Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Joe Ball: The Butcher of Elmendorf

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Joe Ball was a strong man, and a crack shot. After his return from WWI, he started a bootlegging operation, and then opened a bar when Prohibition ended. A number of barmaids seemed to disappear from his 'alligator' bar, and fueled the fire of his legend.

Minnie Gotthardt, or 'Big Minnie' was a partner in Joe's bar for a while. She lost her arm in a car accident, and then disappeared. Police were led to the area where she had been dismembered and buried by Clifton Wheeler, Ball's handyman.

Hazel Brown, also known as 'Schatzie' was a barmaid at Joe Ball's bar. Her body was disposed of by Ball and Wheeler three miles from town, and Wheeler led investigators to the site.

A crowd of people had gathered to watch searchers unearth the body of Big Minnie. The smell, as well as the view, made most of them ill.

After Joe Ball's death, investigators found evidence linking him to Big Minnie's murder, including a post hole digger and a saw, used to dismember and bury her.

Joe's Bar in Elmendorf, Texas. As an attraction, he added an alligator pit, and it was said that he fed small live animals to the 'gators.

Craig S. Thom
An alligator pit, late in the evening. Alligators don't usually feed on humans, but have been known to attack if they feel threatened. They eat flesh, and they can hold their prey in a vise-like grip until death from drowning or loss of blood occurs.

Alligators can catch small animals or pieces of meat and swallow them whole. In the zoo, they are usually fed a diet of raw chicken, bones and all.

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