Free to Kill

Kenneth McDuff is one of the most sadistic, vicious murderers Texas has ever produced. Why did the state parole board put him back on the streets?

seemed to enjoy having a witness to his debauchery.

One such unfortunate companion was Roy Dale Green, who lived with his mother in Marlin and worked for Kenneth’s dad. Green was two years younger than Kenneth and was mesmerized by McDuff’s tales—and sometimes exhibitions—of sadistic sex: One of McDuff’s more brutal amusements, which he demonstrated once in a bedroom of Green’s mother’s home, was pinning a girl to the floor and squirting a tube of Deep Heat into her vagina. Kenneth bragged that he had raped and strangled several women in his time. “Killing a woman’s like killing a chicken,” he told Green. “They both squawk.” Green wasn’t certain that he believed McDuff—until the evening of August 6, 1966.

It was a Saturday and McDuff was aching to prowl. He and Green had worked that morning pouring concrete at a construction site in Temple, and after work they cleaned up and headed for Fort Worth in the new Dodge Charger that McDuff’s mother had given him when he got out of prison. Green, who was eighteen at the time, had never been to Fort Worth, but McDuff had worked there a few years earlier and said he knew some girls. They cruised the small town of Everman, just south of Fort Worth, drinking beer and visiting with friends, including a girl that Kenneth knew from church. Later that evening, after they had taken the girl home, Kenneth found what he was looking for—a pretty teenage girl in a red-and-white-striped blouse and cutoff jeans—a total stranger, standing near a baseball field talking to two boys in a 1955 Ford. Purely by chance, McDuff selected his three victims—sixteen-year-old Edna Sullivan, her boyfriend, seventeen-year-old Robert Brand, and Robert’s cousin, fifteen-year-old Mark Dunnam, who was visiting from California. Roy Dale Green watched with fascination as McDuff took a .38 pistol from under his car seat and walked over to the three young people. First, McDuff demanded that the boys hand over their billfolds, then he forced all three into the trunk of the car and locked them in. “They got a good look at my face,” he told Green. “I’ll have to kill them.”

McDuff drove the Ford, with the teenagers in the trunk, down dark and narrow country roads, and Green followed in McDuff’s Dodge, still not convinced that McDuff intended to harm his hostages. Presently, McDuff turned into a field and stopped. He opened the trunk and said, “I want the young lady out,” pulling her by the arm. He instructed Green to lock her in the trunk of the Dodge, which Green did. Still in the trunk of the Ford, the two boys were on their knees, begging for their lives, when McDuff brought the gun up to chest level and shot them both in the face. He shot Brand twice and Dunnam three times, then lifted Dunnam by the hair and shot him again. Green saw the fire from the gun and covered his ears, looking away from the horror but not before seeing the look on McDuff’s face, an expression of inner peace that seemed to say, How do you like it so far, Roy Dale? For some reason the trunk wouldn’t shut, so McDuff backed the Ford, with the trunk open, against a fence, then McDuff and Green drove away in the Dodge, the terrified Edna Sullivan still a prisoner in the Dodge’s trunk.

With McDuff driving, they headed south, crossing the Johnson County line, eventually stopping along a dirt road about eleven miles from where they had left the Ford with the boys’ bodies. McDuff took Edna Sullivan from the trunk, made her undress, then threw her in the back seat and began raping her. He raped her two times, made Green rape her, then he raped her again. In all this time, Green heard the girl say just one thing: “I think you ripped something,” she cried out as McDuff brutalized her for the third time. His sexual appetite momentarily in check, McDuff drove them to another location, down a gravel road. Stopping, he took the girl to the front of the car and told her to sit down on the road. Green wasn’t sure what McDuff had in mind. Then he saw McDuff force the girl’s head to the ground and begin choking her with a section of broomstick. “He mashed down hard,” Green told lawmen. “She started waving her arms and kicking her legs, and he told me, ‘Grab her legs.’” While Green held Edna Sullivan’s legs, Kenneth McDuff crushed the life out of her. Then they threw her body over the fence and headed home, stopping along the way to bury the boys’ billfolds and discard their own bloody underwear.

Roy Dale Green never fully recovered from the horror of that night. The next afternoon, while he was taking a Sunday ride with friends, news of the killings came over the radio and suddenly Green was blurting out the whole story. “My God, I’ve got to tell somebody!” he cried. He became the prosecution’s star witness in the case against Kenneth McDuff, served five years for his part in the crimes, and returned to Marlin, where he lives to this day. “He stays out at the old family home and spends most of the day in his sister’s beer joint, the Town Door,” says Sheriff Larry Pamplin, who has known Green all his life. “To say he’s messed up is a real understatement.”

Vowing Kenneth’s innocence, Addie McDuff hired a lawyer from Waco and sat in the courtroom with her daughters throughout the trial. McDuff denied any knowledge of the killings, of course, suggesting that Roy Dale Green was probably responsible and, in an aside to the jury, whining that Falls County sheriff Brady Pamplin had had it in for poor Kenneth McDuff for years. During one recess, Mama McDuff told reporters that Kenneth had been with a girl from his church at the time the three teenagers were murdered, that her son was willing to risk death in

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