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KOSA-TV - Johnny Meadows Arrest (1971)

University of Texas of the Permian Basin

Sound | 1971

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    This compilation of news footage documents the story of the search for and arrest of Texas serial killer Johnny Meadows. Scenes of Sheriff Slim Gabrel and his team searching for the bodies of Meadows’ victims, Meadows being held in New Mexico’s San Juan County, and Meadows arriving in Odessa under arrest are included.
    Between the years of 1968 and 1971, a series of female “lust murders” shook Odessa, Texas and surrounding towns. The murder spree began in October 1968 with Linda Cougat, an Odessa bartender that disappeared from a laundromat. Her body was found two months later in a field in Northwest Odessa with her nylon stockings used to strangle her and bind her hands. Victims Dorothy Smith, Eula Miller, and Nancy Mitchell followed from 1968-1970, killed in or abducted from their homes in Monahans, Odessa, and Kermit. Dorothy Smith and Eula Miller’s bodies were found in their apartments, with hands bound, but Nancy Mitchell's remains were not found until 1971, when she was discovered on an oil lease south of Odessa. In 1971, Ruth Maynard, the wife of an Odessa policeman went missing. Her body was found near the site where Cougat’s body was found years earlier. When Gloria Sue Nix Green disappeared from her office in Kermit, where she worked as a secretary, police stepped up the search for the man they now knew was a serial killer. 
    In 1971, Texan Johnny Meadows was arrested in Aztec, New Mexico, on unrelated charges and began bragging about murders he committed in Odessa. Ector County Sheriff A.M. “Slim” Gabrel was contacted and flew to New Mexico to interrogate Meadows. After Gabrel paid Meadows’ wife $2,000 out of pocket, Meadows gave directions to a location in Odessa where Green’s body could be found. The sheriff’s office followed the directions to a vacant lot where Green’s remains were discovered under a rotting mattress. Meadows pled guilty to the murder of Gloria Sue Nix Green in 1972 and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. Although he also signed confessions for the murders of Cougat, Smith, and Maynard, the charges filed against Meadows in those cases were dismissed in the summer of 1973 after he claimed coercion. Because he was never convicted for those murders and they technically remain open cases, the list of Meadows’ victims remains a controversy. The list of his victims thus remains uncertain. Meadows was paroled to Houston in 1990 after 18 years in prison. A little over two years later, he was sent back to prison for sexual assault. Meadows died at the Polunsky Unit in Livingston in 2000.