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Thread: Synonymous with kidnapping & torture, haunting '80s Texas Slave Ranch legacy survives

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    Synonymous with kidnapping & torture, haunting '80s Texas Slave Ranch legacy survives

    'Texas Slave Ranch' offspring made the best of life (San Antonio Express-News)
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    Ranch foreman Carlton Robert Caldwell and another worker built a funeral pyre and, as a cassette tape of Johnny Cash's “Ring of Fire” played, burned Anthony Bates' remains. The ashes were scooped into two 55-gallon drums, according to published reports. Bones found at the site were determined to be those of a young adult male.

    “We used old inner tubes, cedar and gasoline,” Caldwell said. “We used cedar because it burns fast and strong. I knew what I was doing; I had options. But the guy was dead, and there was no bringing him back.”
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    By [the time Caldwell left], according to court testimony, workers were being held at gunpoint and forced to write their own suicide notes and tie nooses and dig ditches in preparation for their own deaths, or so they were led to believe.

    More than a dozen cassette tapes with about 40 hours of recorded torture sessions were seized during the raid, along with guns, machetes, an ax, knives, ropes chains, padlocks, bone fragments, the cattle prod and business papers.
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    much, much more at link above

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    To try to desensitize the seven women and five men on the jury, Haynes played the torture tapes often and asked Cogdell to shock himself with a battery-operated cattle prod like the one the Ellebrachts used.


    The off-the-wall tactics worked, Cogdell said, and Ellebracht Sr. was given probation. Ellebracht Jr. was sentenced to 15 years in prison and in 1996 was released on mandatory supervision, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
    Caldwell also was given a 15-year sentence, but since he'd served nearly three years while awaiting trial, he was released on mandatory supervision in 1988.
    Words fail at those sentences. There is a breathtaking callousness to this case.

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    UPI article from the 19 July 1986 Pittsburgh Press: 3 sentenced for Texas 'slave ranch' torture, killing
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    The recordings, containing scream and groans in a voice identified as Bates's and the obscene taunts and occasional laughter of his tormenters, were played often during the nine weeks of testimony.
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    more at the links

    From Texas Monthly, August 1986: What else goes on around here?

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