Who was Joe Ball by kby12992

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									Who was Joe Ball?
   (and those snappy little alligators!)
Most Texans do not
recall how many people
Joe Ball killed or when
the crimes took place,
virtually all know his
name and have heard
stories about him. Many
were told the tale by
their parents at bedtime,
or while sitting around a
campfire trading ghost
stories.
Joe Ball, was born on Jan.
7, 1896. Joe kept to himself
preferring to spend time
outdoors fishing and
exploring. As he reached
adolescence, Joe's passion
turned to guns. He loved
them, and spent hours
practicing and perfecting
his skills. Whether Joe had
suspected it at the time or
not, these skills would soon
come in handy.
Joe decided to open a
saloon. After buying a piece
of land Joe built a tavern
which he named the Sociable
Inn. While most customers
seemed to get along with Joe,
he was known around town as
a creepy guy, someone you did
not want to cross. Even
though the business seemed to
do well, Joe felt he needed a
gimmick to draw in customers
and soon settled on the idea of
having live alligators on the
property.
Joe dug a hole behind the bar, which he then cemented and
filled with water. He built a tall fence, filling the pool with
      five live alligators. Joe's idea worked and lots of
  customers came to look at his new pets. Saturdays were
 especially busy because Joe took a live raccoon, cat, dog
 or any other animal he could get his hands on, and throw
the animal to the alligators to the delight of his customers.
  In addition to his alligators, Joe's male customers
enjoyed the fact that he would only hire the youngest
 and prettiest girls to waitress and tend bar. None of
the girls ever seemed to stay for long, but Joe always
 explained that the girls were simply drifting through
            town looking for a quick buck.
In 1934, Joe met a woman called Minnie
Gotthardt. Joe's friends disliked her and
thought she was a loathsome person, but
Joe apparently didn't mind and the two
eventually began running the bar
together. The relationship lasted for three
years, until Joe fell for Dolores Goodwin,
one of his waitresses. Dolores fell in love
with Joe. Things became more
complicated in 1937, when Hazel Brown
began working at the bar. Full of self-
confidence and perilously beautiful, Joe,
forever the player, fell in love once
again. This created the problem for Joe of
trying to balance three women, all of
whom worked at his bar.
Part of Joe's problem was solved in 1937
when Minnie disappeared. Joe told people
she had left town after giving birth to a
black baby. Joe married Dolores and told
her that he had taken Minnie to a local
beach, shot and buried her in the
sand. Dolores did not believe Joe's story
and the subject was never brought up
again. Dolores was later involved in a near
fatal car accident, which resulted in the
amputation of her left arm. Rumours began
flying around that one of Joe's alligators had
actually torn it off. Regardless of how she
lost her arm, Dolores mysteriously
disappeared in April and, not long after, so
did Hazel.
After a while the list of people dying
and disappearing around Joe
started to grow:

• Minnie Gotthardt
• Hazel Brown
• Dolores Goodwin
• Julia Turner

Sheriff's deputies brought Joe in and
questioned him relentlessly for
hours on end, but he continued to
maintain his innocence, stating that
they had simply left town and moved
on. With no evidence or leads to
follow, the girls were added to a
growing list and Joe was again in
the clear.
In 1938, Joe's luck ran out. A
neighbour of his told
investigators that he saw Joe cut
meat off a human body and feed
the pieces to the alligators. When
the police arrived at the bar, they
told Joe that they were taking him
in for questioning. Joe asked if
he could close down the
tavern. As the police sat at the
bar waiting, Joe walked over to
his register and when the drawer
popped open, he reached inside
and grabbed a revolver. He
pointed it at his heart and pulled
the trigger, it was a fatal shot.
Police from all over the region were
soon going over every square inch
of Joe's bar. They discovered rotting
meat all around the gator pond and
an axe matted with blood and hair
Joe had mutilated his victims and
fed them to the
alligators. Investigators recalled
other disappearances, including
missing barmaids and a teenage
boy. The sheer horror of the
situation was beginning to set in and
Sheriff John Gray wanted answers.
Clifton Wheeler, Joe’s handyman, was
probably the only living person who knew
what went on. Wheeler explained that
Joe's girlfriend, Hazel Brown, had fallen
in love with another man. This caused Joe
to fly off the handle and kill her. Wheeler
showed them where Joe had disposed of
Hazel's body. He scanned the area and
then began to dig in the loose soil. Blood
began oozing up in the dirt and a
horrendous smell began to emanate from
the ground. The odour became
intolerable for those present and most
vomited. Wheeler pulled up two arms,
two legs, and finally a torso. When asked
where the head was, Wheeler pointed to
the remains of a campfire.
As it turns out, none of the rotting
flesh in the alligator pond was
found to be human. While it is
possible that Joe never fed anyone
to his alligators, it was speculated
by the original investigators that
he simply cleaned up any
remaining flesh and bone.
  In 1939, Clifton Wheeler pled guilty for his part in disposing of
 the bodies, and was sentenced to two years in prison. Following
   his release, he opened up his own bar. However, his notoriety
    preceded him and he was unable to show his face in public
      without being hounded by the press or chastised by local
 residents. Wheeler eventually left the area and was never heard
from again. Joe's alligators were eventually seized by the state of
  Texas and donated to the San Antonio Zoo, where they lived out
          the remainder of their lives as tourist attractions.
 While we may never know exactly how
many people Joe Ball killed, or if any of
 them ever ended up as gator food, his
   cult-like popularity lives on to this
   day. Known throughout the crime
  world as the "Butcher of Elmendorf"
and the "Bluebeard of South Texas," the
 story of the "Alligator Man" is sure to
be one that will live on for generations
                to come.

								
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