The Brownsville Herald
Thursday, July 20, 1973
Sheriff's deputies who have worked the past 12 months trying to solve a string of sex murders in the Houston area think the killers are a pair of young men already in custody.
Both suspects are in jail in nearby Angleton charged with two sex slayings and prime suspects in four others, according to investigators. They are Harry Andrew Lanham, 22, of Freemont, Ohio, a wrecker driver and Anthony Michael Knoppa jr, 24, of Houston, a Vietnam Veteran.
Sex Said Motive
Lanham is also charged in Ohio with the pistol slaying of a 62-year-old grandmother and he admitted killing another Houston woman and dumping her body in a ditch, officers said.
Lt. Hugh Irby and Investigator Jay Evens of the Harris County Sheriff's department have headed the year-long investigation. Officers suspect sex was the motive in all of the murders.
"People who have not talked to us before are talking to us now," Evans said "Some said Harry always carried a gun and took what he wanted."
"People were afraid," Evans said "Now they're loosening up and talking to us."
Woman Shot Four Times
Lanham weighs 265 pounds and is an expert marksman, Evans said. Knoppa served in Vietnam and built fiberglass boats. They met last year at a county jail block.
Both are charged with the murder of Linda Faye Sutherlin, 21, of Houston. The body of the key punch operator was discovered Nov. 7, 1971, in a ditch along a rural road.
She was struck on the head and tossed over a low bridge into the ditch while still alive. Police said her killer stood on the bridge and shot her four times with a shotgun.
The pair are also accused of killing Adell Margaret Crabtree, 16, last Nov. 2. The body of the Cincinnati, Ohio, runaway was found by a road crew about two miles northwest of nearby Conroe.
Knew Other Victims
The investigation has shown the two men knew four other murdered girls or were seen at drive-ins and other places they visited.
The skeletons of Colette Anise Wilson, 13, of Alvin, Texas and Gloria Ann Gonzalez, 19, of Houston were found forty yards apart in a wilderness area west of Houston last November.
Miss Wilson vanished June 17, 1971, while waiting for her mother at a rural crossroads. Miss Gonzalez, a bookkeeper, disappeared Oct. 28, 1971.
Miss Wilson's skull was fractured and Miss Gonzalez was strangled.
Purse Found
Two girlfriends, Debbie Ackerman and Maria Andrews Johnson, both 15, of Galveston, TX, vanished last Nov. 15 during a school holiday. Their bodies, nude from the waist down and with their hands and legs tied, were found several days later floating in a bayou in Texas City.
Lanham is charged in Freemont Ohio with the August, 1971 pistol slaying of Delores Foos,62. Police say he purchased the murder pistol in Houston.
Lanham admitted killing Pamela Hugbner of Houston June 9, 1971 and a lie detector test supports his story. Evans said Deputies mowed and searched a field where Lanham said he dumped her body in a winding rice canal but found nothing.
About one mile away, a railroad employee found Miss Hugbner's coin purse.
Deputy Chuck Daniels of the Brazoria County Sheriff's Department said Lanham implicated Knoppa in the Crabtree and Sutherlin deaths.
Investigation Goes On
"He called me from the Harris County jail and said he wanted to confess to the murders," Daniels said.
Officers are checking the suspects' activities and are hopeful of solving the slayings.
"But Lanham is smart," Irby said, "He's no dummy."