Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Texas Cadet Murder Case

All or Nothing

If the police are right, this is a story of youthful pain and misguided passion that begat violence and death. It will attract much media attention precisely because it assaults our values at so many levels. It has the power to move us all because it contains such mystery, because it conjures so many questions and because the questions are the kind that strike so close to the heart.

Star-Telegram, entitled Editorial: Questions, explains why the Cadet murder case made so many headlines. (Published: 9/7/96)

It was probably quite a surprise for Mansfield Mayor Duane Murray, while vacationing in Colorado in late 1996, to hear his city's name mentioned on the television news in Denver. Instead of hearing about a great accomplishment, he heard about a sensational crime that was tied to Mansfield, drawing a national spotlight to the city of 25,000.

"It was one of those unfortunate reasons to be in the media," Murray said. Yet Murray was not too concerned. "But it certainly will pass," he said, presuming that it would all just blow over quickly. He could not have been further from the truth.

The slaying of Adrianne Jones was not the first time that killings with Mansfield ties made tabloid news. In 1994, a Mansfield High School senior confessed to one of her classmates that she poisoned her father with barium acetate obtained from a chemistry lab at school. She was convicted in 1996 and handed a 28-year sentence. And in 1995, a young woman was found guilty of arranging to have her father and stepmother slain in their Mansfield home.

Meanwhile, Mansfield was inundated by media companies seeking information about the case: Hard Copy, Inside Edition, Day and Date, The Montel Williams Show, Newsweek, etc. Each media organization had a different "slant" on the murder case. A made-for-television movie Love's Deadly Triangle: The Texas Cadet Murder aired on NBC just five months after Graham's and Zamora's arrests, months before the trials. Claiming it to be a docudrama, it was loosely based on Skip Hollandsworth's news article in Texas Monthly, and contained many fictionalized scenes, dialogue and characters.

When news of the arrests reached administrators and students at the campuses of Mansfield High School and Crowley High School, Crowley principal Bill Johnson summed up the reaction: "I think everyone's in shock right now and doesn't feel like talking...all of us are surprised."

In hindsight, students described them as reserved, quiet students, who took part in school activities. "She kind of kept to herself," Danny Webb, a Crowley junior, said of Diane. "She had plenty of friends, though. She wasn't hard to talk to. She was just quiet." A couple of juniors described Diane as extremely intelligent but standoffish compared to other ambitious high school students. 

When first arrested, the couple stayed true to their relationship. From their cells in Tarrant County Jail, against their lawyers' wishes, they wrote to friends and to each other proclaiming their undying love. In their obsessive need to connect, they wrote each other literally thousands of letters. 

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