The Bookmaker’s Wife

She was a beautiful woman. He was a millionaire many times over. Some of their neighbors in Houston’s exclusive River Oaks knew about his secret life. Almost no one knew about hers—until she was murdered.

AS ALWAYS, SHE LOOKED SO STUNNING THAT APRIL EVENING when she dropped off her twin daughters for their softball game. River Oaks, the most affluent area in Houston, is full of handsome women, but something about the 46-year-old Doris Angleton made people look at her twice. Slender, manicured, and athletic, with flawless skin and slightly highlighted auburn hair that fell to her shoulders, she was regularly hired by a River Oaks—area image consultant to be her model of the “ideal body type” at local fashion seminars. When she stood outside her Suburban in the carpool line at Annunciation Orthodox, her daughters’ elite private school, she’d wave at all the other mothers, seemingly incapable of radiating anything other than affection. “You would start smiling the moment you saw her,” says Mary Hill, who took step aerobics classes with Doris nearly every morning at Body Rock, one of the most popular aerobics clubs in Houston. “It was amazing how many people considered Doris one of their best friends. It wasn’t only that she loved to laugh. She always took the time to talk to you about any problem you were having.”

Doris’ husband, Bob, was already at the ballpark when she and the twelve-year-olds arrived. He was the coach of the girls’ team, the Scream, and he seemed to take his job seriously, clapping his hands briskly and barking orders. A good-looking, slightly burly man with olive-colored skin and eyes that were liquid brown, Angleton was a millionaire many times over. He had purchased a $650,000 Tudor-style house—paid for, it was rumored, in cash—just two blocks from the home where much of Terms of Endearment was filmed. The Angletons belonged to the Briar Club, an exclusive tennis and swim club that had become a haven for many River Oaks residents; at Houston Astros games the family sat in the Diamond Box, just behind the Astros’ on-deck circle.

Compared with the spirited Doris, the 48-year-old Angleton was not particularly friendly. He had no patience for small talk, he didn’t display a great sense of humor, and whenever someone asked what he did for a living, he was evasive, saying that he invested in real estate or that he ran a Houston courier service. Though some of the softball moms and dads were curious as to just what Doris saw in him, they had to admit that Angleton made sure his family got the best in life. “Doris had to stop telling Bob that she liked the jewelry she saw on other women because whenever she did, he would immediately go out and find the same jewelry for her,” says one of the Angletons’ friends, Tommy Hughes. When his daughters got interested in softball, Angleton not only became coach of their team but also bought them the best softball equipment he could find. In fact, when he saw Doris that night thirty minutes before game time, Angleton told her that one of the girl’s softball bats was still at the house. According to what Bob later told the police, Doris told him she was already headed that way to change clothes. Doris smiled, waved, and drove off.

Two hours later, the police found her body. She was sprawled just inside her house by the kitchen door, seven bullets in her head and five in her chest.

THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT, THE ANGLETONS’ neighbors stood on their scrupulously tended lawns, watching as the police wrapped yellow crime-scene tape around the white crepe myrtles that surrounded the Angleton house. Their faces pale in the glare of the camera lights, they gave the obligatory interviews to the television crews about the Angletons’ being such nice people. They said they couldn’t imagine this brutal crime happening in their snug world.

But a few of those neighbors weren’t telling everything they knew. For years they had been hearing a rumor about Bob Angleton, and they were wondering just what that rumor might have to do with his wife’s death. Bob Angleton, it seemed, was no ordinary Houston millionaire: He was the most successful bookmaker in Houston, handling what one police source would later tell the Houston Chronicle was between $20 million and $40 million of sports bets every year. For the nearly fifteen years of their marriage, Angleton and his wife had kept his occupation a secret, telling only their closest friends. He kept a secret office in the back of the house where he lorded over his empire. He kept secret apartments throughout the Galleria area, where his phone clerks recorded the bets called in by his gamblers. To protect himself and his carriage trade clientele, some of whom were Houston’s richest and most prominent citizens, Angleton had even developed a secret relationship with members of the Houston Police Department’s vice squad.

For weeks stories raced through River Oaks that the killing was either the work of a vengeful rival bookie or the desperate act of a despondent gambler whom Angleton had been pressuring to pay up. It was said that Houston’s Asian American mobsters, who wanted to expand their own bookmaking business, were after him. Or perhaps it was the Mafia. There was a story that Bob’s older brother, Roger, a somewhat reckless real estate salesman living in California, had been trying to extort money from Bob. Shortly before Doris’ death, Roger supposedly had written Bob a letter demanding $200,000 and threatening “I will hurt you in a way that will be with you for the rest of your life” if he didn’t pay up. One woman on the Angletons’ block was so terrified by the various rumors that she hired an off-duty Houston police officer for $25 an hour to spend the night at her home for a week in case the killer, or killers, returned to get Angleton himself.

What almost no one knew was that Doris’ slaying may have had something to do with another secret life: her own. The year before her death, during the day when no one was at home or at night when everyone was

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