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Thread: TX - The murder of Harold "Buddy" Vest, 25, in Gainesville, 1946

  1. #1
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    TX - The murder of Harold "Buddy" Vest, 25, in Gainesville, 1946

    I did a search and did not find a thread or discussion on this anywhere, so decided I would start one. Some of you may have heard about this case - it was also aired on 48 Hours Investigates in February 2005. The reason I am especially interested in this case is because before moving to Minnesota, I was a cemetery registrar for a large cemetery & funeral home in Fort Worth, TX. One day, I got a call from an elderly woman named Dottie Troop looking for information on someone buried in the cemetery, a R. "Jack" Garrett. She wanted basic information about him, the exact location of the grave, a copy of the obituary from the file, etc... He died in the 70's. We talked for some time on the phone, she was very nice, and said she was his sister in law. I did the research for her, and put it in the mail to her that very day.

    I didn't think much of this phone call, as I got plenty of calls daily for people looking for information on people buried within the cemetery, it was a big part of my job to answer inquiries for information.

    That is, until the next day. I received a call from a producer on 48 Hours Investigates. She asked for me by name and asked if I recalled speaking to Ms. Troop the previous day. I told her yes, and she said that was what this call was in regard to. She asked me for permission to send a film crew out the following week in order to film the grave location of "Jack" Garrett.

    I did not have the authority to give permission (even though I wanted to - 48 Hours is one of my very favorite shows and I'm fascinated by true crime), so I referred her to the cemetery superintendent, and took a message. Unfortunately, he would not give permission for them to come out without having a signed release from the family of "Jack" Garrett beforehand, which would have been near impossible to get, as apparently no one knew if anyone was even still living or where they were. This cemetery prides itself on being the nicest in city and they protect their image at all costs... having a film crew for a show like this out there was not something they wanted.

    I spoke to the producer several more times over the course of a week as she was waiting for a response from the cemetery superintendent, and asked what this episode was going to be about.... she wasn't able to tell me much then, but did tell me it would air February 12, 2005 and I told her I would definitely be watching.

    Anyway.... it is too much to explain the case here, but I would like to post excerpts and links to the site the son of Buddy Vest has set up, and also some news links. Even after all these years, I feel that the answers are out there, if only the mysterious M. Smith will come forward and finally tell the truth. I also might add that the death of Buddy Vest was ruled a suicide for many years, but evidence now shows that it was a clear case of murder.

    I have been completely fascinated with this case since seeing it air and have done a lot of research on my own. I feel that "Jim", the man mentioned in the M. Smith letter is "Jack" Garrett, the man buried in the cemetery where I worked and the brother in law of Dottie Troop. (And also one of the murderers) There are so many twists and turns to this case, including possible law enforcement coverup and you just have to read it to believe it.


    Here is the site set up by Buddy Vest's son:
    http://www.murderingainsville.com/MIG/

    An excerpt from the Case Details page:

    http://www.murderingainsville.com/mi...TheMurder.aspx

    he inquest record was conducted by Cooke County Justice of the Peace L. V. Henry. The report indicated that Vest's neck was in a loop suspended by a thin leather belt, from a woodworking machine in his shop, attached to three nails hammered to the door frame. Vest had a small rope tied around his waist, with the left arm pinioned to his side. A small rope tied around the legs was fastened to the wall by a small "eye" screw. Henry ruled the death as "asphyxiation by strangulation, produced by suicidal hanging." The inquest record was found to have been removed at some time in the past and re-stapled. The bottom half of the document that contained Judge Henry's signature had been torn off. There were no police records kept at the time.

    This inquest record differs markedly from another eyewitness account that describes the scene as a torture board. Vest's hands were described as being held in place by ropes looped through holes drilled in the bathroom wall.

    The body was discovered by Vest's wife, Ruth Blakely Vest, of Henrietta, a small town 60 miles west of Gainesville. Vest was survived by his wife, his 22-month-old son, Herb; his father and mother, Lloyd and Helen Vest, of Chicago; his brother, Earl; and his sister, Virginia, also of Chicago. Vest's wife, Ruth, never received his billfold or other personal effects.

    Three weeks after his death, the Wichita Falls newspaper reported that someone named Harold F. Vest from Henrietta checked into the Wichita Falls Hospital. Investigators could find no record of anyone, other than the widow and child, living in Henrietta by the name of Vest at that time. Hospital records have since been destroyed. Subsequent Wichita Falls newspapers were searched and no record found that Harold F. Vest was ever released. There was no subsequent obituary for anyone named Vest.

    It is possible that the perpetrators took Vest's billfold containing his identification. One of the perpetrators may have checked into the hospital using that identification. It is speculated that the newspaper account of Harold F. instead of Harold E. Vest was a misprint.

    Vest's body was exhumed in the spring of 2004. Two board-certified anthropologists and a board-certified forensic pathologist examined the skeletal remains. They found three perimortem fractures: 1) a green-stick fracture to the L2 vertebrae (lower back), 2) a fracture at the bridge of the nose, and 3) a broken front tooth. The examiners believe that it is extremely unlikely that the injuries occurred after the body was taken down. Combined with expert opinion that the circumstances surrounding the death do not correspond with those typical in suicide or autoerotic asphyxiation, the autopsy reveals, with a high degree of certainty, that the manner of death was homicide.

    MORE:

    Evidence suggests that the manner of death may have been murder. This analysis was corroborated when investigators received a letter from an anonymous source claiming to be a firsthand witness of events leading to Vest's murder.

    In September 2003, investigators placed an ad in the Gainesville newspaper offering a reward for information concerning the incident. On October 27, Williams received an anonymous three-page letter from an individual who refers to herself as M. Smith (Smith Letter).

    The letter alleges that she (M. Smith) tried to entice Vest into an extramarital affair by coming by his cabinet shop shortly after dark (8.13 p.m.). Twenty minutes later her boyfriend, whom she calls Jim, came into the shop with two other men identified only as Tom and Charley. Smith alleges that her boyfriend was a married police officer. She further states that the men tortured her and Vest. Vest was restrained in the restroom by tying him with rope. The resulting death may have been accidental or purposeful.

    The Smith letter alleges that the Chief of Police may have tried, knowingly or unknowingly, to cover up the incident by encouraging the Justice of the Peace to find the manner of death as suicide in the Inquest Record and Death Certificate.

    One and one-half months after Vest's death, Chief of Police Henry Kirchenbauer was asked by the city manager to submit his resignation. Within a week Garrett Farrell and Woodrow Clegg submitted their resignations. Smith alleges that she left Gainesville about two months following the homicide. Smith states that she returned within five years to Gainesville.

    In January 2004, investigators replied to Smith with a letter posted to the General Delivery address given by Smith. Smith has not replied to that letter.


    LINK TO THE MYSTERIOUS M.SMITH LETTER (in PDF)

    http://www.murderingainsville.com/mi...mithletter.pdf


    HERE IS AN EXTENSIVE PAGE OF MEDIA LINKS ABOUT THIS CASE:

    http://www.murderingainsville.com/mig/Content/News.aspx

    (Use http://www.bugmenot.com for a password if some require registration)

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  3. #2
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    I used to live in Denton and I remember the exhumation and all the stories. I always thought investigators could figure out who was involved back then, maybe by going through PD records? Gainesville's not that big now. I doubt they had a super-huge police force back then. Of course, the records may be all gone.

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  5. #3
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    It seems like the answers are at their fingertips, but are missing just enough details to not be able to put it all together. If only that "M.Smith" character would come forward.

    I really hope there is a resolution to this case.

  6. #4
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    Bumping. Is anything going on with this case? It's been 5 years.

  7. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stella View Post
    Bumping. Is anything going on with this case? It's been 5 years.
    I meant 5 years since the TV airing of his story and nothing is going on at the website.

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    I am Jennifer Marie Garrett-Thornton. Jack Garret, or 'Jim' in the letter from Ms. M, is my Grandfather.

    My great aunt 'Dot' and I are the only ones willing to tell the truth. She was absolutely right when she said that Russel Jack Garrett would do something like this, then sleep like a baby.

    He was a cop, then a lawyer, then the city attorney in Gainsville, TX. He was a serial killer.

    My aunt dot and I are called 'crazy' for telling the truth. My Grandfather and my father, JHG, live in the 1800's in their minds. When women were property.

    My father thinks I'm a piece of property. His. Anyway, My heart goes out to Buddy, his wife, and his son. I cannot wait until I am only known as a Thornton. I do not wish to carry the name Garrett. It's not a thing to be proud of!
    Last edited by Cubby; 09-07-2010 at 02:57 AM. Reason: change full name to intials

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  10. #7
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    I've never met or spoken to Dot. Do you have her number?

  11. #8
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    I hope your post means this can be solved Jeni.

  12. #9
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    It's as solved as it will ever be. My family used their influence to suppress the story and cause a retraction by CBS.

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  14. #10
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    I also seek a phone number for Aunt Dot. She is the only person in the family who is willing to tell the truth about R. Jack Garrett. He killed other people as well. For some reason, he escaped prosecution, but he was run out of Gainsville........

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  16. #11
    Cubby is offline 50K reward, Bob Harrod-Missing: Call Det. Radomski 714-993-8176
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    Hi jeni,

    welcome to websleuths and thank you for your interest in this case.
    As a new member who knows the players in this case I need to ask you please contact Tricia, the owner of websleuths to be verified. This is something we require at WS from 'insiders' close to the players in the case. You can email her at
    tgrif@xmission.com to become 'verified'.

    thanks and again welcome to WS!

    Cubby
    ~JMO~

    A grandfather is someone with silver in his hair and gold in his heart. ~Author Unknown


    Long Lost Love - Discovery ID - Disappeared - Bob Harrod Case

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  17. #12
    Cubby is offline 50K reward, Bob Harrod-Missing: Call Det. Radomski 714-993-8176
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeni View Post
    I've never met or spoken to Dot. Do you have her number?
    I'm afraid this is not something we could post publically on the forum. Perhaps someone can contact you via your email, if you have your profile page set up to receive emails from other members with this info.... or maybe a family member can help you with this?

    Thank you again for your interest in this case.

    Cubby
    ~JMO~

    A grandfather is someone with silver in his hair and gold in his heart. ~Author Unknown


    Long Lost Love - Discovery ID - Disappeared - Bob Harrod Case

    You can now purchase Mr. Harrod's Disappeared episode through Amazon, iTunes or YouTube.


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  18. #13
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    Did a little sleuthing on this case today and found out that Buddy's son, Herb Jr. has another new theory about what happened to his dad. He no longer believes the story of M. Smith and her jealous cop boyfriend. He now believes that to be a red herring to cover up what he now thinks really happened; that his dad was killed by the CIA and other wartime agencies of the government. That he was tortured and killed for some sort of secret intelligence that he has yet to uncover. Just as interesting, the Murder in Gainesville website is now gone. Hmm....?

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  20. #14
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    I've not done this 'thread' thing before and just joined, but I have a vested interest in this story. Jennifer Marie Garrett-Thornton, I REALLY need to speak with you. My brother brother Tracy Hunt, died in Myra in Cooke County in 1981. His death was a cover-up and just recently there was an inquest held in kangaroo court Gainesville. I spent 3 years investigating what happened and proved he was murdered, just like the medical examiner said he was initially. Sgt. Dan Gouard, still alive and living in Howe, TX lied to the ME about the circumstances and got them to change the opinion to suicide. Gouard was a pathological liar, got fired from G'ville and had to be physically removed from the department. He went to Dumas and worked where he was convicted of purgery and his license revoked. He forged a statement from Tracy's friend. After presenting all this along with statements from friends that Tracy was afraid for his life and said people were going to kill him, the Judge ruled it a suicide as I couldn't present anyone in court who wanted Tracy dead. Really? My attorney was unable to cross examine, as this was an inquest, the DA's office dragged my deceased father through the mud saying he stole the suicide note which didn't exist, and hypothesized what was IN the note. They dramatically brought in recently found box of Tracy's clothes and listed a pair of women's panties, as if he was wearing them. The Judge asked specifically, and the DA disappointedly said no, he wasn't they were found in the apartment. But they TRIED. It reminded me of the Vest case that I was already familiar with. I am writing a book and want to touch on this Vest story, just to show how long this county has been crooked as a snake and how long they have gotten away with it. I need more info please! kelscandles@hotmail.com Also, my grandfather owned the plumbing shop 2 doors down from where this happened back then. My mother also received a letter asking her is she remembered or knew anything when the son sent out feelers to all the elderly people in G'ville. Hoping Dottie Troop is still alive or passed along all she knows!
    Last edited by myragirl; 08-29-2013 at 11:07 PM. Reason: adding more

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