Number of victims: 5+
Date of murders: 1936 - 1938
Method of murder: Shooting
Joe Ball ran a tavern in Elmendorf, Texas during the 1930’s. Known as the Sociable Inn, the establishments was distinguished by the pit full of alligators the owner had out back. It was also famous for the pretty waitresses who worked there, although they seldom seemed to hang around very long.
In September 1937, one of those waitresses, Minnie Gotthardt, was reported missing by her relatives. Questioned about the 22-year-old’s sudden disappearance, Ball claimed that she’d left for a better job. Then another of Ball’s waitresses, Julia Turner, went missing. Once again, the innkeeper claimed she had left for another job, although this time the story roused suspicion as Turner had left all of her clothes behind.
After two more women vanished from the Sociable Inn, the Texas Rangers began looking into the case. They soon discovered that twelve young woman who had worked for Ball appeared to have vanished off the face of the earth.
Ball, however, continued to protest his innocence, so investigators turned their attention to one of his employers, a handyman. Under intense interrogation, the man eventually admitted that he had helped Ball dispose of several female bodies by feeding them to the alligators.
On September 24, 1938, Rangers arrived at the Sociable Inn to arrest Ball. Realizing that the game was up, the killer drew a gun and shot himself in the head.
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