. It was strange to say the least! Dr. Ron (Ronny) Meek

  39. C. L.MilBURN JR. says:

    I WAS A NEIGHBOR’ OF MAC’S(HE LIVED BEHIND US)I WAS 7 AND MAC WAS 6 WHEN WE MET.WE BECAME FAIRLY CLOSE FRIENDS.ONE DAY HE TOLD ME WHEN HE GOT OLDER HE WAS GOING TO COMMItT THE “PERFECT MURDER”.I THOUGHT HE WAS KIDING.HE REPEATED THIS SEVERAL TIMES!!!MY FAMILY MOVEd 4 BLOCKS AWAY WHEN I WAS 9.I’D STILL SEE MAC AT SCHOOL AND AROUND THE NEIGHBORHOOD.WHEN I WAS 11 WE MOVED TO MIDLAND 20 MILES EAST.FROM TIME TO TIME I’D GO OVER TO MIDLAND AND SEE FRIENDS.THE LAST TIME I SAW MAC WAS AT A PARTY IN ODESSA A WEEK BEFORE HE KILLED HER.HE DIDN’T SAY A WORD ABOUT HIS PLANS TO MURDER THIS POOR GIRL.SHE WAS A YEAR OLDER THAN MAC.I HEARD LATER HE WAS FOUND INNOCENT.MY DAD WAS AN ATTORNEY AND I KNEW BURNETT WAS THE BEST LAWYER IN THE STATE!!SOME FRIENDS IN ODESSA TOLD ME LATER MAC WAS TREATED LIKE A CELEBRITY AT ODESSA HIGH.I TALKED TO MY DAD ABOUT SAYING SOMETHING TO THE ODESSA POLICE BUT HE SAID IT WOULD BE HEARSAY ESPECIALLY KNOWING OF DESPICABLE PLANS AT 7 YEARS OLD!!ALL THIS TIME I THOUGHT MAC WAS PROBABLY A “SERIAL” KILLER.HE WAS HIGHLY INTELLIGENT AND A GOOD ATHLETE.THIS IS VERY SURREAL.

    • Jonnie says:

      I think the child’s memory is questionable. There are many facts not revealed on this website, nor should they be. Mac and his wonderfully close family suffered immeasurably, though not even close to the pain of the Williams. It’s in the distant past now and I hope it will rest in peace. One last comment: In all the time I and my husband spent time with the Herrings, we never heard of anything about blackmailing of guys Betty snuck out to meet. Stow that trash and let it go. This is a poor stage on which to grab a bit of spotlight.

  40. Shelly says:

    Guys, there is a great of misinformation and there are many false memories about the Betty and Mack story. I agree that we can put most of it behind us and I concur that Mack is a victim of sorts of the incident as well. I hope there is a movie about Betty to honor her aspirations as an actor, but I most hope that the story points young people NOT to make rash decisions or keep negative feelings to themselves. Thank goodness, we have counselors in schools today; I have been told that many of them see “a Betty” just about every day.

    Shelly

  41. I remember that. I graduated from Kermit in 1961. If I remember right this story was also published in a crime magazine, I think it was True Detective. I was in the Navy at the time of the publication and I remember the story. Had pictures of the pond and an interview with Bill Eddings, Winkler county sheriff.

  42. Tony Ray Schoonover says:

    Tony Schoonover
    I graduated from Odessa High School…class of 1962. I didn’t know Mack that well until he later enrolled at Texas Tech (Lubbock). I graduated in 1967. I lived at Tech Village (married students) located near the campus. Mack and his wife lived in a ground-floor unit and my wife and I lived nearby in a second-floor unit. Being that we knew one another from Odessa, we occasionally would exchange small talk.

  43. permian.grad.07 says:

    This book is an awesome read! It’s really unsettling that he was declared innocent due to “temporary insanity” and his supporters try to paint this picture of a horrble girl. Poor Betty was the real victim, whether he was a nice guy or not. But, hey, what do you expect? It’s Odessa. Where football and socioenomic status reign supreme. Anyway, I think a movie about this story would be far more interesting than the famous “Friday Night Lights”. I’m sure Betty would have loved to make it to the big screen.

  44. Patrick says:

    I’m Betty’s nephew and have some updates. Betty’s mother has been interred as of last summer in the plot next to her husband and daughter.

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