Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Carroll Edward Cole

'Prognosis Poor'

Dallas, Texas (AP)
Dallas, Texas (AP)

Cole later recalled that his brother "spent the next few weeks showing me Dallas through bar and tavern windows." Soon, he was able to find the saloons—and the women they attracted—by himself. On July 5, 1963, despondent over a failed attempt to strangle a woman he met in one dive, Cole attempted suicide with pills and spent four days in a psychiatric ward.

Soon after his release Cole met Neville "Billy" Whitworth, an alcoholic stripper whom he described as "neurotic and unstable, just like me." It was the ultimate co-dependent relationship, complete with raging violence on both sides. Cole and Billy married in November 1963, soon after her part-time employer—one Jack Ruby—murdered the alleged assassin of President John Kennedy. The marriage was chaotic from day one, lust and anger fueled by alcohol, interrupted by arrests for drunkenness and domestic violence.

It came to a head in August 1965, Cole convinced that Billy was servicing men at the motel where they lived. Furious, Cole set the place on fire and was indicted for arson on August 19, convicted and sentenced to two years' imprisonment in March 1966. He served nine months and was released on January 5, 1967. Tired of Billy and their wasted life, he started drifting aimlessly, his travels marked by a series of arrests. An Oklahoma City court fined him $20 for "vagrancy by pimping" in April 1967. A month later he invaded the bedroom of a 11-year-old girl in Lake Ozark, Missouri and tried to strangle her as she slept. Her screams summoned help, and Cole was captured moments later by police, facing 10 years in prison on a charge of felonious assault with intent to ravish.

"The public was so aroused," Cole recalled, "that in another time frame, I would doubtless have been taken out and lynched." Instead, he pled guilty to a reduced charge of assault with intent to kill and received a five-year prison term. He was paroled on May 1, 1970, entirely unrepentant. "If anything," he later admitted, "I was worse."

Cole drifted back to San Diego, then to Reno, Nevada. Twice he tried to strangle women met in bars, but his victims escaped both times. On September 19, 1970 he surrendered to Reno police and confessed his urge to murder women. Detained on a charge of disorderly conduct, Cole was committed four days later to a state hospital at Sparks, Nevada. There, Dr. Felix Peebles diagnosed Cole as an "anti-social personality with alcoholism, with compulsion to strangle and rape pretty females. By October 13 that diagnosis had changed to brand Cole "a highly manipulative young man who is utilizing his difficulties with the law in the past and his threats of violence upon others to find shelter when he is out of funds or ways to get what he wants." Dr. Peebles ordered Cole released, with the following notations in his file:

Condition on Discharge: The same as on admission Prognosis: Poor Under "disposition" Peebles noted, "He was discharged and placed on an Express Bus for Los Angeles where he was to change buses and go on to his home in San Diego, California." Eddie wasn't cured, but he was someone else's problem now.

And he had given up on seeking help.


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