Charles Joseph Whitman became infamous as the Texas Tower Sniper on August 1, 1966. Whitman murdered his mother and his wife before going to the tower at the University of Texas at Austin and began indiscriminately shooting at people. He fatally shot three people inside the main building before accessing the 28th-floor observation deck on the building’s clock tower. There, he fired at random at the people below him for 96 minutes before he was fatally shot by Austin police officers. Charles Whitman killed a total of sixteen people and wounded 31 others.
The Victims of Charles Whitman
Margaret Elizabeth (Hodges) Whitman was born in Savannah, GA on October 22, 1922. She married Charles Adolphus Whitman, Jr., and the couple had their first child, a son named Charles Joseph, on June 24, 1941 in Lake Worth, FL. Two more sons followed: Patrick, born April 19, 1945, and John Michael, born January 18, 1949. In March of 1966, Margaret decided to leave her husband of twenty-five years and move to Austin, Texas to be near Charles and his wife Kathy. Just after midnight on August 1, Charles Whitman, drove to his mother’s apartment on Guadalupe Street. Once there, Charles struck his mother in the head, shot her and then fatally stabbed her in the chest repeatedly. After murdering his mother, he placed her body on her bed and covered it with sheets. He left a handwritten note beside her which read in part: To Whom It May Concern: I have just taken my mother’s life. I am very upset over having done it. However, I feel that if there is a heaven she is definitely there now. I am truly sorry. Let there be no doubt in your mind that I loved this woman with all my heart. Margaret Whitman would become the first of the victims of Charles Whitman on that fateful day in August 1966.
Kathleen Frances (Leissner) Whitman was born July 12, 1943 in Freeport, Texas. At the University of Texas at Austin, Kathy studied science in the College of Education with the intent of becoming a teacher. She met Charles Joseph Whitman through mutual friends at UT. They married on August 17, 1964. After graduating from UT in 1965, she began teaching biology at Sidney Lanier High School in north Austin. In the early morning hours of August 1, 1966, after returning home from murdering his own mother, Charles Whitman turned his hunting knife on his own wife, stabbing her in the chest while she slept. After killing her, he covered her body with a sheet, making Kathy Whitman the second victim of a rage that could no longer be suppressed.
Edna Elnora Rose Townsley
Edna Elnora Rose Townsley was the receptionist on duty on the 28th floor Observation Deck of the UT Tower when Charles Whitman came to campus on August 1, 1966. She normally would have had the day off but was covering for a friend. As Whitman ascended the tower, Edna was minutes away from ending her shift. She would never exit the building. Charles Whitman entered her reception area and, without hesitation, knocked her unconscious with the butt of his rifle. He then drug her body behind a couch to conceal her. Whitman then barricaded the stairway. 51 year old Edna Townsley would die later that day from her injuries.
Mark Gabour / Marguerite Gabour Lamport
On August 1, 1966, Marguerite Lamport’s brother, M.J. Gabour, was in Austin, Texas with his family. He and his wife, Mary, and their two sons, Mike and Mark, were on their way to Houston for a high school all-star football game later in the week and stopped off for a quick visit. 45-year-old Marguerite and her husband, William, eagerly ushered the Gabour’s on a site seeing tour around Austin, beginning with a trip to the observation deck of the University of Texas tower. About 11:45 am, the group approached the top of the tower. As they climbed the stairs from the 27th floor to the 28th, 19 year old Michael Gabour noticed a desk that had been pulled across a doorway at the top of the stairs. Mike and 16 year old Mark decided to squeeze past the desk and see if they could access the deck. A momentarily startled Charles Whitman saw them and immediately fired at them with a sawed-off shotgun. Mike was hit in the shoulder and fell to the deck, unconscious. Mark was struck in the head and killed immediately. Whitman fired several blasts down the stairs, hitting Marguerite in the chest, killing her instantly. Mary was seriously wounded. M.J. and William had lagged behind the group and escaped without being hit. Mike and his mother, Mary, played dead until they were discovered by the police and evacuated.
Thomas Frederick Eckman / Baby Boy Wilson
Thomas Eckman was born in Columbus, Ohio, October 2, 1947. In 1966 he was attending the summer school program at UT, planning to continue in the fall. Since his arrival in Austin, Eckman had met Claire Wilson, who was six months pregnant at the time and they began living together in June of 1966. On August 1, 1966, around 11:47 am, Claire and Thomas, after attended a meeting at the Texas Union, began walking across the plaza in front of the tower. Charles Whitman shot Claire in her abdomen, killing her unborn baby at once and seriously wounding her. Thomas Eckman quickly moved to shield Claire, only to be shot in the chest. He fell to the ground, where he lay for hours. He passed away later that same day at the hospital.
Dr. Robert Hamilton Boyer
Robert Hamilton, a native of Pennsylvania, was 33 years old in 1966. He was a mathematician who was at the UT campus to conclude some personal business before making his way to England, where a teaching job at the University of Liverpool was awaiting him, along with his pregnant wife, his two young children and other family members. He had been in town less than 24 hours and was walking to the Main Building around 11:30 am when he was suddenly struck by a bullet in his lower back. He fell to the ground. He was pronounced dead at 12:12 pm.
Devereau Huffman was the next to fall, seconds after Robert Boyer hit the ground. Like Robert, Devereau was walking beneath the UT tower where Charles Whitman had taken up post and was indiscriminately shooting into the area below. Huffman was a PhD student in Psychology specializing in business administration who also taught classes at the University. He was shot in the right arm at about 11:50 AM, and fell to the ground among the nearby shrubberies. He lost two pints of blood, suffered a broken arm and was listed in a serious condition. He recovered from his injuries and later managed an Austin high-tech company.
Brenda and Adrian Littlefield
Brenda Littlefield, 18, and Adrian Littlefield, 19, had only been married for nine days on August 1, 1966. The newlyweds walked out of the Main Building and onto the south mall when they were suddenly met with gunfire. Brenda was shot first, the bullet hitting her in the hip. As Adrian leaned over her, he was shot in the back. Both would, in time, recover from their wounds.
21 year-old Nancy Harvey was pregnant in August of 1966. On the first of August, she and Ellen Evganides were going out for lunch. They started walking on the West Mall, about a hundred yards away from the tower. Nancy was suddenly shot in the hip. The women managed to get to safety between the Academic Center and the Student Union. Nancy recovered her wounds and the child was unharmed.
Ellen Evganides was a young UT employee who worked in the Main Building. Ellen was wounded in the left leg and thigh by the ricochet of the shot in Nancy Harvey’s thigh.
17 year old Karen Griffith would be the next to fall. She was a student at Lanier High School and was walking down Guadalupe and 23rd Street on August 1,1966. Charles Whitman had suddenly shifted his attentions and now set his crosshairs on Karen. Karen took the snipers bullet in her chest, piercing her right lung. She died from that wound on August 8, 1966 at Brackenridge Hospital. Ironically, Karen attended the very high school where Charles Whitman’s mother, Kathy Whitman, who he had murdered the day before, taught biology.
Thomas Ray Karr
Thomas Karr was born in Spur, Texas on July 29, 1942 and grew up in Fort Worth. In 1966, 24 year old Tom Karr was an Honor student at Arlington State College, but his hope was to work for the U.S. State Department so he decided to earn some extra credits by going to summer school at the University of Texas. On August 1, 1966, Tom was leaving campus after a Spanish test and set himself to walking on the west side of Guadalupe, heading towards Batts Hall, where he was living at the time. Karr was just a few feet north of where Karen Griffith was shot, right in front of him. Charles Whitman shot Karr as he rushed toward Karen, who had crashed to the ground. The bullet pierced through his spine, sending him straight to the sidewalk. He would lay for an hour before being rescued. He died on the operating table at 1:10 p.m..
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The Texas Tower Sniper
The Texas Tower Sniper: The Terrifying True Story of Charles Whitman, a young man who struggled to control his inner thoughts and temper. His life had started to unravel and he needed to put an end to his trajectory. He wasn’t going to slide into mediocrity. He wouldn’t go silently into suicide and oblivion. The world needed to know his name and what he was truly capable of, for the rest of time.
The Texas Tower Sniper is a chilling account of one of the largest campus shootings in American history. Ryan Green’s riveting narrative draws the reader into the real-live horror experienced by the victims and has all the elements of a classic thriller. (Amazon)
Billy Snowden, 35 and the head basketball coach at the Texas School for the Deaf in August of 1966, was getting a hair cut at his barber on Guadalupe street when they suddenly heard gun fire. Stepping into the door way of the building to see what they could see, Billy was suddenly struck in the shoulder by a bullet spent from the high powered rifle in the hands of a sniper some 500 yards away. Billy was the furthest victim away from Charles Whitman in the tower who was firing indiscriminately at anyone who fell inside his crosshairs. Billy recovered his wounds and took his team on to become national champions in 1968 and 1969.
Sandra Wilson, 21, was a UT student who was hurrying down Guadalupe to meet a friend for lunch, when she was shot in the chest. Sandra survived her wound.
Tom Herman / Roland Ehlke / David Mattson
Tom Herman was walking with Roland Ehlke and David Mattson to a lunch for Peace Corps volunteers when Charles Whitman locked onto them. Mattson was hit first, the bullet ripping away part of his wrist. Ehlke was struck in the arm by shrapnel and then in the leg by a bullet when he left cover to help Mattson to safety. Homer J. Kelley, a nearby shop owner, was shot in the leg while helping Mattson, Ehlke, and Herman into the safety of his store. All recovered their wounds.
Claudia Marilyn Rutt / Paul Bolton Sonntag
Carla Sue Wheeler
At 18, Claudia Rutt had just graduated from Stephen F. Austin High School and was about to leave for her freshman year at Texas Christian University. Her boyfriend, Paul Sonntag had also graduated from Stephen F. Austin High. Paul, at 18, had been accepted to the University of Colorado. On August 1, 1966, Paul was out with his fiancée, Claudia, and their friend Carla Sue Wheeler. They were headed to pick up Paul’s paycheck and get Claudia a polio vaccine, when the sound of gunfire suddenly filled the air. The three hurried to take cover behind construction barriers in front of a dress shop. At one point Paul stood up shouting at his companions. “Carla! Come look, I can see him. This is for real!” The sniper fired, shooting Paul in the mouth. Claudia, despite Carla’s efforts to stop her, raced to kneel beside her boyfriend. It was then Charles Whitman fired again. He shot both women at once. The bullet went through Carla’s hand and struck Claudia in the chest. Carla survived, but Claudia did not. Her internal bleeding was too severe and she died on the operating table that same afternoon.
Oscar Royvela / Irma Garcia
In August of 1966, Oscar Royvela was a 21 year old engineering student at the University of Texas at Austin from La Paz, Bolivia. He and his girlfriend, Irma Garcia, were both shot by the sniper’s fire near Hogg Auditorium. Students Jack Stephens and Jack Pennington dragged them both quickly to safety.
Avelino Esparza was a 26 year old carpenter who had been working at a nearby construction site. While walking back to work, Avelino was shot in the left arm near the shoulder, shattering the bone in his upper arm. His brother and uncle, risking being shot themselves, quickly moved to drag Avelino to safety and whisked him off to the hospital in serious condition. He survived his wound.
Harry Walchuk was born on February 3, 1928 in Minnesota, where he lived most of his life. He met Marilyn Mason there and married her in 1951. Together they had six children. Walchuk had received a bachelor’s degree from UT Austin in 1954 and, in 1966, he returned to UT to complete a PhD. On August 1, Harry had been doing research at the UT Library. Around 12:00, he left the library to get something to eat and headed down Guadalupe Street. On his way, he stopped at a magazine shop. As he exited the store, he walked straight into the crosshairs of the sniper in the tower. As he started south toward the barber shop, he suddenly took a bullet to the chest and crumbled to the ground. He died instantly.
Claire Wilson James
Claire Wilson was an 18 year old freshman at UT. She was also pregnant. Claire took the first bullet the sniper in tower fired from the observation deck on August 1, 1966. It hit her in the abdomen. She instantly crumbled to the ground. The love of her life, Thomas Eckman, hurried toward her, but took a bullet in the chest before he could do anything more. He went instantly to the ground. After being shot, Claire lay on the scorching pavement, rapidly losing blood, the man she loved laying dead in front of her. Rita Star Pattern, a complete stranger to the terrified girl on the ground, scrambled over and lay down next to her, holding her and giving her courage. Two young men, James Love and John Fox, eventually braved the situation and were able to rescue the women. Claire was rushed to the hospital. Her baby was delivered but her little boy had died in utero. Claire’s would spend 3 months in the hospital recovering her wounds.
Robert Heard, age 36, was an Associated Press reporter on campus during the shooting. Heard was shot in the arm.
F.L. Foster / Robert Frede
F.L. Foster and Robert Frede were wounded in the crossfire between Whitman and those shooting from the ground.
30 year old Morris Hohman was a funeral director and was called to the campus on the day of the shooting to use his funeral home ambulance to pick up shooting victims. He was shot in his right thigh at the corner of 23rd and Guadalupe Street, after dropping victim Dr. Boyer at the Brackenridge hospital and returning to the scene to collect another. Taking cover under a nearby car after being shot, Hohmann lay waiting to be rescued himself for nearly 45 minutes. Unable to fashion a tourniquet while waiting, Morris lost a lot of blood and required 8 pints of blood at the hospital in order to save his life.
Delores Ortega, 30, was a student at UT when she was wounded in the Texas Tower Massacre. She suffered a deep cut on the back of her head either from flying glass or from a bullet grazing her head.
C.A. Stewart was not shot, but was injured in the commotion.
Della Martinez / Marina Martinez
Della and Marina Martinez, visiting from Monterrey, Mexico, were both wounded by bullet fragments.
Abdul Khashab / Janet Paulos
Abdul Khashab, an exchange student from Iraq, and his fiancée, Janet Paulos, were walking near the corner of Guadalupe and 24th Street on August 1,1966. The couple was less than a month from their wedding and life could not have been better. Suddenly both Abdul and Janet were shot as they walked in front of the dress shop. Due to injuries sustained to her left shoulder and four fractured ribs, Janet spent 10 days in the hospital but both would recover from their wounds. The wedding was postponed but it took place a week after it was originally planned.
John Scott Allen
John Scott Allen was an 18-year-old Pharmacy student when he was shot by the man in the tower. John had taken shelter in the Student Union and was looking up through a window at the sniper. Charles Whitman shot a bullet through the edge of a window, shattering glass. Seconds later he sent a bullet through Allen’s right forearm, severing an artery. John recovered his wound.
Aleck Hernandez, age 17, was shot in the leg around 11:45 am while delivering newspapers on his bicycle near the West Mall entrance.
Roy Dell Henry Schmidt
Roy Schmidt was 29 years old and working as an electrician for the City of Austin when he and Solon McCown drove onto campus on a service call. They parked near the Littlefield Fountain and saw the police barricades. They were about 500 yards away from the tower. Roy had just finished making a phone call when a bystander announced the gunfire. Roy was running towards his truck with a co-worker when he was shot in the stomach. He was killed immediately.
Billy Paul Speed
Austin police officer Billy Paul Speed was killed in the line of duty responding to shots fired from the UT Tower on August 1, 1966. On a traffic stop at the corner of 21st and Guadalupe Streets, Billy was one of the first APD officers to arrive at the university after reports of shots fired hit the radios. Heading toward the tower, Billy made his way to the north steps leading up to the main tower mall. Positioned next to the former site of the Jefferson Davis statue, Speed was beside fellow officer Jerry Culp. Speed was shot at 12:08 pm, as a bullet made its way between two decorative balusters that separated the upper and lower terraces of the South Mall. Billy was taken to Brackenridge Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival at 12:39. Officially commissioned on July 2, 1965, Officer Billy Paul Speed had only been with the APD for 13 months when he was shot and killed by the sniper in the tower.
Lana Phillips, a 21-year-old Music major, was shot in the shoulder outside Rae Ann’s Dress Shop, a clothing store on Guadalupe Street where she was working in August of 1966. She recovered her wound and went on to create the Austin Children’s Repertoire Company in 1985. She died of pancreatic cancer in 2009.
Thomas Aquinas Ashton
Thomas Ashton was born in San Francisco on June 1, 1944 and grew up in Redlands, California. He graduated Cum Laude from the University of Southern California in June 1965 with a degree in Political Science. Ashton decided to join the Peace Corps. The 22-year-old was at UT Austin in the summer of 1966 to study Persian. The Peace Corps assigned him to Iran as an English instructor and he was scheduled to leave Austin Texas for Iran on September 14, 1966. On August 1st, near noon, Ashton was walking toward the Student Union, where he planned to meet up with friends. As he headed toward the Student Union, across the paved terrace above the University’s Computation Center, he began to see people falling to the ground. Before understanding the situation, he was shot in the chest by Charles Whitman. Ashton was pronounced dead at 1:35 pm at Brackenridge Hospital.
David Hubert Gunby
David Gunby was born on April 14, 1943. In 1966, David Gunby was enrolled in summer school at UT Austin. On August 1, David, 23 years old, had spent his morning at the library. He had left the library a little before 11:50, but realized he had forgotten a book and turned back to retrieve it. At 11:55 am., David was walking beneath the UT Tower when a snipers bullet made contact with his upper left arm and entered his abdominal cavity, badly severing his small intestine. He crashed to the sidewalk where he lay in full view of Charles Whitman, the sniper in the tower, for almost an hour. Around 12:30 David Gunby was finally rescued and taken to the Brackenridge Hospital. During surgery doctors realized that David only had one functioning kidney and it was now severely damaged. He would survive the initial gunshot but would spend the rest of his life suffering from its effects. When David died in November of 2001, his death was considered a homicide.
source: nationalenquirer | behindthetower | wickedwe | findagrave | murderpedia
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