Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Texas Eyeball Killer

Surprise at the Morgue

The Dallas police had no idea what had begun when they collected the body of a murdered prostitute on December 13, 1990. She was found in plain sight on the 8800 block of Beckleyview in the Oak Cliff neighborhood, according to the Dallas Morning News. The kids who first saw her thought they'd stumbled across a mannequin. Instead, it was the nearly nude body of a dark-haired woman, lying face-up, wearing only a T-shirt and shot in the back of the head with a .44-caliber bullet. In footage shown on HBO's "Autopsy" program, there was blood on her face and shirt.

Mary Lou Pratt
Mary Lou Pratt

Detective John Westphalen took over the case and learned from another officer that the victim had been Mary Lou Pratt, 33 (another source says 35), a known prostitute who worked that area. On "Autopsy," the area was described as a hangout for drug dealers, drug addicts, and prostitutes. (Matthews and Wicker indicate that Lee Harvey Oswald retreated to a movie theater here after shooting President Kennedy.) To the police that day, the murder just seemed like one of the routine risks of the shady business of prostitution. Yet it was soon discovered that this one went beyond the reactive type of killing from anger or over money. There was something more deviant about it.

Dr. Elizabeth Peacock, the medical examiner, was going over the body to ascertain the cause and manner of death when she placed her hands on the dead woman's face and prepared to look at the condition of the eyes. She touched the stiffening lid and pushed it open. To her surprise, she saw only muscle and gore. No eye. In fact, it appeared that the eyeball had been removed with surgical care, and not merely gouged out in anger with someone's thumbs. Moving to the other eye, she opened the lid and saw the same thing. This killer had removed both eyes without making much of a mark on the lids and apparently had taken them with him.

 

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