Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Suzanne Basso and the Murder of Louis 'Buddy' Musso

The Dream Dies

Map: Galena Park, outside Houston
Map: Galena Park, outside Houston

Ten weeks and two days later, a jogger noticed a misshapen lump in a ditch in a scruffy section of Galena Park, a Houston suburb adjacent to Jacinto City. He got close enough to see it was a human form, and he called police.

In police cause-of-death jargon, the Galena Park cops judged that the victim had died of "multiple blunt impact trauma." The description sounds like a series of thuds -- muffled body blows.

The killing had happened elsewhere. The body, which had no identification, had been cleaned up and dressed in fresh clothing before it was dumped. A right shoe was on his left foot, and the right foot was shoeless.

Galena Park, watertower
Galena Park, watertower

A morbidly obese woman lumbered into a Houston police station a few hours after the body was found. She gave her name as Sue Basso, and she reported that Buddy Musso, the feebleminded man who lived with her, had turned up missing.

The corpse in the park would prove to be that of Buddy Musso. A post-mortem would reveal that the feebleminded man had died an awful death.

A seven-page autopsy report contained a numbing catalog of cuts, mutilations and fractures, including a broken nose, black eyes, 17 cuts on his head and a bone fracture in his neck.

The examination found some 30 cuts and cigarette burns on Musso's back, as well as bruises to his chest, abdomen, genitals, arms, legs, hands and feet. His skull was fractured, and he had 14 broken ribs and two dislocated vertebrae.

The likely cause of death was a final, fatal blow to the head, probably from a baseball bat or a 2-by-4.

Coroners said the injuries were inflicted over a period of days, perhaps even weeks, while the victim was alive.

In other words, poor Buddy Musso had been tortured.

An old police adage goes something like this: Intelligence and the perpetration of a criminal act often are mutually exclusive.

The Musso murder was a case in point.


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